Characteristics of an Instructional Designer

Two years ago if I was asked what is an instructional designer, I would have struggled to give a confident answer. Fast forward and now I have a better understanding of the role of an Instructional Designer (ID) and their key characteristics. Put simply, an Instructional Designer takes information and creates learning experiences that help learners. Instructional Designers have a good understanding how people learn and apply learning methodologies to help them learn better. They are learner-centred and focus on learning outcomes.


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Instructional designers align learning objectives and play a vital role in the process of learning. They redesign courses, develop new courses, design instructions and create training materials. Connie Malamed from the Elearning coach explains that instructional design is to:

“identify the skills, knowledge and the attitude gaps of a targeted audience and to create, select and suggest learning experiences that close this gap”

Whereas, Christopher Pappas explains that Instructional design “aims to compress the learning process and fill the gaps in our knowledge in the most effective way”.

Christy Tuckers blog post titled “What does an instructional designer do?”, explains that an Instructional designer takes content and adds the “experiences” of learning and practising to it. Christy also includes a detailed list how Instructional Designers do this which includes working with Subject Matter Experts and structure content and activities for student learning.

So, what does it take to be an effective Instructional designer? 

The following are some characteristics that I think an instructional designer should possess:

  1. Be learner focused
  2. Be creative
  3. Have good communication skills
  4. Be organised
  5. Have management and project management skills
  6. Have good research skills
  7. Have an effective interview and listening skills
  8. Have good written skills
  9. Be technology savvy
  10. Can work both independently and in a team
  11. Have knowledge of authoring tools

Check out the following blog from the Learning Coach for some additional characteristics.

Would love to hear what other characteristics you think an instructional designer should have?


Leigh, D. (date unknown) A Brief History of Instructional Design [online]


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