ATD Blog

Combining the Chunks to Master Instructional Design

Friday, June 21, 2013

Over the course of my career I’ve run into folks that ask me, “How did you get into the field of instructional design or how could I do what you do?”

As I ponder those two questions, I realize that none of what I do would be possible if I hadn’t done something to advance my current set of skills or competence level for designing and developing learning programs. Yes, I may have fallen into the field early on, but what I did with that opportunity has made the difference in my success in the field.


After getting a formal education in Instructional Design, I then practiced what I learned for about 18-24 months to get great at what I was doing. There were a lot of bumps in the road, but I learned from my mistakes and worked on improving for the next time.

One of the things I stress in the Designing Learning Certificate program is, in order to become an expert at designing and developing learning you have to practice what we teach you. It’s not enough to simply read the material to become an expert. There is so much to consider when we create learning materials for employees. Practice makes the bits and pieces we learn bind together.


Practice helps to makes us more capable and competent at combining some of the chunks of information we learn to become master instructional designers and developers:

Conducting needs assessment

  • Gathering data
  • Analyzing data
  • Documenting findings

Designing learning programs

  • Selecting media and methods
  • Identifying your target population
  • Analyzing the learning environment
  • Analyzing existing/emerging technologies
  • Evaluating instructional effectiveness and impact

Developing learning programs

  • Sequencing materials
  • Developing different instructional materials
  • Project management
  • Communication plans.

I’ll be doing a deep dive on these and other key topics and participants will have an opportunity to learn, practice their skills, and apply their knowledge at the next public offering of Designing Learning in Lincoln, Nebraska from July 22 to 24th.

Barbara Greenstein is a Performance Consultant and is principal of Human Resource Prescriptions, LLC, a performance consulting firm in San Diego, Ca.

About the Author

Barbara Greenstein, principal of Human Resource Prescriptions, is a performance improvement specialist providing proven and creative ways to improve human performance in the workplace. By identifying issues and opportunities for improvement, she helps organizations large and small meet their planned goals.

Barbara is highly regarded for her facilitation and instructional design skills. With over 20 years of experience in the training and development field, her mission is to help clients put the systems in place that will help them manage effectively in today's changing business environment while ensuring optimal performance and job satisfaction for all employees.

Prior to becoming an external consultant, Barbara's corporate experience included training and instructional design for Burger King Corporation, Pizza Hut, and Electronic Data Systems (EDS). She completed her undergraduate work in consumer affairs and management at Florida International University and received a master's degree in human resource development, as well as graduate certificates in instructional design and total quality management (TQM) from Marymount University.

Barbara is an adjunct professor for the master's program in human resources at Chapman University in San Diego. She has also served as a facilitator for the University of San Diego's master's program in executive leadership program. In addition, she is a Certified Performance Technologist (CPT), a certification awarded through the International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI) and the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). Barbara is past president of the San Diego chapter of ASTD and an active member of ISPI.

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