What’s Instructional Design About?

When someone asks me what I do, the conversation usually goes a little like this:

Them: “So, what do you do?”
Me: “I’m an instructional designer.”
Them: “A structural designer?” [OR] “Interior designer?” [OR] “beg pardon?”

I’m still looking for that sound bite that will explain pretty closely what I do, but it’s not easy.

Why is it so difficult to explain?

Instructional Design is complicated. IDs have to combine:

  • Learner profiles (knowledge, skills, and attitudes)
  • Content (What people need to know, or know how to do)*
  • Business needs and/or goals
  • Performance context (How are learners expected to implement the content in order to achieve a positive impact on the business)?

* Of course, there’s another type of ‘content’ related to influencing attitudes—What psychologists call the “affective domain.” This is a pretty big topic, and we can deal with that later.

Let me know what you think.