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Identify a designer's role during Development

“What is a learning designer's role during the development phase of a project?”

“What tasks might a learning designer perform during the development phase of a project?”

“What best practices should learning designers consider during the development phase of a project?”

“What common mistakes should learning designers avoid during the development phase of a project?”


In this first lesson of the Develop series, we'll explore the integral role of a learning designer in the development phase of a project, which includes creating engaging instructional materials (in a variety of formats) and ensuring alignment with project goals. While each project and organization is unique, we'll unpack the most common tasks designers perform, highlighting best practices and common mistakes to avoid along the way. Please note that the development phase of a project is often the most time intensive and complex; this series is meant to lay the groundwork for all of the additional learning and experience you’ll gain over the course of your career as a learning designer.


Through this lesson, you should be able to identify a designer’s role and responsibilities during the development phase.



What is a learning designer's role during the development phase of a project?


During the Development phase of a learning project, learning designers collaborate with subject matter experts and stakeholders to create instructional materials and resources based on the design specifications determined in the previous phases of the project. Here are the key activities that learning designers typically undertake during the Development phase:


  • Content creation: Learning designers develop the content and learning materials based on the detailed design. They create instructional text, multimedia elements, graphics, animations, videos, and other resources that align with the learning objectives and instructional strategies identified in the Design phase.

  • Storyboarding and scripting: For eLearning, learning designers often create storyboards or visual outlines of multimedia presentations, e-learning modules, or videos. They may also develop scripts for narrations, dialogues, or interactions that will be included in the instructional materials.

  • Media production: Learning designers produce or coordinate the production of various media elements. This can involve recording and editing audio narrations, creating or editing video clips, designing graphics or illustrations, and assembling multimedia assets into cohesive learning resources.

  • Instructional material development: Learning designers develop or assemble the instructional materials, such as handouts, worksheets, presentations, e-learning modules, simulations, and interactive activities. They ensure that the materials are aligned with the learning objectives, engaging for learners, and suitable for the chosen delivery method.

  • Iterative review and revision: Learning designers collaborate with stakeholders, subject matter experts, and project teams to review and refine the developed materials. They incorporate feedback and make necessary revisions to improve the instructional materials and ensure their quality and effectiveness.

  • Quality assurance: Learning designers conduct quality assurance checks to ensure that the instructional materials function properly, are free from errors, and adhere to design standards. They review the content for accuracy, consistency, clarity, and compliance with accessibility guidelines and industry best practices.

  • Documentation and version control: Through the development process, learning designers also maintain documentation, including design decisions, asset files, and revisions. They also establish version control mechanisms to manage changes and track the development progress.


Throughout the development phase, learning designers collaborate closely with subject matter experts, project managers, multimedia specialists, and other stakeholders to create high-quality instructional materials that align with the instructional design plan.


What tasks might a learning designer perform during the development phase of a project?


Learning designers usually complete the following tasks in the development phase of a project:

  • Select and/or create style guides and templates for instructional materials

  • Create and/or curate content (e.g. text, images, media)

  • Develop storyboards and scripts (if applicable)

  • Use software and tools to develop instructional materials (print and/or digital)

  • Conduct stakeholder review cycles to solicit feedback (e.g. alpha, beta, gold versions)

  • Test digital assets and deliverables across different forms of media, if applicable (e.g. tablets, smart phones, and different web browsers)

  • Pilot the learning experience with a test group of learners


What best practices should learning designers consider during the development phase of a project?


Simply put, the goal of the development phase of a learning project is to create, test, and enhance learning experiences. As a minimum success factor, your learning product or program must enable learners to proficiently demonstrate defined learning objectives upon completion of the experience. To achieve learner satisfaction, the learning experience should also engage and motivate learners.


Ensure learners can achieve the objectives.


There are several methods and strategies that can help learners achieve their learning objectives effectively. Here are some commonly used methods:




Remember, learners have different learning preferences, so it's important to employ a combination of methods to accommodate diverse needs and maximize learning outcomes.



Engage learners by tapping into what motivates them.


The ARCS Model of Learner Motivation, developed by John M. Keller, provides a framework for instructional designers to enhance learner motivation. ARCS stands for Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction, and each component addresses a different aspect of learner motivation. Here's how instructional designers can utilize the ARCS Model to motivate learners.


Attention

  • Utilize AR technology to create immersive and visually stimulating learning experiences.

  • Incorporate interactive elements, such as gamification or quizzes to sustain learners' attention and encourage active participation.


Relevance

  • Connect content to real-life scenarios or practical applications to demonstrate its relevance and value to learners. Show them how the knowledge or skills they acquire through AR experiences can be applied in their personal or professional lives.

  • Customize learning experiences to align with learners' interests, preferences, or goals. By tailoring the content to their specific needs, you enhance the perceived relevance of the learning materials.


Confidence

  • Design activities that progressively increase in complexity and difficulty, allowing learners to build confidence gradually. Start with simpler tasks and gradually introduce more challenging ones as learners demonstrate proficiency.

  • Provide immediate feedback within the experience, highlighting learners' successes and offering guidance to overcome any obstacles. Constructive feedback helps learners develop a sense of competence and boosts their confidence.


Satisfaction

  • Incorporate elements of achievement and recognition by implementing badges, points, or leaderboards to acknowledge learners' progress and accomplishments.

  • Allow learners to reflect on their experiences and provide opportunities for self-assessment. Encourage them to evaluate their own progress, identify areas for improvement, and set personal learning goals.


Remember, the ARCS Model is a flexible framework, and instructional designers can adapt it to suit their specific learning objectives and target audience. By implementing attention-grabbing, relevant, confidence-building, and satisfying elements within learning experiences, instructional designers can effectively motivate learners and enhance their engagement and learning outcomes.



What common mistakes should learning designers avoid during the development phase of a project?


Review the following common mistakes that learning designers should avoid during development:




Summary and next steps


At a high level, learning designers in the development phase collaborate with subject matter experts (SMEs) and other stakeholders to create innovative learning materials, activities, and assessments that meet the project’s learning objectives. During this phase, learning designers create and leverage templates and style guides to create instructional materials for instructor-led, virtual, and eLearning experiences. The tasks highly depend upon the training modality, a company’s budget, and how many rounds of feedback the learning designer must conduct before course testing occurs.


Now that you are familiar with a learning designer’s responsibilities during the development phase of a project, continue to the next lesson in LXD Factory’s Develop series: Ensure consistency across project deliverables.


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