By Ethan Edwards, Chief Instructional Strategist, @ethanedwards
We at Allen Interactions have partnered with ATD for more than a decade to deliver the two professional instructional design training workshops for e-learning design. The two workshops (E-Learning Instructional Design Certificate and Advanced E-Learning Instructional Design Certificate) cover important aspects of mastering the art and science of creating motivating and impactful e-learning programs.
In my years of experience in teaching these workshops and interacting with the participants, I have realized there are some priceless benefits that you can expect from attending that transcend the traditional scope of course objectives and content.
1. You will never look at e-learning the same way again.
E-Learning is bound in a tradition of mediocrity. Misplaced confidence in the power of technology by itself has allowed ineffective models to become the norm. Sadly, many people who find themselves in the role of designing e-learning may have never even seen good e-learning. These ATD instructional design training programs are probably best at presenting an enormous range of e-learning examples—online modules that are actually used by real companies—that illustrate the potential transformative power of individualized, learner-centered, context-rich, intellectually challenging training.
2. You will be empowered to make bold choices.
Unfortunately, many e-learning practitioners operate within absurdly limited environments. (I was going to say, “absurdly limited teams,” but in truth, many e-learning designers work as a department of one, so even using the term “team” is inaccurate.) When we work in isolation, it is a challenge to push our work beyond what it has always been. Here, the emphasis is on how essential it is to try something unexpected. Starting to make small—but revolutionary—design choices is an altering experience in the path to becoming a master e-learning designer. Once you experience one of these workshops, it is difficult to retreat to a training world bound by PowerPoint decks wedded to ineffective testing of trivia.
3. You will form bonds with other amazing e-learning instructional designers.
The best way to improve is to interact with a community of smart people in pursuit of shared goals. We may come into contact with many smart people in our day-to-day activities, but it is often difficult to grow a single moment of contact into anything rather than a fleeting meeting of sympathetic minds. The simple experience of learning and working shoulder-to-shoulder with others interested in the same things can create unexpectedly rich support networks. Pushing ourselves with regular constructive criticism with our peers is invaluable, but is impossible if you work on your own. Each class invariably ends with a voluntary student-initiated effort to share contact information. In addition to the exposure of new approaches and knowledge, new professional and personal connections are a significant takeaway from the workshops.
So, to repurpose a well-worn slogan, “Come for the knowledge, but stay for the inspiration!” It’s easy to dismiss that sentiment as hokey, but it is vitally important to realize that good e-learning (actually, any sort of training) is more than just the content. Quality e-learning design is about crafting meaningful and memorable online learning experiences. I truly believe you’ll find that these workshops both deliver the knowledge necessary to make good instructional design choices but also the inspiration and confidence that lead to e-learning solutions that really makes a difference.