Starting a new career as an instructional designer is exciting. But, like any profession, it comes with its share of challenges, and new instructional designers are not immune to making mistakes along the way. Let’s have a look at the top three common pitfalls that often trip up newcomers to the field. And more to the point, how you can steer clear of them.
1. Neglecting the Needs Analysis
This is a nightmare to miss out, although you’ve got to be quite unfamiliar with the design world or crazy to ignore it. I thought I’d mention it just to clarify how important it actually is. Never dive headfirst into content creation without a solid understanding of the learners and their needs. Neglecting the needs analysis is almost like constructing a house without putting in a foundation first. It might look good initially, but it’s destined to fall apart and crumble.
Solution: Before you even think about design elements or fancy graphics, invest time in a thorough needs analysis. It’s never a waste of time. Understand your audience, their existing knowledge, and the specific goals of the learning program. This foundational step ensures that your instructional design will end up being not only visually appealing but also highly effective in doing what it needs to do and meeting the intended learning outcomes.
2. Overlooking Accessibility
In the pursuit of engaging and visually stunning e-learning materials, new instructional designers sometimes overlook accessibility considerations. Even if the intended learners don’t specifically need your training to be accessible, you can’t ignore this step. Failing to design with inclusivity in mind can exclude future learners with diverse needs, limiting the reach and impact of your instructional materials.
Solution: Make accessibility something you always make sure of during your design process. Ensure that your content can be seen, used and understood by all learners, including those with disabilities. The sort of things you’ll need to do are alt text for images, captions for videos, and compatibility with screen readers. A commitment to accessibility not only broadens your audience but also aligns with ethical and legal considerations.
3. Ignoring Iterative Design
In the fast-paced world of instructional design, there’s a temptation to view projects as one-off endeavours. Some new designers fall into the trap of considering a project complete once the materials are delivered, neglecting the power of iterative design. This oversight can lead to missed opportunities for improvement and growth.
Solution: Embrace the philosophy of iterative design. It’s the E in ADDIE. Evaluation is really important to the success of a project. Treat each one as a learning experience and welcome feedback from learners, stakeholders, and colleagues. Regularly revisit and refine your materials based on insights gained through evaluation and user feedback. Iterative design not only enhances the quality of your work but also fosters continuous improvement and professional development.
The path to becoming a seasoned instructional designer is paved with learning opportunities, and yes, a few mistakes along the way. We’re only human, after all. But by recognizing and addressing these common pitfalls – missing out on needs analysis, forgetting accessibility, and ignoring iterative design – new instructional designers can navigate toward success much more effectively.
Remember, instructional design is a dynamic field that requires adaptability and a commitment to ongoing learning. It’s a bit non-stop! By building a strong foundation and remembering these three things, you’ll not only create more effective learning, but also set yourself on a trajectory toward becoming a proficient instructional designer with more impact. So, consider these challenges not as stumbling blocks but as stepping stones on your journey to mastering the art and science of instructional design.