What is Educational Instructional Design?

The term “educational instructional design” sounds like something an architect would do in building a school, and that isn’t far from the fact. Instead of bricks, plastics and floorplans, however, an educational instructional designer uses information about theories, concepts and domains to construct an educational program that addresses the needs of specific learners. He also utilizes technology and multimedia.

What Does Educational Instructional Design Mean?

In simple terms, it is analyzing educational needs and developing learning “experiences” to meet those needs. Instructional design “presents context in a simple, meaningful way.”

How Does the Process Use Theories, Concepts and Domains?

The field combines, or integrates psychology, communication and education. There are many theories about learning. One of these, for example, is the “Cognitive Flexibility Theory.” This theory supposes that learning is based upon the context of the learning environment. The most effective learning is that which the student builds himself using his observations from many cases; learning that is merely transmitted from lecture, or that which is derived from only one choice is not nearly as complete. So, a student learns to be flexible in his response to many choices presented in the learning environment. Learning should also be inclusive and interconnected. A concept is a response such as adaptive learning, in which a computer adapts material to the student in real time, in accordance with his ability and understanding, then sequences to more complex learning. A domain is an arena of learning. That might be anything between learning computer skills to improving motor skills. In each domain a different concept is required and that is derived from utilizing the various theories of learning. In the instance of learning computer tasks, the concept of adaptive learning is an easy example. The computer begins with easy tasks and then makes the problems harder as the student learns. Since the theory of cognitive flexibility says that effective learning takes place when the learner understands the context of the problem and how it relates to other problems, programs that present the instruction as real-life simulations using real systems in a variety of situations would be desirable. That is an extremely simplified example because there are many concepts, theories and domains. That is why an educational instructional designer must have a thorough understanding of all these principles and how they work together; these are the tools he uses to “build” educational experiences and opportunities that work.

Who are these Professionals?

A professional in this career needs a master’s degree. There is certification that can be added to a Master’s in Education degree, but there are also degree programs in the discipline itself. The program can be specialized to online instruction, K-12 or even corporate training. The illustration given of learning computer skills was taken from the last arena, but if it was modified for younger learners, it could be effectively used in middle school. The Bureau of Labor Statistics gives a figure of $61,550 as a median salary for a professional in this area. Careers could include consulting, corporate training and developing and monitoring curriculum in schools, among others.

Related Resource: What Does a School Librarian Do?

Building learning experiences upon the foundation of years of theories and concepts, and adapting them to different domains enables education professionals to create innovative curriculum and programming that targets the way people, both children and adults, actually learn. Educational Instructional design is the unifying component that brings all of the information together to create a “building” where the ideas can merge into effective, tangible and measurable learning.