Perhaps one of the most important skills an instructional designer possesses isn’t related to technology, but rather problem-solving skills. When presented with a challenge – usually something along the lines of  “Can you take this information and make it into a training course?” – a good instructional designer knows not only how to organize information, but also the best way to deliver that information to learners. The secret weapon? A course design matrix. The course design matrix can help paint a clear picture of what needs to be done and the best way to do it. Here’s how.

Course Matrix Match-up

The course design matrix acts as a roadmap for instructional designers and their clients. It’s the easiest and most effective way to compare objectives with the right delivery pathways. Think of it as a triptych: You clearly see your destination, but also the necessary stops along the way that will get you there. It’s an essential first step to get the results that instructors want – and learners need to succeed.

Defining Goals in eLearning Matrix Design

The first step to utilizing a design matrix as part of the process is to have a client or instructor define their goals: What is the end result of this module or course? Is it altered behavior, increased knowledge or another measurement of success? The objective acts as an anchor for the rest of the matrix. When planning modules and delivery methods, they can constantly be compared to the objective to ensure that they’re in line with the overall vision for the module.

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Current Efforts

The design matrix is also an excellent way to look at current eLearning and development efforts to see if they’re fulfilling the objectives as well. Chances are that if an organization is looking for a new eLearning program, older efforts are falling short. Use the lessons learned from other attempts as stepping stones for a new program by plugging them into the matrix. If live instructors were used for all training, for example, but performance reviews remain low, it’s clear that live instructors may not be effective for that specific purpose.

Filling the Gaps

Once you have detailed what tasks need to be fulfilled and what is currently working, your design matrix will quickly reveal clear gaps that require filling through different eLearning methods. With a detailed road map in hand, you’ll be able to see which efforts aren’t currently matched with a viable training method. A gap near compliance training might be filled with micro lessons, for instance. Customer service training could be better matched with gamification.

Once the gaps have been filled, you have a clear guide as to how to proceed – whether you’re an instructional designer, instructor or client. Use the course design matrix to guide the design process, detail wins and losses and stay organized as you work to achieve your overall vision and objectives.