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Instructional design in a digitalised era

Adrian Sita
29 Jun, 2020
3 m read

The definition and principles of instructional design

There are many different styles of learning practices that are created with different outcomes. It is hard to accommodate everyone, seeing as we each have our preferences to consume information. However, most formal learning experiences are inefficient. Instructional design offers a way of learning that combines both learning and application of knowledge and skill with how the brain works.

The origin of instructional design can be dated back during World War II. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers were needed to be taught very specific tasks in a short period. These complex tasks were broken down by each individual aspect to allow the soldiers to understand each part of the process. Instructional design takes this approach and built upon it using theories in psychology and communications. The result is effective teaching modules designed for students that allow a better understanding of the concepts being taught.

instructional design

What is instructional design?

Instructional design is the creation of instructional materials, modules, or lessons that combines the art of creating engaging learning experiences with the science of how the brain works. These are models that offer frameworks to help gain new knowledge, skill, and even attitudes. Learning activities are designed to be engaging and it also takes scientific studies of how people learn into the equation, to offer meaningful and effective instruction.

It is a method that considers how individuals learn and what type of pf materials will be most effective to help students achieve their goals and learning objectives. The principles of instructional design carefully consider how educational tools should be designed for any type of learner.

Benefits of instructional design

Better results have been shown in correlation to instructional design. Lesson plans are specifically created with high levels of student engagement, this increases the likelihood of achieving their goals. The final phase of instructional design implementation is evaluation, this ensures the effectiveness of the sessions and materials by meeting the learning objectives.

With instructional design, high-quality learning materials are designed to address the specific needs and requirements of educators. They also take into consideration the strength and weaknesses of students which in turn, results in efficient learning. This is a cost-effective method to implement efficient learning.

Principles of instructional design

What do you intend to achieve?

Clearly define what it is that you want the students to achieve? Always start the design process by picturing the finish line. What do you see? What are the learning outcomes? What do you want them to understand? How will this knowledge be applied to real-life situations? How can you motive and inspire the students to go the extra mile?

Answering these questions will set your end goal clearly and this will set a determined path as to how you will design the instruction material. This ultimately saves time and resources.

Focus on the students

Keep the focus on how the students learn, as opposed to what the instructors want to teach. A student-centered approach will concentrate the efforts to turn students into active participants. The key to success in learning is engagement.

Instructors should act as a guide to lead the students to acquire knowledge through the learning material and how to apply those skills. When designing instructional materials, all concepts and developments should focus on the learners and cater to their specific needs.

Continuous refinement

Successful instructional design is an on-going process that requires continuous assessments and improvements. That is why the evaluation step at the end of instructional design is so important.

Follow a robust system

Although this is a system that is continuous and always open to change and refinement, it must still follow a well-defined system that follows a sequence of analysis, design, development, application, and assessment. There are many parts, just like a clock and they must all fit and work together to keep the hands moving.

Look at the big picture

Much like the clock metaphor mentioned above, one must look at the big picture. As important are the individual components. They must all cooperate to serve the main function. This is how learning can be implemented effectively and efficiently through instructional design.

Instructional design is an efficient solution in these times, where the attention span constantly decreases and companies have to come up with new ideas to keep employees engaged in the training process.

Some (final) thoughts

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