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Use Templates To Speed Up Your Instructional Design

In 1965, I learned a standard procedure for teaching any procedure: First you demonstrate the procedure. Then you ask the learner to do it while you coach him or her. Finally you test the learner. I have been using this template, attributed to Tom Gilbert, for the past 32 years.

In 1967, Susan Markle taught me a template for teaching concepts: First you present a clear example. Then you present pairs of examples and borderline nonexamples. Then you present a set of divergent examples. . . I have been using this template for the past 30 years to teach everything from technical concepts such as data field to soft concepts such as leadership.

In 1967, I learned from Gagne's Conditions of Learning that there are effective procedures (aka templates) for different types of learning. Later, I learned from Gagne a super template for teaching anything to any one called the Events of Instruction.

Templates speed up any design and production process. They can definitely accelerate your instructional design process.

Here are some thoughts about different sources of effective ID templates:

Articles. Beginning with the August 1989 issue of Performance & Instruction, Timothy Newby and Donald Stepich did a series of article on designing instruction. Each article presented a job aid (a template) for a different type of learning. If I remember correctly, the series had 10 different articles.

Seminars. A long time ago, I learned a wonderful way of analyzing, structuring, and presenting information from Robert Horn. This methodology has become a proprietary product and is available through Information Mapping, Inc. For more details, check

Borrowing from CBT authoring software. Many CBT authoring systems use templates. I have frequently used these templates even when I am designing some non-CBT instructional material such as a workbook or an instructor-led course.

Course development software. I strongly recommend Darryl Sink's CourseWriter software. Designed for use in producing non-CBT materials, this software contains some useful templates. Although I have not yet reviewed it, some of my friends recommend another software package from Langevin Associates.

Books. Here are four books that contain contain relevant information:

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