What Should Instructional Design Software Include Nowadays?

Before finding instructional design software, it’s good to have an understanding of exactly what instructional design is, and some of the methods involved in implementing it.

Instructional design is a project management term used to describe the process of planning and implementing a system of training for business and education. This is done by assessing learner needs, determining learning expectations and outcomes, and then designing the method by which the training will take place. Many frameworks for instructional design exist, including Rapid Prototyping, Dick and Carey, and Guaranteed Learning, but what is probably the most popular framework for instructional design is the ADDIE model.

The ADDIE model refers to a systematic method for designing instructional and training systems, originally proposed by Florida State University, and adopted by the US Armed forces in 1975 to design all training activities. ADDIE is an acronym for the five phases of design, namely Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation, used to keep curriculum designers mindful of the steps in instructional design.


 Here's a breakdown of each phase in the model, as well as an explanation of the planning that takes place in each phase:

1. Analysis Phase

Also called the goal-setting or pre-planning stage, this is where instructors evaluate their target audience in terms of what they already know and where they would like their students to finish at the end of the course. Specifics such as cultural and educational background of participants are considered to determine mode of delivery, learning targets, and success criteria.

2. Design Phase

In the Design Phase, learning objectives, assessment strategies, and lesson plans are developed, taking teaching style into consideration. According to educationaltechnology.net, focus for this phase is on “learning objectives, content, subject matter analysis, exercises, lesson planning, assessment instruments used, and media selection.” Learning materials are developed, and media and resources used for project delivery are determined.

3. Development Phase

In this stage, the plan is put into action. A training system is drafted, produced, and evaluated. Storyboards and graphics are created and learning outcomes are tested.

4. Implementation Phase

Also called the "begin teaching" phase, the Implementation Phase is where the collection of resources, such as books, hands-on equipment, CD-ROMs, and software takes place. Instructors and students are introduced to the teaching and/or training tools to evaluate and test the efficiency of curriculum delivery. Courses are evaluated throughout the Implementation Phase, and materials and/or method of delivery may be modified to make corrections and adjustments as needed.

Though not all training takes place online, the use of a Learning Management System, or LMS, can be an effective way to deliver teaching/training materials via e-Learning. LMSs are necessary when designing instructional and training systems for the uploading, storing, and assigning of courses. Tracking learner performance statistics is made easier through the use of an LMS, as progress may be tracked through the use of a variety of digital tools and software.

In order to populate an LMS with course material, a type of software called an authoring tool is used. It is important that authoring tools incorporate the following features for efficient instructional design via e-Learning:

  • A video/audio recorder and editor. An audio/video recorder and editor can be used to provide voice-overs for course materials. Readings of course materials and content can be recorded to facilitate auditory learners. Lectures can be recorded in real-time and posted for students to watch on their own time. Demonstrations with step-by-step instructions for task completion can be filmed and posted to assist visual learners.
  • The ability to create an online course with fast navigation capabilities. Fast and intuitive navigation capabilities are important, particularly if clients are unfamiliar with online learning. The quicker a student is able to navigate the course interface, the quicker s/he will be able to complete the training with success.
  • Easy facilitation of interactions within the course, such as directories, eBooks, timelines, and FAQs. It is important that courses contain a variety of teaching tools and varied tasks for assessment and evaluation. The ability to facilitate a number of student interactions within the course helps to differentiate instruction to ensure success for a wider audience. The more interaction a student has within a course, the more likely s/he is to retain the information presented.
  • Dialogue simulations (for employee training) with a character library. When training clients to interact with customers, the ability to simulate dialogue in a variety of scenarios is invaluable. Using dialogue simulation can help hone employees' conversational skills, from engaging customers in a product, to dealing with irate customers, to closing sales. A character library helps to personalize the training, allowing users to interact with characters of different ages and professions, and in a variety of poses.
  • HTML5 and video converters for compatibility with modern devices. Because we live in a portable, digital environment, it is important that education and training programs are accessible from a variety of devices. Instructional design software that converts course materials to the latest version of HTML, and allows for conversion of video to a variety of file types, will ensure teaching and training materials are compatible with most modern devices, be they handheld or desktop.
  • Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) compatibility for LMSs. SCORM-compliant instructional design software means that courses can be easily uploaded for use with any LMS. This is advantageous for programmers using any instructional design model, as e-Learning courses or training programs will work with a number of delivery systems.

