Understanding How Instructional Design Models Work

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Instructional design is the first step in producing valuable educational resources. Both the academic and professional worlds now recognize it as a popular idea. 

Instructional designers or instructional design companies tailor and develop learning experiences to meet the particular requirements of a specific audience or subject. 

While some design and construct curricula for schools and higher education institutions, others design learning resources for government institutions, nonprofits, and corporations.

Instructional designers utilize evidence-based design approaches to ensure that the final products and experiences are successful, efficient, engaging, appealing, and inspiring. 

Although many models are available today, eLearning designers frequently employ the following five. We have examined the essential elements of each model below to help designers use them in their design process.

What is Instructional Design?

The process of creating educational resources is known as instructional design. The main aim of the process is to pinpoint learners’ or employees’ skills and knowledge gaps, analyze their learning requirements, and create learning materials to fill such gaps. 

Instructional design provides learners with clear and concise instructions to facilitate learning.

Instructional Design Models

1. ADDIE Model

Most designers follow the ADDIE model for producing eLearning courses. We have briefly described each stage of the ADDIE process below. 

Each phase offers the chance for iterations and modifications before moving on to the next.  

  • Analyze: The instructional designer outlines the issue that needs to be solved, establishes the need for training, and performs a thorough analysis of the target audience to ascertain the instructional setting, pre-existing skills, knowledge, abilities, opportunities, and limitations.
  • Design: This stage involves writing learning objectives and selecting the instructional techniques designers will use to accomplish them. These are the responsibilities of the instructional designer. There are choices made regarding the style, look, functionality, and delivery of the learning materials to the learners. Prototypes for eLearning and storyboards are made.
  • Develop: Content is put together and included in the design to create the instructional learning resources. Then the final product is amended after a quality check. 
  • Implement: The completed course is made available to the target audience, and its effectiveness is tracked.
  • Evaluate: The instructional designer employs various techniques to ascertain whether the course is yielding the desired results.

2. Gagne Nine Events of Instruction

Robert Gagne suggested a framework related to a sequence of actions based on the behaviorist approach to learning. These activities adhere to a systematic approach to instructional design, resulting in an adaptable model to accommodate many learning scenarios.

It is one of the most widely utilized instructional design models since it offers a reliable framework for creating efficient eLearning courses.

Here are the nine steps of this model:

  1. Capture learners’ attention with engaging stimuli for their brains with unique ideas, thought-provoking questions, etc.
  1. Inform learners of the goals. Specify the desired results and the standards by which success will be judged.
  1. Encourage the recall of earlier learning by building on prior knowledge before delivering new information.
  1. Present the information in manageable portions.
  1. Assist learners in understanding the material by providing examples, scenarios, case studies, and other instructional support.
  1. Engage students in various activities that require them to recall, apply, and assess their knowledge to elicit performance.
  1. Give immediate feedback to help reinforce knowledge. The feedback can be of any type, ranging from remedial to informative, corrective, etc.
  1. Put their knowledge to the test by using predetermined standards to evaluate performance.
  1. Improve the transfer of acquired skills to work. Utilize techniques for content retention with summarizing, concept maps, job aids, etc.

3. Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy outlines the six levels of cognitive learning. It was later updated in 2001 by Anderson and Krathwohl. The simplest level is at the bottom and progresses through the levels to the most complex or deepest degree of understanding. 

As a framework for instructional design, Bloom’s Taxonomy ensures that learners move past the more basic stages of remembering and comprehending new information to the higher levels of applying, analyzing, and evaluating it. 

The framework allows them to solve specific problems by coming up with solutions that would not have been possible without the new knowledge.

4. Merrill’s Instructional Principles

M. David Merrill researched the theories that already existed to come up with his instructional design theory. He then used the similarities he discovered in the literature as a springboard to create a set of five guiding principles. 

These guidelines were introduced in 2002 and outlined a method for creating an effective instructional course for learning new skills. You can sum up Merrill’s instructional principles as follows:  

  • Problem-centered instruction promotes learning.
  • Fresh knowledge is built upon the activation of existing knowledge.
  • New knowledge is demonstrated during instruction, and learners are given assignments.
  • Opportunities are provided to put new knowledge into practice.
  • The learner incorporates new knowledge into their everyday lives.

Merrill’s principles are frequently used to direct design choices for content and learning activities associated with other instructional design models like ADDIE.

5. Rapid prototyping and Agile

The Agile technique, which has its roots in IT, was transformed into a model for instructional design by instructional design strategist Conrad Gottfredson. The Agile framework contains five essential components:

  • Align. Analyze the demand for your course on the market. Assemble your team, and decide on your aims and objectives.
  • Set up. Amass the information and materials you’ll need to create your training program. Schedule your project and assign the tasks.
  • Implement and adapt. Create a working prototype for your course or update your current prototypes.
  • Leverage. Utilize all the project’s resources, including people, data, and technology.
  • Evaluate. Establish an evaluation technique and use it to evaluate each prototype your team creates.

Rapid prototyping synchronizes the three crucial elements of the course design process—design, development, and evaluation—with the Agile framework.

This method sees course creators create course prototypes. Once each prototype has been evaluated, stakeholders (including instructors, designers, and developers) produce improved iterations until they achieve the desired result, i.e., user-friendly and practical training.


Remember that theoretical, idealized approaches to building a learning experience include instructional design models. They should make your life easier, not more complicated, as they are designed to walk course builders like you through the process.

Don’t get too caught up in honing your methods. Think of the theory as a tool to help you create an effective course for you and your audience. 

The model that most resonates with you should be followed, but don’t stress if you skip a step or two. You’ve performed well as long as your course engages and motivates learners and leaves them satisfied.

Related: How Trainers Can Make eLearning More Engaging?

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