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Instructional Design vs. Learning Design ~ What’s the difference?

Words Matter. Technology evolves so quickly that new terms are being added and the meanings of old terms are changing. The terms Instructional Design (ID) and Learning Design (LD) are often used interchangeably. Simply put, the term Instructional/Instructor/Instruct places the emphasis on the person facilitating the content and the institution that is delivering it. Instructional Design is incredibly relevant and important because it truly highlights all aspects of User Interface (UI). What LMS or CMS will be used? Will the content be synchronized or non-synchronous? Will there be activities, assessments, and/or rubrics? How will they be managed and measured? Who will facilitate the delivery and how? Instructional Design is a top-down philosophy and hierarchy is very important in all large-scale creative project design endeavours.

On the other hand, the words Learning/learner/learn emphasizes the end-user. Specifically, it is addressing the moment of change in the learners mind in which a specific content enters the long-term memory. With the emphasis on cognitive sciences and User Experience (UX), the term Learning Design has become the more potent term. It describes the culmination of all elements that have conspired to bring about that change in the individual, including all of the infrastructure and types of learning (UI). Learning Design is a bottom-up philosophy that places the end-user at the centre of all questions.

Again, they are often used interchangeably even if they have different root meanings.