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A few months ago, a client’s training department underwent an audit. The external auditor, an intelligent, analytical, and somewhat cynical man, asked, “Why bother using instructional designers to create the training? They aren’t subject matter experts, so what do they add? Couldn’t we just cut them and save time and money by having the experts develop the training?” It’s a valid question, until one stops and thinks about it.

An instructional designer is a bit like an auditor. An auditor often is external to the organization. Bringing in the outsider enables the organization to look at the issue from a fresh perspective. Same thing with an instructional designer: the instructional designer processes the new information more like a new user would. In other words, the designer thinks more like the target audience than like the expert.

The auditor does not necessarily have the technical skills for the work the organization does; however, the auditor comes with his or her own set of technical skills: how to analyze, ask questions, spot weaknesses, and write reports. The instructional designer also comes with a specialized skill set: how to ask questions, analyze complex systems, explain in simple terms, communicate effectively with adults. These skill sets can be applied, regardless of the situation, to enhance the organization.

In the end, the auditor creates a report that summarizes findings and offers suggestions, based on knowledge of best practices in general and use of basic common sense. The report is a road-map for future activities. The instructional designer creates a similar document:   the training course summarizes important information and provides guidance for how to do things better in the future. The only difference is that the training is for immediate application and an audit report usually results in further studies and discussions.

Ultimately, the auditor and the instructional designer provide the same benefit: they provide another perspective to assess and improve the organization. And the audit results? The auditor saw the value in both the training program and the instructional designers and recommended keeping both.

In addition to the above, organizations should also consider the following when developing training programs:

  • The Instructor Guide: The Instructor Guide is a critical tool for ensuring that training is delivered effectively. Organizations should invest in developing high-quality Instructor Guides that are clear, concise, and easy to use.
  • Qualities of Effective Instructional Design: Organizations should develop training programs that are based on the principles of effective instructional design. These principles will help to ensure that the training is effective, efficient, and cost-effective.
  • The Instructional Design Process: Organizations should follow a systematic approach to developing training. This will help to ensure that the training is well-planned and executed.
Karen Feeley
Karen Feeley

Instructional designer

Karen Feeley is a seasoned professional with over 25 years of experience in workplace learning and development. She is a published author, trainer, instructional designer, editor, and project manager with a proven track record of success in the private, public, and non-profit sectors.