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Webucator's Free Instructional Design Tutorial

Lesson: Developing and Implementing Learning

Welcome to our free Instructional Design tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's Instructional Design Training course.

In the next phase of designing a course or training, the instructional designer will work on developing and implementing the learning.

Lesson Goals

  • Implement various learning processes.
  • Learn how to distribute and implement the learning.
  • Learn about learner support.
  • Learn how to follow up on the instruction.

Learning Processes

Understanding learning processes can help the instructional designer to develop instruction that is going to be meaningful to learners.


Memory is the learner's ability to take in, process, and store information, retaining it for future use and reference. When designing training, it is important for an instructional designer to keep in mind a learner's memory. This may sound obvious, but often it is not.

The very definition of learning involves processing information for storage and later retrieval in long-term memory.

Cognitive Load

Building on the theory of memory, cognitive load has to do with what is known as a learner's working memory. Working memory refers to the area of the brain that processes information. Cognitive load is the amount of activity that working memory experiences during the learning process.

Cognitive load theory, or CLT, says that working memory is limited. It can be limited by a number of demands:

  • Intrinsic: Intrinsic demands reflect the level of information that needs to be retained. In instructional design, intrinsic load usually cannot be changed.
  • Germane: Germane demands occur when the learner is constructing new schemas. A schema is when the learner's mind constructs a framework to remember and process information. Learning experts believe that germane cognitive load has a positive effect on learning.
  • Extraneous: Extraneous demands are based on how the learning is delivered. If the delivery causes demands on the learner's cognition, retention of the information will suffer. The instructional designer can affect this aspect of cognition.

How does this theory affect what an ID does? Most learning theorists agree that working memory can retain seven pieces, or chunks, of information. Another recommendation is to avoid redundant or repetitious information, which helps the learner's cognitive load remain low. Using visual and auditory information can also relieve cognitive load, thus helping learners process and retain information.

In our hypothetical course on business writing, we would make sure that the lessons did not contain too much content so that the learner would be overwhelmed.

For example, say we had the following topics in a lesson on e-mail and instant messaging:

  • E-mail Subject Lines
  • E-mail
  • The Body of the E-mail
  • E-mail Signatures
  • Responding to E-mail
  • Using the Cc and Bcc Fields Appropriately
  • Instant Message Statuses
  • IMing: Keeping it Brief
  • Using Professional Language in IMs
  • Follow Office IM Policies

This is so much information that it would probably be better to split it into two different lessons, one on e-mail and the other on instant messaging. This is an example of extraneous load, how the training is delivered. This is something that the ID can and should be in control of.


Another learning process theory is that of behaviorism. Behaviorism says that the mental processes that a learner goes through cannot be studied. What can be studied is the behavior that the learning produces. Therefore, the focus should be on the desired behavior.

In instructional design, the designer uses objectives and goals, measurable behavior, that the learner should be able to perform when the instruction has been completed. Instructional goals are framed within observable terms that are specific. The ADDIE model is a good representation of behaviorism in instructional design.

For example, in a class on using Photoshop to edit pictures, behaviorism's focus would be on getting the learner to that goal, of being able to edit a picture.

Reviewing Learning Processes

Duration: 10 to 15 minutes.

In this exercise, you will use your knowledge of learning processes to answer the following questions.

  1. What is meant by the term working memory?
  2. The crux of behaviorism is that what cannot be measured? And what can be measured?
  3. According to cognitive load theory, what is meant by extraneous learning?


  1. Working memory is a term that relates to the cognitive load theory. Working memory is the part of the brain that processes information. Cognitive load is, then, the amount of activity that working memory experiences during the learning process.
  2. The theory of behaviorism says that a learner's mental processes cannot be measured; however, his or her behavior can.
  3. Extraneous learning is a result of how the training is developed. Therefore, this is something that is within the control of the instructional designer.

Development Tools

In the course of developing training, the instructional designer may use any of a number of programs to aid development.

