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Interesting Concepts in Instructional Design

Summary by Linh Phung

Do you want to develop learning solutions for schools or companies? Instructional design is a discipline to learn more about. The information below is from the first module from this Coursera course: Instructional Design Foundations and Applications from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

What is instruction? How is it different from education, training, and teaching.


Instruction: The deliberate arrangement of learning conditions to promote the attainment of some intended learning goal (Driscoll, 2000, p. 345).

Education: Education is any situation where conceptual, theoretical, and strategic knowledge and skills are acquired that might help people handle novel and unexpected future challenges and problems.

Training: Training is instructional experiences helping individuals be prepared for job-related competencies.

Teaching: Learning experiences that are facilitated by a human being.

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What about design? Here's a definition.


Design: Series of decision-making that are guided by clear objectives, constrained by limited resources, centered on user experiences, situated in the context, and saturated with creativity and innovations, in order to solve problems.

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For those of us familiar with curriculum development, the process of instructional design sounds familiar too. Instructional design is basically about designing learning experiences. It involves systematic instructional planning, involving the learners, objectives, methods and evaluations. One common term that that you may see is ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation).

The module I just took also reviews the history of instructional design from programmed instruction to developments in the 2010s. I'll just mention a few trends in the 2010s:

  • Increased use of blended learning

  • Prevalent use of smart mobile technology in training and instruction

  • Continued increase in online education in higher education

  • Diversified means to deliver instruction (e.g. MOOCs)

  • The use of big data and data analytics to personalize learning

If you're looking for jobs in instructional design, here are some career phases and job titles.

  • ENTRY: Instructional designer, learning analyst, training and development analyst

  • MID-CAREER: Instructional design manager, project manager, learning system coordinator, learning system consultant

  • SENIOR: Senior instructional design manager, training and development consultant, chief learning officer, chief employee engagement officer

Competencies needed for instructional design careers include those related to people competency, technical competency, organizational process/business competency.

If you'd like to learn more, here are some professional networks.

Here are some places to learn about opportunities and trends in educational systems

About the author: Dr. Linh Phung is a dedicated international educator, innovator, and leader with a proven track record of directing successful educational programs, fostering academic excellence, and driving innovation in language learning. With Eduling, she leads a cross-functional team of IT developers, content developers, and designers in the development of Eduling Speak, an app that connects learners to talk in pairs based on 1000+ communicative tasks and games. She's also a published author and expert in language education with publications in high impact journals, experienced in leadership roles, and committed to enhancing educational experiences and outcomes. She currently serves as an English Language Specialist with the U.S. Department of State.

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