Instructional Designers: The Heart And Brain Of eLearning

Instructional Designers: The Heart And Brain Of eLearning
Summary: A skilled workforce lays the foundation of any successful organization. In today’s competitive world, any lack of skill could result in elimination from the market.

The Heart And Brain Of eLearning

Employees must continuously upskill themselves. Organizations also keep the upskilling of their employees as a top priority. Employee training is a critical activity in ensuring the right skillset for the workforce.

With the advancement of technology, traditional classroom or in-person training is gradually making way for eLearning. eLearning is more robust, flexible, cost-effective, ready-to-market, can cross the barriers of time and location, and can be personalized or repeated easily. Despite all the advantages, eLearning has a major constraint that can make or break the effectiveness of the training. eLearning courses usually do not have a human facilitator. The learners are on their own and dependent on the content.

What makes an eLearning course great is its design of instructions. This is where the role of an Instructional Designer comes in. Before we delve into the role of Instructional Design in eLearning, let’s understand what Instructional Design is all about.

Instructional Designers are learning experts who understand how humans learn and help make the content learnable. Instructional Design is a vast field of knowledge that finds its practical application in identifying the training need, designing the corresponding curriculum, creating the learning design, repurposing the content as per the design, helping the media developers to create the learning output, and operationally managing the entire eLearning development lifecycle.

Key Roles An Instructional Designer Has To Play

1. Training Needs Analysis

This is the most critical aspect of effective learning content. Identifying the exact gaps in skills and the learning interventions needed to bridge the gap lays the foundation for any successful learning program. It encompasses analyzing the target skillset, assessing the existing skillset, and determining the gaps to arrive at training needs.

2. Curriculum Design

Once the training need is established, the Instructional Designers coordinate with the Subject Matter Experts to design the curriculum as per the identified training need. This is a very key activity since if anything gets missed in the curriculum, the training will not be effective and the workforce will be left underskilled.

3. Creating The Learning Design

This is a core part of the Instructional Design process, wherein the Instructional Designer creates a blueprint of how the training content should be presented to the learner. The content presentation strategy plays a key role in learner engagement and the effectiveness of learning. It is in this phase that the actual content development starts. Whether the training has to be a game, a scenario, a video, or an interactive/animated presentation, how the content will be presented, how the learner will be assessed, how the learner will be engaged, etc. are all determined in this phase.

4. Repurposing The Content

This phase is popularly known as storyboarding. The Instructional Designers take the base content from the Subject Matter Expert and prepare the storyboard as per the learning design. This storyboard is used by the media developers to create the actual eLearning course.

5. Visualization And Media Guidance

Instructional Designers guide the media team to convert the storyboard and create the most appealing training course. They make the learning design come to life at this stage. They also ensure the correctness of the media developed, and that the outcome is in line with the learning design.

6. Operationally Manage The Development Lifecycle

Instructional Designers are key stakeholders, right from the conceptualization to the final delivery of the training module. Naturally, overseeing the entire lifecycle largely depends on Instructional Designers. They act as a liaison between Learning and Development managers, business leaders, Subject Matter Experts, media developers, and of course, indirectly represent the end users or learners so that their requirement is met.


As we have seen, an Instructional Designer enacts key roles from conceptualization to final delivery of the training material. The role of Instructional Designers cannot be taken out from any phase.

Instructional Designers play a critical role in both the technical and the aesthetic aspects of learning design, and ensure that the end users get a good learning experience. They also ensure the organization gets the best Return On Investment on the training content. The Instructional Designer can be rightly said to be the heart and brain of eLearning. In eLearning, content is everything and Instructional Design holds the key.

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