Instructional design dates back to World War II, when hundreds of thousands of soldiers needed to be well trained — and fast. Psychologists and education specialists were called upon to both assess soldiers’ learning abilities and to create training materials en masse. B.F. Skinner’s stimulus-response techniques, positive reinforcement training, and behavior-based feedback were put to practice, where instructors maintained the optimistic assumption that all learners could achieve mastery through better training. This was also the first time that audio-visual aids, like short films, were used for training purposes. This marked the beginning of technology being used for teaching. From the start, instructional design and its precursors were always forward thinking.

Instructional design is an essential component of effective teaching today. When coupled with an eLearning environment, teaching can be optimized in ways that make the potential for learning limitless. Let’s investigate.

What is instructional design and why is it important for better learning?

Instructional design is the process by which learning experiences are designed, developed, and delivered. It is so much more than simply creating instructional material. It blends learning theory, behavioral psychology, and communication strategies to craft an effective learning experience for a target group of people. In this way, instructional design is inherently learner-centric, focusing on why students learn, how they learn best, and what methods of instruction will be most effective.

The instructional designer is the one who applies the aspects mentioned above and is responsible for creating the course design as well as instructional materials. The instructional designer conducts analysis to determine the best strategies to use for learners. Again, it’s an extremely learner-centric process.

Instructional design is important because it puts the learner back at the center of the learning process. Oftentimes, teaching the material is the main priority, but that doesn’t mean the material will be retained by default. Sure, instructors can lecture at length, or splice in a variety of videos, images, sounds, etc. to spice up a lesson. But without intention, these efforts are in vain. Instructional design ensures the material is taught effectively by the most appropriate means.

Key principles of instructional design

Depending on where you look, you may find anywhere from five to nine standard instructional design principles. To cover all the bases, we’ll include all nine, which derive from American education psychologist Robert Gagné. The principles are also known as Gagné’s Nine Events of Instruction and serve as a checklist to help managers, trainers, and facilitators structure their training. They fall into three phases:

  1. Preparation
    • Gain attention
    • Inform learners of the objectives
    • Stimulate recall of prior learning
  2. Instruction and practice
    • Present new content
    • Provide guidance
    • Elicit performance
    • Provide feedback
  3. Assessment and transfer
    • Assess learning performance
    • Enhance retention and performance

These principles guide the process of teaching to ensure a better learning experience on behalf of the learner. The principles are step one. Step two is to determine the best mode of teaching — the best way to make the lessons stick. This is where an eLearning platform can be extremely useful.

Instructional design and eLearning

When instructional design meets eLearning, a dynamic duo is born. It’s no coincidence that Amplifire’s own eLearning platform, which is built on brain science discoveries, echos many Gagné’s principles for effective learning. Research like Gagné’s and the members of Amplifire’s Science Advisory Board exists so instructors in any setting can maximize teaching’s effectiveness.

Technological mediums, like eLearning platforms, enable instructional design to operate at its highest capacity. For example, Amplifire’s teaching algorithms prime and prepare learners for new material — one of the most effective triggers for better learning. During the “instruction and practice” phase, Amplifire actively engages learners with more research-backed learning triggers. The platform gauges learners’ confidence to determine their knowledge level and meets them where they are to provide feedback and guidance in real time. Meanwhile, instructors have access to analytical data on the back end to assess learners’ performance to offer further guidance. These features are proven to improve retention and performance, which align with the goals of instructional design.

When instructional design and eLearning come together, design intersects with science to create a powerful, efficient, and effective learning experience. Teaching is really about how well a student learns, so why not use practices that put the learner at the center of the whole process?

From the beginning, Amplifire has relied on innovative brain science to guide its product development to create the most effective learning and training solution, perfectly tailored to the way the human brain works. Learn more about how Amplifire helps people learn better and faster by checking out a demo.