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Instructional Design in Education


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A brief presentation comparing how instructional design differs from designing lessons as a teacher. Although the two fields share some things - and it would be good for each to know something about the other field - they have different skills and goals.

Presented online to a converged class at NJIT; video available at

Published in: Education
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Instructional Design in Education

  2. 2. INDUSTRY : EDUCATION Instructional Design ▪ "The term instructional design refers to the systematic and reflective process of translating principles of learning and instruction into plans for instructional materials, activities, information resources, and evaluation. An instructional designer is somewhat like an engineer." (Smith, Patricia L., and Tillman J. Ragan. Instructional design. New York, NY: Wiley, 1999.) Teachers ▪ Teachers focus on tasks/learning opportunities for students. Educational learning designers design “documents and describes a learning activity in such a way that other teachers can understand it and use it in their own context. Typically a learning design includes descriptions of learning tasks, resources and supports provided by the teacher” (Donald, Blake, Girault, Datt, & Ramsay, 2009).
  3. 3. AREN’T ALL TEACHERS INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGNERS? Teachers Designing Lessons (Learning Design) ▪ Focus on the individual lesson/session -> week -> unit ▪ Often not involved in the decision-making process of what the content will be (textbooks, units etc.) Instructional Designers ▪ A more global focus, often driven by performance goals ▪ Works with subject matter experts (SME). (In some smaller companies, the ID may be considered the SME.)
  4. 4. Lesson Planning: The Missing Link in e-Learning Course Design Lesson planning is not a typical topic in instructional design courses and programs, although education courses and programs always include it. Consequently, few IDs without education backgrounds know how to develop lesson plans. Though developing a lesson plan for e-Learning is similar in many ways to developing a lesson plan for instructor-led learning, there are also differences. IDs need to remember that there is no instructor present in self-paced e-Learning, and simple as this sounds, it does take some getting used to. This concept is especially difficult to grasp for experienced stand-up trainers and facilitators who are new to designing instruction
  5. 5. ID RESPONSIBILITIES ▪ Participate in product ideation, innovation, and iteration (20%) ▪ Synthesize and apply academic learning theory to product features (20%) ▪ Create design schematics in conjunction with UI designers (30%) ▪ Participate in the learner validation, and subsequent iteration, of schematics into design specifications and patterns (15%) ▪ Contributing to other design, development, research, and evaluation tasks, as needed (15%) What is not part of the ID’s responsibilities?
  6. 6. SKILLS/KNOWLEDGE/ABILITIES Identified by levels and by viewable projects and products ▪ Deep and demonstrated knowledge of learning design principles ▪ Demonstrated experience synthesizing and applying research from the learning sciences to product design in clear, tangible, documented ways ▪ Demonstrated understanding of various adaptive models and characteristics and their impact on learning ▪ Demonstrated understanding of evidence-based, learner-centered design processes, techniques, and tools ▪ Demonstrated experience participating in the design of learner interfaces and learner experiences
  7. 7. SKILLS ▪ Job ads are often specific – “Captivate 6+” - but resumes should always be specific ▪ “Experienced in using Agile/Scrum methodologies in dispersed, cross-functional teams” ▪ (anticipating interview questions) What would you use for: ▪ creating design schematics & specifications ▪ conducting validation testing with learners, instructors, administrators, and experts ▪ conducting formalized acceptance testing, usability testing, and pilot testing ▪ increasing participation in a complex technology systems with numerous stakeholders and requirements ▪ In smaller companies, you may have responsibilities for managing a content management system or graphic design, video and visual design elements.
  8. 8. QUALIFICATIONS - FORMAL EDUCATION OR EQUIVALENT EXPERIENCE ▪ Graduate degrees in INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN ▪ Significant knowledge of software and UI design practices ▪ Significant experience gathering and applying peer-reviewed scholarly research and user research ▪ Previous instructional design and UCD testing experience preferred ▪ Previous classroom teaching or training experience preferred ▪ OR…
  9. 9. QUALIFICATIONS - FORMAL EDUCATION OR EQUIVALENT EXPERIENCE OR… ▪ Learning Science, Cognitive Psychology, Computer Science, Educational Technology, Educational Psychology, Human Factors, Instructional Design, Artificial Intelligence, or learning analytics or related field ▪ Experience in the research-based design of adaptive technology, software, or digital learning products (adaptive learning systems e.g., Bayesian Nets, cognitive modeling, machine learning)
  10. 10. In an ideal world… • Teachers would have a background in learning theory and instructional design theory, practice and tools • and have input into the higher levels of curriculum design • Instructional designers working in industry would have more than a student view on how learning is designed in academia • and be able to bridge the learning styles established in K-12 with those of undergraduate courses, to graduate to professional learning.