What Instructional Designers Really Do

I want to apologize. I write about instructional design (ID) all the time but I’ve never stopped to explain what Instructional Designers really do. There are numerous definitions for it and many of them are somewhat wordy and technical. So, here’s my personal definition instead:

Instructional design is the art/science of making things make sense.

That’s it in a nutshell. Every aspect of ID is intended to make learning experiences as effective as possible. That’s true whether someone is designing a job aid, an online course, or an instructor-led training session.
With that said, there’s a lot packed into that nutshell. Some of this overlaps a bit, but I think it gets the idea across:

• Learning and instructional theories
• Needs analysis/root cause analysis
• Problem solving
• How memory works
• Motivation techniques
• How to include context
• Writing
• Creativity
• Basic visual design
• Formatting consistency
• Ability to see the big picture
• Ability to see details
• Technology awareness
• User experience (UX) awareness

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