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What Is Instructional Design?

According to Instructional Design Central (IDC), instructional design is "the systematic process by which instructional materials are designed, developed, and delivered." It also involves the analysis of learning needs in order to match the instruction to the recipient. Integral to instructional design are both educational technology and learning experience design.

Educational technology includes, but is not limited to, software, hardware, internet applications, wikis, blogs and other tech-based activities. Learning experience design combines instructional design, educational pedagogy, neuroscience, social sciences, design thinking and user interface/user experience (UI/UX).

What do Instructional Designers Do?

Known by various titles, instructional designers can be curriculum designers, instructional technologists and educational technologists. Primary functions can include creating and delivering various educational materials such as videos, manuals, handouts, eLearning courses, etc. The instructional designer plays a key role in business and in higher education, and is responsible for both the course content and the delivery system.

There are education and training opportunities in a variety of industries, including military, government, healthcare, business and nonprofit organizations.

In education, improving instructional materials is a specialization that teachers don't have the resources to achieve on their own, highlighting the importance of instructional designers. According to the K-12 team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, "A growing and compelling research base suggests that high-quality instructional materials can yield improvements in student learning outcomes equal to or greater than many interventions that are often more costly."

Education in the Digital Age

Effective education processes in the digital age aren't simply a matter of posting course content online. Instructional designers need to know how to access, design, develop, implement, evaluate and manage technology-based education processes. Whether the participants are students or business professionals, and regardless of the type of organization, the successful instructional designer needs to be familiar with the latest technology and be able to design learning systems for anyone, on any topic, in any format.

As online technology is constantly changing, it's important to evaluate new technologies and be able to adjust and enhance instructional methods and materials. For this reason, it's critical to also evaluate and assess outcomes.

As corporations are establishing a new C-level position for Corporate Learning Officers (CLOs), they are demonstrating how critical it is for their employees to be well-trained, have professional development opportunities and blend learning with daily routines. Combining digital with in-person learning provides flexibility. According to Chief Learning Officer magazine, corporate academies are poised for a change that "will require a nimble balance between digital and physical platforms, cultural messaging and technical content, and real-time and actively shared learning."

The Master of Education in Instructional Design and Technology

The University of West Florida offers a 100 percent online degree program for those interested in earning a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Instructional Design and Technology. Students can choose from two high-demand concentrations: Human Performance Technology or Distance Learning.

This is a versatile M.Ed. program -- the skill set you gain can be utilized in any industry, whether you are focused on business training programs, performance optimization, classroom learning or distance learning.

Learn more about the UWF online M.Ed. program in Instructional Design and Technology.


Instructional Design Central: What Is Instructional Design?

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: How High-Quality Instructional Materials Can Drive Teacher Growth

Chief Learning Officer: Corporate Learning's Transformation in the Digital Age

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