September 21, 2022

Understand the basics of instructional design

Companies today are aggressively adopting virtual learning methods. Therefore, instructional design companies are abandoning traditional learning models in favor of eLearning. Instructional designers are constantly developing and improving processes that will ensure a smooth transition for online learners, helping them acquire relevant knowledge without the real-time guidance of qualified instructors.

In this article, we dive into the world of instructional design. Starting with its history and growth, and types, to the merits of a custom instructional design model.

Context of the instructional design process

Robert Gagné’s research in systems development serves as the foundation for the notion of instructional design. Robert Gagné investigated the best ways to train Army Air pilots after World War II.

The 1950s and 1960s were driven by “programmed instruction”, which was based on the ideas of behaviorism; however, contemporary instructional design appears to be more contextual, flexible, and focused on user experience. The last few decades have seen a change in instructional design. The emphasis on skill advancement and knowledge acquisition has given way to user experience and the creation of personal meaning in the discipline of instructional design.

Technological advances in social media, cloud-based applications, and big data are impacting some of today’s instructional design models. Thanks to data analysis, educational materials are now much more personalized and focused.

What is Instructional Design?

The process of designing, producing, and delivering instructional materials, experiences, and programs is called instructional design. Until recently, the only teaching techniques were traditional classroom sessions attended by experienced tutors or trainers. Today, eLearning has come a long way to compete with traditional methods of training and education. As a result, instructional designers have been tasked with creating e-learning courses that enable efficient acquisition of information without the help of a teacher.

To put it simply, instructional design is the process of applying our understanding of how learners learn to direct our instructional models and tactics to meet learners’ needs and achieve intended learning outcomes.

Theories behind the process

Three different theories that influence behavior are regularly used by experts. And they are all concerned about how learners will learn. You can determine which is more advantageous in a learning environment by studying each of them.

  • Behaviorism: This approach focuses on a person’s measured and repeatable behaviors that eventually become routine. It also deals with how a person’s behavior is influenced by his environment. But the theory completely ignores the potential of internal thought processes in a learner’s mind because it is only concerned with the quantitative observation of reactions to stimuli. It is primarily concerned with “what” learners need to understand.
  • Cognitivism: Cognitivism seeks new models of behavior. However, cognitivism emphasizes the mental processes that underlie behavior, which behaviorism neglects. Proponents of this idea then interpret observable behavioral changes as clues to what is going on in the minds of subjects. Therefore, learning is seen more as an internal and proactive mental activity from a cognitive perspective. And unlike behaviorism, which emphasizes the what, cognitivism emphasizes the how; more specifically, how to learn.

The learner is at the center of cognitivism, while behaviorism emphasizes the context of the learner. Cognitivism uses tools and technologies that simulate the way people think, taking into account even more complex processes including problem solving, cognition, information processing, and concept formulation.

  • Constructivism: According to this view, we each have a unique perception of the world based on our experiences, our mental frameworks and our values. It places the learner at the center of the educational environment, much like cognitivism does.

Instead of passively absorbing information, the learner actively participates in creating their own understanding. This means that information cannot simply be passed from person to person. The learner is master of his own learning, according to constructivists. For this reason, it is essential to make the material available and open in different ways so that learners can use it whenever they want and modify it according to their needs.

Types of Instructional Design Models

ADDIE Instructional Design Process

Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation, or ADDIE, is considered the most prevalent design paradigm and serves as a template for newer types of instructional design models.

  • Analysis: Determine learner needs, including existing skills and knowledge as well as general learning objectives.
  • Design: Describe lesson objectives, teaching methods, assessments, content, subject matter assessment, program planning, and media choices.
  • Development: Produce and implement teaching materials and resources. Based on ongoing assessments of learners, environment, and content demands, adjustments to design aesthetics can be implemented.
  • Implementation: Create educational materials, such as instruction manuals, for teachers and facilitators. Try or test the main educational materials and tools, including software.
  • Evaluation: Complete procedures for summative and formative assessments.

SAM design pattern

A simple, abbreviated version of the ADDIE model called the Successive Approximation Model (SAM) was created specifically to gather information and create actionable models in advance for the instructional design process. This model develops courses through a recursive method as opposed to a linear method.

The three components of the basic SAM model are preparation, iterative design, and iterative development. The founding word of this model, iterative, which also indicates that each step is intended to be revisited and reviewed, is crucial here.

Collecting all relevant data and information is the first step in the preparation phase; the material and scope of this step will differ significantly depending on the project or program.

The “Savvy Start”, which encourages brainstorming, doodling and prototyping and involves as many affected parties as possible as you create the material, is the defining characteristic of the end of the initial stage. of this model.

The objective of the second stage, called iterative design, is to develop and test the substance so that the parties involved can evaluate it. The underlying reasoning is that since a product that already exists can be reviewed and tested more thoroughly than one that is still just an idea, it is easier to provide feedback and assess.

The completed prototype is carefully developed and put into operation during the final iterative development stage. It can be evaluated after use and, if necessary, reverted through the development and implementation phases.

The Benefits of Custom Instructional Design for Employee Training

  1. Prefabricated courses are eliminated in the instructional design. Rather, it focuses on developing a “framework” that is particular and relevant to the issue at hand. Each gap is unique to instructional designers. So you need a special “link” that would precisely cover each of them.
  2. Interactive techniques are used in instructional design to promote learner participation. The instructional design engages all parties involved in the process, unlike alternative training programs that depend exclusively on the expertise of the instructor (trainer-centric). Based on an assessment of what learners need to know, the project design combines a variety of approaches and resources to enhance the learning opportunity.
  3. Through the identification of specific and quantifiable objectives, instructional design establishes defined outcomes and responsibilities. These objectives serve as the foundation for the overall design of a program as well as for each of its components. The design is reviewed by instructional designers to remove unnecessary elements and strengthen the link between the education program and actual outcomes.
  4. Being “consistent” in instructional design doesn’t really mean repeating the same content. Consistency is the ability to duplicate the approach and to permanently guarantee the pedagogical integrity of the program. Therefore, the instructional design can adapt to your particular requirements by giving personalized instructions while maintaining consistency.


To summarize, this article talks about the prerequisites for creating learner-centered eLearning courses. To improve the quality of the online course, it is crucial to adhere to an instructional design approach and clear e-learning standards.