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What is instructional design or learning design?

Instructional design, often interchangeably used with learning design, is the systematic process of creating educational or training content. It involves:

  1. Learning needs analysis: Determining what the learner needs to know or do as a result of the instruction.
  2. Setting objectives: Defining clear, measurable outcomes that guide the learning process.
  3. Content organisation: Structuring and sequencing information logically and effectively.
  4. Instructional strategies: Deciding on teaching methods that cater to various learning styles, be it through lectures, discussions, hands-on activities or digital modules.
  5. Assessment design: Creating tools to measure the effectiveness of the instruction and the learner’s understanding.
  6. Evaluation: Gathering feedback post-instruction to refine and improve the content.
  7. Delivery mode selection: Choosing between in-person, online, blended or other instructional mediums.

At its core, instructional design is about ensuring that learning is efficient, effective and appealing. It bridges the gap between learners’ current performance and desired performance by helping them to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed.

What do instructional designers create?

Pre-work activities

Tasks like preliminary readings or online quizzes designed to prime learners for the main content.

Evaluation tools

Tools used to measure the effectiveness of a program.

Facilitator guides

Guides consisting of a program overview and session plan/s to support facilitators in teaching and delivering content.

Feedback tools

Methods to collect and analyse learner feedback to refine and improve a program.

Pre-work activities

Tasks like preliminary readings or online quizzes designed to prime learners for the main content.

Scenario-based activities

Real-world challenges mimicked for decision-making practice.

Case studies

In-depth investigations of a single person, group, event, or community used to apply concepts, foster critical thinking and bridge the gap between theory and real-world application.


Short, focused learning segments designed for quick consumption and immediate application of specific skills or knowledge.

High level designs

A ‘blueprint’ of the learning solution, including topics, timings, key activities, resources, learning materials to be developed and the evaluation strategy.

Activity resources

Tools and materials facilitating hands-on experiences, enhancing engagement, and supporting practical skill application in learning.

Job aids

Handy tools or references aiding performance on tasks.

Leader kits

A collection of activities, team huddle sessions and discussion guides to facilitate group reflections or sessions to support learning transfer.

Learner workbooks

Printed or digital materials with modules, exercises, activities and case studies to guide learners through content.

Learning architectures

Visual representation of the overall structure and design of the end-to-end learning program, including learning outcomes, delivery methods and assessment tools.

Learning pathways

Structured routes guiding learners through a sequence of content.

Peer pod activities

Small group exercises where learners collaborate, share insights and learn from each other's experiences.

Quick reference guides (QRG)

Compact sheets or cards highlighting essential tips, such as software shortcuts or procedure reminders.

Quizzes and assessments

Tests to gauge understanding and retention against learning outcomes.

Role-playing activities

Interactive acting exercises mimicking real-world situations.


Live, web-based video sessions focusing on specific topics.


Recorded visual content on specific learning objectives.


Audio content used to bring learning to life, with experienced people reflecting on their journey and providing tips for learners.


Visual tools summarising complex information quickly and clearly.

Gamified learning activities

Learning tasks using game elements for motivation.


Visual elements enhancing comprehension, illustrating concepts and engaging learners in educational content.

eLearning modules

Digital courses, often self-paced, covering specific topics.

Accredited training courseware

Learning materials, assessments, mapping documents, and Training and Assessment Strategies aligned to Australian Quality Training Framework.

Interactive simulations

Virtual representations of real-world tasks allowing practice.

Curriculum maps

Visual representations of course structures, mapping content and assessment tasks to learning outcomes.

Embedding activity resources

Materials like flashcards, simulations, reflection questions, discussion questions and activities crafted to reinforce and cement concepts post-training.

Powerpoint presentations

Slideshows using visuals to support facilitated sessions.

Instructional design courses

IDA offers three Instructional Design Courses:

Participants receive access to a comprehensive toolkit of materials, templates and guides required to be an exceptional instructional designer. Participants use the toolkit as a self-paced resource to design and develop their own learning program. An Instructional Design Certificate may be awarded on completion.

image of well designed eLearning Course

Limited time offer! We are currently offering the Instructional Design PLUS course for the same price as Instructional Design Basics. Save $1410. Select this image to learn more.


ADDIE model of instructional design

Instructional design templates

We offer the following instructional design template packs based on the ADDIE model.

Learning methodologies

Our instructional design and learning design process includes working with clients to determine key business objectives that inform the end goal of learning programs. We explore how the business objective impacts current skills, knowledge and behaviours and then create a learning experience to enable learners to reach the desired business goal.

IDA uses a variety of adult learning theories in learning design. Our approach is driven by the concept of inquiry-based Discovery Learning, which requires learners to make connections to previous knowledge, bring their own questions to learning, investigate and critically reflect on concepts and design ways to try out their ideas.

To maximise learner engagement and transfer of learning, we design programs that offer both formal and informal learning opportunities.


Conveying information through narratives, making learning relatable and memorable.

Skills practice

Engaging in hands-on activities to hone specific skills through application and improve proficiency.

Site visits

Experiencing real-world settings to enhance contextual understanding and practical application.


Immersive scenarios that allow practice and decision-making in a controlled environment.

Shared learning

Collaborative knowledge exchange, enhancing understanding through peer perspectives.

Self-paced extension activities

Providing flexibility for learners to delve deeper at their own pace.


Engaging visual and audio content; enhancing retention and catering to different learning styles.

Knowledge checks and quizzes

Assessing understanding and retention, and identifying areas for improvement.

Guided discussions

Facilitated conversations that deepen understanding and explore varied viewpoints.


Engaging in structured arguments to develop critical thinking and perspective-taking.

Critical reflection

Examining personal experiences and beliefs, promoting deeper understanding and encouraging growth.

Critical incident analysis

Reflecting on significant events to learn and adapt for future situations.

Constructive feedback

Offering specific advice for improvement, enhancing performance and understanding.

Coaching, mentoring and buddying

One-on-one guidance, fostering personal growth and skill development.

Case studies

Analysing real-world or real-to-life scenarios to apply theoretical knowledge practically.


Encouraging free-thinking and creativity to generate diverse ideas.

Appreciative inquiry

Focusing on strengths to empower and foster positive growth in learners.

Action planning

Setting specific steps to achieve learning goals, ensuring progress and accountability.

Contact us

Instructional Design Australia (IDA) provides services to support workplace learning and change. With team members in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, IDA will enable your people to engage, learn and perform.

Contact Details

Ph: 1300 528 736

Michael Peart
Ph: 0434 075 231

Bianca Schimizzi
Ph: 0416 013 623

For all your Workplace Learning, Instructional Design and Learning Design needs in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra call 1300 528 736 or make an online enquiry today.