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How to Adopt an Instructional Design Mindset

Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

Thinking like an instructional designer is a valuable skill for life. It’s not limited to designing learning experiences.

An instructional design mindset is a super power and no one should miss out. Hence, our intent behind sharing this blog. 😉

In this blog, we will take you through the process of thinking something through with an instructional design mindset. We will focus on one specific example but remember that this way of thinking can be applied to anything (we haven’t found it to be otherwise yet).

The example that we will work through is a conversation with your friend, Kate, who appears upset.

Let us apply instructional design to this problem and watch the magic unfold! ✨

1. Seek to Understand

As instructional designers, we need to ensure that we understand the problem that we are solving. If your client needs an eLearning course, do you just create it without understanding why? What problem are they actually trying to solve?

The same goes for all situations in life. What is the actual problem and what is the goal?

Let us look at the conversation with your friend, Kate, who appears upset. With an instructional design mindset, you seek to understand what the problem is by asking questions.

For example:

You: “Can you help me understand what’s going on for you?” [What is the problem?]

Kate: “You don’t talk to me as much anymore. I feel disconnected to you.”

You: “Can you help me understand how you’d like things to be?” [What is the desired user experience?]

Kate: “I’d like to spend more quality time with you.”

You: “What does quality time look like for you?”

Kate: “Catching up one-one-one and talking about life.”

You: “What’s stopping us from doing that?” [What are the current pain points?]

Kate: “You’re too busy. I feel like I’m a nuisance.”

You: “What else is important to you?” [What is important to the user?]

Kate: “I’d like to have more adventures with you. We used to always go on hikes.”

You: “Okay, so ultimately you would like us to connect more by catching up one-on-one, talking about life and also through going on adventures together like hikes?” [What is the ultimate goal?]

Kate: “Yes!”

You: “Let’s plan to do that!”

Seek to understand the situations you face in your life, just like you do with your instructional design projects.

By speaking to the person with the problem, you are adopting a human-centred design approach, which leads to great things! 💜

2. Have a Clear Goal

Before you take any action. You need to have a clear goal. Through the conversation above, you have agreed with Kate on the following goal. We call our project goal a success statement. Your success statement should reflect what you would see in the future if the project goal was met.

For example:

Kate feels connected to me because we are spending one-on-one time together, talking about life and going on adventures like hikes.

Now that you have a clear success statement, you can apply instructional design to meet it.

3. Map out the Actions

We believe in actions over knowledge when it comes to designing learning experiences and the same goes for situations in our lives. You may have heard of the saying, “Actions speak louder than words”. Well, we agree!

So rather than ‘knowing’ what to do to solve a problem in your life, plan out the ‘actions’ that you need to take instead.

For example:

Action 1: Book a weekly coffee date to discuss life with Kate.

Action 2: Pick a location and date for a hike and book it in with Kate.

4. Implement the Solution

Now that you have planned out your actions, it is time to take action of course! For this example, you have coffee dates with Kate and go on hikes with her.

5. Test the Solution

In our world of instructional design we place importance on testing our solution. Whether this is through a prototype, a user interview or client feedback.

It is important that you never assume that you have solved a problem. Be curious and test that the actions you are taking, contribute to your goal.

For example:

You: “Do you feel more connected to me now?”

Kate: “Yes but I do notice that you use your phone when I am talking to you.”

You: “How about I put my phone away when we are talking in future?”

Kate: “That would be good.”

Make improvements based on your testing and test again until you get it right.

That is it for this blog on ‘How to Adopt an Instructional Design Mindset.’ We hope that you gained value from it and that it helps you with a variety of situations in your life. Our team adopts an instructional design mindset for conversations, responding to emails, meetings, buying presents and even planning events. It truly adds value to whatever you apply it to. Give it a go and let us know what you think!

If you would like to discuss this topic in further detail, contact our passionate founder Kim via or by connecting with her on LinkedIn.

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