3 Cutting Edge Instructional Design Trends to Watch in 2023

Cutting Edge Image of a female with a mug, pencil, and laptop. Text: Instructional Design Trends to Watch in 2023

Instructional design is crucial in delivering effective and engaging learning experiences. Let’s examine three key trends shaping instructional design in higher education, focusing on integrating educational technology.

  1. Adaptive Learning and Personalization

Adaptive learning involves tailoring instruction and content based on the learner’s needs, progress, and preferences. This isn’t new. K-12 apps such as XtraMath and Study Island have been using adaptive learning to guide students to higher and lower levels based on their answers to questions. Using data analytics tools like these in higher education can quickly assess students’ strengths and weaknesses and provide personalized learning paths and recommendations.

With adaptive learning, higher education institutions can enhance student engagement, increase retention rates, and improve learning outcomes. By offering personalized learning experiences, students can learn at their own pace, fill knowledge gaps, and focus on areas that require more attention. Integrating adaptive learning into instructional design enables educators to deliver highly tailored educational experiences that meet the diverse needs of students.

  1. Immersive and Experiential Learning

Immersive learning technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), are gaining traction in higher education. Students can enter experiential learning environments that simulate real-world scenarios and practice skills in low-stakes environments.

Through VR, for example, students can conduct engineering labs and practice complex procedures without risk. AR enhances traditional learning materials by overlaying digital information, such as 3D models or additional context, onto the physical world. MR combines virtual and real elements, allowing students to interact with the digital and physical worlds simultaneously.

The issues with immersive tech tools are cost and accessibility. They are expensive tools and can be difficult to use for some learners. Each school and program must determine if the benefits of putting students in virtual worlds outweigh the costs.

  1. Microlearning and Bite-Sized Content

In an era of TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and on-the-go knowledge sharing microlearning is a powerful instructional design strategy. Microlearning involves delivering educational content in small, bite-sized modules that can be consumed quickly and conveniently. These modules typically focus on a specific learning objective or skill.

By breaking down complex concepts into digestible chunks, microlearning enables students to access relevant information when they need it. Look to develop microlearning in various formats to cater to diverse learning preferences, including short videos, interactive quizzes, infographics, or podcasts.

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Integrating microlearning into instructional design allows for greater flexibility and adaptability in curriculum delivery. It empowers students to learn at their own pace, reinforces knowledge retention, and encourages continuous learning in shorter time frames.

As instructional design continues to evolve in higher education, integrating educational technology is at the forefront of transforming the learning experience. Adaptive learning, immersive and experiential learning, and microlearning are three key trends shaping the future of instructional design. By embracing these trends, educators and institutions can create engaging and effective learning environments, enhance student outcomes, and prepare students for success in a rapidly changing world.

Book a free consultation with The Babb Group to learn more about how you can incorporate these tools into your instructional design.

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Angela Britcher

Angela Britcher is an instructional designer and content creator with The Babb Group. She is also an adjunct professor of business and communications.
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