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Introduction To Instructional Design

Introduction to Instructional Design


Lesson Objectives

At the end of this lesson students will:

  1. Define the terms instruction, instructional design, education, training, and learning.
  2. Recognize the importance of the history of instructional design.
  3. Recall the nine activities of the learning process.
  4. Construct a job description for an instructional design position that synthesizes the basic concepts of instructional design with the basic skills needed within this position.
  5. Evaluate a needs assessment.

Lesson Introduction

This lesson introduces the student to the concept of instructional design.  The lesson begins with basic definition of key terms, such as instruction and instructional design.  A brief history of instructional design is offered as a foundation for concepts, which will be discussed throughout the course.  The student is then introduced to Gagne’s learning principles and the conditions of learning.  Subsequently, a discussion of the nine activities relating to the learning process is presented.  The lesson concludes with a discussion of the four stages of instructional design.

Introduction to Instructional Design

Welcome to the exciting process of instructional design.   It is often a confusing topic, as there are many ways to approach instructional design and many theories and models that claim to be the most effective.  This course aims to introduce you to the basic terminology of instructional design.  It also hopes to provide a solid foundation for your own efforts in designing curriculum, whether for an entire school district, an entire discipline area, just one course, or even just one lesson.  Much of what you will learn about instructional design can be applied on the macro or micro level, and will be invaluable throughout your educational career.  At the end of this section, students will be able to define the terms instruction, instructional design, education, training, and learning.

First, it is important to define the basic terms of instruction and instructional design.  The following definition is offered by Gagne,  Briggs & Wager (1992):

Instruction is a set of events that affects learners in such a way that learning is facilitated.  Instruction must be planned in order to be effective.

Smith &  Ragan (1993) define instructional design as the systematic process of translating principles of learning and instruction into plans for instructional materials and activities.  The purpose of designed instruction is to activate and support the learning of the individual student – to help each student develop as fully as possible, in his or her own individual direction.

Gagne, Briggs,  & Wager (1992) offer a set of characteristics of effective instructional design.  These characteristics will be discussed throughout this course:

  1. Instructional design must be aimed at aiding the learning of the individual.
  2. Instructional design has phases that are both immediate and long-range.
  3. Systematically designed instruction can greatly affect individual human development.
  4. Instructional design should be conducted with a systematic approach.
  5. Designed instruction must be based on knowledge of how human beings learn.

Often you will find that the terms instruction, education, teaching, and training are used interchangeably.  It is important to distinguish these terms as having slight differences.  Education is a term that broadly describes all of the ways in which people learn.  Education can be unplanned, incidental, and informal.  Instruction is planned and facilitated.  Teaching is one way of delivering instruction.  Instructional messages are delivered by a teacher (a person) in some method.   Teaching is not always involved in instruction, since some students are self-directed learners.  Learning from a video-tape or computer program is self-directed and does not include a teacher.  Training is another way of delivering instruction that is focused upon training specific skills to a person that normally will be applied immediately.  Training is skill-based and usually vocationally-orientated.  Although there is a slight distinction among these terms, understanding their scope and meaning is important to understanding the framework of instructional design.

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