Guide to Learning Instructional Design, incl. Free Tutorials • Discoverology
26 items | 297m read

Ultimate Guide To Learning Instructional Design

6m read | Introduction
Ultimate Guide To Learning Instructional Design

The success of every business depends on its employees and how they represent the company. A vital part of HR and management responsibilities is to ensure every team member receives training. There are many ways to implement training programs, but instructional design is the best.

What Is Instructional Design?

Instructional design is an in-depth way to deliver training programs. It focuses on the learning experience and relies on engaging the audience, rather than simply teaching them. The most important part of instructional design is to create clear content to ensure learners go away with the information you want them to, rather than taking in some information and not others.

Imagine sitting through a PowerPoint Presentation. Do you stay alert for the whole thing? Probably not. When you present people with streams of information, they often retain the things they find the most interesting, which means they don’t get a great learning experience. Instructional design is guided learning, where the participants are engaged throughout the program.

Instructional Design Basics

Companies seek instructional designers because they know that their employees will benefit from bespoke training. Most instructional designers have a background or strong interest in educational psychology. They understand how people learn, and can create programs to suit a range of learning styles.

Instructional designers create a course and evaluate how successful it is by using an ADDIE framework. ADDIE is a set of processes which analyze how others engage with their training material.


Who is your course for? What do people need to know? Think of the analysis stage as market research.


This stage is probably the most important because instructional designers must plan the course.


Once they plan the content, designers can move onto the development process. There is a range of tools available to help designers create a comprehensive course.


Before releasing a course, it’s important to market it and get learners excited about.


Evaluation is the worst part of instructional design, but it’s the most necessary! How people respond to a course, and the information they take away defines its success.

How to Be a Great Instructional Designer

Instructional design is difficult, but it’s a fantastic career choice if you enjoy combining creativity with an analytical approach. So what skills does an instructional designer have?

Relationship Building

Instructional designers don’t know about every subject, so they have to build strong relationships with experts. Working with others means they can learn about the subject and create an engaging course.

Understanding Others

When we create material for others, we have to keep them in mind. Your target audience could be a range of ages and intelligence, so it’s up to you to ensure they understand the course.

Creative Skills

Writing course content isn’t a job every person can do. If you’re a creative person, then you’ll be able to write engaging content. Never underestimate the importance of your course content, because if people are bored, they don’t retain information.

Becoming a Great Instructional Designer

If you want to be an excellent instructional designer, ensure you possess the above skills. You also need to consider why you want to be an instructional designer. It’s a difficult career and becoming an expert in this field takes time and commitment.

Know Your Field

Instructional design is about a lot more than writing a great course. You need to familiarise yourself with how people learn and read up on learning theories.

Learn From Others

There are so many books and blogs on instructional design, so even if you don’t have a background in learning you can read up on it. Some popular blogs include The Learning Generalist and Making Change Blog. While these blogs won’t exactly make you an expert on the topic, you can learn some vital techniques.

Presentation Skills

Presentation skills are vital for your courses. If things don’t look appealing, people are less likely to be interested. If you think about how to plan out your course and combine graphics with content, people will find it more engaging.

Use Feedback

Never underestimate the importance of feedback with each course you create. You might think your course is great, but does it help others learn? Did people think it was interesting? If the answer is no, then you need to reconsider your design and look at where you’ve gone wrong. Your career as an instructional designer depends on what your learners think, so make sure you always ask for feedback.

Use Objectives

If you’ve completed an e-course before, then you’ll know of learning objectives. However, do you know how important they are? Learning objectives summarise each section of your course and ensure learners go away with the information they need. Make your learning objectives are clear, concise and summarise the content.

Key Take-Away

Becoming an instructional designer is a fantastic career choice, but it’s not for everyone. There are many aspects involved in creating courses and it’s more difficult than you could ever expect. If you have creative abilities, analytical skills and a real passion for learning, then instructional design could be the ideal career path for you. Think about whether you want to put in the effort, and use blogs, books, and webinars to your advantage.

About This Instructional Design Guide

This guide offers the most insightful articles, educational videos, expert insights, specialist tips and best free tutorials about instructional design from around the internet. The learning guide is split into four levels: introduction, basics, advanced and expert. You can learn at your own pace. Each item shows an estimated reading or watching time, allowing you to easily plan when you want to read or watch each item. Below you’ll find a table of contents that enables you to easily find a specific topic you might be interested in.

10 items | 49m read
5m read | Basics

What Is Instructional Design?

