Definitions of Instructional Design

Adapted from "Training and Instructional Design",
Applied Research Laboratory, Penn State University

Instructional Design as a Process:
Instructional Design is the systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It includes development of instructional materials and activities; and tryout and evaluation of all instruction and learner activities.

Instructional Design as a Discipline:
Instructional Design is that branch of knowledge concerned with research and theory about instructional strategies and the process for developing and implementing those strategies.

Instructional Design as a Science:
Instructional design is the science of creating detailed specifications for the development, implementation, evaluation, and maintenance of situations that facilitate the learning of both large and small units of subject matter at all levels of complexity.

Instructional Design as Reality:
Instructional design can start at any point in the design process. Often a glimmer of an idea is developed to give the core of an instruction situation. By the time the entire process is done the designer looks back and she or he checks to see that all parts of the "science" have been taken into account. Then the entire process is written up as if it occurred in a systematic fashion.

Instructional System:
An instructional system is an arrangement of resources and procedures to promote learning. Instructional design is the systematic process of developing instructional systems and instructional development is the process of implementing the system or plan.

Instructional Technology:
Instructional technology is the systemic and systematic application of strategies and techniques derived from behavioral, cognitive, and constructivist theories to the solution of instructional problems.

Instructional technology is the systematic application of theory and other organized knowledge to the task of instructional design and development.

Instructional Technology = Instructional Design + Instructional Development

Instructional Development:
The process of implementing the design plans.


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Revised: October 18, 1996
Copyright ©1996 The University of Michigan

Send comments or queries to Carl Berger or Rosalind Kam