Corporate Training & e-Learning Blog


WHAT Do You Do For a Living?

"Did you say instructional design? What the heck is that?" Most of the time when I am asked by a layperson what we do here at CramerSweeney Instructional Design, I do NOT answer "We do instructional design" - a non-answer which would generate the above reaction. Instead, I answer something like this: "We write and develop classroom and online training programs on any topic for corporations of all sizes." I may even follow that extremely brief answer with the names of a few of our better-known (household name) clients. Hey, who doesn't like to name drop occasionally?

But what IS instructional design (really) and what is its true purpose? First consider the fact that we, as humans, are all learning all of the time. It's what we all do, even though we are not always (or even often) conscious of doing it. Most of our learning happens on the fly - through our experiences, our senses (what we see, hear, touch), our interactions and conversations. This is our natural way of learning. Sitting in a classroom or taking an e-learning course are other ways that we learn, but they are not natural to us. The purpose of instructional design, then, is to package these formal learning experiences in the most useful, effective, and engaging manner possible.

  1. Good instructional design helps learners make sense of new information being taught. Training should never be just a dump of information.
  2. To make sure learners understand what they need to learn, good instructional design provides clear learning goals. This ensures that learners will not focus on the wrong things and will focus on the appropriate specific pieces of information they need to learn.
  3. By including examples, practices, exercises, and discussions (interactivity) throughout the training, good instructional design provides the context and perspective (real meaning) learners need in order to understand and process (remember) new information.
  4. Using information from the subject matter expert(s) and compressing it into a streamlined course saves learners a lot of time (and saves companies a lot of money).
  5. By designing and developing engaging learning experiences, good instructional design better engages learners and provides more effective learning.
Learning is a natural and complex process that we engage in all the time. Yet, to make learning happen in an unnatural, formal environment, we need to package the learning using good instructional design! The next time someone asks me what instructional design is, I may add this to my previous answer: It requires pulling together relevant content to create effective, focused, and meaningful courses.


  • Great post and great blog, Jenna.

    How do you think instructional design is changing given how e-learning is changing and the technological changes as well?

    By Anonymous Lisa Neal Gualtieri, at 8:47 PM EST  

  • Jenna: Your site provides some good resources, including this article. I've added your site to my blogroll. My site provides information related to developing content for learning,and I think my readers will be interested in the articles at your site as well. Thanks.

    By Anonymous Debra Baxter, at 3:15 PM EST  

  • I've been working in theatre, education and marketing in recent years, and I'm also fairly tech-savvy.

    I'd be interested in working in e-learning, but not sure where to start.

    Any suggestions?


    By Blogger mannoftalent, at 3:21 PM EST  

  • Interest post and blog....
    I also found the following website really interesting for training and development.

    By Anonymous Andrew Taylor, at 3:59 PM EDT  

  • Jenna, you bring up a lot of good points, however one item that I have learned to be critical is to take different learning styles into considerations when developing technical curriculum. The program itself must be designed with the target audience in mind so as to incorporate as many different learning stylses as possible.

    - John D Crews

    By Anonymous John D Crews, at 4:23 PM EDT  

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