Begin Designing!

A good rule of thumb I use with initial designing is to consider variables associated with the targeted audience, the goals, and content,

Targeted Audience.

Careful consideration of variables associated with the targeted audience is critical to the instructional project success.  A few questions—-not an exhaustive list—-to think about the targeted audience:

  • What do they already know about the topic?
  • What skills and knowledge with they need from the instruction in order to accomplish future planned tasks?
  • What is known, in general, about their learning habits or skills?
  • What demographics are represented (age, gender, ethnicity, etc.)?
  • What about the topic might be interesting to them?

Goals for Instruction:  Performance and Learning.

The designer uses knowledge from the Analysis phase to generate goals that inform the design phase. Goals help set parameters for Instructional Design Projects. Two goals worthy of careful consideration are; learning goals and performance goals.  Each goal type can be used for either academic or business operations needs.

Goals provide insight about assessment and materials for development. Performance and learning differ in at least 2 ways; 1) outcome measurement, and 2) task complexity. Both goals provide information about the task (or tasks) and how the instructor/training developer will know if the goal has been reached.

Examples for Performance Goals: 

  • The student will complete the quiz with a minimum score of 70.
  • The sales consultant will return missed phone calls within 24 hours of the time received.

Examples for Learning Goals: 

  • The student will create ______ (a product that represents learning complex information)
  • The employee will explain ______ (background needed for a complex  task).

For the instructional designer, each of the example goals provides an overview about the possible instructional strategies and materials that must be developed, and how the outcome will be measured.


Once the topic is determined in the Analysis phase, design includes subject matter experts’ approval for content and additional information, as needed. My experiences and education provide me with subject matter expertise in science (biology, microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry, etc.); however, my focus is the instructional design, so I always seek review by subject matter experts—especially since I am not up to date with advances in all of the various science fields! Furthermore, I have taught both high school and college students, but the classroom environment is not static—so, keeping in touch with educators at all levels further enriches my instructional materials design  products.


Three key components to consider in the design phase are; needs of the targeted audience, 2) goals that frame the design process, and 3) content associated with the selected topic. The instructional designer must have a toolbox of theories, models, and strategies in order to develop effect goal-focused instruction.

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