Areas of Expertise (AOE) – Designing Learning


This area of expertise covers the two primary roles:

  • Designing, creating, and developing interventions to meet the needs
  • Analyzing and selecting the most appropriate strategy, methodologies, and technologies to maximize the learning experience and impact

In regards to the CPLP exam, you can expect about 15% of the exam to cover content from this AOE.
This Area of Expertise is essentially a summarization of what it means to be an Instructional Designer. This AOE covers several things, including:

  • Cognition and Adult Learning Theory
  • Instructional Design theory and process
  • Instructional methods
  • Training delivery options or media
  • Task Analysis and Competency modeling
  • Working with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
  • Assessment methods
  • Learning technologies and support systems
  • Business strategies, drivers, and needs for learning interventions
  • Methods of research
  • Legal and ethical issues related to designing learning
  • eLearning and traditional courses – differences and implications
  • New and emerging learning technologies and support systems
  • Designing Information displays, access and resources

When you design interventions for adults, you must identify characteristics and issues specific to that population. This allows you to design effective instruction. Knowing the relevance of different theories and models is extremely important.

Central to all the theories and models is Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. You may have heard this called ADDIE. The models also include goals and objectives for the instruction and assessment.

Here are some samples of the kinds of content the theory portion of this AOE covers:

  •  Theories of learning and instruction
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  • Knowles’ adult learning theory, Andragogy
  • The differences between teaching and facilitating
  • Roger’s guidelines for facilitating learning
  • Theories of how people learn and retain information
  • Modes of learning
  • Environmental influences
  • Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences

To create an effective learning opportunity, you must consider many instructional methods. Some of the issues you will need to address when defining the appropriate format include time, distance, budget, and schedules. You will need to be aware of how to align course content with optimum instructional methods, eLearning techniques, and ways to choose between the techniques.

Understanding different training delivery options is also important to this AOE. Classroom training can occur with all participants in the same room or in rooms separated by large distances and connected via conference calls, web conference tools, or webcams. Knowing when to use a specific medium is important to the delivery of instruction.

When creating a learning intervention, a careful exploration of the learner’s needs is vital to designing effective training. Knowing a wide range of job or task analysis methods and how to choose the right one is another key skill of this AOE. Outcomes of this analysis drive the deliverables of the assessment phase. This would include objectives, activities, and delivery methods.

The core of every learning intervention is content. As an instructional designer, you need to know the primary content you are working with, be able to engage your SME’s in a manner that provides you the appropriate content, or be able to research the content thoroughly from a variety of sources.

Once you know your content, you need to be able to design and implement a variety of assessment methods for the assessment of content and the outcomes of training. If you want your data-gathering tools to be effective, you need to understand key principles of the various techniques to collect, combine, and interpret the data in an open-minded manner.

For this, you need to be familiar with a few skills:

  • Reasons for assessing content
  • Steps for conducting a needs assessment
  • Data collection methods
  • Evaluating the results of the needs analysis

Do you know what is possible when it comes to technology and how to make the appropriate choices for different delivery methods and the media to use for them? Computer programming is not a required skill. But, you should be able to have relationships with information technology professionals to understand the differences in the software solutions and know when it is the appropriate time to suggest them.

One of the complications of communication technology is that it is ever-changing. Staying abreast of emerging trends is paramount to help you effectively and efficiently meet the needs of your adult learning.

As you develop learning interventions, the overall context of this intervention is important. Knowing how it relates to a business strategy or the job environment can be the tipping point between an effective learning intervention and one that completely misses the mark. What about how it relates to the goals and perspectives of the key stakeholders? You need to be adept at separating the most elegant learning solutions from the ones that align with the needs of the business and work successfully within the constraints of the business environment.

An Instructional Designer also possesses a broad understanding of research planning, which you can combine with different assessment techniques to design specific data gathering methods.

Adult learners are motivated in a different manner than younger learners. As such, you must pay attention to the different motivating factors, learning styles, and diversity issues. These can become critical in how you design a learning intervention.

In the same manner, it is important to be aware of intellectual property, copyright, and human resources-related laws, as they relate to your instructional materials. You should also be aware of multilingual issues and how they affect your materials.

One of the most common methods of delivery for adult learning has become web-based or eLearning. You must be able to identify their usage, apply the concepts of adult learning and instructional system design (ISD) to these delivery platforms. You should be able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of asynchronous web-based learning, synchronous learning, and classroom learning.

Lastly, you should be able aware of different ways to display information to a learner. Your learners will process information better if you present it appropriately. You should also be able to have ways to provide access to additional resources that meet the content requirements and your learners’ needs.

If you want to share your thoughts or enhance this AOE with your experiences, please feel free to do so as a comment.


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One Response to “Areas of Expertise (AOE) – Designing Learning”

  1. ASTD Competency Model « ASTD – Central Florida Chapter Blog Says:

    […] Designing learning […]

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