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What is instructional design?

Instructional design has become a popular and valuable role in the worlds of business, education and government across the globe.

So, what is instructional design? It’s the process of creating and delivering learning products that solve performance issues with effective and engaging learning experiences.

Like the technical crew of a theater production, instructional designers work behind the scenes, rarely teaching the learning products they help create.

Through collaboration with subject matter experts, instructional designers develop and design learning experiences by writing instructional content and creating storyboards, then developing them into interactive eLearning experiences.

Instructional designers sometimes also develop job aids, facilitator guides, slide decks and other learning deliverables, making them even more vital to the success of their organizations.

How to Become an Instructional Designer

Boise State University’s online Master of Science in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) can help you develop a strong understanding of what is instructional design. Each course also provides portfolio-worthy assignments to help you develop your portfolio website.

Three courses in the program curriculum, in particular, will lay the groundwork for you to pursue a career in the field.

  • OPWL 537 Instructional Design (required)

By working with a real client, you will complete a performance-oriented design project throughout the extent of the course. You will also learn with a systematic and systemic instructional design process and employ methods and strategies involved in designing effective instructional interventions for the workplace.

  • OPWL 523 E-Learning Authoring and Development (elective)

You will learn to use e-learning authoring tools and develop performance-based e-learning through hands-on practice. You will also produce a video, a web-based instructional module, a scenario-based e-learning object and a final project with supporting design documentation.

  • OPWL 525 E-Learning Content Design and Learning Management Systems (elective)

You will learn foundational principles for implementing e-learning solutions and learning management/content management systems, evaluate e-learning demo programs, study the use of reusable learning objects, sharable content objects, metadata and e-learning standards in the current practice. You will also develop sample multimedia learning objects and implement them on a learning management system.

Why Become an Instructional Designer?

In addition to a steady increase in demand and versatile career field options, instructional designers regularly report high job satisfaction.

Instructional designers’ salaries are solid, with an average of $86,700 per year in the United States. The annual average job growth rate for instructional designers is around 10%.

Additionally, instructional designer jobs often rank high on top jobs lists because of overall job satisfaction and good work-life balance, whether in the corporate, education or government realm.

Corporate instructional designers use e-learning tools to build interactive e-learning courses with quick turnaround times. These courses facilitate large corporations with their version of a university.

Higher education instructional designers spend a great deal of their time in meetings with faculty members converting in-person courses to an online format and maintaining existing courses. They also help maintain learning management systems, such as Blackboard or Canvas.

Government instructional designers perform similar work to their corporate counterparts, but that work largely depends on the government organization.

No matter which instructional design route you take, Boise State University’s online OPWL program can help you prepare for a fulfilling career.

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