How many of these statements or questions have you heard?

“Our new hires need to be onboarded as quickly as possible!”

“We need to make everybody familiar with the new safety protocol!”

“Our engineers need to start using this new software as soon as they can!”

“What is the fastest way to explain to our employees the environmental impact of our operations?”

The answers to these concerns might include training, performance support, or process improvements. But no matter what the answers are, Instructional Design, Learning Strategy, or Communication Design will most likely be at the center of each solution.

With our Instructional Designers, Learning Strategists, and others throughout the company, we are developing a brief blog series to tackle the basic instructional design principles the way we see them. So let’s get started…

What is instructional design?

The University of Michigan School of Education, Educational Studies, describes it as “the systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It includes development of instructional materials and activities; and tryout and evaluation of all instruction and learner activities.”

At its core, Instructional Design is about finding strategies to engage the learner so that they get it.  You want your training, or the subject that needs to get communicated, to be understood  and ultimately acted upon – hence adding value to your organization.  Training that does not engage and change behavior with measurable results, is… well… just not worth it.

While there are many models of instructional design, the most common stages of the process are described in the ADDIE model (see, for example, Gustafson & Branch, 2002). The ADDIE model has five phases:

  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Development
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation

ADDIE is a handy model can be used for developing new training and revising existing training. There are a variety of approaches that instructional designers use to design and develop training and we will go into deeper detail for each in upcoming blogs.

Instructional design is an expanding field that we are seeing more and more in demand as the aging out of subject matter experts becomes a pressing issue within organizations. If you have any articles or comments you would like to share, we’d love to hear from you!

How do you define Instructional Design? Has it changed for you with all the technological advances of the last 10 years—smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices?


Gustafson, K. L., & Branch, R. M. (2002). Survey of instructional development models (4th ed.). Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology.

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