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Do You Know These Popular Instructional Design Strategies?

Every classroom teacher formulates a plan of how to convey a particular topic. They will choose to verbally explain certain sections, while others will be written down on the whiteboard using flowcharts, while some will be read directly from the textbook. Similarly, even e-learning courses need to have an instructional strategy in order to enhance the learning experience. These strategies are not different from the instructional strategies of classroom training, they are adapted to the new digital learning environment.

An instructional design strategy is a high-level plan of how a topic must be taught through a digital medium. It begins with setting up clear goals, determining the actions that must be taken to meet these goals, identifying the target audience, and making use of all the available resources. Resources can include learning devices, presentation patterns, course structure and features, and the type of media being used. In the absence of a physical teacher, an instructional design strategy forms the heart of any good e-learning course.

You might have curated excellent learning content, but without a good strategy in place, it will simply fall short of your expectations. So, the instructional strategy is at the core of an effective course – one that engages learners and facilitates optimal knowledge transfer. Let’s study some of the most prominent instructional design strategies and their role in creating an effective online training program:

Guided Learning

A guided learning strategy uses characters or avatars to accompany learners throughout the digital course. Such characters act as visual aids and guide learners through the course, allowing them to take their own decisions and make their own choices. This personalized instruction helps establish a connection with your learners, enhance motivation, participation, and knowledge retention. You can use this learning to help new hires find their way through the initial training or convey topics that require a personal touch such as sales training and performance management training.

Scenario-based Learning

Scenario-based learning puts employees in relatable situations where they learn by doing tasks or making choices. The situations usually recreate actual issues employees face in their daily work. The context of the scenario such as the setting, characters, and issues encountered play a crucial role in bringing this strategy to life. Learning through scenarios helps build critical-thinking skills, and gain practical knowledge that can be applied directly on the job. This strategy can be used to conduct compliance training or safety training wherein learners have to analyze situations and take appropriate actions. For e.g., you can create a complete scenario where your compliance policies come in play.

Case Studies

A case study offers a setting and a context to your employees, and helps them immediately apply the knowledge gained. Learners obtain the desired results by making decisions, analyzing problems, and improving conditions. A case study can either be fictitious or based on real incidents and span the entire course. You can form an assessment around the case study and test the learners for the knowledge gained. This strategy is useful for topics where learners need to take decisions or select a course of action from several available ones, like in process training or leadership training.

Game-based Learning

Game-based learning involves the use of games and gaming elements to facilitate effective knowledge transfer, build an emotional connection, elicit responses from learners, foster a sense of competition, and help retain knowledge longer. The best thing is that it aims to do all of this while the learners have some fun. Both content and assessments can be gamified in e-learning using game elements such as points, levels, scores, and leaderboards. This instructional design strategy can ensure high impact learning delivery and make competition a big motivator in the learning process. Be it product training, software training, or safety procedures, game-based content can add life to everything.


Simulations emulate the actual system and provide learners a safe environment for them to practice without any repercussions. This strategy is used to help learners become familiar with new software, complicated and heavy machinery, and complex products they need to handle in real life. Since learners get to try out the system in a safe environment, it builds their confidence, equips them with on-the-job knowledge and reduces costly errors in real life. Simulations are best used for ERP software training, product training and safety training.

Your digital learning program cannot be termed a proper e-learning course without using these instructional design strategies.

Instructional Design Strategies to Design Engaging eLearning Courses