With the best instructional design courses, you can gain the skills and knowledge needed to enter the educational field, transition into virtual learning, or even create your own online courses.
But with so many options and online course platforms, you might be overwhelmed with all the different options for instruction design classes online.
When choosing an instructional design course, it is important to consider the following factors:
- The quality of the course content. Make sure that the course covers all the essential topics in instructional design.
- The length of the course. Some courses are very comprehensive and can take months to complete. Others are shorter and can be completed in a matter of weeks.
- The price of the course. Some instructional design courses can be quite expensive. Others are very affordable. Make sure to compare prices before enrolling in a course.
- The format of the course. Some instructional design courses are self-paced and allow you to learn at your own pace, while others are instructor-led and require you to attend live sessions.
- The credentials of the course provider. It is important to make sure that the course is provided by a reputable institution or organization with a strong reputation in instructional design.
- What students are saying. Finally, read reviews from previous students before enrolling in an online instructional design course. Reviews can provide valuable insight into the quality of the course, the instructor, and the learning materials.
So, how can you choose the best one for you? What will you learn? Will it be worth the investment? Will it really help you land a job as an instructional designer?
I’ve ranked and reviewed the best instructional design programs and courses so you can get the training you need to succeed in your field in 2023. These picks are based on the quality of the curriculum, instructor credentials, certifications, cost, student reviews, and more.
Over the several years I’ve spent in the eLearning industry, I’ve helped countless aspiring instructional designers get the training they need to launch successful, thriving careers in the field, so I know what to look for in an instructional design program.
My goal with this guide is to help you make the best possible decision when selecting a course and/or program so that you can confidently invest your time and money into something that will give you the skills, knowledge, and credentials necessary to become an expert instructional designer. I hope it helps!
Note: If you’re an aspiring instructional designer, we also highly recommend downloading your free copy of An Instructional Designer’s Notebook from our friends at iSpring as it’s a great companion to this guide.
Instructional Designer’s Notebook is a free collection of the most useful guides on becoming an instructional designer and creating eLearning content to facilitate every step on your eLearning trajectory. It includes lists of ebooks, YouTube channels, blogs, tips from top experts, interactive checklists, and more.
What are the Best Instructional Design Courses Online?
Here are my 2023 picks for the top instructional design classes online:
- Become an Instructional Designer (Linkedin Learning)
- Online Course Creation: Intro to Instructional Design (Skillshare)
- Instructional Design and Technology (University of Denver)
- e-Learning Ecologies (Coursera)
- Instructional Design Foundations (Coursera)
- Instructional Design Pro Part 1 (Udemy)
- Create Your First Course in Articulate Storyline 3 (Udemy)
- Adobe Captivate Courses (Udemy)
- Instructional Design and Technology MicroMasters (edX)
- Introduction to Instructional Design (Harvard)
Happy reading 🙂
1. Become an Instructional Designer (LinkedIn Learning)
Master all the essentials of instructional design in this robust course put together by multiple industry experts from LinkedIn Learning.
Cost: 1 month free trial, then LinkedIn Learning pricing goes to $29.99/month to access or $19.99/month if you pay for a year up front
Duration: 11 courses, 14 hours of content total
In this instructional design class online, you’ll learn instructional design basics from experts in the industry, helping prepare you for a career in the fast-growing eLearning field.
Each topic is broken down into short chunks in this foundational course, making it easy to fit learning into your schedule.
Earn a badge of completion for your LinkedIn profile when you finish all the courses. This ID certificate is focused on corporate business settings and practical techniques.
You will learn the following in this introductory course:
- What is instructional design?
- Neuroscience of learning and adult learners
- Current instructional design theories
- Instructional design models
- Needs analysis and storyboarding
- Writing learning objectives and desired learning outcomes
- Creating video training
- Working with SMEs
- Measuring learning effectiveness
I just finished my first course and felt like I was finally getting somewhere. I started and finished the course on Models of ID. It was a great course and just gave me a brief overview of some of the popular models that many IDs use.
