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Unlock Impactful eLearning With The Best Instructional Design Strategies

Sanju Kumari
13 Jun 2024
19 min read
Unlock Impactful eLearning With The Best Instructional Design Strategies

In e-learning, effective instructional design strategies are crucial for maximizing learner engagement and retention. Thanks to a recent study, it was established that effective online courses boost retention rates from 25% to a whopping 60%

Also, it was found that eLearning training material based on proven instructional design strategies can boost employee productivity by 25% and engagement by 18%.

But, as a business, e-learning provider, or instructional designer, have you found the best strategies yet? Don’t worry!

Through this article, Calibr.AI has compiled some of the best instructional design strategies. In this thorough guide, we will first understand the meaning of instructional design, and the various steps involved, and then learn how businesses can enhance their efforts to achieve maximum learning outcomes. Let’s begin. 

What is Instructional Design?

Instructional Design (ID) is a systematic process that involves creating educational experiences and materials. Its primary goal is to make learning more:

  • Efficient
  • Effective, and
  • Engaging

It guides instructional designers to incorporate theories of learning, psychology, and instructional technology while developing learning materials.

The Six Steps in Instructional Design

The process of instructional design revolves around six major steps. By following them instructional designers can create effective learning experiences that meet the needs of both learners and organizations. Let’s study them:

Step I: Identify Instructional Goals

  • Establishing what the learners need to achieve involves defining clear goals that reflect the desired outcomes of the instruction
  • These goals should align with organizational objectives
  • Also, they must address the specific needs of the learners

Step II: Conduct Instructional Analysis

  • Breaking down the instructional goals into specific skills and knowledge involves identifying the:
  • Necessary steps 


  • Sub-skills
  •  This process helps in understanding:
  • What needs to be taught?
  • What should be the sequence?

Step III: Analyze Learners and Context

  • It is crucial to understand the prior knowledge and skills of the learners
  • This analysis helps in developing the instructional materials as per their specific needs, which ultimately leads to:
  • More retention 


  • Better learning outcomes

Step IV: Write Performance Objectives

  • Define what learners should be able to do after the provision of instructions
  • This commonly involves creating SMART objectives, which stands for:
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant, and
  • Time-bound
  • These objectives provide a clear direction for both the instructor and the learners.

Step V: Develop Assessment Instruments

  • Create tools to measure learners' performance against the objective
  • This ensures that the instructional goals are being met
  • Some common examples of these tools are:
  • Tests
  • Quizzes
  • Practical exercises, and
  • Other forms of assessment provide feedback on learner progress.

Step VI: Develop an Instructional Strategy

  • Plan the instructional methods and materials to be used
  • This involves deciding on the most effective way to deliver the content
  • To make an informed choice, it often includes selecting:
  • Teaching methods
  • Designing activities
  • Choosing or creating instructional materials that will engage learners

What are the Various Instructional Design Strategies?

To create engaging and effective learning experiences, most designers follow the best instructional design strategies, which are

  1. ADDIE Model
  2. SAM (Successive Approximation Model)
  3. Dick and Carey Model
  4. Kemp Design Model
  5. Merrill’s Principles of Instruction
  6. Gagné’s Nine Events of Instruction

Let’s understand them in detail:

Strategy I: ADDIE Model

It is one of the most widely used foundational models in instructional design. ADDIE stands for:

  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Development
  • Implementation, and
  • Evaluation

Let’s understand each of these terms individually:

  • Analysis: Identify learning problems, audience’s needs, existing knowledge, and any other relevant characteristics.
  • Design: Outline learning objectives, assessment instruments, lesson planning, and media selection.
  • Development: Create and assemble the content assets that were designed in the design phase.
  • Implementation: Deliver or distribute the instructional materials.
  • Evaluation: Assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the instruction through formative and summative evaluation.

