What is it?
The process of analyzing learner needs in alignment with desired learning outcomes, followed by the development of learning environments through the management of content, interaction, and assessment in support of those learning outcomes.
Why is it important?
Instructional design drives the development of quality learning experiences, addressing how information is imparted to the learner, how the learner interacts with that content, and to what extent desired goals and outcomes have been met.
Why does a technical communicator need to know this?
Instructional design addresses how material is taught. Focusing on effective, efficient, and appealing content, the instructional design process provides a means to engage and immerse the learner in the learning experience.
Technical communicators are regularly tasked with creating learning materials, including content, interaction, and assessment components. Instructional design enables technical communicators to understand how learners will approach their materials and to create robust learning environments that support established goals and desired outcomes.
Instructional design promotes effective planning in the alignment of content, interaction, and assessment with standards and objectives. Technical communicators employ these instructional design principles and practices to facilitate knowledge acquisition and to assess understanding and mastery.
User assistance designers and developers can benefit from incorporating instructional design strategies into their workflow by implementing the learning-needs-focused practices modeled throughout the instructional design process.
Key to effective technical communication is the consistent review of content and the user experience. The instructional design process can be used to model this reflective process by guiding the regular evaluation of the effectiveness of instructional materials and the practices through which learning is taking place.