ATD Blog

A First Glance at Instructional Design Now

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Today, we’re offering a first glance at some exciting research that we’re releasing in March 2015. ATD Research and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) have partnered on a soon-to-be-published new project on the state of instructional design (ID) in organizations. 

Introducing Instructional Design Now: A New Age of Learning and Beyond 

It’s certainly an exciting time to be an instructional designer. The field of instructional design (ID) incorporates a rapidly growing and changing array of learning strategies, tools, and approaches into training experiences that appeal to today’s workers while meeting their complex learning needs. 

ATD and i4cp’s latest report will provide a current snapshot of ID in organizations, as well as explore the most pressing challenges faced by instructional designers. The study’s findings are based on a survey of 1,120 ID professionals. 

The ID Community 

Of the survey participants, who practice in organizations from all industry sectors, 44 percent held a formal undergraduate or graduate degree in ID or a related field. About a sixth had an ID certification, with ATD’s Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) being the most popular. Both formal degree programs and certifications in ID tend to be relatively new, and these rates will likely increase in the future. 


ID Relies on Traditional Approaches and New Technologies

Today’s ID professionals have a stunningly vast and ever-changing selection of tools, technologies and approaches available to them. Although this can also be overwhelming and it can be difficult to keep up with current technologies, one instructional designer in state government pointed out, “so many tools and resources and allow for better design and greater creativity.” 

Instructional designers leverage time-tested approaches, as well as newer technology, to deliver learning in organizations. The most frequently-used tool or approach is traditional classroom learning, which nine out of 10 organizations rely on to a considerable extent.  

In addition, assessments, which are administered to assess skills, training needs, and learning progress, are also heavily used. Survey respondents have also embraced learning management systems (LMSs), a technology that gathers, manages, and reports information on organizational learning efforts. 


ID Isn’t as Effective as It Could Be 

One concerning finding from the research was that only about half of surveyed ID professionals reported feeling that their ID efforts are highly effective in helping to meet business objectives. Even more troubling, less than four in 10 thought that their ID efforts are effective in meeting learning needs.   

Some insights into why ID isn’t reaching its full potential also emerged from the survey responses. Participants expressed challenges in connecting with senior leadership and convincing them that ID was important, and many reported a lack of internal staff with the needed design competencies. 

Learn More 

The full report will be available in March at Members will have complimentary access to a free whitepaper version of the report. For the latest updates on our research, follow us on twitter at @atdresearch.


About the Author

Maria Ho is the manager of ATD research services. She serves as ATD's senior research program strategist and designer and provides oversight and direction for all of ATD's internal and external, industry specific, and market research services. Prior to joining ATD, Maria was a public policy researcher, data analyst, and writer at the Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C.

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