Strategy II: SAM (Successive Approximation Model)

SAM is an agile, iterative approach to instructional design. It provides more flexibility and speed compared to ADDIE. This instructional design strategy can be divided into three phases:

  • Preparation Phase
  • Identify the performance needs
  • Collect background information
  • Start rapid prototype development
  • Iterative Design Phase
  • Develop design prototypes
  • Review and adjust through iterative cycles until the design is refined.
  • Iterative Development Phase
  • Develop detailed content and materials
  • Conduct formative evaluations
  • Make adjustments

Strategy III: Dick and Carey Model

The Dick and Carey Model is a systematic approach that emphasizes the interrelatedness of:

  • Context
  • Content
  • Learning, and
  • Instruction

Let’s study its various steps:

  • Identify Instructional Goals: Establish what the learners need to achieve.
  • Conduct Instructional Analysis: Determine the steps and skills required for achieving the goals.
  • Analyze Learners and Contexts: Understand the learners and the contexts in which they will learn and apply the skills.
  • Write Performance Objectives: Define specific objectives that learners need to achieve.
  • Develop Assessment Instruments: Create tools to measure learner achievement of the objectives.
  • Develop Instructional Strategy: Plan methods, media, and materials to meet the objectives.
  • Develop and Select Instructional Materials: Create or choose the materials to be used.
  • Design and Conduct Formative Evaluation: Evaluate the instruction in development to make improvements.
  • Revise Instruction: Use formative evaluation results to improve the instruction.
  • Design and Conduct Summative Evaluation: Evaluate the effectiveness of the instruction after implementation.

Strategy IV: Kemp Design Model

The Kemp Design Model is circular and non-linear. It emphasizes continuous revision and the interconnectedness of different aspects of instructional design. Read its various steps below:

  • Identify Instructional Problems: Determine the gaps in knowledge or skills.
  • Examine Learner Characteristics: Understand the learners’ existing knowledge and learning styles
  • Identify Content and Task Analysis: Determine what content needs to be covered and break it into manageable parts.
  • State Instructional Objectives: Define clear, specific objectives.
  • Sequence Content: Arrange content in a logical order.
  • Design Instructional Strategies: Plan how to teach the content effectively.
  • Plan the Instructional Message: Decide on the best way to present the content.
  • Develop Instructional Materials: Create or gather the necessary materials.
  • Design Evaluation Instruments: Develop tools to assess learners’ performance.
  • Revise Instruction: Use feedback from evaluation to improve the instruction.

Strategy V: Merrill’s Principles of Instruction

Merrill’s Principles of Instruction focus on task-centered learning. It emphasizes real-world application and engagement. As per this instructional design strategy, learning is promoted when:

  • Learners are engaged in solving real-world problems (problem-centered)
  • Learners activate prior knowledge as a foundation for new knowledge (activation)
  • New knowledge is demonstrated to the learner (demonstration)
  • Learners apply new knowledge (application)
  • Learners integrate new knowledge into their daily lives (integration)

Strategy VI: Gagné’s Nine Events of Instruction

Gagné’s Nine Events of Instruction provides a step-by-step approach to instructional design. This strategy specifically ensures that all aspects of learning are addressed. Let’s study its various steps:

  • Gain Attention: Capture learners’ interest.
  • Inform Learners of Objectives: Explain what they will learn.
  • Stimulate Recall of Prior Learning: Help learners connect new information with prior knowledge.
  • Present the Content: Deliver the new information.
  • Provide Learning Guidance: Offer support and examples.
  • Elicit Performance (Practice): Allow learners to apply what they’ve learned.
  • Provide Feedback: Give constructive feedback on their performance.
  • Assess Performance: Evaluate learners’ understanding and skills.
  • Enhance Retention and Transfer: Help learners apply their new knowledge in different contexts.

The Five Essential Components of an Instructional Design Strategy

Besides following the instructional design strategies mentioned above, instructional designers must also follow these five essential components to create comprehensive, learner-centered educational experiences. Let’s read about these components: 

Component I: Learner Analysis

Importance of Understanding the Target Audience

Understanding the target audience is crucial. It ensures the instructional design is tailored to the learners’:

  • Needs
  • Preferences, and
  • Existing knowledge

This understanding helps in creating relevant, instructional materials. By knowing the learners' backgrounds, you can design content that connects with their experiences and knowledge levels, thus enhancing learning effectiveness.

Some Techniques for Conducting Learner Analysis

  • Surveys and Questionnaires: Collect information on learners’ demographics, prior knowledge, and learning preferences.
  • Interviews and Focus Groups: Gather in-depth insights into learners’ needs, motivations, and challenges.
  • Pre-assessment Tests: Determine learners' existing knowledge and skills.
  • Observation: Observe learners in their learning environment to understand their behaviors and interactions.
  • Data Analysis: Analyze existing data from previous courses or training sessions to identify trends and patterns.

