Instructional design is the foundation of creating content that instructs/teaches a person or persons how to “do something”, or explain “how something works.”
We interact with instructions daily and more often than once. These experiences are on different levels, but the ultimate goal is for the experience to become easier or understandable.
As humans, our brains work in different ways which influence the way we think and behave. Interactive and instructional design draw upon cognitive load theory, which is the study of how we think and remember, then applying that research to the instruction to benefit the user. Cognitive lode theory also explores working memory; how we manipulate information in our short-term memory – which is limited. Because our short-term memory has limited space, we are constantly removing, replacing and reorganising it to prevent it from becoming overloaded. Consider perception and association through proximity, size and colour. This is how our mind connects pieces of information together and how we follow an instruction.
The use of photographs can complicate procedure because it contains too much information and detail. Meaning that we don’t know what we should be paying attention to, because each detail has equal visual weight.
Kinds of Interaction: screen based platforms
Instruction; by clicking buttons and telling the program to do something.
Conversation; back and forth dialog such as questions.
Manipulation; drag and drop elements, such as the change of appearance.
Exploration; open, playful, game-like; open ended, explorational play, often through trial and error.
The kinds of interaction contain a sense of giving the user control.
A valuable exercise to consider using when designing instruction is to compare the challenges and opportunities. Apply what form of instruction you are using and how the user will interact with it. Will it be on a screen or printed on paper? Will the experience be long or short? Remember to also factor in the situation the user might be in.
An example of the challenges and opportunities is below, demonstrating the values of instructional design.
Learn more about cognitive load theory by watching the video here, or viewing it below.