Instructional design is the creation of learning experiences and materials in a manner that results in the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills. The discipline follows a system of assessing needs, designing a process, developing materials and evaluating it’s effectiveness. In the context of workplace learning, Instructional Design provides a practical and systematic process for effectively designing effective curricula.
3m read | Basics

The Basic Principles Across All Instructional Design Models

The intention of instructional design theories and models is to ground or guide us in our learning design efforts to address learner and organizational needs. But let’s just say it out loud: there’s a lot to choose from. Do they all have equal value? Are they just variations on a theme?
5m read | Basics

Instructional Design Theories & Models

Learning various Instructional Design theories will help you develop more meaningful eLearning courses. You’ll have a firm grasp on how the human mind absorbs, assimilates, and retains information. Thus, you will able to create eLearning experiences that offer real-world value. Here are 7 top Instructional Design theories that you may want to think about for your upcoming eLearning course design.
3m read | Basics

The ADDIE model

The ADDIE model is the generic process traditionally used by instructional designers and training developers. The five phases—Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation—represent a dynamic, flexible guideline for building effective training and performance support tools.
5m watch | Basics

What does an Instructional Designer do?

Dr. Joel Gardner explains what Instructional Designers do in this 5-minute video.
6m read | Basics

How To Become An Instructional Designer

Choosing to become an Instructional Designer can lead to a truly rewarding career path. Not only do you get the chance to earn a living by doing what you are passionate about, but you also have the opportunity to give others the gift of knowledge. Keep in mind that an effectively designed eLearning course or training module can make a world of difference in someone’s personal or professional life.
8m read | Basics

History of Instructional Design

The instructional design field has transitioned from an emphasis on skills development and knowledge acquisition to a focus on personal construction of meaning and user experience. While “programmed instruction”, based on theories of behaviorism dominated the 1950’s and 1960’s, modern instructional design is more contextual, fluid, and learner experience-driven. Some of the current instructional design trends are influenced by technology advances in social media, cloud-based services, and big data.
4m read | Basics

The Future of Instructional Design

We know that to make effective learning simulations, we’re going to need to move from designing courses to designing authentic experiences. These experiences need to be engaging and dramatic, and they need to effectively model the decisions that learners will find themselves making in the real world.
8m read | Basics

Steps For Preparing A Lesson Plan

A well planned lesson can be described with two words: exciting and effective. In fact these two adjectives are interlinked as any lesson that is exciting for students will have some educational value and will be effective. This is because learning should essentially be associated with positive motivation, excitement and passion.
6m read | Basics

How to Write Effective Lesson Plans

Writing lesson plans ensures that you are addressing the requirements of the curriculum, effectively planning teaching time, and using the best strategies to address student needs.  Your school district may already have a template, or you can use a general lesson plan template as you work through creating your lesson plans.
7 items | 36m read
5m read | Advanced

How to Analyze Learners

Analyzing the learners who are going to be taking your instruction is an important step for the instructional designer. The instructional designer should strive to determine the learner’s skills, knowledge, and attitude toward the learning before designing the instruction, by creating a learner profile.
4m read | Advanced

Mastering Learning Styles

One of the first principles of instructional design is to know your audience. Understanding the various learning styles is critical in getting to know your audience. While there are many factors that impact how a person learns, there are basically three major categories of acquiring knowledge. These include auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.
6m read | Advanced

Questions to Ask Before You Start Developing Courses

Planning and research are vital to the success of your online training program. You should learn as much as possible about the background of your online learners, the goals that must be achieved, as well as the performance gaps that need to be filled if you want to develop a succinct and successful online training course for your organization. Here are 10 questions that will help you narrow the scope of your online training program and ensure that all of the key takeaways are included.
8m read | Advanced

Instructional Design Strategies to Create an Online Course

On an eLearning team, the role of Instructional Designer is a core one. The strategy they use is majorly influenced by the needs of the stakeholders, the available resources, the intended audience, the objective of the training program, and the method by which it will be delivered to the learners.
5m read | Advanced

Importance Of Instructional Design Strategy

A strategy is synonymous with a plan of action, a game plan, or a systematic method of performing a task; indeed, it is this and more. In pedagogical terms, it refers to the approach used to teach, to achieve the learning objectives of a course. In more recent times, with the advent of eLearning, instructional strategies have been used in eLearning design and are known to enhance both instruction and learning. While the strategies themselves are not different from the instructional strategies of classroom training, they are adapted to the new environment.
3m read | Advanced

The SME in Curriculum Development

A subject matter expert, or SME, plays a critical role in the instructional design process. The SME is an expert in a particular content area, often with an advanced degree in this subject.  Individuals from a variety of professions can be SMEs, ranging from elementary educators to biologists in the field.
5m read | Advanced

How to Get the Most from Subject Matter Experts When Developing E-Learning Courses

Does the creation of an e-learning course you are planning require the involvement of a subject matter expert? Subject matter experts, or SMEs, and their contribution to your course can determine its success. It’s important, therefore, you get the interaction right from the start.

