What is Instructional Design?

Instructional design is the planning side of training.

As complex as it may seem, the heart of instructional design is very simple: human potential and learning. It is about helping people become better at what they do through learning.

To better explain instructional design, let us use an architectural parallel. Let’s say you have two buildings separate from each other. The disconnection disrupts the flow of your functions, processes, perhaps even business management. So you need to connect the two buildings in order to enable better operations for your business.

What would you do? You may answer “build a bridge” right away.

But how do you build that bridge? What type of bridge? Do you really need a bridge in the first place or should you try other solutions? When faced with these questions, the logical thing to do is to hire an architect to advise you about your options and the recommended solution.

Bridging the Gaps with Instructional Design

This also applies when it comes to business. The function of these two buildings represents the performance of your employees. As they work, they will function differently if they are set up with certain disconnections. They will also function better if accommodations to bridge these gaps are made. You want operations to flow effortlessly as it courses through your employees. If not, then you have a performance gap.

As you need an architect to help you assess whether a bridge is needed to connect buildings, you need an instructional designer to help you determine if training will close the performance gap, then recommend and design what type of training is needed.

In the same way that bridges around the world vary in size, shapes, and materials based on the needs they address and the places where they will be built, learning programs must also be customized. This should be based on the gaps they must fill and the environments in which they will be implemented. Hence, the goal of instructional design is to produce a “blueprint” for the “bridge” that is strong, effective, and one that addresses your specific problems. To put it more accurately, one that is in line with your objectives.

Therefore, you can think of instructional design as the “planning” side of training. And as the adage goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”


Blended Learning – the use of a combination of delivery methods and approaches to enable learning

Competency – areas of personal capability that enable people to perform successfully in their jobs. A competency can be knowledge, attitudes, skills, professional or personal values.

Instructional Integrity – a term coined by Ms. Armi Treñas to describe a learning intervention whose elements are arranged to deliver its “promise”- that of addressing a performance gap. A design is said to have instructional integrity when it focuses on the learning need through measurable objectives, focused content and assessments using methods that work.

Performance – The accomplishment of a task in accordance with a set standard of completeness and accuracy. (http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/glossary/p.html)

Performance Gap – The difference between the actual performance and the desired performance.