Throughout my career, I have often times been asked, So, exactly what is instructional design? My personal definition is brief and simple. In short, instructional design is the systematic process by which instructional materials are designed, developed, and delivered. Below are a few more complex definitions from other sources that help to define the field of instructional design:
"Instructional Design is defined as “a systematic process that is employed to develop education and training programs in a consistent and reliable fashion” (Reiser, Dempsey, 2007). In addition, it may be thought of as a framework for developing modules or lessons that (Merrill, Drake, Lacy, Pratt, 1996)": http://www.nwlink.com
"Instructional design, also known as instructional systems design, is the analysis of learning needs and systematic development of instruction. Instructional designers often use Instructional technology as a method for developing instruction. Instructional design models typically specify a method, that if followed will facilitate the transfer of knowledge, skills and attitude to the recipient or acquirer of the instruction." www.wikipedia.org
"Instructional Design is the systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It includes development of instructional materials and activities; and tryout and evaluation of all instruction and learner activities." www.umich.edu
The terms instructional design, instructional technology, educational technology, curriculum design, and instructional systems design (ISD), are sometimes used interchangeably.
So what exactly is an instructional designer and what do they do? In summary, an instructional designer is someone who creates and delivers educational training materials. These materials include eLearning courses, training videos, curriculum, manuals, handouts, etc., Instructional designers are employed in a variety of professional sectors including businesses, higher educational institutions, government agencies, K-12 schools, and non-profit organizations. The end game of an instructional designer is to create educational materials that ultimately changes hearts and minds.