Differences between Educational Design, Learning Design and Instructional Design

Education is a product of instruction and learning

The terms Educational Design, Learning Design and Instructional Design are used interchangeably depending on the nature of the work and the environment in which it is carried out. A skilled designer in this field can move between all three of titles - Learning Designer, Educational Designer and Instructional Designer - within their working life.

Defining Educational Design, Learning Design and Instructional Design

  • Instructional Design aims to optimise the appeal, effectiveness and efficiency of instruction learning experiences. These instructions can range from a manual on how to work the television to a course on how to manage your investment portfolio.
  • Learning design focuses on the teaching-learning process that happens in a lesson, a unit of learning or a course.
  • The key concern of Educational Design is to apply appropriate learning theory to the design of learning materials and learning events to ensure that  learning is maximised.  (Meg O'Reilly) 

What are the differences between Educational Design, Learning Design and Instructional Design

These definitions do highlight some differences. An instructional designer may have difficulty carrying out the work of an Educational Designer but may manage Learning Design roles. The Learning Designer can usually carry out the role of an Educational Designer as long as they have formal trailing in the Learning Sciences. Educational Design is at the top of the 'tree' because they definitely need formal training in learning and teaching as well as current knowledge of the Learning Sciences.

Within universities Educational Design and Learning Design do have some differences. Educational Designers tend to work on a variety of projects from a wide range of subjects whilst Learning Designers focus on one Subject or one course. This means that an Educational Designer needs a greater variety of skills to meet the demands of their varied work. The Learning Designer may need to work more closely with the content so would need greater attention to detail.

All three of these roles can be applied to eLearning. ELearning covers the full spectrum of electronically supported learning and teaching. Information and communication systems, are the media used to implement the learning process. 


Meg O'Reilly Educational design as transdisciplinary partnership: Supporting assessment design for online

Wikipedia Instructional Design

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Instructional Design Australia is based in Brisbane Queensland. It provides Consultancy services throughout Australia.  We run online courses about Instructional Design Internationally. 

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