Component II: Learning Objectives

Setting Clear, Measurable, and Achievable Learning Objectives

Learning objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). It is worth mentioning that clear objectives provide a roadmap for both instructors and learners. They ensure that everyone understands the expected outcomes and can focus their efforts accordingly.

How can Instructional Designers Align Objectives with Organizational Goals and Learner Needs?

Designers can follow these techniques for setting objectives:

  • Bloom’s Taxonomy: Use this framework to create objectives across cognitive levels (e.g., remembering, understanding, applying)
  • Backward Design: Always start with the end goal in mind and design the curriculum to achieve those outcomes.

Component III: Content Organization and Sequencing

Methods for Structuring and Sequencing Content Effectively

It is noteworthy that effective content organization and sequencing promote comprehension and retention. This involves arranging content in a logical progression from simple to complex. Such kind of arrangement ensures that each piece of information builds on the previous one.

Strategies for “Chunking Information” to Enhance Comprehension and Retention

  • Modular Design: Break content into self-contained units or modules.
  • Thematic Organization: Group related content together under common themes or topics.
  • Scaffolding: Provide support structures to help learners build on prior knowledge progressively.
  • Use of Summaries and Overviews: Begin each module with an overview and end with a summary to reinforce key points.

Component IV: Instructional Methods and Media

Selection of Appropriate Instructional Methods

Choose the right instructional methods that cater to different learning styles and objectives. Some common methods include:

  • Storytelling: Engage learners with narratives that illustrate key concepts
  • Simulations: Provide hands-on, experiential learning opportunities
  • Case Studies: Allow learners to apply knowledge to real-world scenarios
  • Interactive Activities: Encourage active participation and collaboration

How to Choose the Right Media and Technology for Content Delivery?

To select appropriate media and technology, consider the following following techniques:

  • E-Learning Platforms: Use for online courses and digital learning.
  • Multimedia: Incorporate videos, animations, and interactive graphics.
  • Mobile Learning: Ensure content is accessible on mobile devices.
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality: Use for immersive learning experiences.

Component V: Assessment and Evaluation

Designing Formative and Summative Assessments

Assessment is critical for measuring:

  • Learners' progress 


  • Effectiveness of the learning material

It can be performed in two major ways:

  • Formative Assessments
  • Conduct throughout the instructional process to provide ongoing feedback and make necessary adjustments (e.g., quizzes, peer reviews, and interactive activities).
  • Summative Assessments
  • Evaluate learners' overall performance at the end of an instructional period (e.g., final exams, projects, and presentations).

Techniques for Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Instructional Design

  • Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation: Assess reaction, learning, behavior, and results.
  • Feedback Surveys: Collect learners' feedback on the instruction’s effectiveness.
  • Learning Analytics: Use data analytics to track learners’ progress and engagement.
  • Performance Metrics: Measure improvements in learners’ performance and application of skills.

How Can Business Organizations Use Instructional Design Strategies to Enhance Learning?

Business organizations can significantly enhance their learning and development (L&D) programs by incorporating various instructional design strategies. These strategies not only improve engagement and retention but also ensure that learning is practical and applicable in the workplace. Let’s study them:

I) Active Learning

Objective: Engaging Learners Actively through:

  • Discussions
  • Problem-Solving, and
  • Hands-On Activities


  • Case Studies
  • Present real-world scenarios relevant to the business context
  • Allowing learners to apply theoretical knowledge to practical problems.
  • Role-Playing
  • Simulate workplace situations where employees can practice skills and behaviors in a controlled environment.
  • Interactive Workshops
  • Conduct sessions where learners can participate in:
  • Group activities
  • Discussions, and
  • Problem-solving exercises.


  • Enhances critical thinking and decision-making skills.
  • Promotes deeper understanding and retention of knowledge.
  • Encourages learner engagement and participation.

