What is Instructional Design?

EKU Online > What is Instructional Design?

Instructional design is a fairly established line of work that has been around for more than 50 years. It has been experiencing a renaissance in the past ten years or so, with the expansion of distance learning opportunities in all job sectors. There are many definitions and ways to describe it. It is a multi-disciplinary field that uses a learner-centered approach for the creation of learning experiences that result in the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills.

Instructional or learning design is a creative process that requires a multitude of skills, such as designing learning solutions, training, online courses, evaluation, and multimedia projects. It usually involves the knowledge of graphic design, user interface design, and skills in project management. Instructional design attracts individuals from a variety of fields, including teachers, librarians, programmers, graphic designers, and others. In short, it is an ever-changing and exciting field.

What Instructional Design Isn’t

Instructional design is not just one aspect of the things previously mentioned. It’s not just media creation or curriculum development. Each of these has job titles such as a multimedia developer or trainer. Instead, an instructional designer takes the concepts mentioned and takes other things into consideration, and designs and develops the best learning experience for a given audience.

What makes a good instructional designer?

A person who is a lifelong learner, curious, adaptive, and enjoys the challenges of constant change makes a good instructional designer. The field is continuously changing, so those working as instructional designers must be able to adapt and grow. Other characteristics of successful instructional designers include being an educational explorer, enjoying collaborating with different people and subject matter experts, and appreciating technology as a means to meaningfully facilitate learning.  

Another important aspect of the field is knowledge of pedagogy and andragogy or learning frameworks and theories. This knowledge can usually be acquired after one or two courses in the appropriate degree program.

Backgrounds for Instructional Designers

Common backgrounds for instructional designers include teachers, librarians, graphic designers, journalists, techies, English majors or those who work in the writing field. Technical skills such as HTML, CSS, basic video production, or multimedia design are also helpful to have as an instructional designer.

Another background that is helpful is visual and artistic talents. There’s a visual and artistic thread that goes through instructional design. We all appreciate visually appealing instructions and products, so that is an important skill to have.

An interesting thing about instructional design is that everybody is welcome, and everybody brings something to the table. With a bit of training and some educational background, individuals will be ready for a successful career.

Interested in a career in the dynamic field of instructional design?

Earn your master’s degree from a regionally accredited university that has been an online education leader for over 15 years. Our flexible, online format provides students the ability to complete coursework and assignments according to their schedule.

Complete the form to learn more about how EKU’s online instructional design and learning technology program can help advance your career.

Learn More