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What is Instructional Design & Why Does it Matter for Training?

According to Purdue University, “Simply put, instructional design is the creation of instructional materials.” But effective Instructional Design goes beyond the creation of instructional materials to carefully analyze how learners absorb information and map out how to best convey information to those learners through effective design, content, and delivery in order to yield measurable results. 

Instructional Design is Process Oriented

Successful Instructional Design (ID) follows a systematic process in order to understand the needs of the learner as well as the client or course proponent and produce the right materials for that audience. A common approach in ID is known as ADDIE – Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation.

 In general, this means that the ID team:

  1. Analyzes the specific audience and their needs
  2. Identifies concrete, measurable learning objectives and outcomes
  3. Maps out an instructional strategy to meet the audience needs and learning objectives
  4. Selects the best delivery method and approach for the training (e.g., an online training course that uses video, animations, scenarios, and interactive quizzes)
  5. Works with a production and development team to build and deliver the course
  6. Evaluates the course effectiveness once it’s deployed to ensure it meets the overall objectives

The full Instructional Design process establishes not just how to train or inform the learner but also how to best convey the material to ensure the learner absorbs the learning. 

Instructional Design is Context Focused

Rather than solely relying on the knowledge of the trainer or instructor, ID involves key Subject Matter Experts, user groups, and other stakeholders throughout the process to identify skill or knowledge gaps and design the learning to fill those gaps. The key role of the Instructional Designer is to ensure that regardless of industry, learners not only make sense of the instructional materials and training, but that they can also act on that information and use it in their own context – whether it’s academic or on the job.

Instructional Design is Customized

You can’t assume that a specific learning approach that may have worked in one context will work in another, even if the problem you’re trying to address is very similar. A “cookie cutter” solution will not work. The benefit of Instructional Design is that it focuses on the specific needs and audience in each situation to deliver custom solutions that match those needs and audience, delivering the right results each time. 

Instructional Design is Cost Effective

Because Instructional Design simplifies learning and creates materials that consider the unique needs and context of your learners (giving you only what you need and “trimming the fat”), Instructional Design saves time and creates an efficient learning process. Your resources are maximized and your learning objectives and training goals are more easily met, which leads to cost savings and, in the case of eLearning in particular, even an increase in revenue

Instructional Design Gets Results

Above all, Instructional Design done well gets results. Learners who feel their needs have been taken into account are more engaged. Interactive assets and customized materials encourage participation. And engaged learners are more likely to not just reach their goals but also apply the knowledge in their day to day. 

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