How instructional design can transform your medical training materials
Importance of graphics
With so many styles and individual preferences for learning spread amongst us, understanding and applying the key principles of instructional design when creating training materials can really help to enhance both the appeal and the overall utility of the end product. With this in mind, considered use of graphics, which are incorporated specifically to support the understanding of complex concepts, can really enhance an individual’s experience of training when used alongside words, especially if activation of related previous knowledge is triggered as part of the learning process. However, it is important to give some thought to the ideal positioning of graphics used in a training module – remember that the effect of any corresponding words will be greater if they are in close proximity to the diagram in question.
Measured mix of audio and graphics
To maximise learning, audio narration should ideally be smoothly coordinated to occur simultaneously with the appearance of key graphics rather than successively. A combination of both audio narration and visual learning can help to avoid information overload since the information being presented can be divided evenly between the visual and the auditory sensory channels. However, if using this approach, it is important to avoid redundancy in the information being presented. When applying the principals of instructional design, it is true that less is often more, therefore, using graphics with audio narration on its own is more likely to be successful than using audio narration to read out text that is already given on-screen alongside a complex graphic.
Conversational style and cues help learners
When considering the best tone to use for a training module, often a conversational style of writing or speaking is more likely to resonate well with the learner. Use of effective on-screen coaches and incorporation of personal pronouns can help with engagement and aid enhancement of the learner’s personal journey through a challenging training module. In addition, remembering to break down information into bite-size chunks using cues such as headings, underlining and arrows, can help to focus the learner on key concepts and ideas without triggering cognitive overload. Ideally, all relevant new terms and concepts should be introduced before complex processes as this can make a big difference in ensuring that the learner is not overwhelmed as they progress through a training module. Incorporation of short knowledge checks throughout can help learners to direct their own learning and ease retention of acquired information.
Instructional design principles improve engagement
Taking a moment to consider and incorporate the principles of instructional design when developing training materials can help to enhance the overall quality of what is delivered and ensure that the end product has the best chance of being well received by the target audience.