What Exactly Is Instructional Design (and How Can It Help Me)?

January 19, 2016

What is instructional design and how can it help students

Whether you're a K-12 teacher, administrator, or corporate trainer, you already know quite a bit about how people learn – it's in your job description. With instructional design, you can use that knowledge to develop the right educational materials – including websites, apps, online courses, videos, podcasts, games, and social media outlets – to both improve the learning process for your students or employees and help you become more effective at your job.

It's important to remember that instructional design is about more than just designing educational tools. It's a system that guides you as you design, develop, and implement these tools. Getting trained in instructional design allows you to adapt as the needs of your students or employees change over time.

Using Technology For Effective Learning

Sure, it's important to ask: what is instructional design? (You'll find a million different definitions online with a quick search.) But what's even more crucial is to know how to use it properly. That's where a master's degree in instructional design can make a huge difference.

Using technology in the classroom or corporate world is much easier with a master of science in instructional design, which teaches you more than just how to create the tools you need. It also teaches you how to:

  • Evaluate the needs of students or employees before you start creating your educational materials
  • Select appropriate media and educational strategies based on those needs
  • Develop the tools and materials that will be most effective at meeting the needs of your learners
  • Effectively implement these tools in your classroom/training program

Instructional design isn't just a "set-it-and-forget-it" approach; it is flexible. Which is a good thing for you and those you teach. As your learners respond to the materials you've designed, you can fine-tune your program based on their feedback and success with the program, making it more effective over time.

So How Do I Incorporate Tech Into My Instructional Strategies?

The instructional strategies you've developed for your classroom or corporate training program are (hopefully) built with specific objectives in mind. The materials you create should fit seamlessly into those strategies. In essence, you design to reach your objectives.

Again, taking courses or earning an online MS in instructional design is the best way to most effectively bring the benefits of ID into your classroom. By starting there, you'll not only create the exact materials you need, but also a systematic approach to designing them, so that as your needs and instructional strategies evolve, your learning materials and approach can, too.

Incorporating instructional design into both your career and your students' or employees' learning environment is a smart move for educators and trainers from all industries. Today's schools and corporations have a unique opportunity to empower their learners in new ways every day – and be ready for change as it comes (ever-so-quickly) down the pike.

Learn more about the online MS in instructional design program offered by the Quinnipiac University School of Education.