Looking At Instructional Design’s History

I have mentioned it before, but it’s worth saying again: the instructional design profession is growing every single year!
There are of course many reasons for this, most of which due to the cultural shift from strictly instructor based training to online courses.

But technology didn’t create instructional design. Far from it!

Instructional design has been around for a while now, arguably before we even started calling “instructional design”. While today this is often synonymous with elearning and training program creation, instructional design has its roots elsewhere.

If you are involved in this industry, then you may be interested in the infographic below (created by Origin ELearning). It depicts a brief history of this field starting back in the 1950s.

According the graphic, the instructional design era really was born when both psychologists and educators came together to create training materials for the soldiers in WWII. From there came a wave of theory and exploration into the science of learning.

As you would expect, great minds like Skinner, Gagne, and Glaser helped to lay the foundation of what we now all refer to as instructional design. In its infancy, instructional design was buried in theory. Today we see that these theories still permeate the tools and methodology used today across a variety of sectors.

It’s always fun to wonder what these “founding fathers” of instructional design would think of the field today. I personally think they would be in awe of the amount of big data we can accumulate and then leverage to further modify the way we teach & learn.


Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Let's Talk! | Twitter

2 Responses

  1. Hi, Justin. Thought you might want to know that Benjamin Bloomberg is a jazz aficianado at MIT, at least according to Google. Benjamin Bloom is the father of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives.

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