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What Instructional Designers Do

Apr 02, 2024

If you’ve found yourself on this page, you probably heard about the immense opportunity in the instructional design career field. Maybe a friend told you about their new side gig as a freelance instructional designer, or you saw a lucrative job posting for an instructional designer at your dream company.

So, what does an instructional designer do all day? Let’s dive into the job description of an instructional designer and a sample day-in-the-life so you can see if the position fits your career goals.

The Instructional Designer Job Description

From developing curriculum to designing eLearning materials, an instructional designer is responsible for creating and managing learning experiences, such as training modules and educational courses.

Responsibilities of an Instructional Designer

  • Develop effective curriculum and engaging learning plans based on educational materials, goals, and student needs.
  • Write compelling content and learning objectives, continuously updating the content to ensure high-level and accurate information.
  • Design media-rich instructional materials, such as documents, videos, games, worksheets, quizzes, tests, and study guides.
  • Incorporate technology, software, and gaming in learning modules and recommend suggested technology to improve learning experiences.
  • Evaluate student performance to improve instructional approach.
  • Analyze and suggest improvements for learning experiences to improve retention.
  • Collaborate with managers and other departments to create new and updated learning materials.

Skills and Qualifications Needed to Become an Instructional Designer

  • Knowledge of modern and effective instructional design principles and processes
  • Proficiency in visual design programs, such as Microsoft Office Suite, Canva, Adobe Creative Suite, and more
  • Experience using technology to enhance learning and teaching materials
  • Strength in using and managing Learning Management Systems or Content Management Systems
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Video, audio, and design aptitude
  • Collaborative mentality

In addition to training and skills, you may notice that many companies with open instructional design job descriptions require real-world experience or comparable portfolio work showcasing your knowledge and style.

What Does an Instructional Designer Do Daily?

Just like most careers, the tasks of an instructional designer may look different daily. However, most instructional designers follow a similar process when beginning a project.

Step One: Explore the Course

When taking on a new project, an instructional designer will explore the existing course material (if it exists), information, student goals, and the task at hand. Through speaking with managers, stakeholders, or teachers, they will find out what goal needs to be achieved by students, along with important information, project timelines, and other project details.

This exploration and discovery mission will help them in step two when they develop the course materials.

Step Two: Develop the Training Strategy

Once an instructional designer understands the course goals and has adequate time to evaluate course materials, they will create an instructional strategy to bring the two together. This is the step in which the instructional designer will plan how to format the course information.

Step Three: Design the Course

An instructional designer creates course and training materials around the student's needs and goals. After all, the training aims to maximize learning and information retention! 

Designing course materials may mean the instructional designer is creating audio, visual, or graphic content in the form of:

  • Visual presentations (such as PowerPoints)
  • Worksheets, quizzes, and tests
  • Photography and videography
  • Infographics
  • Charts and graphs
  • Online learning modules
  • VR and AR experiences
  • Instructional video games and simulations

Step Four: Implement the Course

Once the training material is developed and approved, an instructional designer may implement the course material and learning experiences. This may involve leading the course in a classroom or virtual classroom format. It also includes grading assessments and managing incoming questions from students.

Step Five: Evaluate the Results

Once students have participated in the course, it’s time for the instructional designer to evaluate student results to analyze the effectiveness of the material presentation. Instructional designers will review grading and assessments, student and teacher feedback, and other usage data to determine which areas of the course had the most effective retention rates. They may also identify stubborn technical issues that cause difficulties in learning.

Step Six: Redesign Necessary Modules

To improve the outcome of the training materials, instructional designers will take their course analysis and redesign necessary materials. They may also regularly update course information to offer the most up-to-date and reliable data. This part of what an instructional designer does is essential to the success of the course.

Depending on the setting in which an instructional designer works, the job description may look different. For example, what an instructional designer does at a university or school may look different than what an instructional designer does at a corporate training facility. Similarly, freelance or contract instructional designers may only be hired to develop the course material and are not responsible for implementation or evaluation.

How to Become an Instructional Designer

Now that you understand what an instructional designer does, you may be itching to break into the field. Good news—you’ve made it to just the right place! IDOL Academy is now accepting applications for our next cohort!

With IDOL Academy, you will fast-track your way to an instructional design career in 24 weeks or less. Weekly immersive lessons, assignments, practice sessions, and 1-on-1 feedback will provide you with all the experience and knowledge you need to get certified in the world of instructional design.

You’ll gain valuable experience through internships and practice assignments while developing a portfolio to show off to your future employer! Plus, business and career coaching for those who wish to become an instructional design entrepreneur or work for their dream company.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!