5. Evaluation Phase

This is the stage at which instructors evaluate to determine if students have met the expected learning outcomes using a variety of formative and summative assessment tools. Data is collected with respect to participant performance and analyzed for efficiency of delivery and meeting of course expectations and outcomes. Participant feedback is an essential part of the Evaluation Phase in order to find all perceived problems, and to fix them so the course runs smoother on subsequent attempts.

Evaluation in this process is ongoing and formative and summative assessment and evaluation happens at every stage, particularly in the Development Phase. In the Implementation Phase, the formative assessment is done by the teacher/instructor and students. When a course is over, there is a summative evaluation for instructional improvement.

When using an LMS, the storing of testing results and student performance is constant. The information collected from the formative and summative results is stored in electronic form and transmitted to instructors as the course progresses, which is an extremely convenient way to get a bird's-eye view of exactly how individual students, and/or entire classes, are doing on each content module, or on the course as a whole.

Evaluations may take place by inserting a quiz after each course section, as well as implementing a final quiz at the end of the course. All quiz data is stored in the LMS, and the instructor is provided with the quiz results and other statistics on the learners' progress as they work their way through the course and/or training modules. Tools available in the LMS assist the instructor to analyze student performance on the fly, as the course progresses.

In addition to quizzing and testing to gauge student performance, automation features, like branching scenarios and learning paths, can automatically take students to different parts of the course based on their performance. Not only do automation features evaluate course participants, but they can simultaneously link them to the next assignment, without the intervention of a human teacher. This is a huge time-saving benefit of delivering course and training materials through e-Learning.

Example of effective all-in-one instructional design software

One of the more comprehensive tools for instructional design software for the creation of online training courses is iSpring Suite 8, a fully stocked e-Learning authoring toolkit for PowerPoint. iSpring Suite 8 is software built to facilitate instructional design using the ADDIE model described above, for good instructional design.

iSpring Suite 8 is fully integrated with PowerPoint. If designers use PowerPoint to create the storyboards, graphics, and other materials in ADDIE's Development Phase, iSpring Suite 8 will convert all the materials to web-ready format, quickly and easily, to ensure all materials needed for successful course completion are readily available. In addition, the final training modules are accessible on all devices, whether handheld or desktop, via an LMS or website.

Here is an example of a course made with iSpring Suite:

See all demos →

With iSpring Suite 8 you can turn your PowerPoint slides into online courses, create video lectures, implement quizzes and surveys, record your screen as you teach, and simulate conversations to build communication skills. Tools incorporated into the iSpring Suite 8 toolkit designed to facilitate ADDIE's Implementation Phase include:

  • conversation trainer, for effective design of communication exercises for employee training
  • screen recording tool, audio and video editor, and video lecture player to facilitate teaching through video
  • built-in quiz and survey editor offering 23 different types of questions, to be used in both formative and summative evaluations
  • narration editor to provide audio voiceover for auditory learners
  • playlists for background music
  • ready-made templates for creating interactive content in the form of books, timelines, FAQs, and directories
  • character bank to help personalize courses
  • mobile application for iPhone, iPad, and Android users
  • Windows authoring environment, compatible with versions of Windows going back to XP and all versions of Office from 2007 through to 2016

Though courses created using iSpring Suite 8 are SCORM compliant and can be uploaded into any LMS, iSpring Learn is a good option for an LMS. Also built to facilitate instructional design using the ADDIE model, iSpring Learn works in tandem with iSpring Suite 8 to make the conversion between course creation and publication to the LMS seamless.

Are you an instructional designer who uses the ADDIE model? Do you prefer another instructional design framework? Share your experience in the comments below!

Posted in e-Learning