Best for: People who have a LinkedIn Learning subscription and are active on LinkedIn, designers who want to learn from industry experts, corporate instructional designers. Try LinkedIn Learning free for one month.
2. Online Course Creation: Intro to Instructional Design (Skillshare)
Cost: Skillshare offers a One Month Free Trial. After that, the Skillshare price is $15 per month and discounted with the annual plan for $99 per year ($8.25 per month). See our Skillshare review for more info.
Duration: 48 lessons over 2 hours
If you want to know how to create an online course that’s engaging, effective, and professional quality, this is one of the best instructional design courses out there.
Taught by award-winning instructional designer John Hinchliffe, this class consists of 48 microlessons that cover everything from explaining what instructional design is to looking at authoring tools and more.
It’s a great all-around course for learning instructional design from the ground up.
- Mistakes to avoid when creating your online course
- How to use video and audio effectively
- Where to find free image, audio, and video resources to make your course look great
- How to standardize your online course creation process to improve efficiency
- The different ways people learn
- How to immerse students in the learning process
Yes, this class met my expectations. Thank you so much for this class!
Best for: Those who want to create full online courses. Try Skillshare free for 30 days.
3. Instructional Design and Technology (University of Denver)
This graduate program is presented by a top 100 university and covers key instructional design strategies, skills, and best practices. It's the perfect course for aspiring or current instructional design professionals in all sectors.
Cost: $2976 per course
Duration: Enroll in a 10-week course before you apply, finish a graduate certificate in Adult Learning and Inclusive Design in six months, or complete a master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology in 18 months (total of 12 courses).
Offered entirely online at a top 100 university, this graduate program covers instructional design strategies and skills to meet the diverse needs of adult learners.
As you develop critical competencies within instructional design, you’ll also cultivate an inclusive mindset and best practices related to instructional strategies, assessment, and interventions.
- Effective and Accessible Learning Design with Technology
- Adult Learning Strategies and Theories
- E-Learning: Principles of Adult Education
- E-Learning: Multimedia Application
- Equity, Justice, and Inclusivity with Learning Design
- Universal Design for Learning
Best For: Ideal for aspiring or current instructional design professionals working in higher education, corporations, and government or non-profit organizations who want to advance careers and foster best practices centered on equity.
4. e-Learning Ecologies (Coursera)
Learn about the benefits of eLearning technology and how to utilize it effectively to better educate your students in this excellent online course.
Price: Included with 7,000+ other courses with Coursera Plus subscription ($59/mo). Try Coursera Plus free for 7 days.
Duration: 4 weeks to complete
This course explores seven affordances of e-learning ecologies. These affordances, if recognized and harnessed, will prepare learners for success in a world that is increasingly dominated by digital information flows and tools for communication in the workplace, public spaces, and personal life.
This course offers a wide variety of examples of learning technologies and technology implementations that, to varying degrees, demonstrate these affordances in action.
It’s taught by multiple professors from the University of Illinois and is part of a certificate program for those who pay for the full course experience.
You will learn seven affordances of e-learning ecologies:
- Ubiquitous Learning
- Active Knowledge Making
- Multimodal Meaning
- Recursive Feedback
- Collaborative Intelligence
- Differentiated Learning
A logically arranged course offering a cogent, insightful creative vision of learning in a time of emerging digital affordances. The course is interesting and worthwhile to take, beyond any shadow of a doubt. Highly recommended for anyone interested in teaching and learning in the 21st century, particularly e-learning, which increasingly intrudes on and mixes with “face to face” teaching and learning, as we harness the tools and media now available relatively easily, cheaply and ubiquitously.
Best for: People interested in the future of education and the “learning society,” including people who may wish to join education as a profession, practicing teachers interested in exploring future directions for a vocation, and community and workplace leaders who regard their mission to be in part “educative.” Try Coursera Plus free for 7 days.
5. Instructional Design Foundations (Coursera)
This online instructional design course from the University of Illinois comprehensively covers the foundations of instructional design over a 4-week period. Included with a Coursera+ subscription
Cost: Included with 7,000+ other courses with Coursera Plus subscription ($59/mo). Try Coursera Plus free for 7 days. See our Coursera pricing guide for more info.
