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Navigating Learning Design Without Formal Learning: 9 Tips for Success

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Immerse yourself in the world of learning and development (L&D), but have no formal training in learning design? You are not alone. An astonishing number of L&D professionals get their roles “by accident,” and this is often their second career. Just because you’re not a designer of instruction doesn’t mean you can’t create successful learning material.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the world of design learning:

1. Build your knowledge base

Whether it’s a side concert, building a new career or a new responsibility that’s on you, create a strategy to keep abreast of industry trends. A good place to start is to subscribe to major publications in your industry. Look at the headlines, read one or two articles (and maybe three) and start gathering knowledge and advice. Explore and learn from leaders in your industry. Here are two to get you started: Erica Kesvin, bestselling author and workplace strategy and business coach; and Colin Steed, founder of The Learning & Performance Institute and presenter Training is now TV.

2. Familiarize yourself with adult learning theories

Studying educational theory can offer one of the best foundations for curricula – and it shouldn’t take long. Some popular learning frameworks Kirkpatrick’s model, learning cluster design or model 70-20-10.

3. Consider the work of others

Review the various forms of existing learning content and find out what works best. What makes one course more effective than another? What strategies were used? Can these strategies work in your industry? Find effective training and use it to compare with your own work. Checking out other designers ’instructions is also a great way to gather ideas if you’re not yet confident in your abilities or just want to find inspiration.

4. Create a contour

A chart is a great way to visually plan your course, giving you a place to start and work. This can help you plan the overall flow of the course, showing the path that the learner must take as well as listing the details that need to be included. You can use it to share your ideas with others, and refer to it throughout the creation process to make sure you stay on track. Contour elements can always be customized, so don’t feel like you need to stick to the original.

5. Give yourself time

It takes time to build effective training. Sometimes the brain needs a change of scenery to see something new. That’s why when planning a schedule, it’s important to give yourself time to get away from work. Whether it’s five minutes, an hour, or a full-time job, this may be exactly what you need to come up with the perfect way to articulate the issue, open a video, or honestly criticize the structure of your learning path. Make sure you give yourself time for strategic moments, such as after a plan or first draft has been completed.

6. Be your own test driver

How do you like to study? What activities help you store information better? What images and layouts will interest you and make you learn? While you have to recognize that your own biases can sway your answers in a certain direction, there’s no reason why you can’t use yourself as a performance barometer when reviewing your own work. Of course, if you can add a few perspectives to the list of tests (hello, unsuspecting colleagues), then even better.

7. Recognize that learning is an ongoing process

You make a mistake – it happens to both beginners and experienced professionals – but it’s okay. It’s part of the learning process, and just as learning designers leave room for error on their courses, you should do the same when it comes to your own learning curve. Just make sure you correct the mistakes you can and learn from each one. You probably won’t be doing sensational workouts from the start, but as long as it provides the right information, you’ve succeeded! Some training will not be as effective as you hoped, but use it as a learning moment, not despair. You have it! As with any business, you need practice.

8. Know your audience

When you are ready to start creating, make sure you evaluate who will be taught – adults, Zer generation or those who study English as a Second Language (ESL)? These factors affect how you design your training, format and timing, and how it should be presented. For example, for a Generation Z audience, microlearning through a series of short videos available at work may be a better format than longer training videos that need to be viewed. The main thing is that everything was simple. If you have to re-read or look at something more than once to understand its meaning, try again. Remember the purpose of each workout and focus on that goal.

9. Strive to do better

The world of educational design is constantly changing. There are always new learning tools or new research that explains why one learning method is more effective than another. Try to be aware of these changes and don’t be afraid to use them in your work if you think it can improve things. Gamification is a great example of this. A few years ago, the inclusion of play activities in learning may have been considered distracting and useless, but today it is the right strategy to increase student activity.

Training and learning design can be fun! The goal is to help people be successful, so don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and ask experts on the subject to also come up with suggestions. Think of your programs as constantly evolving and you will get better and better with each new program and iteration.

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