What is Instructional Design?

By Paul Silli

Instructional Design and Technology is a comparatively new field dedicated to applying what is empirically understood about how humans learn and improve upon performance to the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of learning and performance support products, processes, and environments (eLearning, ref-7).

Instructional technologists understand and leverage technologies as both product (such as a Web-based course for distant learners, eLearning, or print-based job-aids for the workplace) and process (such as a formative approach to learner assessment and evaluating if a work was successful). Instructional technology is a unique, multidisciplinary profession that practices a variety of settings including industry, pre to K-12 schools, higher education institutions, to government work.

To further define the term, according to Wikipedia, Instructional Design is the practice of arranging media and content to help learners/teachers transfer knowledge most effectively. The process consists broadly of determining the current state of learner understanding, defining the end goal of instruction, and creating some media-based “intervention” to assist in the transition.

There are many positions that reflect the practice of this incredible and growing field such as instructional designers in special technical training/curriculum, or performance consultants in industrial settings, and as professional teachers or technology coordinators in K-12 Education.

Why Hire an Instructional Designer?

  • Subject matter experts aren’t always effective as instructors in design implementation.
  • Teachers don’t always have the needed time to develop new curricula.
  • Instructional Designers know the systems for teaching a variety of students, from at-risk kids to working adults in the corporate field.
  • Instructional Designers can design instruction that works within the limits of your situation, such as restricted budgets, high teacher turnover, corporate needs, or specific learner development.
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3 Responses to “What is Instructional Design?”

  1. Cricket Says:

    Thanks for the input. I have been looking to hire an Instructional Designer to help me with my small business. Any recommendations? Let me know. Oh, nice site, by the way.


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