meaning of Instructional design

Meaning of Instructional Design in brief

In this post, meaning of Instructional Design, I give the simplest but professional meaning of Instructional Design. I present the meaning in a way that non-education professionals will easily understand. In conclusion, I briefly state a difference between Instructional Design and Lesson Planning.

Introduction

We have had many Instructional Design Training. And although the term ‘Instructional Design‘ may sound enticing; not everyone in the education circle understands its meaning. Consequently, some who ought to have participated in the training have missed out of previous opportunities for want of understanding.

It is true that a good number of educators may not have had any earlier intentional contact with the term. Nonetheless, that is rather unfortunate to me. Especially at this time that every teacher out there seeks alternative source of income. It is a well-known fact that our chances of earnings is in direct proportion to our professional vastness and proficiency. This is what the popular counselor and psychiatrist, Craig D. Lounsbrough implied when he said: “I fear that should I seek out the treasures around me, they might by comparison reveal that I have not cultivated the treasures within me.”

Hence, the treasure – alternative source of income – that an educator seek is a comparison of the treasure s/he cultivates within. Instructional Design is of the closest relation with any educator’s profession. It does not only increases your vastness and proficiency in the profession; but it also opens more opportunities. This is because Instructional is not limited to the classroom alone. It is a vast body of knowledge that you can practice in the corporate environments across the sectors just the way you apply them in the classroom. In fact, it is one of the best way that a teacher can make himself or herself extra relevant in the corporate environment. Many veteran teachers currently freelance for corporate organizations as part of HR.

Do you see how Instructional Design is closely related to an educator’s profession now? I am sure you do. But what exactly is the meaning of Instructional Design? And how is it different from Lesson Planning? Read on

Meaning of Instructional Design

Professionally, the combined works of (Merrill, Drake, Lacy, & Pratt, 1966) at the Department of Instructional Technology, Utah State University; and (Wagner, 2011) on The Journal of Applied Instructional Design defines Instructional Design 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.

Now that is a very elaborate definition. But it may not be easy for you to fully grasp the professional perspective to it – especially if you are new to the field of Instructional Design. Therefore, I will present the simplest but professional meaning of Instructional Design in the following sections.

Instructional + Design

The term Instructional Design is made of two words – Instructional and Design. Instructional here is an adjective which tells describes design. And it means that which gives instructions or simply giving instruction.

Meaning of Instructional Design - LeadinGuides

So, Instructional Design is simply a type of design which gives instruction. 

Meaning of Instructional Design 2 - LeadinGuides

But this is not elaborate enough. Hence, let’s make it more elaborate. We’ll do this by looking up the meaning of instruction in our dictionary.

Meaning of Instruction

Both the Oxford and Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionaries contain three meanings for the word instruction.

Therefore, dictionary 101 demands that we pick the meaning that is most relative to the context of our discussion. This corresponds to definition number 3 and 1 in Cambridge and Oxford Dictionaries respectively. According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Instruction is the process of teaching.

And process on the other hand means a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result.

Bringing it together,

We could say that instructional means that which gives a series of actions that a teacher takes in order to achieve a result.

Now what result does a teacher aims to achieve?

Generally, teachers teach to educate (or give education to) a learner.  And, professionally, education means desirable or desired skills, knowledge and character that is beneficial to an individual and the society. This is typically the result that any teacher aims to achieve in a lesson. The teacher aims to pass onto the students the skills, knowledge and character that the syllabus stipulates. In Instructional Design however, the designer extends the aim of the teacher further. Beyond simply targeting to educate the student, ISD aims to make this happen in an efficient, effective, appealing, engaging and inspiring way.

  • Efficient – using available resources
  • Effective – that as many students as possible learn what is intended and relatively permanently.
  • Appealing – in a way that the learners will like and are comfortable
  • Engaging – in a way that involves the students.
  • Inspiring – when the students are happy and willing to learn.

So in conclusion, instructional as in ISD means that which gives a series of actions that a teacher takes in order to give desired skills, knowledge and character to learners in an efficient, effective, appealing, engaging and inspiring way.

Meaning of Design

The design in Instructional Design means a plan (outline) that gives instruction. Wiktionary defines a plan as a drawing showing technical details. Technical means applying the knowledge, methods or techniques of a subject, art, craft or industry.

Therefore, we can conclude that the design in ISD means is a drawing (made) by applying the knowledge, methods or techniques of the field of education/instructional design which gives instructions. Doing things according to set principles or techniques is better referred to as the systematic way. This is why experts regards Instructional Design as being systematic.

Definition of Instructional Design

We formulated that instructional means that which gives a series of actions that a teacher takes in order to give desired skills, knowledge and character to learners in an efficient, effective, appealing, engaging and inspiring way.

Similarly, we defined design is a drawing (made) – in a systematic way – by applying the knowledge, methods or techniques of the field of education/instructional design which gives instructions.

Therefore, we can define as a way of drawing a series of actions based on education theories that a teacher takes in order to give desired skill, knowledge and character to learners in an efficient, effective, appealing, engaging and inspiring way.

Differences Between Instructional Design and Lesson Planning

Now, this meaning of Instructional Design makes it very similar to Lesson Planning. This is because lesson planning is also about drawing out the steps they intend to take to deliver a lesson.

But there are a couple of differences between lesson planning and instructional design. We will discuss this in detail during the August edition of our Instructional Design Training. However, I will state two to help you better understand the meaning of Instructional Design.

The major difference between instructional design and lesson planning that I will discuss here is this:

Instructional Design is more technical than Lesson Planning

Both Lesson Planning and Instructional Design are technical. But Instructional Design is more technical. The technicality of lesson planning is often limited to format and content. Whereas Instructional Design is not only technical in format and content; it is more intentional and conscious of educational theories.

Once you give any qualified person a good lesson plan format – like this my lesson plan template – and you explain the right content for the fields; such a person will be able to write good lesson plan. But this is not so with instructional design. If a teacher is to plan the lesson by the Instructional Design way, s/he basis every content that s/he writes into the fields on certain educational theory or educational psychology. These educational theories or educational psychology are imbued into the Instructional Design process.

Conclusion

In conclusion of the meaning of Instructional Design, and its difference with lesson planning; except you or your staff are able to instantly answer the following questions without mincing words, I strongly recommend you take an instructional design training.

We designed the August edition of our Instructional Design Training specifically help teachers adopt the Instructional Design approach to lesson planning. Click here to read more about the training. Or click here to register right away.

Selected Questions

Invariably, I cannot write out all the questions that you may use to assess your skills in instructional design for classroom. But here are a few that give you a glimpse. The first three questions are for the cognitive domain; while 4 and 5 are for psychomotor/physical and affective respectively.

  1. Mention the steps in integrating Instructional Design Models into lesson planning
  2. Mention ten commandments of integrating educational theories into lesson planning
  3. List four instructional design models that is suitable use and their implication in the classroom
  4. Practically apply given classroom Instructional Design Model to plan a lesson
  5. Demonstrate the behaviour of basing instructional decisions on proven educational theories