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What Is Instructional Design?

Dec 19, 2023

Instructional design is the process of creating learning experiences that are effective, efficient, and engaging for learners. It is a comprehensive approach that considers the needs of learners, the objectives of learning, and the constraints of resources. Instructional designers use various techniques and strategies to develop instructional materials such as e-learning modules, online courses, and training programs. They work closely with subject matter experts, stakeholders, and instructional technologists to ensure that the learning level objectives are met. Instructional design involves analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating learning experiences. It is a dynamic field that embraces new developments and technologies to enhance the learning experience. 

What Is the Importance of Instructional Design? 

Instructional design is an incredibly important aspect of creating effective learning experiences for students of all ages. Without it, valuable knowledge and information can be lost or misinterpreted, leading to confusion and frustration. Through instructional design, experts can develop educational materials that maximize learning outcomes and help students retain new information, resulting in more meaningful and lasting knowledge. Additionally, instructional design can contribute to improved engagement and motivation among learners, as well as more efficient use of time and resources.

In today's fast-paced world, where information is increasingly available and accessible, the role of instructional design has become even more important, as it provides a strategic framework for conveying knowledge and skills that are relevant and applicable to real-world situations. Ultimately, instructional design's impact on student performance and satisfaction makes it a critical component of educational programs across a wide range of industries and disciplines.

What Is the Process of Instructional Design?

Instructional design comprises the following stages:

  1. Analysis. The instructional designer analyzes the needs of the learners and the environment in which they are learning. This includes gathering information about the learners, including their prior knowledge and experience, as well as assessing the learning environment to determine what resources are available. The instructional designer also identifies any potential barriers to learning that may need to be addressed.
  2. Design. The instructional designer creates a plan for how to best meet the needs of the learners and address any identified barriers to learning. This includes selecting appropriate teaching methods and materials, developing objectives for each lesson or unit of instruction, and creating assessments to measure student progress toward these objectives.
  3. Development. The instructional designer develops all of the necessary materials for teaching and assessing students’ progress toward meeting their objectives. This may include creating lesson plans, writing scripts for videos or audio recordings, designing course activities or simulations, and creating assessment tools such as quizzes or tests.
  4. Implementation. All of the materials developed during the previous stages are implemented with students or other stakeholders. This may include delivering lectures or presentations, leading discussions or activities, administering assessments, monitoring student progress toward meeting objectives, and providing feedback on performance when needed.
  5. Evaluation. Data from implementation is collected and analyzed to determine whether students have met their objectives and if any additional changes need to be made to improve instruction going forward. Data sources can include test scores, surveys from stakeholders (students, teachers, and administrators), observations of classroom activities by an outside evaluator, and more, depending on what was determined during the analysis.

How to Become an Instructional Designer 

Earn a Degree

The first step to becoming an instructional designer is to earn at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as education, instructional technology, or computer science. A degree in one of these fields will provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to create effective learning experiences for students. Additionally, obtaining a master's degree can help you stand out from other candidates when applying for jobs in the field.

Gain Experience

In addition to earning a degree, it is important to gain work experience in the field of instructional design. This could include interning or volunteering at an educational institution or organization that specializes in creating learning experiences for students. Many companies offer short-term projects that allow you to gain experience in the field of instructional design without committing to a long-term job.

Develop Your Portfolio

Once you have gained some experience in the field of instructional design, it is important to begin developing your portfolio. Your portfolio should showcase your best work and demonstrate your ability to create engaging and effective learning experiences for students. It should also include examples of how you have used technology to enhance learning outcomes.


Networking is an important part of being successful as an instructional designer. Connecting with other professionals in the field can help you make valuable relationships that could lead to new opportunities down the road. You can network by attending conferences and seminars related to instructional design, joining professional organizations, or connecting with other professionals online through social media platforms.

Stay Current

Finally, it is important to stay informed on new trends and technologies related to instructional design so that you can continue delivering effective learning experiences for students. This could include reading industry publications, attending webinars and workshops related to instructional design, or taking courses related to the field on sites such as Coursera or Udemy. Keeping up with new developments will help ensure that your skills remain relevant and up to date so that you can continue providing quality instruction for years to come.

What’s Next? 

A degree from WGU can equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel as an instructional designer. WGU's Master of Education in Education Technology and Instructional Design offers hands-on experience, relevant coursework, and personalized support to prepare students for the workforce. The program teaches students how to design and develop effective learning materials, incorporate technology into instructional strategies, and evaluate the effectiveness of training programs. 

This degree can be particularly beneficial for those who wish to work in corporate training, education, or e-learning. Additionally, WGU's online, competency-based learning model allows students to progress at their own pace, making it an ideal option for those who need to balance work, family, and education. With the skills and knowledge obtained from a WGU degree, you can become a successful instructional designer and make a significant positive impact on the lives of students and educators.

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