Designing Instructional Material

Introduction Connect Apply Reflect Extend

 

Introduction

Once you have established a practical learning strategy in the instructional analysis phase of the ADDIE process, you can move to the second "D" in ADDIE--development. This is where you will actually build course or workshop materials or instructional products for use by instructors and students. But you should always approach this step cautiously. We'll explain why shortly.

Module preview

  • Creating instructional materials is time consuming and, likely, costly. It's much more effective to find existing materials that may be able to be adopted or amended to meet your needs.
  • If creating new materials is deemed necessary, a variety of tools can be used to help plan and carry out the development process.
  • Preproduction activities are implemented before materials are created, and often include identification and scheduling the tasks, specifying the treatment, establishing story boards, and writing scripts.
  • Although instructional designers may not be directly involved in development, familiarity with the steps facilitates communication with the people who have the specific skills required during production.
  • Prototyping and rapid prototyping have become embedded in the development process over the years. These processes allow the production crew to try out and verify the validity of ideas before committing time and funds to ideas that may require costly changes later.

Connect

In this module

Selecting existing materials
Developing new materials: Preproduction
Developing new materials: Production
Testing products


Selecting existing materials

Depending on the delivery method you've chosen, creating new materials may be the most expensive stage of the process. Video and multimedia tend to be particularly expensive media to produce, but even a good print package or thoroughly prepared instructor-led course will involve a great deal of time and thought.

For this reason, it's a good practice to do an "environmental scan" for existing materials that can be used "as is" or adapted to your particular use. Failing that, you'll need to develop new materials. Doing either of these tasks systematically and carefully will save time and money in the long run.

Many decisions are involved when you select existing materials to provide specific skills and knowledge for your learners. They include availability, cost, whether they are up-to-date, and whether your learners have the equipment or facilities needed to access and use the materials. Of prime importance, however, is how well the materials fit the specifications you outlined in your instructional analysis.

One strategy is to go through the events of instruction and/or the instructional components that make up the prospective lessons, and compare them with your own instructional specifications. Start by comparing the objectives, because if they don't match fairly closely, you need go no further. Any quality materials you consider should have explicit objectives, either in the instructor's manual or in the course materials or both. There will seldom be an exact correspondence, but judge whether the body of useful material outweighs the amount of "extraneous" material offered.

If you are encouraged by the degree of correspondence between your objectives and those of the materials, look at the other events. Do the materials provide appropriate motivation for your learners? Do they effectively activate learners' prior knowledge? Do they present information appropriately for the types of knowledge involved? Do the materials provide adequate practice with useful feedback?

Be sure any materials you consider provide practical assessment, matched closely to the objectives and the instruction. If you can't find out whether learners are mastering the objectives, you'll have no way of assessing the materials themselves. Finally, do the materials provide opportunities for enrichment and remediation?

If these instructional events or components are tolerably close to your own instructional specifications, and the cost is reasonable, you may have saved yourself a great deal of time and effort. If only some instructional events or components are outstanding, but others are lacking, you must weigh the cost of adapting the materials against the cost of developing your own "from scratch."


Developing new materials: Preproduction

As we mentioned, developing new materials "from scratch" is not a matter to be taken lightly. It is time-consuming, may involve the efforts of an entire team, and must be undertaken carefully and systematically. That said, however, developing instructional materials may be highly satisfying to you and your team, and the resulting programs or products serve as tangible evidence of your own skills and knowledge. There is something exhilarating about seeing users interact with your own multimedia instruction, or get feedback from learners in a course you developed.

The type of material you determine needs to be created will often times be determined by how you want the learner to encode the skills or knowledge. Is it something they need to embed in long-term memory? If so, then you'll need to create instructional materials. But sometimes it's more convenient, or more important, to give the learners aids to use to complete specific actions. In this case, the information doesn't need to be encoded deeply in long-term memory, but can be accessed from an external object, processed in short-term memory, and acted upon. For more information on these short-term memory aids, be sure to read Rossett's Handbook of Job Aids.

All this gratification assumes you have developed a successful educational or instructional program or product. Let's look at some of the tools and techniques experienced course and materials developers use.

Management

As a beginning instructional developer, it's tempting to sit right down and start drafting materials or scanning pictures and authoring multimedia programs. But the majority of projects that begin in that way strangle in their own complexity long before completion. Projects of any size and importance require careful planning and management. Fortunately, managing materials development is pretty much like managing any other kind of project, and there are plenty of tools and techniques available to assist in the effort.

