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What Is instructional design and why should you care?

3 minute read

By Alex Mcauley on

Educational institutions of all shapes and sizes need instructional designers who can drive the design process and align everyone working on a course from content creators to student learners. This essential guide outlines what an instructional designer does, the key skills required and the role of an instructional designer.

Instructional designers use their knowledge and experience of learning, as well as their understanding of design principles and research, to develop, test and refine learning experiences so that they are accessible, engaging, and effective.

Beyond designing courses, instructional designers play an important role in all aspects of the learning process. We explore what this role entails, the typical responsibilities and the skills required.

What is Instructional Design?

Instructional design is the process of developing, testing, and refining the elements of an educational program. In short, it's the process of designing and developing curriculum or educational content.

Instructional designers are at the heart of creating engaging learning experiences for students through their knowledge of learning theory and their understanding of design principles and research.

Instructional designers may work in a number of settings, from public schools to corporate training programs. They may be employed by a company that is providing or delivering educational programming or working within a public school environment.

Why Should You Care About Instructional Design?

When students are involved in a course, they're more likely to succeed. This is due to a number of factors, including the ability of instructors to inspire and engage students, the ability of instructors to meet students' needs, and the ability of instructors to help students develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the future.

Instructional designers are responsible for ensuring that course content is both relevant and engaging. This means that instructional designers are responsible for creating content that is interesting, interesting, and relevant.

In order to meet students' learning needs, instructional designers develop a learning experience that is accessible, engaging, and effective.

Key Skills for an Instructional Designer

There are a number of essential skills for an instructional designer. Here are some of the most important skills for you to have in your arsenal when working as an instructional designer.

  • Domain Knowledge: This refers to your knowledge of a specific subject and is essential for developing content that is relevant and engaging.
  • Writing and Communication Skills: You will be required to write educational content for various audiences, including students and teachers.
  • Research and Data Analysis Skills: It's essential to understand the content you're designing and how it's being used in other settings, as well as how it's being used by your target audience.
  • Creative Thinking: Creativity is critical to both design and instructional design.

Typical Responsibilities of an Instructional Designer

Instructional designers are responsible for developing, testing, and refining the elements of an educational program. In short, it's the process of designing and developing curriculum or educational content.

  • Researching and Developing Curriculum: When it comes to developing curriculum, instructional designers need to be familiar with course content, as well as the context in which it is used.
  • Writing Learning Experiences: Instructional designers are responsible for writing learning experiences, which can take the form of documents, presentations, or simulations.
  • Specifying Learning Tools and Technologies: Instructional designers are responsible for specifying and developing learning tools, such as simulations, quizzes, games, or other technologies.
  • Testing Learning Experiences: Lastly, instructional designers are responsible for testing learning experiences and refining them based on feedback from others.


Instructional designers are responsible for developing, testing, and refining the elements of an educational program. In short, it's the process of designing and developing curriculum or educational content.

With the growing emphasis on student learning and the importance of effective and accessible content, the demand for instructional designers is expected to grow significantly over the next decade.

Instructional designers need to be able to think creatively to meet the challenges of designing and developing engaging and effective educational experiences. They also need to be well versed in the latest research in learning theory and be able to apply this knowledge to the context of a particular course or program.

This is a very specialized field, so you'll need to have a deep knowledge of a number of subjects, including education, computer science, or psychology.

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