Rapid Instructional Design: Learning ID Fast and Right / Edition 2

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This is the second edition of the best-selling book that shows how to get instructional design done fast and get it done right! If you need a basic understanding of what instructional design is and a hands-on, to-the-point method of ensuring that the training and performance interventions you put into place meet the needs of your staff and your organization, this book is for you. It offers a no-nonsense walk through all the steps in the instructional design process and each step is explained in language that is conversational and easy to understand. This new edition addresses such topics as learning analysis, return on investment, and designing asynchronous and synchronous e-learning, as well as a wealth of illustrative examples of storyboards and professional commentary and case studies from professionals in the field.

Get it done fast and get it done right!You're busy! You don't have the time or the need to wade through the theory of a traditional instructional design book. But you do need a basic understanding of what instructional design is and a hands-on, to-the-point method of ensuring that the training and performance interventions you put into place meet the needs of your staff and your organization. For new or part-time professionals, this is a short, straight to the point exploration of instructional design. It introduces the many delivery processes and guides readers in designing and developing an effective training course or module.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"it is the rare textbook that would become dog-eared from continual use as a reference book long into my career"  (Technical Communication, February 2007)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787980733
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 6/12/2006
  • Series: Essential Knowledge Resource Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 508
  • Sales rank: 275,016
  • Product dimensions: 7.03 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

George M. Piskurich is an organizational learning and performance consultant specializing in e-learning interventions, performance analysis, and telecommuting. He is the author of numerous books including Getting the Most from Online Learning, Self-Directed Learning: A Practical Guide to Design and Preparing Learners for e-Learning all published by Pfeiffer.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition.


Chapter 1: What Is This Instructional Design Stuff Anyway?

Why Instructional Design?

What Is Instructional Design?

A Few Definitions.

Advantages of Instructional Design.

Disadvantages of Instructional Design.

Chapter 2: Before You Do Anything: Pre-Instructional Design Activities.

Organizational Needs.

Performance Assessment.

Assessing Training Needs.

Choosing Needs to Address.

The Needs Analysis Report.

Quick and Dirty Cost-Benefit Analysis.

Chapter 3: Do You Know What You Need to Do? Analysis.

Data-Collection Methods.

Why Analyze?

Types of Analysis.

Computer-Aided Analysis.

Chapter 4: How to Do It: Design.

Make the Right Decision Now.

Delivery Decision (Training Setting).


Design Documents / 130

Course Descriptions / 145

Gathering Content.

Adding Structure: The Instructional Plan.

Trainee Evaluation (Test Questions and Tests).

Hints for Designing in Various Formats.

Chapter 5: Doing It Right: Development.

End Products of Development.

The Lesson Plan As an End Product.

Scripts and Storyboards.

Participants’ Packages and Other Print Materials.

Other Media.

Hints for Developing Material.

Chapter 6: Getting It Where It Does the Most Good: Implementation.

Beta Tests and Pilots.

Reviews Revisited.

Common Implementation Issues.

Hints for Implementation.

Chapter 7: Did It Do Any Good? Evaluation.

Why Evaluation?

The Key to Good Evaluation.

Types of Evaluation.

Evaluation of Self-Instructional Programs.

Revisions: What to Do with What You’ve Learned.

Hints for Evaluating.

Chapter 8: Doing It Faster: More Rapid Design Shortcuts.

Software for Instructional Design.

Analysis Software.

Test Development Software.

Miscellaneous Software.

Rapid Prototyping.

Learning Objects and Granular Training.

Public Courses.

Off-the-Shelf Programs.

Technology Vendors.

Performance Support–Based “Training”.

Problem-Based Learning (PBL).

Training Management Systems.


Chapter 9: Asynchronous E-Learning Design.


Creating and Implementing an E-Learning System.

Determining a Comprehensive E-Learning Strategy.

Designing and Developing Good Programs.

Learning Management Systems and Learning Content Management Systems.

Preparing the Organization Globally for E-Learning.

Planning for a Smooth, Successful Implementation.

Creating an Effective Monitoring and Evaluation Plan.

