Curriculum

What is Instructional Design and Why is it Important?



What is Instructional Design?

Instructional Design is defined by Instructional Design Central as “the process by which learning products and experiences are designed, developed, and delivered.” Essentially, instructional design is behind creating any educational experiences or instructional materials. The basis for instructional design is determining the needs of the learners or users, designing the instruction, developing and implementing it, and evaluating the effectiveness of the instruction. 
Instructional design and delivery was selected by ISTE as number 2 of the 8 hottest topics in Educational Technology for 2022. The topic of instructional design and delivery encompasses a great deal of information, including creating content that is accessible to all learners in all learning environments and making sure that the content is relevant to today’s students. Instructional design brings in educational strategies that are based on research about how students learn and how adjustments can be made to deliver instruction in online, hybrid, and classroom environments.

How Does Instructional Design Work?

There are many instructional design models used when it comes to designing instruction and instructional materials. In designing instruction, it can be useful to follow a model of instructional design in order to ensure that all necessary steps are evaluated appropriately. These models provide a framework to follow to ensure the instructional process is thorough and complete.

The ADDIE model of instructional design provides a great format for the effective design of instruction. The ADDIE model utilizes a step-by-step process that includes the following stages of design: analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. Most of the instructional design models that are currently used are closely related to or are variations of the ADDIE model.

Analysis of learner needs, objectives, and goals is the first step in both the ADDIE model and many other instructional design models. In order to effectively design instruction, one must first determine the needs, overall outcomes, and goals they would like to meet. By looking at the expected outcome, designers can then determine the scope and means necessary to reach said outcome. The needs of the learners help to design what methods to use and which strategies to include in the design.

Other important design frameworks are the principles of Universal Design for Learning or UDL. The UDL framework seeks to separate instructional goals from the methods used to meet them and remove barriers for learners along the way. UDL also asks instructors to look at the goals of instruction at the outset of design. In separating the goals of instruction from the methods, instructors are able to incorporate more student choice in how they are able to meet instructional goals. This choice allows for more student engagement and autonomy in their work and allows them to feel a greater sense of ownership over their own learning

After analyzing learner needs, as well as instructional goals and objectives, the next phase of instructional design, according to ADDIE, is the design stage. The design phase incorporates actual objectives and matches them to goals, materials, scope, timelines, and the overall plan for the entire program.

After the design phase, it is necessary to develop the program. The program and instruction should be developed and implemented with the learners. Finally, after implementation, the instruction must be evaluated for its effectiveness. In order to effectively evaluate the program, a variety of factors must be considered, including student or learner feedback, student performance, whether the goals or objectives were met, etc.

It is very useful to incorporate both ADDIE and UDL frameworks when designing instruction because these frameworks and models can be very helpful in determining goals and methodology. Following a clear format is a critical way to create meaningful instruction that can be evaluated and improved over time. 

About Nanolearning

One newer instructional design strategy is something called nanolearning. Nanolearning has three key components: short bits of content, plenty of examples, and measurable learning objectives. The idea behind nanolearning is that providing students small amounts of information over short periods of time helps to improve retention, as this study by Vanderbilt University found. By reducing the amount of time and information students receive at once and ensuring the content utilizes multiple means of engagement, student productivity is increased as their attention is captured and their ability to learn is stimulated. Nanolearning is not an entire instructional design model but it can be an effective learning strategy to incorporate into instructional design and help students achieve academic success.
According to ISTE, the “trick to nanolearning is incorporating multiple forms of media within one session. Integrate video, images, text and audio coherently to create engaging content.” They also suggest using credible content and resources and recommend three ways in which teachers can create their own nanolearning content: creating their own videos, creating their own slideshows, and creating their own assessments. Nanolearning is similar to larger instructional design models in that effective nanolearning should identify the needs of learners, understand and break down learning objectives, determine how to deliver the information, and assess understanding through student feedback and performance.

Are Teachers Instructional Designers?

While some are of the opinion that you need an instructional designer title in order to design instruction effectively, it can also be argued that teachers are, in fact, instructional designers themselves.

While teachers may not have been introduced to the instructional design models in their credentialing programs, more and more information on instructional design strategies has become a part of their training and professional development. When you look at the main components of instructional design, it is easy to see that teachers have been doing this all along.

Teachers analyze the needs of their students, design and develop instruction, deliver the instruction, and evaluate the effectiveness of their instruction with every lesson they teach.
Especially during the pandemic, as teachers were forced into remote learning, they were put into the role of instructional designer like never before. Teachers understand pedagogy and practice the steps of instructional design on a daily basis, making them excellent instructional designers.

How does Progress Learning Help with Designing Quality Instruction?

At Progress Learning, we believe in providing quality instructional content for students and teachers. We take instructional design seriously and believe in employing the concepts of quality instructional design models into building our content, resources, and materials. Our platform also empowers teachers to develop their own quality instruction by providing them with the tools they need to do so. 

Starting at the diagnostic level, we provide teachers with the information they need to determine the individual needs of their students so that they may target their areas of weakness. Then, we give them the tools to create their own assignments and assessments using our variety of question types, technology-enhanced items, large bank of standards-based questions, as well as the ability to author their own questions. Our platform provides engaging instruction, videos, and games that allows students to make progress in reaching their goals in a fun and engaging way. Finally, we provide teachers with quality data and reporting to inform their instruction and evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching.

Read more about how our Academic Content Comes to Life here.

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