Instructional Design is the practice of systematically designing, developing, and delivering
instructional materials and experiences – both digital and physical – in a consistent and reliable
fashion toward an efficient, effective, appealing, engaging and inspiring acquisition of knowledge.
A brief history of Instructional Design:
The idea of Instructional Design can be dated back to the 1900s where Robert Gagné’s work can
arguably be labelled as the foundation of instructional design. Robert conducted research and
developed training materials for the military. Among the first to coin the term “instructional design”,
he developed some of the earliest instructional design models and ideas.
This model was based on a core set of learning phases that included:
activation of prior experience
demonstration of skills
application of skills
integration or these skills into real world activities
These core concepts have laid the groundwork for more present-day instructional design models,
still in use today when creating engaging personalised content.
An example of one of the more modern models utilising these core concepts is the ADDIE model
which was initially developed by Florida State University.
Analyse – Analysis refers to the gathering of information about one’s audience, the tasks to be
completed, how the learners will view the content, and the project’s overall goals.
Design – In this phase, instructional designers begin to create their project. Tasks are then identified
and broken down to be more manageable for the designer.
Develop – The third phase, development, involves the creation of the activities that will be
implemented. It is in this stage that the blueprints of the design phase are assembled.
Implement – This stage allows the instructional designer to test all materials to determine if they are
functional and appropriate for the intended audience.
Evaluate – The final phase, evaluate, ensures that the materials have achieved the desired goals. The
evaluation phase consists of two parts: formative and summative assessment. This final phase is vital
for the instructional design team because it provides the data used to alter and enhance the course
Let’s take a look at Instructional Design and how the e-Learning industry has evolved in the last 2
The early 2000s – Online learning became more common as technology had advanced enough to
allow sophisticated simulations with authentic, and realistic learning experiences for many industries
around the globe. With growing access to information, more and more individuals could now use
learning materials in their everyday lives. Simulations were an up and coming concept, and while
expensive – they became a valuable tool utilised primarily in the medical and military field.
2010s-2020 – Online learning and technology is now at our fingertips and easily accessible! These
personalised experiences have become much cheaper to create and attain. Personalised learning
paths are now enhanced by artificial intelligence, micro-learning and gamification – using games in
non-traditional environments. These technologies are widely adopted to deliver learning in the flow
of work, while real-time data capture enables ongoing design and remediation.
So what makes good instructional design?
Instructional Design can be a highly valuable tool to ensure your employees learn efficiently,
effectively, and with their personal needs in mind. Good design begins with the end goal in mind. A
question we must always ask ourselves when creating good content is: “what do I want to achieve
with this content?”. Beginning with an end in mind allows you to design instructional material
efficiently—without the waste of time and energy.
Well-crafted instructional design carefully considers the smallest aspect of instruction without
compromising the whole – a good instructional designer sees the interconnections between them.
Doing so solves the problem of compartmentalisation, fragmentation, and the transfer paradox—all
of which are commonly found in education
Good instructional design is always learner-centred – i.e. it should encourage active learning.
Learners should be free to work at their own pace, explore, and learn with excitement while
instructors take more of a back seat during this process.
To ensure content remains effective, it needs to be refined through continuous assessment and
improvement – at New Leaf Tech, we do this through our customer success bundles, as well as
monitoring through the reporting capabilities on LMS platforms such as aNewspring or TalentLMS.
We like to think of our courseware like software or an app – these may need to be updated every
once in a while to ensure a great quality product, but works like a charm all on its own!
En.wikipedia.org. 2022. Instructional design – Wikipedia. [online]
Shiftelearning.com. 2022. The Golden Principles of High-Quality Instructional Design. [online]
Author: Sarah Wilding – Instructional Designer
Editor: Shulka Karshan-Hudson – Instructional Designer