Instructional designers play a critical role in developing education and training programs, and ensuring that knowledge and skills are acquired in the most effective and engaging way. Deborah Evans, an instructional designer at DeakinPrime, has been actively engaged as an educational and training professional for over 40 years.
According to Deborah, instructional design ‘starts with the analysis of learning requirements and then involves the detailed design, development and implementation of programs’. Initial questions may include: What are the aims of the program? What does the learner and/or the client want to achieve from the program? Who are the participants and how can learning best occur? How should the program be delivered? Instructional design also includes evaluating how well learning objectives have been met.
Instructional design is a multi-faceted role says Deborah: ‘You’re part writer, researcher, facilitator, editor, analyst (of client and learner needs), developer, multimedia expert, innovator, project manager, content reviewer, assessment coordinator, evaluator and a pedagogical expert—a real jack of all trades. It’s part of what makes the work so interesting.’
‘Good interpersonal skills are an essential part of the job as course development involves working closely with clients, content matter experts, technology specialists, editors, graphic designers, administrators and others. You also need to have empathy with program participants—many of whom are time-poor professionals with busy lifestyles.’
Deborah is particularly proud of programs she has developed that closely integrate learning content with business imperatives. One of the pioneer programs in this area was the former Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia (APESMA) MBA distance education course developed in the late 1980s. ‘Part of the assessment was employment based, and participants were encouraged to use their own workplace experience and resources (such as industry reports) to examine relevant business issues. At the time this was a new and innovative approach to assessment; it also motivated students and employers because they could see a tangible link between the MBA program and providing practical solutions in the workplace.’
Deborah Evans has seen the training and education landscape change dramatically over the last few years with the development of digital and blended learning delivery. ‘New and emerging technologies have allowed us to create innovative and engaging learning solutions with a variety of different delivery options to meet the needs of clients and program participants.’