Asynchronous E-Learning Design and Development.


Material Development.

Learner Evaluation.

Learner Interfaces.

Beta Tests and Pilots.



Evaluating Asynchronous E-Learning Programs.


Chapter 10: Synchronous E-Learning Design.


Disadvantages and Misconceptions.

Design Considerations for Synchronous E-Learning.


Repurposing and Redesigning of Synchronous E-Learning Programs.

Other Synchronous Activities.

More Detailed Facilitator Guides.

Learner Guide.

General Technology Considerations.


Designing Continuing Interactions.

Audience Analysis.


Online Learning: A Special Type of E-Learning.

What the Learners Say.


Suggested Readings.

Other Resources.

About the Author.

Instructor Guide for Rapid Instructional Design.


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First Chapter

What Is This Instructional Design Stuff Anyway?

This chapter will help you to:

There is an old saying that if you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there. This is a fine philosophy if you are spending the summer between your junior and senior year "experiencing" Europe or if you have embarked on an Australian "walk-about," but when you are developing training programs it leaves a lot to be desired.

One of the purposes of instructional design is to provide both an appropriate destination, and the right road to get you there, whenever you are responsible for creating a training program. Your destination is usually some form of learning that your trainees will accomplish, while the road is one of the many paths that instruction can follow to facilitate that learning.

In fact, if you are seeking instructional design theory you've probably come to the wrong source; you may want to read Dick and Carey's Systematic Design of Instruction (1990). One of those basic instructional design principles we mentioned is to know your target audience. This book's target audiences were described in the introduction. Primarily, they are individuals with little to no instructional design experience who need to learn to do it right, but fast. For the most part you are not permanent training professionals planning to make a career out of instructional design, so the theory is not as important as the actual practice.


So why should you concern yourself with instructional design? Perhaps the best reason I can give is one we've all experienced: the course, class, seminar, or other training event that sounded good on paper, but that you left (and that left you) wondering why you ever came. There are a number of reasons for this universal phenomena, but in the end they all boil down to one cause: poor instructional design. Did the class not meet the objectives stated in the course description? Poor instructional design. Did the test at the end of the program not make any sense? Poor instructional design. Did the instructor meander from topic to topic with no clear pattern to what was being discussed? Poor instructional design. Was the material over your head, or too basic-blame it on poor instructional design. (OK, I admit there may be other reasons as well, but poor instructional design is often the most critical reason, and because this is a book on how to become a better instructional designer, allow me just a little overstatement.)


Earlier we discussed instructional design in generalities: a science, an art, a way to create training. These are all fine concepts, and perhaps good definitions, but instructional design is really a set of rules, you could say procedures, for creating training that does what it is supposed to do. Some of those procedures have to do with finding out what the training is supposed to do (you might call it determining the goals of the training), while other procedures deal with letting the participant know what those goals are. Still other procedures ensure that everything in the training focuses on those goals, and one more set monitors how we know that the goals have been achieved.


Before we get into the advantages of instructional design, we'd better take some time to develop a couple of definitions. An instructor (as we'll use the term in this book) is the person who stands up in front of a class or a person and performs the main role of disseminator of content information. There is obviously a lot more to training than just that, and-as we all know from sad experience-there are instructors, and then there are INSTRUCTORS, but for now let's just leave it there.


Now, on to advantages. The main advantage of instructional design is simple: it assists you in correctly doing what you need to do. In the case of developing a training program, this means creating training that helps your trainees learn the things they need to know. This sounds pretty obvious, but that doesn't mean it always happens.

Cost Effectiveness

Ensuring cost effective training is another advantage of using instructional design. One way it does this is obvious. If you are training people on what they really need to know, and not just what someone thinks they need to know, then you are wasting less training time and, in this case, time is truly money.

It costs a lot of money to run training programs. Some estimates put the cost of private training in the United States alone at over $58 billion a year! You need money to pay trainers, for classroom space, and for materials and equipment. You also need to pay trainees to be at the training, and often must hire other people to replace them while they are away. There are travel costs, food costs, and a number of specific cost issues, depending on your particular company. If following proper instructional design principles can save even 10 percent of these expenditures (and often the savings are much, much more dramatic), the effect on the bottom line of an organization can be quite significant.

