What is Instructional Design?

Have you ever thought to yourself - if our employees just knew how to do this one thing, the organization could or would be X times more efficient and/or productive? Or maybe you don’t even know where to start - all you know is that you have an organization that isn’t performing the way it should given the market and the fact that you have very qualified professionals working for you.

Well, instructional design (ID), or more specifically, instructional designers may be able to help! ID is the practice of using learning theory and research to design, develop, and implement a purposeful instructional experience that then leads to learning (i.e. your people gain the knowledge and skills necessary to do their job and do it well!). As a field, instructional design emerged in the mid-20th century alongside the need for fast, effective military training programs. Today, with the proliferation of personal computers and mobile devices, instructional designers design and develop highly effective learner-centered training not only in most professional settings but also in K-12 education and in colleges and universities.

The Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) defines instructional design as ‘the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning’.
— Reiser, 2002, p.1

Although there are several accepted methodologies, the process of instructional design generally includes some aspects of the following:

  • Performance Consulting/Needs Analysis | Understanding the root cause of performance gaps, curriculum and instructional needs, learner needs, etc.
  • Design | Grounding the curriculum and instruction in theory and research
  • Development and Implementation | Creating the curriculum, providing it to learners or holding the instructional event
  • Evaluation | Understanding whether or not the learners learned. Did they like the curriculum or instructional event Are the outcomes what you thought they would be?  Has performance changed as a result? Was it cost effective?

The precursor to instructional design, that is what must happen before you ever get to designing, developing and implementing instruction, is understanding whether or not performance gaps in your organization are due to a lack of knowledge, a lack of motivation, a lack of resources or some combination thereof. We’ll discuss this in more in a subsequent blog post!

Want to learn more about how our instructional designers might be able to help your company achieve its business goals? Drop us a line!