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Instructional Design

What is an Instructional Designer? Job Description & Duties

Instructional designers play a key role in the design and development of online educational content.

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By Scott Winstead

what is an instructional designer

As someone who’s been an instructional designer for nearly 20 years now, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a confused look when someone asks what I do for a living. Most people have never heard the term “instructional designer” and have to clue what it is. Nor do they realize it’s one of the fastest growing jobs in education right now.

Simply put, an instructional designer is a professional who specializes in creating, designing, and structuring educational content and experiences, often using principles of learning theory and technology to enhance teaching and learning outcomes.

In the guide below, I’ll explain in more depth what an instructional designer is, what they typically do on a daily basis, who they work for and with, and more.

What is an Instructional Designer?

An instructional designer, also called an eLearning designer, is a professional responsible for designing educational content and experiences that are intended to improve the performance of individuals in particular tasks. Instructional designers bring together principles of design, instruction theory, and technology to create effective learning materials.

They use their knowledge of learning theories and instructional design principles to create engaging educational content and activities.

Instructional designers work collaboratively with subject matter experts, instructional technologists, and project managers to ensure that their designs meet the learning objectives and needs of the target audience.

They are skilled in using various technologies and multimedia tools to enhance the learning experience, and they continuously evaluate and revise their designs to improve the quality and effectiveness of their instructional materials. Overall, instructional designers play a crucial role in the education and training of individuals and teams, and they are dedicated to promoting continuous learning and growth in various fields.

Instructional Designer Job Duties

The daily responsibilities of an instructional designer are numerous and include:

  • Analyzing the current performance level and learning needs of the target audience
  • Developing instructional objectives and assessments to evaluate content efficacy
  • Designing engaging learning materials, activities, and resources using various multimedia tools
  • Creating interactive media elements such as simulations, games, quizzes, and videos
  • Integrating instructional design principles into all aspects of the learning experience
  • Collaborating with subject matter experts to ensure content accuracy and relevancy
  • Testing and revising instructional material as needed
  • Providing feedback on created materials
  • Taking user feedback to improve learning programs
  • Implementing user-centered design processes such as usability testing
  • Monitoring student engagement levels throughout the course
  • Managing online learning communities
  • Working with other key stakeholders to ensure training programs are meeting organizational goals and objectives
  • Training others to deliver learning programs

Key Tools Used by Instructional Designers

As an instructional designer, we use a range of technology-based tools to create and deliver effective educational materials. These can include:

  • Learning Management Systems (LMS) – used to organize and manage course content, assignments, tests, quizzes, etc.
  • Software such as Photoshop and Adobe Creative Suite – used to design visuals for the learning material
  • Video Editing Software – used to create videos and other multimedia materials
  • Authoring Tools used to create interactive activities such as simulations, games, and quizzes
  • Analytics tools – used to track and analyze user engagement with the material

Who Does the Instructional Designer Report To?

I’ve worked on a number of instructional design jobs over the years, and the person I’ve reported to for each project sometimes varies.

The instructional designer typically reports to a Learning & Development Manager or Training Supervisor, depending on the size of the organization.

In smaller companies, they may report directly to the CEO or COO. In larger organizations, they often report up through several tiers of management.

They also work closely with subject matter experts and instructional technologists throughout the design process.

The instructional designer acts as the bridge between these stakeholders, ensuring that all components of the training program are properly integrated and working together towards the desired outcomes.

Additionally, they may also work with other departments such as marketing, customer service, or IT to ensure that learning programs align with organizational goals and objectives.

Simply put, the instructional designer’s primary responsibility is to create effective and engaging learning materials that are tailored to meet the needs of the target audience.

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Thinking About Pursuing a Career in Instructional Design?

Now that you know what an instructional designer is and what the job entails, you might be interested in pursuing a career in the field.

Your best bet to get started is to enroll in an online certification program that will give you all the training you need to become an expert in instructional design.

Best Overall
Emeritus Professional Instructional Design Certificate | Online Certificate Course Emeritus Professional Instructional Design Certificate | Online Certificate Course

Gain firsthand expertise in instructional design principles and methodologies through this unique Professional Certificate program. Create impactful learning solutions and improve people's ability to learn.

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The Professional Certificate in Instructional Design from Emeritus is the gold standard when it comes to online ID certificate programs.

In only 5 months, you’ll learn the fundamentals of ID, including how to set learning objectives and create engaging digital content.

This program offers in-depth instruction on the latest methodologies and analytics to help you craft effective learning solutions for your intended audience. Under the guidance of industry professionals, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed as an instructional designer in today’s fast-paced job market.

In fact, 94% of Emeritus students report a positive impact on their professional development after taking a course on the platform.

Click here to learn more about the program and request a free brochure.

Have any more questions about what an instructional designer is or what they do? Comment below and I’ll help you out.

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