Time Effectiveness

Instructional design can also help your training become more time effective. We've already mentioned the main way it does this-simply through providing training that meets the right needs of the right people, thus not wasting their time or the trainer's. But it can do more than that. Instructional design also helps you provide training when it is needed, and in a way that the trainees can best use it.

Learning Effectiveness

Now I know that this sounds like some of that theory we said we weren't getting into, but it really isn't. Learning effectiveness relates to some of the time-effectiveness processes we discussed earlier. An advantage of using instructional design is that it helps you choose the most effective way to present your content, which can be translated as the easiest way for the trainees to learn it.

Training Effectiveness Evaluation

We've been discussing the advantages of instructional design based on its various types of effectiveness: cost, time, and learning. Another advantage is that you can use instructional design to create a valid and useful evaluation of the training itself and therefore determine whether your training truly was effective. Most training evaluations, particularly those that are not based on instructional design, consider evaluation to be limited to finding out whether the trainees liked the course. A few even go so far as to ask the trainees if they feel they "got something" from it.

Competitive Advantage

Other advantages of instructional design are related to the fact that some organizations consider good training to be a competitive advantage. An industry where this seems to be a golden rule is information technology. The best companies, often characterized as those with exemplary training, are continuously having their trained people "pirated" by other companies. These top companies will use the promise of more training, leading to further job skill development and possible promotion, to keep their people in-house and to attract new employees as well.

Business Integration

Using instructional design also creates training that is related to the goals and objectives of the organization. This is begun early in the instructional design process and follows through to how the training is evaluated. It means that the training received by your trainees will not only help them, but will help your company achieve its vision and the goals related to it.


The last set of advantages in using instructional design relate to consistency. With instructional design, the quality of your training is consistent. All of your programs will be at the level of quality that your instructional design procedures dictate.


We've already mentioned the major disadvantage of instructional design, that it takes time. It takes time to learn how to follow the instructional design procedures and time to implement them when you create training. However, if you consider the alternative of producing possibly (perhaps probably) ineffective training if you don't use instructional design, then this disadvantage may be less critical than it first appears.


A much less significant disadvantage of instructional design is that it takes more and other resources to accomplish. Unlike what we might call, "SME-based Training," in which only one person is involved in construction, delivery, evaluation, and everything else that may need doing, good instructional design requires a number of resources. These might include a designer; an instructor who may be different from the designer; an SME, if the designer is not the one to provide content and review; other reviewers; target audience members to analyze; job incumbents to talk to; and the list goes on and on. Fortunately, none of these resources, with the exception of the first two or three, are required to contribute a lot of their time to the instructional design process. For them it may be an hour or two-or at most a day. Yet what they do contribute, when used properly, can multiply the effectiveness of the training considerably.

Overcoming Disadvantages

I mentioned earlier that I don't have a magic answer to the disadvantages of instructional design; and the claims of "true believers" from the days of film strips to today's Web-based training concerning the virtues of their pet technologies not withstanding, I don't think there is one. What this book will do for you is twofold. First, it will present instructional design with practically none of the theory that is at its foundation in order to decrease your learning time. That's not to say that the theory isn't important (it is) or that you wouldn't be a better designer if you knew it (you would). It is simply a response to the fact that you are pressed for time, particularly if designing training is not your main job function, and that you can be a good-even an excellent-designer without the theory. This will affect that first disadvantage, the amount of time needed to learn instructional design. Checklist: Do I Need Instructional Design?

Instructions: Answer each of the following questions with yes, no, or not sure.

If you answered "no" or "not sure" to any of these questions, you can probably use some aspect of instructional design. If you answered "no" or "not sure" to several of them, you need the whole instructional design approach. Read on, s'il vous plait, and remember:

Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he'll eat as long as there are fish in the pool. But design a training program that helps him learn how to stock and manage his pool, and there is no telling how far he might go.

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