May 25, 2023
Transforming Learning: The Latest Trends in Instructional Design
May 25, 2023
Transforming Learning: The Latest Trends in Instructional Design

Instructional design’s future is closely-knit with gamification, AI, and personalized learning. In recent years, this discipline has undergone considerable changes as consistent progress and innovation in technology have changed the way we approach education.

The shift to digital and online learning by far has been one of the significant modifications in the field of instructional design. The rise in online learning platforms and changing learner needs and demands have increased the quest for instructional designers who can create engaging, out-of-the-box, and interactive online learning experiences.

As a Senior Instructional Designer who has been in this field for almost a decade, I can tell you that instructional design constantly evolves, with new trends emerging every year. IDs must keep up with the latest trends in the field to ensure that our learning programs are effective and meet our learners’ needs.

Here are some of the latest and popular trends that you can consider incorporating into your learning programs:


Microlearning is gaining popularity in instructional design due to its numerous benefits. It is designed to deliver information in short, bite-sized chunks, making it easier for learners to stay engaged and retain information. Research has demonstrated that chunking, the process of breaking down information into smaller, focused pieces, greatly enhances information retention. De Groot’s study on chess experts revealed their ability to recall complex positions with precision through chunking. Similarly, Miller proposed that our cognitive system operates with chunks as the optimal unit of information, with a capacity of around 7 ± 2 chunks in our short-term memory. Chase and Simon’s research further supported this concept. By utilizing chunking, learners can improve their memory and retention, validating the claim that people are more likely to remember information presented in small, focused pieces compared to lengthy lectures or training sessions.

Moreover, microlearning is cost-effective, making it an ideal option for delivering training to large groups of people without requiring a physical classroom or instructor. It is flexible and can be accessed on any device, anytime, anywhere, making it convenient for learners to fit it into their busy schedules. It can be tailored to meet the specific needs of individual learners, providing them with the information and skills required to succeed. Overall, microlearning delivers excellent learning experiences in a variety of contexts.


In today’s age, where we are all addicted to mobile phones, laptops, and TV screens, visuals, games, and storytelling happen to be some of the most effective tools to grab the attention of the audience. Is it any wonder that gamification techniques are adopted across multiple fields to make something popular or successful? Gamification has become increasingly popular recently due to its many benefits, even in learning.

Gamified learning offers several benefits, including increased engagement, improved retention, skill development, and personalization. Games are designed to be fun, making learning more enjoyable and engaging. Incorporating game-like elements into the learning experience can lead to higher levels of engagement and motivation, improving learning outcomes. Games involve repetition, practice, feedback, and rewards, which can help learners retain information more effectively. They also help learners develop essential skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making. By customizing different levels, challenges, and paths, gamified learning can create a more personalized learning experience that meets the needs and preferences of individual learners. Overall, gamified learning is on the rise as an effective instructional design strategy that enhances the learning experience and improves learner outcomes.

Personalization and Adaptive Learning

Personalization and adaptive learning are two distinct but related techniques. Personalization involves customizing learning materials and experiences to meet the needs and preferences of individual learners.  An example of personalized learning can be Adaptive Learning Software: This software uses algorithms to personalize learning. It assesses a student’s knowledge, skills, and learning style and then adjusts the learning material to match their needs or preferences. Ex: Coursera. In contrast, adaptive learning is a more advanced form of personalization that uses technology and data to automatically adjust the learning experience based on the learner’s needs and performance. For instance, intelligent tutoring systems use artificial intelligence to provide personalized instruction and feedback to learners. These systems can identify areas where the learner is struggling and provide additional support in those areas. Ex: Duolingo; Khan Academy.

Both techniques offer the benefits of learning anything, anywhere, anytime, and at your own pace, making learning more engaging and relevant. By tailoring the learning experience to learners’ unique strengths and weaknesses, personalized and adaptive learning techniques can help learners achieve their goals faster and more efficiently. These techniques cater to learners’ preferences, making learning more enjoyable and less tedious. Personalized and adaptive learning is revolutionizing the way we learn and is becoming increasingly popular as we continue to embrace technology in education.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented reality (AR) can be used in various learning programs such as medical training, engineering and design, and safety training to provide engaging and immersive experiences for learners. Virtual reality involves creating a simulated environment that learners can interact with, while augmented reality involves adding digital elements to the real world. VR and AR can provide learners with immersive and engaging learning experiences that improve retention and comprehension of complex topics. More people are embracing VR and AR techniques as they help in creating a distinctly memorable and impactful learning experience.

Leveraging AI for Instructional Design

Indeed, this is the era of AI, and it has taken the world by storm. AI has been phenomenal and has extraordinarily transformed how we use technology across all fields, and instructional design is no exception.

AI in instructional design offers several benefits, including automation of time-consuming tasks such as content sourcing, creation, assessment, and feedback. AI can analyze learner data to identify areas of improvement and provide personalized learning paths. It can also provide real-time feedback to learners, allowing them to adjust their learning approach and improve their performance. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can offer on-demand support to learners, improving the accessibility and convenience of learning. Overall, AI in instructional design can enhance the quality of education, improve learner outcomes, and reduce the workload of educators.

In conclusion, integrating AI in instructional design is a game-changer that promises to revolutionize the field.

The Final Take

The world of education and training is rapidly evolving, and it is crucial to keep up with the latest trends to stay ahead of the game. Current trends emphasize catering to learners’ needs and preferences to create more engaging and compelling learning experiences. Instructional Design is not just about delivering information but also about creating an interactive and immersive learning experience. Furthermore, integrating technology such as AI and microlearning has revolutionized how we approach learning. As an educator or instructional designer, it’s essential to stay up to date with the latest trends and methods and consider how they can be incorporated to improve the learning outcomes of your learners. Remember, the key to success is to keep learning and evolving.


De Groot. Adrian (1946/1978) Het denken van den Schaker (1946, German). Thought and Choice in Chess. (1978, English)

Miller. George (1956). The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information.

Chase and Simon (1973). The Chunking Theory.

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