Did you know the formal practice of instructional design began with the need to better train soldiers? Learn the history of instructional design and its importance as a practice for producing effective learning experiences.
- The formal practice of instructional design began with the need to better train soldiers after World War II. In the years following the war, an Aviation Psychologist by the name of Robert Gagne, designed and tested instructional materials for training Army Air Corps pilots. His systematic approach to analyzing learning needs, formulating teaching strategies and producing instructional materials for this purpose let to publication of an article in the early 1960s. This article presented the findings of his research and formed the basis of his book, The Conditions of Learning His work in this area remains a foundation for today's instructional design practices. Since then, researchers and practitioners have created a variety of models for producing instructional events and developing teaching and studying materials. These models have been referred to by different terms including instructional systems design, instructional development and instructional design, the term we're using in this course. What's important to understand is that while there are many models to choose from, there are few major distinctions between them. Many of them are simply restatements of earlier models with different terminology. Most of them conform to the University of Michigan's definition of instructional design as the systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. I'll take it one step further by adding that the practice of instructional design covers the entire process of analyzing the learning needs and outcomes, the design and development of instructional materials and activities and their systematic delivery to the learner. It should also, but does not always, include a method for evaluating the results of the effort. After reviewing the various models available, you may not be sure which model will work best for you, your project in your organization. And that's okay because after many years of use, there's little evidence or research suggesting which models work best and under which conditions So, to choose wisely, consider both of the following: First, consider which model works within your resource, time and budget constraints. This criterion focuses attention on the project itself, how you will build the instructional product. And secondly but perhaps more importantly, consider which model drives behavior that can be transferred to the workplace. This criterion focuses on outcomes, how well the instructional product meets the learning need. Remember, there is both an art and a science to good instructional design. It must balance creativity and structure. The right model will allow you, your collaborators and your stakeholders to see both the linear and iterative aspects of the project and enable you to select and develop the tools needed to get the job done.