An Instructional Design Model that Fits Today’s Fast-Paced Workplace

Even as the economy improves, employees are taxed to the limit. There is more to be done in shorter time with fewer workers to handle the tasks. And yet, with a constantly changing work environment, new skills need to be taught.

Where does traditional instructional design consulting and training fit into this fast-paced, demanding scenario?

There is a new way to deliver training that just may be the answer.  (Well actually not very new as we started doing them with clients in the late 90’s to support fast growing businesses.)

This new method of instructional design and training is known by various terms—learning bursts, mini-courses or self-directed learning to name a few.  The method is well known by action learning leadership development advocates who have used just-in-time learning to get targeted results for decades.

Targeted learning bursts can have several advantages over more traditional training that is delivered in a one- or two-day period. It is less costly in dollars and in employee time off the job. It takes place at the learner’s convenience. It is ideal for those with short attention spans as it occurs in stages typically only 20-60 minutes long. And it typically checks for understanding along the way with a short quiz or performance test at the end of each session.

Here is an example of how it works…

  1. Learners listen to an audio cast which lasts from eight to ten minutes that is played on their own compatible device. This is not in a lecture format but designed to deliver the key learning points in an entertaining way…much in the manner of a late night talk show.
  1. The learner is supplied with a workbook that supplements the audio cast and, for more visual learners, provides models and graphs that support the concepts introduced. The written material may only be three to five pages long so that it is easily reviewed. Included will be suggestions as to how the new skill might be applied on the job and some questions to be answered that test how well the learning has been understood and absorbed.
  1. The final piece requires a brief action plan that asks the learners for ways they will adopt the new skill or concept. This completes one cycle or topic and then the learner will move on to the next. 

The entire “course” consists of a series of mini-courses, maybe as many as a dozen. In effect, the learner expends the same amount of time that would have been utilized by a much longer training. However, because the learning bursts are taken one at a time, when the learner has a free moment, there is far less disruption to the workday.

Done right, learning bursts can be used to replace an entire curriculum or augment a broader learning solution.


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