Before we plunge into instructional design, let’s step back. What does it mean to design? Here’s the definition, according to Merriam-Webster:
1. to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan: devise, contrive
2. a: to conceive and plan out in the mind
b: to have as a purpose: intend
c: to devise for a specific function or end
Design is applied in many fields. Engineers design, construct, test, and refine solutions to problems. Fashion designers bring art to life in clothing, jewelry, and accessories. And then there’s user interface design, video and film design, marketing, and even publishing. In educational publishing, design often refers to graphic design—envisioning and creating the visual look and feel of a book or product. However, graphic design is just one small part of another field of design essential to creating educational materials—instructional design.
Instructional Design Models
Over the years, numerous instructional design models have been developed that serve as frameworks for modules or lessons, by:
- increasing and/or enhancing the possibility of learning, and
- encouraging the engagement of learners so that they learn faster and gain deeper levels of understanding.
Instructional design is the systemic process by which instructional materials are designed, developed, and delivered. Instructional design creates a learning environment that is focused on the learner, with an organized structure for content and activities designed to achieve specific learning objectives. This involves applying educational research and teaching practice to craft curriculum and instructional materials aligned to those objectives, thereby improving learning outcomes.
You often hear about instructional design in the context of technology—specifically, digital learning experiences. But the primary goal of instructional design is not the use of technology—it’s good instruction. Technology is just one tool that can be employed to achieve the larger goal: to improve learning outcomes.
The ADDIE Model
One of the earliest instructional design models, ADDIE, includes these five phases: