Instructional Design

Formal Definition

Instructional design (ID) encompasses a wide array of activities to improve human performance, learning, products, processes, and overall return on investments. ID includes the use of research, theory, and common sense. Instructional designers work closely with organizations and subject matter experts to solve problems, determine needs, improve outcomes, and/or find opportunities through systematic analysis and model-based approaches. For example, before producing a learning object, designers will systematically breakdown the skills, subskills, and entry level skills of a learning task for analysis to inform design decisions.

Informal Definition

Instructional design utilizes critical thinking, expert knowledge, best practices, and technologies to improve an organization either system-wide or in discrete work units. Technology refers to any tool, software or hardware, or process. For example, simple writing tasks can be improved with an ergo-dynamic fountain pen, desk, and workstation. From this example, even a pen is considered technology. It’s the role of the instructional designer to take all matters, including potentially insignificant ones like a writing tool, into consideration when developing a plan of action.