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From Teacher to Instructional Designer - Ben's ELT Ireland Talk Part 1

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

Introducing the Fundamentals of Instructional Design at the ELT Ireland Conference

On the weekend of 18th and 19th February, Michelle and I were back at ELT Ireland’s Annual Conference. This marked a welcome return for both of us: for Michelle, it was her second conference after her extremely well-received and inspiring plenary last year while, for me, it was my eighth having first spoken there at this event in 2016 and returning ever since.

2023’s Annual Conference did not disappoint with the mixture of good humour, creativity, impressive expertise and atmosphere that we have come to expect from these events.

This year, I was delivering two talks; the first of these was entitled “From Teacher to Instructional Designer”. My intention being to provide an understanding of the key principles of Instructional Design in a 45-minute conference slot!

Instructional Design appears as a complex business riddled with multi-stage processes, models and acronyms but the fundamental principle is all about a systematic approach to development that considers all stages of the developmental process.

Firstly, I wished to know from the audience what they believed the session to be about. This elicited varied responses that demonstrated that those I attendance were highly open to what would evidently be new ideas, concepts and approaches. My answer to the same question was that the session is about a transition from teacher, suggestive of delivery and evaluation, to Instructional Designer capable of managing all stages of the learning process not only the delivery of prescribed materials such as coursebooks.

The learning process in question here being represented in the most famous of Instructional Design models, ADDIE. While there are, of course, a plethora of models that summarise the essence of Instructional Design, this seemed a pragmatic place to start an introductory talk:

· Analyse needs of the learners / course participants

· Design goals, objectives and outcomes

· Develop and / or select material and prepare for the delivery

· Implement the develop and deliver the training

· Evaluate the outcomes through recording and reporting attendance, feedback, test results and so on

Needs analysis should be something useful to help a course designer meet (or, even better, exceed) the expectations of those attending a course and other stakeholders. We moved on to discuss what we can do as development professionals to analyse these needs. A quick group brainstorm covered a range of approaches from asking or observing people to using questionnaires or interviews, psychometric testing, monitoring of workplace metrics and more. It was highlighted how needs analysis is not just gathering data, it must be acted upon. Form this, we set our big-picture goal for the course, our specific future-focused objectives and our lists of outcomes for what learners can do once they leave the course.

Next, comes the issue of preparation in the form of development and the actual delivery and implementation; being an audience of teachers, this was no problem at all – let us remember that this is what teachers do. While an audience of subject matter experts in any other field may have the subject knowledge but lack the competences to manage or deliver training in an engaging way (other than a “telling approach”), my audience in Dublin specialised in impactful, engaging delivery as education professionals.

This took us to the final point about how we can evaluate the success of any developmental outcome and, as with needs analysis, the audience suggested multiple measures of this ranging from attendance to testing knowledge via multiple choice test, case study analysis, assessed presentations, reports and much more.

I greatly enjoyed this talk and is a great experience for a conference speaker to have their own professional interests and passions reciprocated by such an audience who, as ever, were keen to know more, to learn from each other, to share their thoughts and ideas with me and each other, and to apply their own learning from the talks they attend.

You can download the slides below:

ELT Ireland Talk 2023 - Instructional Design (Ben Dobbs)
Download PDF • 1.26MB

Interested in taking a course about Instructional Design? Take a look here:

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