Facilitator pointing at whiteboard teaching class

How to create an effective training program

A guide to instructional design 

3 minute read
Facilitator pointing at whiteboard teaching class

“The purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” – Malcolm Forbes, American entrepreneur.

Comprehensive training has helped businesses improve and provide people with a greater understanding of processes, all while encouraging individual growth.

And to implement a successful training program, an effective instructional design is required.

What is instructional design?

Instructional design is a process of using knowledge of how people learn, to guide instructional strategies to meet the needs of learners and desired learning outcomes.

It aims to make instructions effective, efficient, appealing and cost-effective.

Instructional design has been used to improve human performance, with designers using interactive media to improve learning and address learning objectives.

Instructional design recommendations

Here are five recommendations in instructional design to improve a training course’s success:

1. An accurate needs analysis – identify the main problems that need to be solved, the training’s target audience, desired goals and performance gaps, and provide training and performance recommendations.

2. A focus on the participants – create learning materials around the learner’s experience.

3. A social and emotionally based process – a person’s emotional state directly influences how they process information. A person who experiences positive emotions learns well, while learning is impacted by negative emotions.

4. Practical, relatable content – understand the context people are working in and the factors affecting learning and performance to provide more information to design well-integrated performance improvement solutions.

5. Include a range of learning approaches - cater to learning preferences; including behavioural, mental and constructivism or building on prior knowledge.

Two popular models of instructional design include ADDIE and AGES.

The ADDIE model

First introduced by Florida State University for military training, ADDIE is an acronym representing the five phases of the model: analyse, design, development, implementation and evaluation.

These recommendations have been incorporated into instructional design models to build effective organisational learning solutions.

The ADDIE model is a prominent model to develop training to help learners improve their knowledge and skills.

Analyse – identify the issue, required goals, target audience and resources needed for the course through a training needs analysis.

It determines the gap between actual and desired knowledge and the organisation’s needs, considering the context of work and factors affecting performance, with resources including the course duration, budget and facilities distinguished from the information gathered.

The information is translated into a learning design in the design phase.

Design – structure an outline, including learning objectives, actions and goals.

Introduce content and learning activities, supporting the learner’s construction of knowledge and skills, along with strategies on the learner’s progress.

Development – generate working products from the learning designs in the development phase, including learning strategies, media and methods. Test in a pilot and product review.

Implementation – engage participants in the learning solution. This involves communication with learners and aids to deliver the learning plan and support programs.

Evaluation –understand if goals were met overall and in each phase, with continuous evaluations during the design, development and delivery steps through post-assessments, observations or productivity data.

The AGES model

An individual also learns best in accordance with the personal requirements of their brain and experiences, demonstrated through the NeuroLeadership Institute’s AGES model.

AGES refers to attention, generation, emotion and spacing – the conditions needed to activate the hippocampus of the brain.

Attention – individuals eliminate distractions so their attention can be devoted to learning, with information retention depending on the level of focus.

This phase discourages multi-tasking but encourages learners not to focus on a point longer than 20 minutes.

Generation – learners create their own connections to new ideas in this phase, focusing on their own experiences and understanding their work context.

It indicates that people learn best when they connect new information with existing knowledge, creating a rich network of associations in the brain.

Emotion – promotes learning, emotional and unforgettable moments and activities accelerate the formation of new memories.

This produces a learning program encouraging positive emotion by maximising entertainment, novelty and positive anticipation.

Spacing – people retain the most information when learning is spaced out over time.

Long-term retention is maximised after new information is revisited upon letting time pass.

Focus on the business and individual

Implementing training programs created through instructional design by using these models enables organisations to expand on an individual’s knowledge and appeal to the student’s willingness to learn, for both personal development and professional goals, while subsequently benefiting the business in the process.