May 12, 2022

What every business needs to know about instructional design

It’s no news that modern businesses are choosing e-learning over traditional training, and in doing so, risk losing touch with the learning models traditionally guided by a training professional. Enter the instructional designer (ID). An instructional designer ensures that e-learning is seamless to employees and that knowledge is acquired digitally, without an instructor.

The basics of instructional design

E-learning has come a long way from downloading long PDFs and boring videos, and now it’s up to instructional designers to develop online courses that not only facilitate effective knowledge transfer, but are fun and engaging. , and can be deployed at the speed the business demands.

Michael Gullan, CEO of G&G Advocacy, a specialist e-learning solutions provider that designs and implements bespoke e-learning solutions for South African and international companies, suggests that increased learner engagement and reduced dropout rates should be the mantra of every experienced instructional designer. To achieve this, he suggests that e-learning courses be grounded in excellent instructional design that achieves organizational learning goals and meets the needs of adult learners.

Gullan distills basic best practices, do’s and don’ts, and technical standards to ensure your e-learning transforms your workforce into a force for good.

Why do companies want their employees to learn?

Aside from the competitive advantages of a highly skilled, skilled, and in-sync team, employees want their employees to learn for the following reasons.

  1. Acquire knowledge to work better, together.
  2. Develop new and improved skills, expertise and the ability to improve their performance.
  3. Improving attitude and fostering better ways to behave and react to workplace situations.
  4. To keep your star performers engaged, while nurturing others who show great potential.

Five elements of successful e-learning

Gullan suggests that any effective e-learning must contain the following elements to be successful and achieve your organizational goals.

  1. Conduct. Strong motivation that motivates employees to want to learn and improve.
  2. Stimuli and signals. All employees will do as the eLearning content suggests. Quality, well-thought-out and structured content is essential.
  3. Answer. This is required of employees in the presence of an effective stimulus.
  4. Reinforcement. Will inspire the employee to learn more and continue with the learning material.
  5. Awards. Increase motivation and ensure learning beyond the apprenticeship program.

Adults learn differently

The science and art of helping adults learn is unique, and any effective instructional design should include the following ideas.

  1. Adults need to know why they should learn something – provide learning objectives that tell them why they “need to know”. Inform them of the benefits of learning.
  2. Adults have a deep need to be empowered – give them the freedom to freely navigate the course without any restrictions and involve them in the learning process.
  3. Adults become ready to learn when they feel the need to be able to do something more effectively – tell them how the course will help them do their jobs better and improve their careers.
  4. Adults enter a learning experience with a problem-focused orientation – design lessons that will help them solve tasks and problems or improve their skills.
  5. Adults are motivated to learn by both extrinsic and intrinsic motivations – motivate them with scores, points, badges or certificates.
  6. Adults are sliced ​​in time and learn best using microlearning like those delivered in content capsulesMT.
  7. Adults have different learning styles or preferences. Some are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic, which need to be considered when designing an e-learning course. Here are some guidelines:
Auditory Visual Kinesthetic


Charts and infographics

Engaging images



Practical activities

Play a role

To take notes

Play the learning cycle

Learning always happens in phases and should be the foundation of your instructional design:

  1. Revision (Why)

Tell your employees why they need to learn and set the context to help the learner make the connection between prior knowledge and new knowledge.

  1. Learn what)

Present learning content, concepts, procedures, processes, principles in an engaging and interactive way.

  1. Adaptation (How)

Provide opportunities to apply newly acquired knowledge and skills so that they learn.

  1. Application (and now?)

Explain how to apply their new knowledge in the workplace.

  1. Integration (and then?)

Finally, the application is not the end of the road. After the adaptation of the newly acquired skills, other reasons for further development will appear and the circle of learning will begin again.

Use your instructional design to increase learner engagement and reduce drop-out rates by using the essential tools of e-learning, overlaid with how adults learn and with an understanding of the learning cycle. Gullan also suggests a robust e-learning platform designed specifically for your organization and your learning needs and that caters to different levels of learners within your organization is paramount. “No one-size-fits-all, out-of-the-box LMS software will even achieve the basics of effective instructional design. Your learning solution must deliver fun and engaging content, track user behavior and completion rates , stoke their enthusiasm, keep them learning to completion, and help them put their learnings into the workplace and ultimately turn the learning into your most valuable asset.”