Instructional design is the practice of developing and planning high-quality educational experiences. Instructional Design Central defines it as “the process by which learning products and experiences are designed, developed, and delivered. These learning products include online courses, instructional manuals, video tutorials, learning simulations, etc.”
Instructional designers create the learning experience and lead the process. Instructional design can happen anywhere learning takes place: K-12 schools, colleges and universities, workplaces, companies and organizations, as well as professional associations. The field focuses on a combination of communication, education and psychology to create successful teaching plans that center on the learner as the focal point in the process.
The application of instructional design adapts to real-world performance with well-defined learning goals that professionals can use in practically any field. An advanced degree in instructional design and technology can give individuals the crucial instructional skills to succeed in learning spaces.
Current Trends in Instructional Design
With roots in the 1940s, instructional design has developed and changed throughout the decades. Some of the current trends in instructional design have proved effective practices throughout the years, and some recent changes are necessary due to adaptations in the education system and online learning and job training. Here are some current trends that benefit a broad range of industries:
Putting the learner first. All other trends should serve this primary focus. Some ideas may work better for certain topics and subject areas, but educators and trainers should always ensure that their process works best for their students and how they learn. Teachers must prioritize methods that align with a learner’s previous knowledge, preferences and learning needs. This determination can work in the classroom and in a workplace where new training is needed.
Video learning. Some people are visual learners and will retain more new information if presented visually. By curating high-quality, captioned videos for learning in the classroom, for business meetings or for virtual conferences, people have the opportunity to visualize a problem or concept so they can find a solution without a great deal of text-based instruction or reading. Videos are also conveniently available to re-watch as needed.
Gamification. Since many people have a competitive streak, incorporating learning opportunities with gaming elements works for learners of all ages. Presenting new information as a game or with video game elements — such as a leaderboard or a chance to level up, earn higher scores and badge rewards — can increase engagement.
Experiential learning. Experiential learning is an immersive learning experience that uses visuals and graphic organizers to assist learners in making connections between the topic they’re learning and real-world scenarios. When people feel immersed in what they’re learning, they are more engaged. Some benefits are increased creativity, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills as well as augmented retention.
Microlearning. Sharing information in small units helps people learn and retain information about complex theories or complicated ideas. Leaders can adopt microlearning for business training environments, the medical field and university settings. Teaching a major topic in smaller chunks makes the content more readily digestible.
Earning an Instructional Design and Technology Degree
Graduates of the online Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology program from St. Thomas University will be equipped to design effective instructional programs. This program is ideal for professionals in various fields, including curriculum designers, librarians, web trainers, academic coaches, marketing managers, human resource directors, project management professionals and instructional professors. This degree program can help prepare students to work in corporate or educational environments. They’ll gain knowledge to understand the needs of the learner while implementing relevant technology to influence how information is delivered.