It seems like a logical progression - design your corporate training program, then develop it. But often, a good upfront corporate design plan – if it exists at all - is pushed aside as we rush to develop the course first. This results in the content being written and forced to fit into the course development schedule as opposed to the course development emerging from a good design plan.
To some, this may happen all too often. It is not unusual for us to be encouraged by clients to 'jump right in' to the content. The client justifies the position for many reasons that might include: deadlines are looming, timelines won't allow for analysis and design, 'we know what we want' or it is not in the budget.
Unfortunately, not taking the time to produce a good solid plan can often lead to costly delays and unfulfilled expectations - exactly what the client thought they were going to avoid.
Having a good design plan in place before starting the course development ensures that there will be less detours, backtracks or sidetracks from the training project objectives. A sound design plan will serve as an effective roadmap as it will ensure that everyone is clear on the project right from the start.
A great course development design plan is built upon a solid foundation. Don't skip the analysis stage - you might miss some crucial information. For example, it is essential when designing to be thoroughly familiar with your learning audience. Say, as an instructional designer, you began a course development on an on-line learning module without proper analysis.
You later discover that fewer than 10% of the learners had completed the course. As it turns out, the program was for an international audience with only 20% of the learners having English as a first language and fewer than 10% with the ability to read English. Instead of using the simple 'Next' or 'Back' navigation options, the design could have included internationally recognized icons that transcend the need for words.
Armed with the knowledge gained through a proper analysis stage, instructional designers can incorporate pertinent information into the course design plan.
A great course development design plan starts with listening to the subject matter experts, knowing the learners, asking questions and presenting new ideas. A collaborative effort can achieve more than just great ideas. Asking questions early and often can build rapport with all members of the project team and the learners. Everyone wants to be heard - even if their ideas may not be part of the final outcome, having been a part of the process goes a long way to overcoming any adoption issues later.
When a great course design aligns with what the corporate training program needs to achieve, it helps to ensure that outcomes and expectations are met. No matter what you are designing, whether a bridge over a river or a corporate training program to bridge a learning gap - the one thing it must achieve is the end result you desire.
This brings us full circle: How can you achieve what you desire without having a good design plan in place?