Most projects come with a deadline. In order to get the thing done by the cutoff date, it's often useful to plan backwards from that date, giving yourself 10-15% "wiggle room" in case (or when) things don't go as planned. Whether you plan backwards from a "date certain" or whether you are in control of the due date, here are two tools designed to help you construct and communicate a plan that will get you there with a completed project: PERT and Gantt charts.

PERT charts

From the field of industrial engineering, we have the PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) chart. PERT charts evolved in the mid-1950s to plan large, complex team projects. They help you think through and communicate the relationships among designated, well-defined activities involved in a project. For instance, suppose you are developing a multimedia instructional product. Working backwards from the due date, you know you need to finish assembling all the multimedia assets into the "shell," or program, by, say, August 7th. Before that can happen, the video must be digitized, the 3D scenes and animation must be rendered, the audio tracks must be digitized and edited, and the interactive shell itself must be readied. Figure 12.1 is a portion of a PERT chart for such a project, representing the relationships between the final assembly and these prerequisite activities, and their prerequisite activities.

Figure 1. Portion of a PERT chart for an instructional multimedia project.

This helps all team members understand which activities must be completed before the next can begin. It shows individual team members where their efforts are required at a given date or stage in the project. Finally, it shows parallel activities, such as the video and audio development activities which must proceed simultaneously in order to be ready for assembly together with the shell at the appropriate time.

Use PERT charts to plan and communicate the "critical path" of your project by identifying and sequencing the discrete activities of the project and their relationships in time. Display the chart prominently where all team members can refer to it frequently and assess their own progress.

PERT charts can be created by hand, with handwritten "stickies" for easy editing, or in a number of software programs. The example above was created in a concept mapping application, but can easily be done in many word processor graphics programs.

Gantt charts

Gantt charts serve a similar purpose, but provide somewhat different information. Figure 12.2 shows a portion of a Gantt chart for an instructional design project. The portion shown, the development of the product proposal, involves writing a report.

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Figure 2. Portion of a Gantt chart for an instructional design project. (Adapted from Allen, 1995.)

As in the PERT chart, well-defined activities are identified and "called out" on the Gantt chart, this time in the form of a list, roughly in sequence, at the left of the chart. Columns 1-15 of the chart each represent a single week of the project. Each activity line contains an entry for the number of hours that activity is expected to take, in the column for the week in which that activity is supposed to happen. In addition, the columns may be totaled to keep track of person-power and resource needs at various times, and to estimate costs.

Notice that in addition to specific tasks such as preparing, revising, and copy-editing the proposal, there is a management task as well. Since this is a team project, there is a certain amount of "overhead" involved in coordinating team members' activities, exchanging documents, and so forth.

You may also have noticed that the Gantt chart, in contrast to the PERT chart, does not show prerequisite activities as clearly, but better describes the overlap of simultaneous activities. For instance, the management activity is taking place throughout the four weeks of this stage of the project. This helps individual team members allocate their time more precisely--in this case, week by week.

You can draft Gantt charts using spreadsheet software (like the example in Figure 12.2) or in any word processing software that handles tables.

Both PERT and Gantt charts help team members plan their own time, coordinate their activities with each other, and estimate project costs and timelines. These aren't the only tools developers use to manage projects, but they are among the most useful.

In addition to managing the efforts of people and the flow of resources, instructional developers need to document a variety of aspects of their projects as they proceed, in order to communicate with each other and with the client. This requires another set of tools we'll call documentation.

Documentation

The type of documentation you use in a project depends to a large extent on the type of project and the proposed delivery media. Course development often requires tools like lesson plans, outlines, and drafts of presentations or visual aids. In addition, multimedia and video development have their own tools, including treatments, story boards, and scripts.

Treatment

If the instruction you are developing includes a video or multimedia component, you'll need a treatment. A treatment is a description of how a video or multimedia product will look and feel, a short narrative of what learners will experience as they use the product. The treatment should describe the story line or concept that holds the program together.

Describe how the learners will actually use the video or multimedia product. What else will they do besides passively "go through" it? Will they practice procedures, discuss or write about concepts? Role play applying principles? What will those "look like?"

The treatment should include a description of the program format. There are any number of formats, or combinations of formats, from which to choose. Videos might be documentary or dramatic, and involve interviews or panel discussions, lectures or demonstrations, animation or live action. Multimedia projects may be informational or instructional, incorporate instructional games or simulations, rely on narrative or dramatic structures, or display digital video or animation.

Another element to treat is the style of the program. Will you set an objective, documentary tone? Will it drip with "personal involvement?" Sometimes a combination of these styles is appropriate.

