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

Whilst these terms may be used interchangeably within organisations, the 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.

Interestingly in Australia there are almost double the monthly Google searches for the term Instructional Design compared to Learning Design.

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

Looking for a Job as an Instructional Designer or Learning Designer in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane or Perth?

We are always looking for talented instructional designers to join our team in Melbourne, Sydney,  Perth and Brisbane on an independent contractor or casual employee basis to provide instructional design support on specific projects.  Our projects typically vary in length from 1 to 12 weeks, so we may be able to offer flexible engagements around your other commitments and availability (including work from home, flexible days and hours). Learn More

Instructional designers

What is Instructional Design?

Ever wondered how some educational experiences just click, making learning feel like a breeze, while others leave you scratching your head? Enter the world of instructional design – the art and science behind crafting those perfect learning moments!

At its core, instructional design is a meticulous process aimed at sculpting educational experiences that are not only effective and efficient but also downright captivating. Think of it like architecture, but for the mind. Instead of designing buildings, we’re constructing knowledge bridges from what you know to what you need to learn.

Here’s how the magic unfolds:

  1. Analyse: It all begins with a Sherlock Holmes moment! We dive deep, uncovering what the learners know and what they’re yearning to grasp.
  2. Design: What’s the endgame? We paint a crystal-clear picture of the learning goals, ensuring they’re sharp, achievable, and measurable.Every great structure needs a plan. Here, we sketch out the learning journey, selecting the best strategies, tools, and activities for the task.
  3. Develop: This is where thoughts become things! Whether it’s penning riveting course content, shooting engaging videos, or designing immersive online modules, we bring our plans to life.
  4. Implement: Lights, camera, learn! Our crafted experiences meet the learners, setting the stage for transformative insights.
  5. Evaluate: No masterpiece is ever complete without a touch of refinement. We measure, analyse, and refine, ensuring our instruction not only meets but exceeds expectations.

Whether it’s shaping young minds in K-12, forging future leaders in higher education, or fine-tuning skills in the corporate arena, instructional design is the hidden force making learning memorable, enjoyable, and above all, effective.

So, the next time you find yourself engrossed in a learning experience, remember the unsung heroes behind the scenes, crafting your educational journey!

ADDIE Instructional Design Model

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What Our Customers Say

IDA consistently exceeds our expectations. Their learner-focused approach have turned made programs fun and effective! We’ve received outstanding feedback from the participants. Thanks IDA!


I’m so happy to have found Instructional Design Australia to design and develop our bespoke learning program. We wanted to create a program consisting of online learning, face-to-face workshops and on-the-job training. IDA aced it! We’re extremely happy with the end product.


IDA was a pleasure to work with – excellent communication, great attention to detail, fantastic ideas for hands-on engaging learning whilst meeting our tight deadlines. We are looking forward to working with IDA on future projects.


I recommend the ADDIE Toolkit to any Instructional Designer that is looking for elegant and easy to use templates. I have received many complements from my clients since purchasing the Toolkit.


We appreciate IDA’s ability to create engaging and interactive eLearning programs with tight turn arounds. I always feel relaxed with IDA on board, knowing our program’s in good hands.


I was fresh out of completing a Master of Adult and Vocational Education when I got a job as a company’s first in-house Instructional Designer. Having little to no templates to work from, the ADDIE Toolkit was a godsend. The templates and guides within the Toolkit are comprehensive, yet concise. They guide you through the learning design process step by step – perfect for someone with limited experience in the L&D industry. I highly recommend this Toolkit for anyone starting out in Instructional Design.


Enquire today

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

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    Learning Design FAQs

    The purpose of learning design is to make learning effective, efficient and engaging. It ensures the structure and sequence of experiences scaffold learning, building on learners’ current understanding and skills to increase capability.

    Learning design is:
    1. Learner-centred: it focuses on the learner’s knowledge, skills and behaviours.
    2. Goal-oriented: it aims to achieve specific learning outcomes.
    3. Theory-driven: it is underpinned by learning theories (including andragogy) and instructional design principles.
    4. Focused on creating meaningful experiences: learning experiences are engaging, effective and relevant to the real-world.
    5. Data-driven: it targets the learning needs identified through the learning needs analysis (LNA), and includes a program evaluation to determine the strategy’s effectiveness and how it can be improved.

    There are four common learning design models:
    1. The ADDIE Model
    2. Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction
    3. Bloom’s Taxonomy
    4. Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction


    The ADDIE Model guides Instructional Designers through the instructional design process. ADDIE stands for Analyse, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate.


    Merrill collated numerous learning theories and models to establish the First Principles of Instruction which Instructional Designers draw on to ensure their learning strategy reflects best practice.


    Bloom’s Taxonomy is a hierarchical model of six levels of cognitive skills; Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation. Instructional Designers use it to define learning objectives and design activities that build higher-order thinking.


    Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction is a list of sequential actions used to structure learning sessions. They are:
    1. Gain the attention of the students.
    2. Inform the learner of the objective.
    3. Stimulate recall of prior learning.
    4. Present the content.
    5. Provide learning guidance.
    6. Elicit the performance.
    7. Provide feedback.
    8. Assess the performance.
    9. Enhance retention and transfer.

    The ADDIE Model is a five-step process used to create an impactful learning design. ADDIE is an acronym for: Analyse, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate.

    To prepare a good learning design, firstly complete a learning needs analysis (LNA). The information gathered will help to identify the learning needs. These are used to determine the learning outcomes the program aims to achieve. You’ll then be able to recommend (and design) an appropriate learning solution.

