I have a little something in the works, and it will make a lot more sense (and application) once it’s revealed. Until then, it’s back to regular business. This week, I’ll be discussing the term ‘Instructional Strategy’, explaining a couple of variations, and providing a few reasons why it’s essential to understand the term in relation to your course development.
Basically, an instructional strategy is an all-encompassing plan of attack for your course. It defines what will be taught and how that information will be taught. Essentially, the instructional strategy is the blueprint that drives your learners to achieve the performance objectives (more on that in the coming weeks) you have defined.
Instructional strategies are typically selected based upon the type of learning that needs to occur. One person may take a philosophical approach (e.g. learning based exposure to the environment) while another chooses an instructional strategy based on the type of learning (e.g. verbal information needs to be conveyed meaningfully in order to enhance retention). In the end, it all comes down to personal preference and most folks learn as they go.
Alright…sounds simple enough, but why is it so important?
The instructional strategy is important because it is used to conceptualize and lay out the course before getting bogged down in the design and development (it’s quite costly to fly by the seat of your pants in those phases). Without a clear instructional strategy, you will be doomed to make some costly mistakes later on down the line. Furthermore, failing to develop an instructional strategy will open up your work to further interpretation by clients, potentially increasing revision cycles (time is money).
Two types to consider:
A macro-instructional strategy provides an overall blueprint for a larger learning experience (e.g. an entire course), whereas a micro-instructional strategy dictates each part of the learning experience (from the course to the module to the unit to the lesson, etc.). If you’re looking for a cover-your-butt type of instructional strategy, the kind that doesn’t come back to haunt you in the end, the micro-instructional strategy is the way to go. Think about how annoying you feel when someone else is micro-managing you. Well – there’s good reason (sometimes), and that’s because the want to dictate each and every little thing…annoying for many occupations, but as an Instructional Designer, it really just protects you in the end.