Learning & Development

Instructional Design: The Ultimate Guide

How do you successfully instruct your employees, develop new skills, and further the goals of your organization? One way is through instructional design.

This method of creating effective learning experiences taps into the whole of human learning regarding the way we learn, think, and communicate.

What is instructional design?

Instructional design, also known as instructional systems design, is a process through which effective instructional materials and learning experiences can be created. These materials combine learning theories, effective workplace communication strategies, and various forms of learning technology.

An important aspect of this discipline is assessing which type of learning material is best suited to meet the needs of those it’s intended to instruct.

But, who is responsible for an organization's instructional design? That would be an instructional designer.

What is an instructional designer?

An instructional designer is an individual who facilitates the creation, improvement, and implementation of corporate training programs, curriculum design, and instructional materials.

Responsibilities of an instructional designer

Instructional designers create the entire process of employee training programs within the organization.

To produce instructional materials and courses that deliver learning outcomes, instructional designers need to have a broad range of knowledge and skills.

These individuals should be experts in both learning design and technology since they:

  • Interact with educational technology and eLearning authoring tools
  • Review new training materials
  • Write learning objectives for employee development
  • Provide instructional content such as podcasts and video tutorials
  • Create and update both new and current learning models
  • Implement improvements based on program evaluations
  • Train individuals on how to distribute learning materials
  • Investigate new trends in both learning design and instruction

The core components of instructional design

While the definition of the term may inspire more questions than answers, instructional design is fairly easy to understand when you break it down into its basic components of analysis, design, development, and evaluation.

Analysis

Before you can create a learning system that successfully imparts knowledge to your employees and empowers them to apply it effectively, you’ll need to perform a training needs analysis to set the specific goals your learning system will help you meet.

This is the part of instructional design where you answer questions related to the purpose of training, such as:

  • What will the learning environment look like?
  • Who is your target audience of learners?
  • What are you trying to accomplish with this training?
  • What are the goals and expectations?
  • Which format will you use to deliver the training?

Design

Now that you’ve compiled the answers to these questions, found underlying skill gaps, and selected your segment of learners, you can begin:

  • Creating learning objectives
  • Prototype a course outline
  • Choose the ideal platform (like an LMS)
  • Set time frames and due dates
  • Pick an assessment method

This is the “eLearning storyboarding” phase where you plan out how to accomplish creating the course. Take the time to create an easy-to-follow path from start to finish that is effective, precise, and measurable.

Development

Developing is the action aspect of instructional design. Once you’ve analyzed your needs and set SMART goals, you can begin the systematic development of a blueprint for your learning materials and then use that blueprint to create them.

At this point, you can start developing the training materials required for this course, such as:

  • Assessments and quizzes
  • Videos, animations, and infographics
  • Multimedia presentations and slides
  • Instructional guides or training manuals

Using mixed media for training is a great way to keep it fun, engaging, and informative for the learners.

Evaluation

It’s unlikely that your initial attempt at creating instructional materials will be perfect. That’s fine, but you need to conduct an instructional design evaluation and use that data and feedback to continue to improve your instructional materials.

To ensure that you’re evaluating your instructional materials effectively, consider using any of the following learning evaluation models: 

There are several other learning evaluation models that can prove useful in honing learning materials. The important thing is that you look objectively at the information your chosen model provides so you can apply it successfully.

Instructional Design Evaluation Template

Download Free Instructional Design Checklist

Instructional design models

Instructional design models are unique sets of guidelines used to structure, organize, and create learning experiences in a streamlined and scalable process.

There are a variety of instructional design models to choose from, but ADDIE continues to be the most popular due to its simple and effective process.

Here are the common instructional design models:

  1. ADDIE Model
  2. Action Mapping
  3. Gagne’s Nine Events of Instructions
  4. Kemp Design Model
  5. Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction
  6. SAM (Successive Approximation Model)
  7. Agile or Rapid Prototyping
  8. Dick and Carey Systems Approach Model
  9. 70-20-10 Model
  10. Bloom’s Taxonomy

Principles of instructional design

The three psychological principles of instructional design (ID) are behavioral, cognitive, and constructivist. Repeating and reinforcing are encouraged in learning information by behavioral psychology in order to develop learner behavior.

Benefits of instructional design

There are plenty of reasons you should consider implementing instructional design and technology into your corporate training programs.

But, here are a few of the main reasons why instructional design is beneficial to both employees and the organization:

Custom-Fit learning

Learning is not "one-size-fits-all". What works for one organization may not work for yours. Instructional design allows you to create the exact kind of learning materials that best fit your workforce.

Greater efficiency of materials

Creating a well-honed set of instructional materials that are tailored for your specific workforce can cut a ton of fat from the instructional design process

Whether your current method involves peer-to-peer learning, self-learning, or any other learning style, chances are that learning resources created through instructional design are going to be more effective and therefore more efficient.

Proven learning methods

You’re not starting from scratch in your instructional design project. You get to implement models that have a proven track record. These models have already been improved over many years of trial and error that you yourself will not have to endure. 

Cost-effectiveness

Once you’ve created successful instructional materials, the cost of training will be greatly reduced. You will save both time and resources that would have otherwise been used — and not necessarily efficiently.

A learning management system built for instructional design

Continu is a modern learning platform that can streamline your employee training and onboarding efforts and make them more effective than ever before.

Instructional designers will have the ability to:

  • Develop entire training courses with powerful eLearning authoring tools
  • Deliver instructional materials to anyone, anywhere, at any time
  • Create interactive learning experiences that engage learners
  • Track and measure employee training progress
  • Automate tasks with workflows
  • Integrate with popular business tools like Zoom, Slack, and Google
  • Provide assessments and quizzes

Plus much more...

Schedule a Demo Today

See Continu in action and how it can help your organization build a culture of learning.

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