The following are some commonly used programs and applications:

  1. Captivate: An Adobe product used to develop eLearning. Captivate is useful when creating demonstrations and simulations, in particular. It can also capture screen actions and convert PowerPoint files to Flash files.
  2. Dreamweaver: Adobe Dreamweaver is used to develop eLearning. Dreamweaver uses a "What You See Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG) format, allowing authors without extensive knowledge of HTML to develop with it. It is a web design program.
  3. Flash: Adobe Flash is also used for the development of eLearning that will be played in the Adobe Flash player. Flash is especially useful for developing interactions and game-based courseware.
  4. Articulate and Storyline: Articulate and Articulate Storyline are two products used to develop eLearning. Both programs integrate with Microsoft PowerPoint and allow authoring of online and mobile courses. Storyline is especially suited for scenario-based eLearning.
  5. Camtasia: TechSmith's Camtasia program is used in instructional design to create simulations and videos, in particular. Camtasia allows the user to record screen actions and audio simultaneously.
  6. InDesign: Adobe InDesign is used to create manuals and other print and digital material. InDesign can publish content that is suitable for tablet devices.
  7. Quark: Another tool for developing print courseware is QuarkXPress, which is another program that uses a WYSIWYG format, allowing for easier authoring. The latest version of QuarkXPress allows users to create apps.
  8. Photoshop: Adobe Photoshop is graphics software used to create and edit images, in particular, photo images. More recent versions of Photoshop allow for 3D image creation.
  9. Illustrator: Adobe Illustrator is a graphics program used to create and illustrations and graphics. It is especially suited for graphics that involve text elements.
  10. Server applications: Server applications include such things as Windows Server and database software. These applications are used to host content and learning management systems (LMSs).
  11. WebEx: WebEx is a Cisco product used to host webinars. It can integrate voice and video, along with &A sessions. It is possible to integrate WebEx with an organizations' learning management system.
  12. Adobe Connect: Adobe Connect is web-conferencing software that is used to host webinars. It incorporates voice and video and can also be used as a rapid eLearning development tool.

This list of development tools is not all-inclusive. Instructional designers may work in other programs, such as PowerPoint or Word, among others, as well.

Learning Distribution and Implementation

During development of instruction and into the implementation phase, how the instruction will be distributed and implemented is another thing that the instructional designer must consider. In this phase of instructional design, the ID must consider how the teacher will be prepared and how the learners will be prepared for the instruction.

Facilitator Plan

The facilitator plan is a document that the instructional designer may create for the instructor, and is most often used with the ADDIE model of instructional design, and it assumes that the course facilitator will receive training prior to conducting the class.

A facilitator plan includes:

  • Identification of the instructor. What skills does the instructor need to facilitate the learning? Sometimes, the instructor will need to possess certain credentials, for example, in highly technical training such as Cisco certification.
  • Schedule of training. When will the training take place? When will any Train the Trainer events occur?
  • Train the Trainer information. The next section will detail Train the Trainer events. The facilitator plan should include any information that the selected instructor will need to participate in the Train the Trainer event.

The following is an example of a facilitator plan for the business writing course.

Train the Trainer

In your role as an instructional designer, you may or may not be involved in the selection of the teacher or trainer, if the instruction is to be delivered via a facilitator. The trainer will ideally have facilitation skills. He or she will be responsible for not only delivering the instruction, but setting the pace of the class, responding to learner issues, and even possibly providing subject-matter expertise if he or she is knowledgeable in the content area.

Train the Trainer events can be used to prepare the instructor to deliver the content. In a Train the Trainer session, the ID often acts as the facilitator, delivering the instruction to the instructor as if he or she is the learner. Other information likely shared includes:

  • Results of the learner analysis
  • Goals and objectives of the learning
  • Any other relevant information

In the business writing course, you might run a Train the Trainer session to walk through the chosen instructor on the learners, who are mid-level managers who frequently need to communicate with clients. The goal of the training is to effectively communicate via email and letter. You would want to share with the instructor that the learners come from a variety of backgrounds and that they do not consider themselves skilled writers.

The following is an example of a Train the Trainer agenda for the business writing class:

Preparing Students

Preparing students for training helps to ensure that they interact with the instruction effectively.

Part of this phase of design is identifying how many students will take part in the instruction. If the training will take place in a classroom, classroom logistics will need to be determined, possibly by the ID.

Another aspect of preparing students is identifying any communication that needs to take place before instruction begins. Students should be notified of information pertinent to the training, including any prerequisite information that they need to have completed before the class or training takes place.

In our example about creating a business writing course, the class is going to consist of 12 midlevel managers. Each manager uses a laptop, and they will need to bring these to class to practice some writing activities. You or the instructor would compose an email that will be sent to students a week before training, letting them know they should bring their laptops to class.

Implementing and Distributing Learning

Duration: 20 to 25 minutes.

In this exercise, you will use your knowledge of implementing and distributing learning to answer the following questions.

