A (Sort of) Definition

Instruction is a scientific field and instructional design is a technology founded in this science. Instructional design is not merely philosophy; it is not a set of procedures arrived at by collaboration; it is a set of scientific principles and a technology for implementing these principles in the development of instructional experiences and environments.

Reclaiming Instructional Design

David Merrill, Leston Drake, Mark J. Lacy, Jean Pratt (1996)


 Instruction can succeed without a plan, the same way that speeches can be given off the cuff, or that improve comedy can be hilarious. However, most educators are not so skilled in their field as to be great impromtu instructors, anymore than most politicians give great unplanned speeches, or that most comedians are improv geniuses. The bottom line is: unless you have trained at it for years, just coming up with great instruction and delivering it at a moment’s notice isn’t a safe bet.

What is a safe bet, is having a plan. A good plan is flexible, well-designed, founded in scientific principles (testable, repeatable, etc.). This is where instructional design comes into play. It’s various methods allow an educator to develope a plan, implement that plan, and asses the plan.


So let’s design some instruction!