Understanding Instructional Design and Its Features

The simplest way to understand instructional design (ID) is to differentiate it from instruction. Instruction is the teaching of subject matter content; instructional design addresses how that material is taught. Anyone who is helping students learn uses ID, whether they employ a blackboard and a piece of chalk or a digital device. Thus, educators who create lesson plans—whether for a single class or for many—are designing instruction. New technology and learning systems may make it easier to create and activate the plans, but they still include familiar features:


  • Becoming familiar with learners to understand how they approach instruction
  • Aligning learning to educational standards and objectives
  • Facilitating learners’ knowledge acquisition
  • Assessing (at various points) learners’ understanding and retention
  • Providing opportunities for project- based and cooperative learning
  • Linking classroom study to real-world applications

ID provides teachers with multiple advantages:

  • It gives them the ability to understand learners—where and how they are approaching the instruction—and to tailor instruction to best effect.
  • It aligns instruction to standards and objectives, ensuring that learners are exposed to and assimilate required knowledge and skills.
  • It promotes more effective planning and co-teaching, allowing teachers to use time and resources more efficiently.
  • It ensures that all students meet their targets, via either a linear path through the curriculum or a looping path that includes remediation.

Because of the close teacher-learner relationship, these advantages are translated to learners:

  • Learners can access resources needed to reach their goals in a timely manner.
  • Increased engagement means that learners are more likely to take ownership of their education, resulting in better outcomes.
  • Assessment is consistently aligned to objectives and the knowledge and skills learners have acquired.

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2018-07-23T01:08:01-05:00 March 24th, 2016|Instructional Design|0 Comments

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