I just completed my first full Instructional Design System real-world project. And, based on my client’s reward (Grade: A), I hit the mark! But, I did not get there without encountering a few painful bumps along the way. Therefore, the purpose of this blog is to identify what I learned while traveling.
Lesson Learned #1? Define and refine the project scope using a thorough client needs assessment process before moving to Step 2 of ADDIE instructional design process.
First, I learned there is no substitute for a good upfront multi-lateral client needs assessment. While technology is a wonderful tool capable of helping you create templates that can standardize the client assessment processes, I learned that there is no substitute for having sufficient conversations with your client upfront. I learned that is the only way to ensure you understand what they need before you go off on a tangent creating what you want them to have. While I did communicate with my client a few times during the assessment process, obviously, I missed the mark. Result? I ended up having to start over and redesign at least twice. This painful lesson proved to me that I did not ask the right questions during those interactions – or did not ask them the right way. This first experience warned me that I should spend sufficient time during the ADDIE Assessment process before moving into the Design phase.
Lesson Learned #2: Faking ain’t shaking. At some point in the instructional design process – you must know what you are doing. Period.
Next, I learned that there is a point at which “leveraged” off-the-shelf curriculums fall short. As a sincere advocate for “best practices”, this was a hard lesson for me to accept in the beginning. But, what I learned from my first experience was that old “Don’t reinvent the wheel” colloquialism falls way short. I learned to try to go with “whatever is already out there” just points you in the right direction. Copying somebody else’s approach is not a solution. I learned that there is no copycat for good creative and original innovative instructional design that meets your client’s specific needs. So, if you don’t know what you are trying to do … well. Sincerely consider either rethinking your career choice or getting some additional schooling. Imitations of knowledge will only take you so far.
Lesson Learned #3: When peers or colleagues offer advice or recommendations- take it.
Third, I learned to never underestimate the value of peer feedback. No matter how perfect I felt that instructional design was, it was improved by my peers. At first, some of the feedback I received made me stop, scratch my head, and say to myself, “Hey. I covered that.” But, when I went back and really looked, I realized that I must have “covered that” in my head – because it certainly was not reflected in my work. My bad. Trust your colleagues. Test the advice they give. There is a 50 percent chance – they are right.
Lesson Learned #4: There is no substitute for sitting down at the table with your client.
Finally, I learned to never underestimate the value of at least one good face-to-face encounter with my client. Cloud computing and virtual meeting capabilities are truly convenient and cost effective for both the designer and the client. But, my first real-world experience taught me that face-to-face client-designer synergy cannot be overrated. Had I made the effort to sit down face-to-face with my client at some point in the ADDIE Assessment process, I believe I would have avoided some of those rough spots I encountered along my road toward creating a good client-centered instructional design. That was created for a reason.
In closing, creating my first real-world client-centered instructional design system taught me valuable lessons. Even though I had successfully completed an internationally recognized Human Performance Technologies training program earlier this year, I discovered that I still had a lot to learn when my rubber hit the road. But, I found my experience with practicing my new skills exhilarating. I aspire to become a master at my craft. So, if I must climb over a few bumps along the way – so be it. Ouch.
Piskurich, G. M. (2015). Rapid Instructional Design: Learning ID Fast and Right, 3rd Edition. John Wiley & Sons.