II) Scaffolding

Objective: Providing Support Structures to Help Learners Achieve Higher Levels of Understanding


  • Guided Practice
  • Offer step-by-step instructions
  • Gradually reduce support as learners become more proficient.
  • Resources and Tools
  • Provide access to:
  • Reference materials
  • Templates, and
  • Job aids
  • These tools support learning and application.
  • Feedback Mechanisms
  • Implement regular feedback loops where learners can receive constructive feedback on their performance.


  • Builds learner confidence and competence incrementally.
  • Supports learners through complex tasks by breaking them down into manageable steps.
  • Promotes independent learning over time.

III) Collaborative Learning

Objective: Encouraging Group Work and Peer-to-Peer Interaction


  • Team Projects: Assign group tasks that require collaboration and collective problem-solving.
  • Peer Reviews: Implement processes where learners:
  • Evaluate each other's work


  • Provide feedback and insights
  • Discussion Forums: Create online or in-person platforms for learners to:
  • Share ideas
  • Ask questions, and
  • Collaborate on projects.


  • Enhances communication and teamwork skills.
  • Leverages diverse perspectives and expertise within the group.
  • Creates a supportive learning community.

IV) Gamification

Objective: Using Game Elements to Motivate and Engage Learners


  • Points and Badges: Reward learners for:
  • Completing tasks
  • Achieving milestones, and
  • Participating in learning activities.
  • Leaderboards: Introduce competitive elements where learners can track their progress against peers.
  • Challenges and Quests
  • Design scenarios and missions that learners must complete,
  • Make sure to incorporate elements of fun and competition.


  • Increases motivation and engagement through fun and competitive elements.
  • Provides immediate feedback and recognition.
  • Encourages continuous participation and goal achievement.

V) Personalization

Objective: Customizing the Learning Experience to Meet Individual Learner Needs


  • Adaptive Learning Platforms: Use technology that adjusts content and difficulty based on learner performance and preferences.
  • Personal Learning Plans: Develop customized learning paths that align with individual career goals and skill gaps.
  • Flexible Learning Options: 
  • Offer various formats (e.g., online, in-person, blended) and pacing options
  • This variety helps in accommodating different learning styles and schedules.


  • Increases relevance and effectiveness of the training.
  • Accommodates diverse learning needs and preferences.
  • Enhances learner satisfaction and outcomes.


By integrating effective instructional design strategies into eLearning, business organizations can significantly boost learner engagement and retention. Some popular strategies are ADDIE model, SAM, Dick and Carey Model, and more. 

Furthermore, to enhance the eLearning experience, techniques like active learning, scaffolding, and gamification can be followed. They not only make the training material practical but also enjoyable. Businesses that adopt these strategies can expect higher employee productivity and better skill development. 

Are you looking for an AI-powered LMS tool to author corporate training materials? Try out Calibr LXP today! You can also start your 30-day free trial. No credit cards are required!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the ADDIE model?

The ADDIE model is a systematic instructional design strategy. It includes five phases: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. Each phase aims to create effective educational programs.

2. Can gamification improve the effectiveness of eLearning material?

Yes, gamification can enhance eLearning effectiveness by increasing learner motivation, engagement, and retention. It specifically uses game-like elements such as points, badges, and challenges.

3. Can I use Calibr Craft (offered by Calibr.AI) to develop interactive courses?

Yes, Calibr Craft by Calibr.AI enables the creation of interactive and engaging eLearning courses through its suite of tools and features designed for instructional design. It offers user-friendly interfaces and customizable templates to streamline course development. 

Additionally, it supports multimedia integration, allowing designers to incorporate:

  • Videos
  • Quizzes, and
  • Simulations to enhance learning experiences.

4. How can I implement Dick and Carey Model?

To implement the Dick and Carey Model, follow its systematic steps: 

  • Identify instructional goals
  • Conduct instructional analysis
  • Analyze learners and contexts
  • Develop assessment instruments
  • Plan instructional strategies
  • Perform summative evaluation

By following these steps, you can develop engaging and impactful eLearning material.

Sanju Kumari

Sanju has a wealth of experience and expertise in instructional design, bringing innovative ideas and a fresh perspective to e-learning content development. She is passionate about merging technology and creativity for dynamic e-learning. Her passion for creating engaging and effective learning experiences aligns perfectly with Calibr's commitment to excellence. She also enjoys writing about e-learning trends in the corporate world.