An Instructional Designer’s Philosophy

the_thinkerI’ve previously wrote about Being an Instructional Designer and Instructional Design Defined.

I once read, and wholeheartedly agree, “Instructional Designers create easy-to-understand educational materials for training and development purposes. They understand the process of learning and use graphics & creative strategies to make the material effective and interesting.”

As I think about who I am and what I do, I decided to share my thoughts about my career passion. As an Instructional Designer, I have a philosophy to designing effective instruction.

My instructional design philosophy can be summed in a few points:

  1. Learning should be about connecting to the content and then sharing your knowledge and interests with others.
    • An instructional designer curates knowledge. We provide learners with valuable connections to subject matter experts and information.
    • Learners should be able to explain or repeat the lesson to a partner.
    • Learners should be able to share the knowledge with a group of people.
  2. Adults need to know why they need to learn something and how it benefits them. Making this transparent is the start to good Instructional Design
    • Learners should be able to discuss how they use the information, how it benefits them, and any issues they have with the information.
    • A good instructional designer facilitates this discussion and provides recommendations, best practices and suggestions for mitigating the issues.
    • Learners should establish goals. If learners are not driven to set goals for themselves, instructional designers must aid in the development of these goals. Once learning goals are set, instructional designers must create and facilitate instruction that helps accomplish these goals.
  3. Good instructional design allows users to experience and interact with the content.
    • It’s okay to learn by doing and learn by making mistakes.

    Instructional Designers don many hats, including that of producer, coordinator, and facilitator. Read more about these roles here.


About Julie Tausend Burba

Instructional Designer at Hulu, Ed Tech and Project Management enthusiast. MBA Technology Management, MS Management, BS Communications, Traveler and Cook.

Posted on August 21, 2013, in Educational Technology, Instructional Design, Tausend Talks Shop and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Excellent post and although I am now a student ID in the making, I have been in the e-Learning business for over seven years. Though osmosis, on-the-job practice and the support of some “de jure” IDs some of the science and art of the craft has actually rubbed off. Your post caught my attention during a search for a class assignment, and much about your philosophy or approach to Instructional Design struck a chord. For example, when I am asked what I do when designing or storyboarding content I use metaphors or analogies such as “writer-director” or even more simply “storyteller”.

    Your point about how one should show adult learners up front the benefits of learning made me recall an event from my first days on the job as an online Content Developer. An experienced ID who was reviewing one of my first storyboards said, “This looks decent enough, but there’s no “wiffen” in the front matter.” Not wanting to appear ignorant, and thinking that this was some obscure ID-speak term of obscure Germanic origin that I could Google, I nodded and said I’d provide an update with plenty of “wiffen” the next day.

    Well, it took me two days to muster the courage to ask someone where I could find a “wiffen” for my storyboard. To my chagrin I learned that my missing “wiffen” was actually the acronym WIIFM or what’s in it for me. What the experience ID was point out was that I had failed to point out to the learner the “why” and “how” the content was of benefit to them and thus their motivation to learn was likely diminished.

    So the next day, when the patient ID reviewed my next version and said much improved and that the client would be pleased with this because it was a “whizzy-whig” storyboard. Having learned a valuable lesson, I did not hesitate to ask the meaning of this new term. It was another one of the IDs pet acronyms, what you see is what you get – WYSIWYG. Both are terms I use frequently to this day.

  1. Pingback: The Doorway to Professional Learning Communities | R M Wilcox

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