Why should you care about instructional design (ID)? Before we get to the benefits of instructional design and why you should consider earning a graduate certificate or master’s degree in ID, let’s briefly answer a fundamental question:
For a simple definition, instructional design (ID) involves shaping a learning experience in a systematic way. It defines the problem and the solution, and then determines the best way to bridge the gap through instruction. Although the approach is systematic, the process is fluid.
Instructional design principles apply to:
There are many formal definitions of instructional design. Here is a nice version courtesy of the State of Washington:
“The systematic process of creating or adapting instruction, including at least these steps: defining the problem or knowledge gap that the instruction is meant to address; defining the audience that the instruction is meant to serve; developing objectives and assessment strategies; selecting and sequencing content and learning activities; evaluating the instruction; revision.” Source: Employment Security Department
The primary benefit of instructional design is that it sets the stage for a successful learning experience. Failing to consider instructional design increases the chance of failure. Let’s look at an example that you may have experienced:
Picture yourself sitting in a math class. The teacher or professor is clearly a mathematics genius. He or she is an expert and is essentially trying to download the contents of his/her brain into your brain. The problem is that you don’t understand or follow what the person is trying to teach. Why?
The instructor probably never considered instructional design! Instead the expert is focused on the content and is likely teaching from the perspective of, “Let me tell you what I know.”
An instructional designer will consider many factors beyond the content, such as the learners themselves and the best instructional method or strategy. The designer can then fashion the learning in a way that will help students succeed. The message is useless if the messenger can’t communicate it effectively.
Learners, educators and trainers are not the only beneficiaries of the instructional design process. Employers find that good instructional design results in employee training that is cost effective, high quality and results oriented. Though often behind the scenes, instructional designers serve as a bridge between subject matter experts and students/learners.
Anyone who wants to be involved in education or training in any setting (in-person or online) will benefit from learning about ID. This includes:
Perhaps you’ve taken some horrible training at work and you want to improve how it’s delivered in your organization. If you would benefit from knowing how to effectively train or educate others, consider learning about instructional design.
Instructional design is a diverse and dynamic field. A professional who holds an instructional design degree or certificate is trained to identify an instructional problem, design instruction to address the problem and analyze the results. There are several benefits to seeking further education in this field.
A certificate or degree in instructional design is considered a valuable addition to your resume. The knowledge gained gives professionals in many fields the tools to create more meaningful and effective instruction because instructional design develops clear objectives. When specific objectives are identified, course content and assessment may be targeted equally so that the results of the training can be objectively analyzed.
Instructional design education also means lots of choices for job seekers. The field is not only for teachers. In fact, those holding a certificate or degree in instructional design may not work in a classroom at all. Possible job titles include: instructional designer, e-learning coordinator, corporate trainer, education and development specialist, computer assisted instruction specialist, training and development specialist and instructional technologist.
Instructional design professionals work in public and private education, a variety of corporate settings and for the government. You can use an ID education to further your career in any field that may involve teaching or training others."
An education in instructional design also challenges professionals to look at instruction in new ways and from new perspectives. By looking objectively at instructional problems and learning outcomes, designers can think outside the box and create innovative new ways to transfer knowledge from subject matter experts to students.
There are many benefits of instructional design. It sets the stage for success, which helps learners, trainers and employers get the most out of their time and money. Even if you don’t want to become a full-time instructional designer, the principles you learn from a graduate education in ID will enhance your marketable skills and your resume.