Keep in mind this scenario from the previous lessons: You are working as an ID in your organization, and the head of human resources has come to your group with a specific need for the group to develop some training on working with difficult coworkers.

This training will take place in a classroom setting as online training.

  1. How will you prepare students for the training? Are there any prerequisites that you think they should possess?
  2. You are preparing a facilitator plan for the HR training, and you need to suggest a type of facilitator. What type of teacher would be an ideal facilitator for this class?


  1. Answers will vary but may include that the training will be delivered online and learners' systems must meet certain requirements, so they should check their system setup ahead of schedule. You would need to communicate this to learners ahead of time.
  2. Answers will vary but may include the ideal facilitator will have experience in managing different personalities and a familiarity with the workplace the training will take place in. This could be someone from HR, a mediator, or a facilitator with experience in managing different personalities.

Conducting a Pilot Class

One way to determine if the instruction that has been created is effective is to run a pilot or test class. Ideally, the pilot class will be with a group of students or others acting as students. This is a chance for the instructional designer to assess if the learning is effective and if there are any issues that become apparent that need to be addressed before the training goes "live."

If the course is online training, the pilot class can illustrate any technical issues as well as content issues.

During the pilot class, useful information for the instructional designer to collect includes:

  • Goals and objectives: Were the course's goals and objectives achieved or does the instruction need to be adjusted?
  • Topic order: Do the topics and lessons flow well? Is there any need to reorder any of the instruction's elements?
  • Timing. Is the timing of the course accurate? Does any content need to be adjusted?

Learning Support

A key consideration in implementing instruction is learner support, no matter the instruction's delivery. Especially if the instruction is in the form of e-learning that will be taken individually by learners, it is integral to have a support system in place.

Who Will Support Learning?

If learning is delivered in a classroom setting, learner support will be provided by the instructor.

If learning is delivered online, the instructional designer must consider how students will receive support. Issues may come in the form of technical problems, from inability to log into the course to issues with navigating through the course.

Many online courses contain a Help section, which learners can consult when they are having problems.

In terms of content support, again, in a classroom setting learners have the ability to speak to instructors face to face. In an online course, will learners be able to participate with an instructor or SME in any way?

How Will Learners Be Supported?

Support can happen at the level of an individual instructor in a classroom setting to an online Help file in an online setting.

Another aspect of learner support to consider is organizational support. If you, as the ID, are designing training for learners in your own organization or within a different company, it is important to consider and decide on managerial support.

Back to our previous example of creating an instructor-led course on business writing, imagine your next task is to create an online course on proposal writing. This course will be taken individually by students online, on their own time.

You need to consider how they will be supported. The course model includes a technical FAQ section, where learners can find answers to common questions such as how to mute their audio and navigate from screen to screen.

If they have questions about the content, learners are going to be told to send them to their managers, who will then collect all of the questions and send them to you. You will then be in touch with the subject-matter expert who helped with the course to get answers. This plan will be communicated to learners before they begin taking the course.

Supporting Learners

Duration: 15 to 25 minutes.

In this exercise, you will use your knowledge of how to support learners to answer the following questions.

Keep in mind this scenario, from the previous lessons: You are working as an ID in your organization, and the head of human resources has come to your group with a specific need for the group to develop some training on working with difficult coworkers.

This training will be conducted via an online course that students will take individually.

  1. Since you are creating an online course, there will not be an instructor present for students. How will they be supported if they have questions about the content?
  2. What should a learner do if he or she has a technical issue with the course?


  1. Answers will vary but may include that learners can escalate any questions to the HR department. HR members should be able to answer most questions that arise, especially if the training leads learners to question organizational policies.
  2. Answers will vary but may include that the company's IT department is equipped to assist with any unanswered technical issues.

Following Up

Another step in the implementation process is following up on the training. In your role of instructional designer, you may need to follow up on the implementation in the following ways:

  • Meet with stakeholders to ensure that they are satisfied with the learning.
  • Check in with the instructor to determine if any issues have arisen. If the instruction is going to be taught multiple times, there may be an opportunity to make improvements to it before its next iteration.
  • If the course is conducted online, monitor for any technical issues that may need to be addressed. This may involve meeting with an IT department.

In our business writing course, if the course is going to be taught a second time, we may check in with the facilitator to determine if anything needs to be changed. For example, maybe the facilitator determines that the lesson on writing business proposals takes too long to deliver in a classroom setting. This gives you an opportunity to alter the lesson before the next training class takes place.