Category Archives: Online Instructional Design Training

Creative Agni eZine, Sloth & Froth, and Some ID Fiction.

The Creative Agni eZine notification was sent out today. I know that it should’ve been done earlier, but I just couldn’t get down to wrapping it up until this morning.

If you haven’t subscribed to it, you can do so here.

I should say that there are two posts (among many others) that I would really love to share with my blog-readers.

  1.  A Short Story – Dushyant & Shakuntala – Why Love kills Logic?
  2. Sloth & Froth Comics – Teamwork Training and Decision-making

While you are there, you can also explore rest of the site and also meet Coffeebeans the Pup.



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A Question – Is Design an Inhibitor?

In one of the discussion groups of IDCWC Online (Wavelength’s Instructional Design and Content Writing Certificate – Online Course), a participant raised an interesting point.

She said that when a teacher or a trainer is required to follow pre-designed content, the opportunity for creating something that will enhance the effectiveness of the program for the learner, disappears.

I think she’s made a valid point. When we begin to roll-out a program, we are extremely sensitive to every little signal that we receive from the audience, and we don’t let go of our own instructional knowledge while implementing it; but with each pass, the content begins to harden. We start believing that there could be nothing better than to just follow the content. Thus, we stop directing the learning experience, and allow the content to become the director.

Having spent more than a dozen years developing eLearning content, and about 7 years implementing the content that I was instrumental in designing; I think that with every phase of ADDIE, some degree of rigidity is introduced in the content; and by the time it actually reaches the Audience, it acquires a sort of permanency…and nobody then wants to question the design at all.

Still wondering…is there a way out?


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Using Games in eLearning – Part I – How Games & eLearning came Together?

How Games & eLearning Came Together?

There was a time when Online Content looked and also functioned exactly the way a book did! There would be some content on the screen, and when the learner pressed the NEXT button (or “flipped” the page) the content would change.

The eLearning content of today is dramatically different from that of the past. As in the case of all other products and services, this change too was driven by demand. As the eLearning consumers began sampling a wide variety of online content, they became more aware of the interactive possibilities . And so there came a time when they became immune to the charms of basic navigational interactivity.

This demand from the audience resulted in eLearning content becoming much more interactive than ever before. From the vanilla navigational interactivity, we’ve already moved to Multiple Choice Questions, Drag and Drops, Click and Views, and a variety of other interactive hooks to retain the learner’s attention. But for our ever-curious, ever-exploring audience, even this wasn’t enough.

The reason behind the audience’s ever-growing need for more interesting content isn’t difficult to understand. The game developers of the world were busy creating almost-life-like experiences for their audience, and as their audience was often our audience as well, we found ourselves looking at a target audience that was still not happy with the level of interactivity they found in their eLearning courses.

Remember that it’s the thrill of winning that keeps an individual glued to a game; and the suspension of disbelief makes the gamer a character in the game! There was no way to beat games in their ability to gain and sustain the audience’s interest, and so, the eLearning providers moved forward and embraced games as a potential learning activity.

Now, almost every good eLearning course includes games, which are designed and developed with two parallel and equally important objectives – educate and entertain.

In the next post of this series, we will discover how games are different from other types of learning activities.


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How Instructional Design Helps Content Writers, Instructional Designers, Trainers, Academicians, and Technical Writers?

This past Sunday, I conducted a three-hour Free Instructional Design Orientation session for individuals who wish to map their competencies to Instructional Design. Wavelength organizes these sessions 3 to 4 times a year and they give me an opportunity to understand the nature of questions that baffles many who wish to change their career path or improve their growth prospects by acquiring the knowledge of ID. The most common of these questions is – “How the knowledge of instructional design helps?”

This question originates from the term “instructional design” appearing in the employment advertisements for the professions indicated in the following list.

Let us see how this “set of skills” help:

  • Content Writers and Instructional Designers
  • Trainers
  • Teachers and Other Academicians
  • Technical Writers

Let me begin by establishing a contextually relevant definition of instructional design.

“Instructional Design is a set of cognitive skills that enable you to impart learning effectively.”

Content Writers and Instructional Designers:

Content Writers and Instructional Designers often engage in creating learning content for their audience. They use instructional design to ensure that the learning happens fast and stays anchored. Instructional design helps you achieve this effectiveness and efficiency, whether you write content for eLearning or for classroom delivery.


Trainers often create their own training plans and design their training programs in terms of activities, examples, and assessments. Instructional design could equip you with the cognitive psychology principles, and assist you in designing, developing, and implementing more effective training programs.

