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Instructional Design Strategies and Their Importance in E-learning Design

Mark and Rob are planning to start a new restaurant in their neighborhood. They are scouting for a place where tweens and young adults hang out as they want to target these groups with their quick-to-make, easy-to-eat, light-on-the-pocket fast food. They’ve taken a loan to pay for the premises and other infrastructure. In the next 5 years, they plan to repay the loan, expand their business to 3 locations with 5 employees in each place, and aim to achieve $5000 net profits.

What is a Strategy?

What they’ve essentially done is – come up an action plan, a systematic method to achieve their goals – chalked out a strategy. A strategy is a long-term, high-level plan of how to accomplish a goal(s) through the effective and efficient use of available resources.

Why Do We Need Strategies and Where Can We Use Them?

When we think of strategies, the first thing that strikes most of us is war strategies. They plan how to overcome enemy forces, with the army personnel and arsenal at hand, taking into consideration the terrain, enemy location and number, prevailing weather conditions, etc.

In the business context, a strategy involves planning and doing what is to be done to accomplish business goals, and take decisions on issues such as resource allocation, business expansion, etc.

Every task to be accomplished through the use of limited resources needs a strategy for successful execution, and corporate training is no exception. The main aim of training is to facilitate optimum knowledge transfer. With a sizable chunk of corporate training now moving online, we need strategies to ensure knowledge transfer is effective via the online medium. This is where instructional design strategies come into the picture.

What is an Instructional Design Strategy?

An instructional design strategy is a high-level approach of how a particular subject will be taught. It encompasses the methods, techniques, and devices used to instruct learners. Popular ID strategies include using avatars, scenarios, simulations, etc. – they are selected based on the topic, learner characteristics, and other parameters.

The Importance of ID Strategies in Online Learning

Let us now look at a few factors that necessitated instructional design strategies.

  1. Online learning lacks a physical instructor: In a classroom, the facilitator can gauge the involvement and response of learners and suit his delivery style accordingly. Learners have the flexibility to ask queries and receive immediate answers. Online learning is expected to facilitate the same experience, despite lacking the physical presence of an instructor.
  2. Online learning needs to make learning applicable: The online medium is often tasked with equipping employees with skills such that they become ready to apply them in their jobs. This requires robust learning strategies to provide application-ready knowledge.
  3. Online learning implies changing roles: In online learning, instructors are not the sole owners and distributors of information; they assume the role of facilitators and the onus of learning lies with the learners. The medium must help learners use the environment and resources effectively.


Given these factors, there is no denying the need to develop online courses bolstered by sound instructional design strategies.

ID Strategies vs. ID Models

A discussion on ID strategies can never be complete without a word on instructional design models. There is a significant, often confused and overlooked distinction between the two. Consider a scenario where you need to bake a cake. There a certain steps you have to follow such as collecting the ingredients, mixing them, preheating the oven, baking the cake, cutting, and serving it. These are general guidelines for cake baking and bakers are free to follow their own procedure for each step, and execute the tasks (most of them) in any order.

To draw a parallel, instructional design models are general guidelines – a framework – to guide the e-learning course design and development process. ID strategies, on the other hand, are tools used by instructional designers to develop an effective course that facilitates optimum learning, for the topic at hand.

Several ID models such as ADDIE, SAM, and Dick and Carey model are used widely. Every organization selects the model that best suits its internal processes and requirements. These models guide the design and development process and can be tweaked according to organization-specific requirements.

An instructional design strategy therefore is a unique tool – a medium to facilitate optimum knowledge transfer for a particular subject. It makes the online medium effective in meeting learners’ needs and helps learners make efficient use of the resources.

Instructional Design Strategies to Design Engaging eLearning Courses