The world of post-secondary education is changing. Online courses, blended learning and many forms of non-traditional learning abound. The recent advent of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) often enrolling thousands in a course, is more evidence that post-secondary learning is riding yet another wave of change. The use of mobile platforms to deliver learning to anyone and anywhere is adding yet another layer of complexity, innovation and mobility to online learning.
Delivering Desired Outcomes
At the heart of all this change are four essentials which may seem self-evident, but are easily set aside in lieu of the latest thing. These are: excellence in design, effective skills transfer, quality programming, and customer care. It may seem as though the advances in delivery of education are rooted in good learning practices, but this may not be the case.
Excellence in design begins with knowing what is needed by the learner by engaging those who have learned and are doing . For some, the strategy is simply to decide what to teach, and develop a course or set of courses, and offer them to the learning public and hope for the best.
Laser Beam Needs Assessment
While it may not seem as charming to suggest that the essential beginning point is the notion of needs assessment; assessing learner needs is the bedrock of the learning life cycle. Thoughtful preparation for learning begins with the structure and flexibility of learning needs assessment. Careful attention to the reason for needs assessment, design of the methodology for needs assessment, and the intended use of the results will serve to anchor the process to deliver the kinds of results the instructional design team hope to accomplish.
DACUM (Developing a Curriculum)
While there are many tools available for assessing learner needs, (Google will back this up with a simple search), from our perspective there is not as comprehensive or thorough a tool as a DACUM. Developing a Curriculum (DACUM) is a powerful and flexible tool that collects data from experts in the field under discussion, and the results are easily converted into either performance review criteria or the design of a responsive curriculum. Our many years of experience in developing curriculum, and engaging learning needs assessment has brought us time and again to the power of the DACUM.
Let ICW be a part of your exploration of learning needs assessment and developing of your next steps.