Another consideration in treating instructional video and multimedia is the issue of locus of control. Will this product stand on its own, independent of an instructor or additional activities on the part of the learner? Or will an instructor control the context in which the product is presented to learners, providing an introduction and summary and organizing related activities? Or will users themselves control their learning? Will they be asked to stop the videotape or pause in the multimedia program, write or do something, or replay a section?

The treatment serves two related purposes. It helps the client or sponsor "see" to some extent what the project will look like when it is finished, before you have spent much of their money. Second, it provides an opportunity for the client or sponsor to "sign off" on the concept, giving you the green light to move forward with confidence or revise the treatment, as need be.

Storyboards

The next stage in the preproduction process is to create a storyboard. While the treatment is a short narrative about the program, the storyboard serves as a more detailed, shot by shot visualization and narrative of the program. The storyboard is based on the content outline and the treatment. It consists of a sequence of sketches of proposed shots with accompanying narrative and sound. It is used not only for guiding production, but for formative evaluation as well.

Filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock liked to create such detailed story boards that it is said he sometimes became bored actually directing his pictures. He felt that the creative work had all been done with the story board and that anyone of his assistants could direct the picture from that document. Whether or not you feel the same way, it is certain that the story board stage offers the best opportunity to apply all your creativity and design ability. If something isn't in the story board, chances are it won't be in the project.

With video storyboards, a good approach is to sketch the pictures first, then add rough narration. If you can tell the story, whatever it is, in pictures, your viewers will be more likely to get the message. They may miss some of the narration, but they will probably remember almost all the pictures. Be as specific as you can about the visuals. Use a variety of camera shots and angles, and sequence them appropriately.

Some directors like to put the story board together using 3x5 or 4x5 index cards with one shot to a card, so that they can change and reorder the shots as ideas develop. Others like to use larger sheets of paper with several shots per page. You may also choose to use a computer-based story board program.

Multimedia story boards are a little different than those for video. In addition to specifying the content and layout of the various media--text, graphics, animation, sound, video, and so forth--they usually document all the details of navigation and interactivity.

Remember, every project is different.  Preliminary storyboards can be created in the design phase, then elaborated in the development phase of your project.  Because ADDIE is an iterative process, the intent is to exact your instructional product as you move through the phases.  Many times it makes sense to invest in a preliminary storyboard in the design phase simply to establish buy-in from your client and pilot test you basic ideas.

Scripts

In the case of multimedia and some video productions, detailed storyboards may serve as your script. In the case of most video productions, however, you will use one or two additional scripts--a shooting script and an editing script.

Shooting scripts vary depending on the type of project. When the content is predetermined--for instance, in the case of a dramatic program or some documentaries--the shooting script consists of a detailed description of each shot with the exact wording of the narration or dialog and descriptions of other sound, such as sound effects or music. It consists of two columns. The left-hand column contains the descriptions of or specifications for each shot. The right hand column contains the word-for-word narration, dialog and other sound.

When the exact content of the project is not predetermined, however, as in the case of a program that consists of interviews and other non-scripted events, the shooting script is, by necessity, more of an outline. It may include the questions for the interview, the anticipated schedule of events, or merely guidelines for capturing pictures and sound for an unstructured event.

Whatever type of shooting script you deem appropriate to your project, it should again be put to the "Tahiti test." It should be complete enough that a stranger could take it and produce your program to your and your client's satisfaction.

Once you have video footage "in the can," and are ready to begin the process of putting the pieces together, you'll need an editing script. Editing scripts are less variable than shooting scripts. They always consist of detailed specifications for every picture and every bit of narration, dialog, or sound that will end up on the screen.

In the case of dramatic or other pre-scripted programs, the editing script may be the shooting script modified only by alterations that actors or the director made during the heat of shooting. In the case of programs that consist of interviews, panel discussions, or other non-scripted events, the editing script will specify the exact segments to be used.

In addition to the descriptions of pictures and sound, the editing script should also contain data about where the editor is to find each segment--which reel of tape, what spot on the tape, and how long--often down to the 30th of a second (a "frame" of video).

Again, a good editing script is one that you could hand over to an editor and go off to Tahiti with confidence that when you returned the project would look just as you intended.

