The Maldives National University > Instructional Design > WHAT IS INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN?

Niuma Mohamed | Lead Instructional Designer

Instructional Design has become the most spoken topic today. Even though different people have different perspectives on what it means. The origin of instructional design can be traced back to the time of world war II, where military training materials were designed using instructional design principles. After that, several theories and models, like Bloom’s Taxonomy, Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction Model and Component Display Theory were developed. In 1990s, a new shift has taken place, which are Computer Base-Training, Online Learning and adaptation of Learning Management System. More recently, Blended Learning has taken the platform. Today the focus is not just on the learning outcomes, but also the overall user experience of the learner.

Instructional design can be defined as a process in which

  1. Specific human performance problems are analyzed and addressed.
  2. Learning content is designed, developed and evaluated to fulfill those needs
  3. Content is designed based on established instructional theories and models
  4. Learning content is delivered using instructional technology

Therefore, Instructional Designing is about making the delivery of instruction and acquisition of knowledge and skills more efficient, effective and engaging. These are the 3 E’s of the best instruction.

  • Instructions being effective means they facilitate learners to acquire prescribed skills and knowledge, what is stated in the learning objective is what is acquired.
  • Instructions being efficient means achieving the objectives in the least possible time.
  • Instructions are engaging means it motivates and infuses learners. Encourages them to preserve the knowledge acquired or the skills learned.


What makes instructionally designed content so effective?

  1. Instructionally designed content is learner centric

The focus is on the learner, his/her learning needs and the preferred learning styles. Different learners have different learning preferences and instructional designs caters to that

  1. Instructionally designed content is structured and fluid

The learning content is delivered in a manner that can be easily associated and understood by the learner. There is a flow to the content rather than presenting separate ideas. Complex ideas are simplified and the subject matter does not lose the context.

  1. Instructionally designed content is delivered using a multimedia approach

Multimedia elements like info graphics, videos, animations and images for many integral parts which makes learning fun and interesting.


Having understood the meaning of instructional designing let’s now list the role of an instructional designer.


What are the roles of an Instructional Designer?

Instructional Designers involves in activities related to designing and developing of instructional content. These activities include (but not limited to):

  • Writing and editing.
  • Instructor-led facilitator guides
  • Participants work book
  • E-learning content in the form of story boards
  • Assessments
  • Technical writing
  • User manual and technical guides
  • Anchor slides for trainers in PowerPoints


What are the trends in Instructional Design?

Instructional designing is fast growing, hence, there would be significant trends that can be defined the concept. The following points describe three major ID trends.

  1. A shift to virtual reality recreating realistic sounds, images and other sensation makes learning so interesting
  2. Digital text books are boomed in the era of smart and enables on the go learning
  3. Micro learning has come as a rescue for learners providing content in the form of short videos or presentations that are easy to assimilate.


What are the key aspects of Instructional Designing?

Following are the 6 key aspects of instructional designing.

  1. No single way to instruct: There are different ways instructional methods can be used and presented depending on the need and the desired results these methods can be formulated.
  2. Need analysis: It is extremely important to keep in mind what learners need to learn or to take away.
  3. Stating learning objectives without fail: Writing course goals and objectives are essential to give focus to the content creation
  4. Learning styles and preferred mediums: Learners have different learning styles and can learn from different media. Similarly, facilitators may also not be able to deliver the same training in different locations. Hence, medium of learning will be based on circumstances and factors in the course design.
  5. Associate, maintain flow and structure: There should be a direct connection amongst the objectives, learning activities and assessments. The objective must always be the driving force behind the decisions on designing activities and assessments.
  6. Planning of learning content is dynamic: As a process, instructional designing can be planned and improved repeatedly



Adams, J.  (2013). ‘Blended  learning:  instructional  design  strategies  for  maximizing  impact’, International Journal on E-Learning, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.23–44.

History of Instructional Design, by Richard Culatta (2020) https://www.instructionaldesign.org/history/

McGee, P., & Reis, a. (2012). Blended course design: a synthesis of best practices. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(4), 7–22

The Hottest Job in Higher Education: Instructional Designer by Peter Decherney and Caroline Levander (2020). https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/blogs/education-time-corona/hottest-job-higher-education-instructional-designer