Here are 12 tips to help you get the most from SMEs when developing a new e-learning course.
8 items | 206m read
6m read | Expert

How To Get A Job As An Instructional Designer

One of the most important instructional design skills you can possess in most jobs is communication. If you cannot communicate, you will usually fall at the first hurdle no matter which career you intend to enter. Instructional design requires that you can communicate in a variety of different ways, including verbally and visually. It is important you can share your ideas and thoughts with your team both when speaking to them and in your visual work.
7m read | Expert

Tips to Jumpstart Your Instructional Design Career

Not surprisingly, many of us come into the world of learning and development, and namely, instructional design purely by accident. But as the industry matures and evolves, more and more of you are making an intentional choice to be involved in elearning and instructional design. The good news? Whatever your path to this field, you’re not alone. Many people face the same challenges as you on this ID mission.
28m read | Expert

Instructional Design Tips

Check out this 28-minute video blog on the top ten ways to improve the design of your online course. You can find the content used in the video below the video.
12m read | Expert

Issues of Online Training and How to Solve Them

Online training comes with its own particular characteristics, which can jeopardize (or limit) the success of the training. E-learning should not be seen as a panacea. It is only by knowing the problems that other companies and institutions have encountered that you can implement programs to realize its full potential.
3m read | Expert

Instructional Design: Course Review Checklists

The UNH Course Review Checklist is a tool for faculty and course designers to use as a checklist or a self or peer review tool for online / hybrid courses. The checklist can be applied to any course that utilizes an online component. The Course Review Checklist was developed by UNH Academic Technology Instructional Design and Development, based on work by OLC and OpenSUNY.
130m read | Expert

A Guide for Designing and Developing eLearning Courses

The purpose of this guide is to provide detailed guidance on designing and developing an e-learning course for trainers and instructional designers who are new to e-learning design. It also provides basic concepts and information on the processes and resources involved in e-learning development, which might be of interest to capacity-development managers.
10m read | Expert

Further Reading: Best Instructional Design Books

Design for How People Learn. In this book, you’ll discover how to use the key principles behind learning, memory, and attention to create materials that enable your audience to both gain and retain the knowledge and skills you’re sharing. Updated to cover new insights and research into how we learn and remember, this new edition includes new techniques for using social media for learning as well as two brand new chapters on designing for habit and best practices for evaluating learning, such as how and when to use tests.

Mastering the Instructional Design Process: A Systematic Approach. This book provides step-by-step guidance on the design and development of an engaging, effective training program. The focus on core competencies of instructional system design helps you develop your skills in a way that’s immediately applicable to real-world settings, and this newly updated fifth edition has been revised to reflect the new IBSTPI Competencies and Standards for Instructional Design.

Instructional Design-Step by Step: Nine Easy Steps for Designing Lean, Effective, and Motivational Instruction. Learn a simple, proven, step-by-step method for designing lean, effective, and motivational education and training from author Dr. John S. Hoff man, a thirty-year training veteran. A practitioner’s guide geared toward the newcomer to professional instructional design.

The Accidental Instructional Designer: Learning Design for the Digital Age. Filled with her personal insights and tips, The Accidental Instructional Designer covers nearly every aspect of the e-learning design process, including understanding instructional design, creating scenarios, building interactivity, designing visuals, and working with SMEs.

10m read | Expert

Further Learning: Best Instructional Design Courses

Instructional Design Foundations and Applications. This course is an introductory course as part of Instructional Design MasterTrack Certificate. This particular course will introduce learners to the conceptual and theoretical foundations of instructional design as well as the analysis aspect of instructional systems design in order to create an innovative instructional solution to performance problems in organizations.

Instructional Design Models. In today’s interconnected world, online education has exploded with engaging learning experiences infused with interactive digital tools, digital media, and collaborative projects designed to engage dispersed learners. These highly engaging and effective courses are not created by chance – they are created by instructional designers using a careful and systematic design process.

Instructional Design Pro, Part 1. Identify with your audience. Identify what they do. Organize what they do. Determine what to teach. Organize what to teach. Determine the initial class structure.

Instructional Design Pro, Part 2. Determine why they want it. Research teaching strategies. Research teaching tools. Select teaching strategies & tools. Make it real to them. Proof the specific class structure.

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