So, does this mean you can schedule a flight to Tahiti, now? Sorry, this is real life. No matter how complete you make your scripts, there are inevitably important decisions to be made during the shooting and editing of a video. Again, this may vary drastically depending on the type of project. Shooting or editing a project featuring an artistic performance or other form of self-expression, for instance, may involve constant interplay and collaboration between the artist or performer, the instructional designer or director, and the technicians. This can often be a creative and exhilarating exercise. Does that mean you can throw out the Tahiti test in these instances? No! The more you have thought trough and prepared for an event in advance, the more easily you can leave technical questions in the background and get on with the business of creating.

Treatments, story boards, and scripts are the main types of documentation involved in instructional and educational multimedia and video production. Let's take a look at the production process itself.


Developing New Materials: Production

Media production tends to be highly specialized for each different media delivery system. Seldom will you, as an instructional designer, be responsible for actual media production, with the possible exception of small, in-house projects. At the same time, you will be working with media production specialists, and it's a good idea to have a working knowledge of what it is they do, to facilitate communication and understand their problems and capabilities.

There is no substitute for hands-on experience in this area, and we encourage you to take advantage of course projects, internships, and other opportunities to obtain some of that firsthand knowledge. In the meantime, here are some brief descriptions of the major production processes and the people that carry them out.

Multimedia

Instructional multimedia projects range from hypermedia reference works such as encyclopedia to computer based training (CBT), and from educational games, simulations, and microworlds to interactive storybooks.

A number of crafts persons and technicians are involved in the development of a multimedia project, including a project manager, instructional designers and technical writers, graphic artists and animators, video and audio technicians, and computer programmers and testers. In a small company these may be individuals, and some roles may even be combined in a single individual. In larger enterprises, whole departments may be devoted to each of these activities.

The process of developing an educational multimedia product usually involves a proposal, a treatment, highly detailed story boards, a series of prototypes, and a final product. Extensive review is usually involved at each stage of the development process.

Print

Print products range from workbooks to textbooks, from supplementary materials to manuals, from reference works to programmed instruction. In addition to a project manager and one or more instructional designers, there are often technical writers and editors, reviewers and proof readers, graphic and page layout artists, and production people and printers involved.

Print products usually go through several drafts, with extensive reviews at each stage. Instructional designers typically are responsible for outlining and sometimes writing text, specifying graphics, and consulting on other elements of the design such as page layout.

While the tradition of rapid prototyping is not as typical of print projects as it is with multimedia, you might consider it, particularly on large projects which will be difficult to alter once a gazillion lessons are out there in learners' hands.

Video

Educational video projects are similar to multimedia projects in many respects, and range from drama and storytelling to exposition and documentary, and from interviews and panel discussions to event coverage and even live, "interactive" events.

In addition to a project manager and one or more instructional designers, video projects often involve a video producer and director, story board artists and script writers, graphic artists and animators, videographers and sound technicians, lighting and set designers, and editors and special effects people.

Because of the high cost of video production, extensive review of treatments, story boards, and scripts at each stage of production is vital. Again, while rapid prototyping and usability testing is not as common in educational video projects as it is in multimedia development, it would be well worth considering it in this area where design mistakes in finished products are expensive to fix.

e-Learning

Online courses, or e-learning, is the fastest growing sector of our field. Online instruction involves all of the same modes of instruction described in the multimedia section, above, and may be intended for use as supplementary to face-to-face, instructor-led courses (blended learning), or as fully online courses in their own right.

In addition to the people involved in multimedia production, online courses also require the efforts of network administrators. Designing and managing online courses is somewhat different than designing conventional instruction. Instructional designers must consider ways to effectively handle large numbers of email messages, database interactions, and file exchanges, for example. You must consider how best to balance physical distance with virtual proximity. Again, as in conventional multimedia development, rapid prototyping is an important method in the instructional designer's tool kit.

Rapid prototyping emerged several years ago in the multimedia arena partly as a result of easy-to-use, comparatively low-cost authoring systems such as HyperCard, ToolBook, Director, and many others. Almost anyone can learn to "mock up" a useful prototype in a relatively short time.

The same is now true of print and video media. Cheaper and easier desktop publishing and desktop video tools have made it possible to realize parts of instructional project designs at almost any phase of the process, without waiting for expensive final production.

As we mentioned earlier, many, if not most, projects with which you will be involved will incorporate some combination of instructor-led, multimedia, print, video, and, increasingly, online components. Get your hands dirty helping develop some of these products when you have the opportunity--the lessons learned will prove invaluable when you're designing or managing a project as part of team.


Testing products

Prototypes

A prototype is a partial realization of a product constructed for the purpose of testing one or another characteristic of the design. Using prototypes to test products in the early stages of development is far less expensive than waiting until a great deal of time and energy is invested in the finished product: design flaws can be diagnosed and remedied early on; new ideas can be tried and either scrapped or fine-tuned before they must be replicated on a large scale.

