What Does an Instructional Designer Do?

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  • Written By: M. Kayo
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2019
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Instructional designers create e-learning processes, solving instructional problems and making e-learning more effective, appealing, or efficient by providing opportunities for students to actively participate in the learning process. An instructional designer begins with a learning goal in mind and then designs a process to help students achieve this learning goal. They collaborate with others in determining a learning goal and developing the technological processes necessary to develop a curriculum. Typically an expert in e-Learning, an instructional designer may work in a classroom, on a closed network or over the Internet.

The instructional designer is tasked with assessing what needs to be learned and then establishing a concise educational process that will help students receive and retain specific information. Creating learning programs that will help students achieve the highest level of learning in the least amount of time is one of the primary goals of this position. Having a basic knowledge of how people learn is also key in this job. Other important skills include knowing how to connect with an audience on an emotional level, writing effective copy, and visualizing the finished user interface before final production. An instructional designer must have the ability to create curricula that ensure that specified goals and learning objectives are attained within established time frames and within budget.


Collaborating with other professionals, an instructional designer will typically work to develop and implement e-learning methods through course enhancement. They may also evaluate various instruments used in the e-learning process and assess the effectiveness of overall e-learning programs. It is critical that instructional designers effectively communicate with subject matter experts (SMEs) and collaborate with other information technology professionals in acquiring the information used to create specific e-learning programs. Instructional designers also maintain a certain level of knowledge and remain current in the e-learning process through reviewing publications, attending workshops, and establishing a network of people and professional associations related to instructional design.

Working with various electronic or digital media like computers, the Internet, and even smart phones, an instructional designer may also be trained to help people learn while using these devices. This may involve distance learning, in which a student may access courses over the Internet from any location. Corporations and other organizations may set up closed networks that give limited access to their own personnel. Instructional designers create curricula that are specifically designed to make learning more effective by actively engaging learners in the education process using the latest technological methods. While some working in this profession do not have a degree, many instructional designers have a bachelor's or even a master's degree in instructional design and technology.


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