Instructional Design is a way of planning instruction considering the learner, end goal or product, and evaluation/assessments. Many times, multimedia tools are used to improve instruction and increase student engagement (Culatta, 2011).

"Instructional design contributes theories about how human beings learn, strategies for applying these theories, and methodologies to carry out the strategies." (Horton, 2006, p. 5) It is a way of designing your lessons or planning instruction by using research to maximize student learning and engagement.

Theories & Models of Instructional Design (Instructional Design Theory)

Instructional Design models are generally broken down into parts similar to the components of the ADDIE model. Generally, there is a formative evaluation at the end of each part of an Instructional Design model as well as a summative evaluation of the entire process (Clark, 2010).

The 5 Main Phases of Instructional Design

Instructional Design as a Process:
Instructional Design is 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.

Instructional Design as a Discipline:
Instructional Design is that branch of knowledge concerned with research and theory about instructional strategies and the process for developing and implementing those strategies.

Instructional Design as a Science:
Instructional design is the science of creating detailed specifications for the development, implementation, evaluation, and maintenance of situations that facilitate the learning of both large and small units of subject matter at all levels of complexity.

Instructional Design as Reality:
Instructional design can start at any point in the design process. Often a glimmer of an idea is developed to give the core of an instruction situation. By the time the entire process is done the designer looks back and she or he checks to see that all parts of the "science" have been taken into account. Then the entire process is written up as if it occurred in a systematic fashion.

Instructional System:
An instructional system is an arrangement of resources and procedures to promote learning. Instructional design is the systematic process of developing instructional systems and instructional development is the process of implementing the system or plan.

Instructional Technology:
Instructional technology is the systemic and systematic application of strategies and techniques derived from behavioral, cognitive, and constructivist theories to the solution of instructional problems.

Instructional technology is the systematic application of theory and other organized knowledge to the task of instructional design and development.

Instructional Technology = Instructional Design + Instructional Development

Instructional Development:
The process of implementing the design plans.

Fun review of Instructional Design-

History of Instructional Design

Reiser (2001) has written extensively on the history of Instructional Design and Technology (IDT). He describes this field as being composed of two key practices, viz., (1) the use of media for instructional purposes, and (2) the use of systematic instructional design procedures (often simply called instructional design). Within Reiser’s conception of IDT, six key activities take place: design, development, utilization or implementation, management, evaluation, and analysis (2001a, p. 54).

The media used for instruction - beyond the traditional classroom entities of teacher, chalkboard, and textbook - are primarily 20th century innovations. All of the media-related technology deployed in the 20th century has, in one way or another, at least tried to be adapted into the classroom setting, with varying degrees of success.

A systematic approach to the methodologies of instruction, however, didn’t come about until WWII, when people with psychological backgrounds were called upon to assist in the training of large numbers of people in tasks or procedures related to the war effort (2001b, p. 58). The success of the training film (with its dual modalities of audio and visual components) contributed in no small part to the ultimate Allied victory in WWII (2001a, pp. 56-57).

In Reiser’s estimation, “knowledge management” might be a future direction that IDT might take. Knowledge management, in quoting Rossett (1999) “involves identifying, documenting, and disseminating explicit and tacit knowledge within an organization in order to improve the performance of that organization” (2001b, p. 64). The net result of such interest would be an expansion of instructional designers’ roles would beyond “improving human performance” into “locating and improving access to useful organizational knowledge,” requiring different tasks of instructional designers (2001b, p. 64)

The video embedded below provides some interesting insight from university professors and their instructional design rules of thumb.


Berger, C & Kam, R. (August 9, 2011). Definitions of Instructional Design. Retrieved from

Clark, D.(2010, June 6). Instructional design. Retrieved August 26, 2011, from

Culatta, R. (2011). Instructional design. Retrieved August 26, 2011, from

cyn2bnvd (Poster). Instructional Design Rules of Thumb - Learning from the Pros - Part 1 [Video] (2009, May 12). Retrieved from

Dianaz [poster] (2011, April) Instructional Design. From

Horton, W. (2006). E-Learning by Design. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Instructional Design Theory. (n.d.). Retrieved August 25, 2011, from

Reiser, R.A. (2001a). A history of instructional design and technology: Part I, a history of instructional media. Educational Technology Research and Development, (49)1, 53-64.

(2001b). A history of instructional design and technology: Part II, a history of instructional design. Educational Technology Research and Development, (49)2, 57-67.

The instructional design process. (2009, January 26). Retrieved August 26, 2011, from YouTube Web site: