What is Instructional Design?

Wikipedia defines Instructional design (ID) as the practice of systematically designing, developing, and delivering instructional products and experiences, both digital and physical, in a consistent and reliable fashion toward an efficient, effective, appealing, engaging and inspiring acquisition of knowledge.

What a mouthful! Allow us to break it down for you.

We are specifically going to discuss some key elements to consider when it comes to Instructional Design as it pertains to eLearning.

In the eLearning environment we like to refer to the outcome of Instructional Design as an Instructional Design Plan or IDP – this already tells you that there is planning involved. 

The Process

The basic components of creating an IDP include: Analysis, Design, Development, Delivery and Evaluation.  These components are important building blocks in structuring a course. There are various models that are used by eLearning instructional designers to develop an IDP. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

Some examples are the:

 – ADDIE Model

 – Merrill’s Principles of Instruction

 – Gagne’s Nine Events of Instructions

 – Bloom’s Taxonomy

 The model chosen will depend on what works best for your organisation.

Why do you need Instructional Design?

Have you ever attended or facilitated a course that made you wonder: “Am I in the correct classroom or teaching the correct people”? This would be an example of a course that didn’t have instructional design. Just as the technology and methods of learning have changed, so should the approach to course design change. Making use of instructional design as the backbone of any course design will enable a course to be designed with specific outcomes, meet the needs of the organisations learning strategy and consider the needs of the audience. A well-designed learning course will save time and money in the long-term as it should provide the learner with the relevant need to know information and not just what is nice to know. Thus, minimising the need to have people redoing a course that they don’t understand as it was not designed properly.

When do you need Instructional Design?

The answer is simple! Every time a course needs to be created there needs to be an instructional design plan. As an eLearning solutions company, we do not commence with any course development until we have a signed off IDP. The IDP as mentioned earlier, is the backbone of course design and it outlines what the course is for, who it is for and how the objectives of the course will be met.

Who uses an Instructional Design Plan?

The learning design team, instructional designer or course creator would be the person or people that would use an IDP.  An IDP should include how the eLearning course will be broken down into the specific outcomes, how the material will be taught using multimedia, workbooks and activities, how the outcomes will be assessed and finally how the course is evaluated.


When creating an eLearning course, you want the user experience to be something that will leave them wanting more.  Learning starts with planning. If you want your eLearning courses to be successful, never start developing a course until you have been through the process of putting together an IDP.

Instructional design is a specialised skill and not something that just anyone can achieve. Instead of worrying about how you or your organisation can do this, contact us at Quay Group. Instructional Design is one of our service offerings and we can work with you to make your eLearning what it should be.