One of the students in the Master's program, for a course project, decided to test a commercial multimedia product, a CD-ROM multimedia title published by an innovative and reputable publisher. She observed and questioned several subjects as they used the product and discovered some interesting things.

One discovery she made is that many users double-clicked rather than single-clicked the navigation buttons. In this particular product, double-clicking resulted in skipping a screen--actually an entire level of the program--without the user's being aware of it. A whole section of the product--a section on which some very smart and dedicated people had lavished love and attention--was largely hidden by this little flaw. A programmer could have fixed this particular problem in probably less than an hour by simply "trapping" or canceling the second click in those buttons.

The point is, the flaw was apparently never detected until our student took the time to watch a couple people use the program. By then, the product was completed, packaged, distributed, and on sale in hundreds of retail outlets. Many customers are not getting the full benefit of the wonderful program they purchased, because no one bothered to do a little usability testing at a point in time when the product could easily have been fixed. Prototype development and testing is vitally important.

You can modulate or vary the level of completeness of several dimensions of a prototype depending on its purpose. For instance, if you are creating a product prototype to sell the concept to your managers, or to a client or a funding source, you might want a prototype with lots of attention paid to screen design and with high visual appeal, but with just enough functionality to help them "get the picture."

On the other hand, if you're trying to determine how well an instructional strategy is working, or how many examples learners need to "get it," you can "mock up" the functionality to a level just high enough to deliver a chunk of instruction that will allow you to test it. Many educational multimedia designers use paper-and-pencil mockups, essentially glorified story boards, to test instructional effectiveness.

In yet other instances, in which you want to test the usability or "user friendliness" of the interface, you may need fully functional navigation and interaction, but little else in the way of finished media elements or polished instruction.

The key is to clearly identify exactly what it is you want to know about your design, and then craft a prototype that will help you answer your questions, spending as little time and effort as possible on extraneous elements. Focus on the most doubtful, tenuous aspects of your design. Don't waste resources testing those characteristics of the project in which you have a high degree of confidence.

Rapid prototyping

The use of prototypes for testing design elements in an iterative fashion is called rapid prototyping. Test a series of small prototypes, carefully designed to answer specific questions about the instructional design or the interface, with a small number of subjects--typically 6 to 12. Adjust the design and test again. Keep testing until you've got it right. Then you're ready to replicate the design across, say, a number of lessons or courses.

You may use any one of a number of prototype evaluation protocols, depending on the situation. Observation involves setting someone down with your prototype and just watching them use it, taking careful notes about what they do--looking for unanticipated interactions or responses.

In the thinking aloud protocol you ask subjects to use the prototype and to simply say what they're thinking at any given moment. "Hmm, this must get me to the next page. I'll just click here, and… uh, oh…." It helps to think of your prototype as a tool to tease out problems. The more problems it reveals, the more successful it is.

Another prototype evaluation protocol is the prediction protocol. Ask users to predict what they expect to happen when they click on a button or otherwise interact with the program. "I imagine this will probably bring up some kind of definition, or glossary…." This will help you resolve any differences between users' expectations and what actually happens in the project.

Finally, it's often helpful to debrief users following their interaction with the prototype. Ask them what they were thinking when they did what they did, or what they were expecting. In some cases, it can be very helpful to ask their input as to how to solve the problems they found. You'll be surprised at how useful a naive suggestion can be at times, even if it merely leads you start thinking in a new direction.

This kind of iterative, small-scale prototype testing, or rapid prototyping, may help you avoid or at least minimize the "heartbreak of versionitis"--the need to send everyone a revised version of your product after it is released.

 

Apply

There is no apply activity this week. However, if you'd like to investigate some of the development tools mentioned in this module, the links below provide more in-depth details:

Reflect

There is no formal reflection this week.


Extend

Overview of this section


People in action

Roberto has been tasked with helping managers evaluate their employees. As he's progressed through the ADDIE stages, he found that managers did not understand the rubric they were to use, nor did they know how to document employee actions. In the last chapter, Roberto concluded that the needs dictated that he help managers implement a performance evaluation. He then worked on an instructional analysis, but before assembling a team to create instructional materials, he decided to see if any existing material existed that may be adopted or amended for his organization.

Roberto spent most of the next day contacting his university library and vendors to see if existing products might be available. Although he found a variety of books and journal articles which described performance evaluation (he realized these would be handy for his subject matter analysis), no products were located that were close enough to his needs to be either adopted or amended.