    A learning design is a blueprint for an educational experience. Consider an online course on “Digital Photography Basics.” The design starts by identifying learners’ needs—perhaps novices eager to master their new cameras. Clear objectives are set, like understanding camera settings or composing a shot. The course might be structured into modules, including video demonstrations, interactive quizzes, and assignments like photo challenges. Feedback is integrated through peer reviews and instructor comments. The design also includes assessments—perhaps a final project where learners capture a series of photos. Throughout, the course incorporates multimedia, interactive elements, and community engagement to ensure a rich, effective learning journey.

    Learning design revolves around six foundational principles:

    1. Learner-Centeredness: Prioritize learners’ needs, knowledge, and contexts for relevant content.
    2. Clarity of Objectives: Clearly define and communicate desired learning outcomes.
    3. Alignment: Ensure content, activities, and assessments consistently support learning objectives.
    4. Engagement and Interaction: Actively involve learners with interactive methods to enhance understanding.
    5. Feedback and Reflection: Provide timely responses, letting learners gauge progress and introspect.
    6. Flexibility: Offer varied approaches and choices, catering to individual learner differences.

    These principles ensure that learning experiences are effective, engaging, and tailored to individual needs.

    The 7 Cs of Learning Design is a framework developed by Professor Gráinne Conole. It offers a structured approach to the design process, helping educators create high-quality and effective learning experiences.

    The 7 Cs are:

    1. Conceptualise: Begin by considering the big picture. Understand the subject, audience, and desired outcomes.
    2. Capture: Gather and organize existing content, resources, and materials that can be repurposed or used as a basis for the new design.
    3. Create: Develop new content, activities, and assessments. This step involves designing specific learning tasks and activities.
    4. Communicate: Establish ways for learners to communicate with one another and with instructors. This often involves setting up discussion forums, collaborative tools, or other communication methods.
    5. Collaborate: Design activities that foster collaboration among learners, encouraging peer-to-peer learning and group work.
    6. Consider: Reflect on the design’s potential effectiveness. This involves thinking about the assessment strategies and how to evaluate the success of the learning experience.
    7. Consolidate: Bring everything together into a coherent whole. Review, refine, and finalize the design, ensuring alignment and flow between components.

    The 7 Cs framework is particularly useful for those new to learning design, offering a structured approach that covers the essential aspects of creating meaningful and engaging learning experiences.

    A learning design framework provides a structured approach to creating educational experiences. It offers guidelines, strategies, and tools that help educators and instructional designers systematically plan, develop, and deliver learning experiences, whether in traditional classroom settings, online environments, or blended formats.

    A well-constructed learning design framework can:

    1. Guide the Design Process: It provides a step-by-step roadmap, ensuring that designers consider all critical aspects of the learning experience.
    2. Ensure Alignment: By following the framework, designers can make sure that learning objectives, content, instructional strategies, and assessments are aligned and work cohesively.
    3. Promote Best Practices: Frameworks often embed pedagogical best practices, ensuring that the learning experiences are effective and grounded in research.
    4. Facilitate Consistency: Especially within larger institutions or organisations, a shared framework can lead to more consistent course design across various subjects or departments.
    5. Support Scalability and Reproducibility: With a standard framework in place, it’s easier to replicate successful designs across different courses or even institutions.

    Several learning design frameworks are widely recognised in the field of education. Some popular ones include:

    • ADDIE (Analyse, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate): A linear approach to course design and development.
    • The 7 Cs of Learning Design: A holistic approach that covers the entire design process, from conceptualization to consolidation.
    • SAM (Successive Approximation Model): An agile model for instructional design that emphasises iterative design and development.

    Each framework has its strengths and is suited to different contexts, but all aim to assist in the creation of effective and engaging learning experiences.

    The five types of learning based on modalities are:

    1. Visual (Spatial): Learners grasp concepts best through images, diagrams, and charts.
    2. Aural (Auditory-Musical): These individuals prefer listening to lectures, discussions, or audio recordings.
    3. Verbal (Linguistic): Verbal learners excel with reading, writing, and spoken content.
    4. Physical (Kinesthetic): They benefit from hands-on activities, movement, and tactile experiences.
    5. Logical (Mathematical): They thrive on logic, reasoning, and systematic approaches.

    It’s essential to recognise that many people combine multiple learning styles, and blending various modalities can often yield the best educational results.

    The purpose of learning design is to create effective, engaging, and efficient educational experiences that facilitate the acquisition of knowledge and skills. Specifically, learning design aims to:

    1. Ensure Alignment: Properly align learning objectives, content, instructional strategies, and assessments to ensure cohesive and comprehensive instruction.
    2. Meet Learners’ Needs: Tailor educational experiences to the diverse needs, backgrounds, and abilities of learners, maximising accessibility and inclusion.
    3. Promote Engagement: Design interactive and stimulating activities that capture learners’ interest and motivate them to participate actively.
    4. Enhance Retention: Use evidence-based strategies that facilitate the retention and application of learned information.
    5. Facilitate Assessment: Incorporate methods to evaluate and measure learners’ progress and attainment of objectives.
    6. Maximise Efficiency: Optimize resources and time, delivering content in a manner that respects both the educators’ and learners’ constraints and capacities.
    7. Encourage Lifelong Learning: Instill skills and mindsets that drive learners to continuously seek knowledge and growth beyond the immediate learning experience.

    In essence, learning design ensures that educational experiences are not just informative but also transformative, enabling learners to apply and benefit from their new knowledge and skills in real-world contexts.