Category Archives: Professional Learning

We are educators, leaders, researchers, and lifelong learners. We understand your challenges and recognize your impact. From practical strategies for reaching a wider range of students to large-scale standards alignment, Victory collaborates with you to plan, design, facilitate, or evaluate any of your professional development efforts.

Instructional Design 101

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:
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Talking to the Test: The Learning Continuum

Picture this:
An urban middle school is on a new journey this year – project-based learning (last year it was standards-based grading). But this initiative is here to stay, the administrators promise. With little background and a whole lot of excitement, teachers engage in weekly team collaboration time. Through a grant, every teacher gets a laptop.

The students say science is their favorite class. Why? From observing the growth of organisms they discovered in soil to measuring the flight path of hand-made bottle rockets to online science simulations, their daily lessons are filled with fun. They have a quiz or test every Friday, which the science teacher effortlessly whips up on Thursday nights with her new exam software. “I’m sure they’re learning,” she reassures her principal for the third time this month. “They must be learning,” she secretly wonders, “since they’re always engaged, right?”

What’s wrong with this picture?
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