Because the product Roberto envisioned would only be used within his company, he concluded that the expense of creating an instructional video or multimedia product would not be justifiable. Instead, using the knowledge he gained from his instructional analysis, he decided to create material for an instructor-led workshop, supplemented with print-based materials and overhear slides for a computer display.

Using project management software, he spent the next day identifying the specific tasks that would need to be accomplished to complete the project. Because no video or high-end computer technology would be needed, time was kept to a minimum, and his initial timeline showed four weeks for completion. The tasks would be divided between himself and one graphics artist who would be assigned 25% of her time during the next month to help with graphics and page layout for the overheads and print materials.

During the next three days, Roberto created a prototype design with outlined instructor materials, worksheets, scenarios, and briefly sketched out overhead slides. By Friday, he was ready to share his ideas with his project manager. She made a few suggestions, including the possibility of using video vignettes for the scenarios of evaluating average, better-than-average, and worse-than-average employees. Although both agreed the idea had merit, it was decided to go with the text based scenarios during this first round of implementation.

Over the next three weeks, Roberto was able to conduct three rounds of rapid prototypes with local managers to get their ideas on the relevancy of scenarios, the design of the overheads, and the page format for the print-based materials. Each iteration helped refine the materials. Although Roberto underestimated the length of time to complete the project, he was able to finish the materials within two days of his expectation. Now, he wondered, how well will it really work? 

Main points 

Selecting existing materials

  • Because of the high expense involved in producing instructional materials, it is important to identify if existing materials can be used or modified rather than producing new materials
  • Contributing to the decision of whether existing materials can be used will be their cost, availability, how up-to-date the material is, whether the learners have the equipment necessary to use the materials, and if the material fit the design of your instructional analysis.

Developing new materials--Preproduction

  • Projects of any size and importance require careful planning and management before production begins.
  • PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) charts are used to manage projects by graphically representing all the tasks and the relationships between the final assembly and their prerequisite activities.
  • Gantt charts are used to show the overlap of simultaneous activities.
  • Both PERT and Gantt charts help estimate project costs and timelines, help team members plan their time, and help the manager coordinate the activities.
  • In video and multimedia instruction, the treatment (the look and feel of the program and a short narrative of what learners will experience) will need to be created and presented to the client.
  • The treatment helps the client or sponsor "see" what the project will look like when finished, and provides them an opportunity to "sign off" on the concept, giving you permission to continue development.
  • The storyboard, based on the content outline and the treatment, serves as a more detailed, shot by shot visualization and narrative of the program.
  • Multimedia storyboards, in addition to specifying the content and layout of the various media as in video storyboards, usually document all the details of navigation and interactivity.
  • Video instruction requires a shooting script, which contains detailed description of each shot, exact wording of the narration or dialog, and descriptions of sounds.
  • An editing script, also created for video production, contains data specifying which reel of tape, what spot on the tape, and how long a segment is, for the final product.

Developing new materials--Production

  • Seldom will instructional designer be responsible for media production, but knowing the processes helps when communicating with media production specialists.
  • Each type of product, whether multimedia, print, video, or online, have major production processes and a group of specialized production people who carry them out.
  • Each of the different forms of media demand both careful review of the preproduction documents, and careful evaluation during the production phase.
  • Many instructional projects will incorporate some combination of instructor-led, multimedia, print, video, and/or online components. Practice working on them while in graduate school will better prepare you for job opportunities beyond the university.

Testing products

  • Prototypes, which are partial realization of a product constructed for the purpose of testing characteristic of the design, allow you to try out ideas and identify flaws before costs to fix them are too high.
  • When conducting prototype testing, focus on the most doubtful, tenuous aspects of your design, not those in which you have a high degree of confidence.
  • Rapid prototyping are series of small prototypes, designed to answer specific questions with small groups in an iterative fashion.
  • Protocols for rapid prototyping include observations, thinking aloud, and prediction.

Next step

Although the creation of instructional materials will be time intensive, it will eventually come to an end. But that's not when the work of an instructional designer ends. Next you'll need to determine how the product will be implemented, and eventually evaluated. That's the topic in our next chapter.

For more information

Rossett, A. & Gautier-Downes, J. (1991). A handbook of job aids. San Diego: Pfeiffer.

Introduction Connect Apply Reflect Extend

Page authors: Donn Ritchie & Bob Hoffman & James Marshall.  Last updated: Marshall Spring, 2006

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