What is Instructional Design?

According to Smith & Ragan (2005):

The term instructional design refers to the systematic and reflective process of translating principles of learning and instruction in to plans for instructional materials, activities, information resources, and evaluation. An instructional designer is somewhat like an engineer. Both plan their work based upon principles that have been successful in the past—the engineer on the laws of physics, and the designer on basic principles of instruction and learning. Both try to design solutions that are not only functional but also attractive or appealing to the end-user. Both the engineer and the instructional designer have established problem-solving procedures that they use to guide them in making decisions about their designs. (p. 4)

How Will An Instructional Designer Help You Develop Your Course?

Ko & Rossen (2010) explain:

When teaching in the face-to-face class, instructors are accustomed to responding to body language, questions from students and other cues that students are in need of further clarification, explanations, or assistance about what they should be doing in the course. For an online class, a good deal of this needs to be anticipated, so that students are clear about what they need to do and when and where, and the instructor can provide additional emphasis, reminders, and referrals to other resources as needed. Therefore, if you are working with an instructional designer, or within an even larger team framework, it's best to approach the experience as a way to become more aware of the opportunity to try out new approaches to teaching arising from the multiple perspectives afforded to you by the team. (p. 103)


Ko, S. & Rossen, S. (2010). Teaching online: A practical guide (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Smith, P. L. & Ragan, T.J. (2005). Instructional design (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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