Teachers and Other Academicians:

Teachers of all disciplines, and at all levels, can apply the instructional design principles to ensure that their audience’s attention doesn’t stray and that the knowledge-transfer happens effectively and efficiently. ID enables you to create a balance between your passion for the subject and the learning needs of your learners.

Technical Writers:

This group of professionals, engage in creating the “How-To” literature for any product (hardware, software, or any device that operates in a specific manner.) Though as a technical writer you write crisp directions for your users, you can make your content even more relevant, efficient, and easy to understand/apply, if you can apply instructional design.

So, this is how instructional design finds application in the professions outlined above.

Another related question is – “What are the skills that you need to have, if you want to gain the most from the knowledge of instructional design?”
My next post will answer this question. You might want to return in a few days.


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The Advantages of eLearning (1 of 2)

Let us continue our quest. We’ve already discussed “How eLearning is Different from Classroom Learning” and we’ve carefully analyzed the definition and nature of learning. It is now time to classify the advantages that eLearning has to offer – to the client and to the audience, and then analyze them to identify the real advantages and separate them from others, which masquerade as advantages, but actually aren’t!

It is important to remember that the Client’s Advantage is different from the Audience’s Advantage (though in some cases it might become one.) The Client of an eLearning Developer is usually an organization or a department of an organization; while the Audience is the individual (or group of individuals) who “consume” the content – and so can be understood as the consumers.

So here are the advantages of eLearning – For the Client and for the Audience!

ELearning – The Client’s Advantages:

  1. Create Once, Implement Always
  2. Create Once and Integrate as per Requirements
  3. Cost Reduction of Different Kinds
  4. Standardization of Training Quality
  5. Centralization of the Training Function

Create Once, Implement Always:

This results in reduced management and maintenance. It helps eliminate the logistic issues completely.

Create Once and Integrate as per Requirements.

Content can be created once, in form of small sharable fragments called the Learning Objects, and reassembled. Client organizations that are big oceans of employees in different departments at different positions; use this policy and implement it through the LMSs by applying the sharability principles.

Cost Reduction of Different Kinds:

Save on trainer costs, training costs, and also on the opportunity cost of work hours lost in training.

Standardization of Training Quality:

eLearning content can be standardized for big, geographically scattered organizations, which is usually not possible in classroom trainings where the trainer’s personality and training methods have a distinct impact on the quality of training.

Centralization of the Training Function:

Training quality control can be centralized, and it becomes much easier to manage and implement across-the-board changes. This also helps in conducting audits and rolling out new programs faster.

ELearning – The Audience’s Advantages:

  1. Flexible Learning Hours
  2. Anytime, Anywhere Availability of Training
  3. Reduced Commutation
  4. The Comfort of Anonymity
  5. Flexibility in Submission Deadlines and are Easier to Complete

Flexible Learning Hours:

Of course! In a world where with each new invention that helps us save time, a new time-guzzling issue crops up – we want to save time and energy. ELearning provides this option to the learners. Also remember that the extraneous load drops considerably when the learner learns in an environment he or she is comfortable with – so learning turns more effective.

Anytime, Anywhere Availability of Training:

As long as the learners can access the Internet, they can learn. The Web has now been woven almost everywhere (Enterprising individuals from the US, South Africa, and even from the Far-Eastern mountains of India take the IDCWC Online…without missing a beat!) eLearning erases the time-zones and the geographical/political boundaries from the list of constraints faced by the audience.

Reduced Commutation:

The cost of commutation goes beyond what you pay for the gas. It includes the time that you could’ve spent playing with your kids or your friends, but which you spent playing “Need for Speed” on jam-packed roads that didn’t just allow you to go beyond a measly 10 mph! Think about the others costs: a date canceled, less time with your family, aching knees – I leave this exercise to you:-)

The Comfort of Anonymity:

The comfort of making mistakes and learning from them – away from the hostile and competitive classroom environment is a boon for many. This comfort alone can turn a medium-paced learner into a fast-paced smart student.

Flexibility in Submission Deadlines and are Easier to Complete:

I know that you might not agree with this – but I should know. The number of people who call us trying to reconfirm their bias that the online course would be easier to do as compared to the corresponding classroom program, woke us up to this reality.

As you must’ve noticed, I’ve italicized some advantages in this post. These are what I call the Doppelganger Advantages. We will understand the nature of these Doppelganger Advantages in my Friday post.

(Read the concluding post, “The Advantages of eLearning (2 of 2) – The Doppelganger Advantage” here.)


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