Characteristics of ID

Nov 13, 2015
Characteristics of Instructional Design

Here are some highlights and concepts from Dorian Peters’ book Interface Design for Learning (Ch. 1) and how they relate to the characteristics of Instructional Design as described by Robert M. Branch and M. David Merrill in the book Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology:

I appreciated the similarities and differences between the information presented in these texts and found a few points worth mentioning. Reiser & Dempsey (2012) show that instructional design is “student centered” and “goal oriented” with the explicit intent of increasing learner performance. Peters (2014) agrees with this concept and further states, “learner-centered design is about transforming the user”. She feels that a transformation occurs within the mind of the learner if the objectives of the project are addressed and satisfied and performance is effectively increased. Peters (2014) says, “a big part of LX is designing the interface in a way that supports and enhances the cognitive and effective processes involved in learning”. The goal-oriented nature of ID projects allow for the designer to balance the needs of the user and instructional goals “at the level of subtask, task, activity, class, course and possibly even degree or career”. This hierarchical level of detail can serve as a significant benefit for both designers and learners regarding the effectiveness of the content and increased learner performance.

Reiser & Dempsey (2012) state, “although it is possible for a single individual to complete an ID project, usually it is a team effort”. These team members are listed in both texts, but Peters (2014) adds, “ideally, all members of the team have some knowledge of pedagogy and the distinctions of designing for learning”. By displaying an understanding of cognitive psychology, visual design principles and the most current methods used for increasing retention, each collaborative effort will have a foundation to successfully meet both project and learner objectives.


In Interface Design for Learning

The differences between figure 1.1 and 1.2 in Interface Design for Learning can be observed by focusing on the orange circle labeled “Instructional Design/Education” in figure 1.2. This circle shows the role instructional designers play in the arena of learning experience design and the disciplines from which they draw to create quality content. In order to successfully meet project objectives and desired outcomes for the client, the designer must recognize the role and impact of each of the disciplines in figure 1.2. All of these disciplines play a part in some form or are available options for instructional designers to access in order to accomplish project objectives, focus on meaningful performance and deliver a more engaging experience thereby increasing outcomes for learners.

As for figure 1.1, the relationships shown between each of these disciplines has a lesser impact on the intended results of user experience (UX) design. The primary goals of UX design are centered on the balance between “user goals” and “business goals” (Peters, 2014, p. 3). These areas of focus intend to direct the user to desired outcomes through specific paths with less emphasis or use of some of the processes and deliverables crafted by each of the disciplines in figure 1.1.

One primary difference between these two charts shows the “human factor” as a more specific aspect of consideration when constructing effective educational designs. Sound design is also compartmentalized to show the degree of impact this element makes on the immersive nature of instructional design projects and greatly enhances the learner’s experience.


A hypothesis for a possible seventh characteristic of instructional design that may have an important meaning for designers:

A possible seventh characteristic of instructional design would be “Evolves with Advancing Technology”. This is because of the increased potential for the design and delivery of excellent educational products made possible by the development of new software, online platforms and interactive technologies. Additionally, many of the characteristics, concepts or even best practices change quite frequently because of the availability and accessibility of rapidly advancing technology. This growth shows no signs of slowing down and is, in fact, increasing exponentially. The ID industry and those seeking education benefit from these advances. As an instructional design professional I will also be constantly challenged to learn and grow over the course of my career because of the continued advancement of modern technology.



Peters, D. (2014). Interface design for learning: design strategies for learning experiences. Retrieved from Pearson Learning Solutions, VitalSource Bookshelf.

 Reiser, R. & Dempsey, J. (2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (3rd ed.). Retrieved from Boston: Pearson Education Inc.

Characteristics of Instructional Design Mind Map AM



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