Duration: 4 weeks
Learn the conceptual and theoretical foundations of instructional design in this excellent online course.
By understanding the concepts taught in this instructional design course, you’ll be better prepared to succeed in an eLearning environment.
Some of the things you’ll learn in this instructional design class include:
- Key concepts of instructional systems design
- Learning and instructional theories
- How to develop online learning objectives
- The process of instructional design
- Instructional design models
- Instructional solutions to performance problems in organizations
Very clear course, provides definitions and/or discussion of terms that at are useful for a clearer understanding of the ID process. Good continuity between topics and good use of diagrams.
I thoroughly enjoyed this course. It is well taught and well organised. The material provided a thorough overview of the field, and the readings were particularly fascinating and helpful.
Best for: Those new to the industry who need to get a grasp on instructional design theory and concepts. Try Coursera Plus free for 7 days.
6. Instructional Design Pro Part 1 (Udemy)
Duration: 28 lectures, 6.5 hours of video total
This self-paced, on-demand instructional design class is the first in a three-part series.
It focuses on the initial steps in the instructional design process, including how to do a needs analysis and understand your audience.
It’s taught by Jason Teteak, the founder and CEO of Rule the Room Train the Trainer. Rather than spending a lot of time on theories and models, he focuses on transferring training skills via practical, simple, universal, and immediately actionable techniques.
When you’ve finished this ID course, check out Jason’s other two courses to learn about course design and curriculum production. Together, all of the courses act as a sort of instructional design mastery series.
You will learn:
- Identify with your audience and learn more about them
- Identify what they do and organize it in a way that makes sense
- Determine what to teach and how to organize it
- Determine the initial class structure
I thought the course was insightful and there was a lot of food for thought in terms of research, planning, designing and delivering a course. The layers of design structure felt a bit cumbersome but that may be because it is coming from a completely different frame of reference to my own. I liked the activities and the trainer’s engagement with the trainees. The resources available are really good. There was quite a lot of material to get through and sometimes it felt a little crammed. It was really positive having activities throughout and again having resources like the spreadsheet templates to facilitate that. Thank you!
Best for: Trainers who develop their own materials, people who want an introduction to needs analysis, designers who are looking for practical tips they can implement right away
7. Create Your First Course in Articulate Storyline 3 (Udemy)
Price: $99 (see our Udemy pricing guide for more info)
Duration: 28 lectures, 2.5 hours of video total
This instructional design program covers the basics of getting started with Articulate Storyline 3.
Radu Velcea, a graphic design instructor for the past 7 years, walks you through the creation of a Storyline eLearning project. He shows you how to start a project from scratch and add interactive elements. He also covers how to assess a learner’s retention of the content by creating quizzes and a result page.
You’ll need Storyline 3 (full or trial version) to get the most out of this course.
You will learn:
- Setting up global preferences
- Starting a new project from scratch
- Adding animation, transitions, custom buttons, and images to a project
- Making sure your course meets accessibility requirements
- Creating a basic assessment
- Publishing your project
The course was very helpful and gave me a very descriptive and step by step guidance in creating a course with interactive elements, such as animations, buttons, hotspots, and audio narration, use of triggers to create animation paths and a lot more. Radu Velcea was very clear with a detailed and clear guidance of the use of the various tools required.
Best for: People who are new to Articulate Storyline 3, designers who want to make their eLearning courses more interactive and effective
8. Adobe Captivate Courses (Udemy)
Price: $19.99 per course
Duration: About 2 hours per course
Udemy offers three Adobe Captivate courses: Responsive Custom Quiz Questions, Focus on Simulations, and Focus on Demonstrations.
These online instructional design courses teach you how to use the more advanced features of Adobe Captivate eLearning software. If you’ve been wondering how to use variables, advanced actions, and multi-state objects, I recommend checking out all three.
Note that this series doesn’t provide an introduction to Captivate. Instead, it uses sample projects to show you how to use Captivate to go beyond the basics.
You’ll get lifetime access to these classes when you buy them, giving you the ability to go back to them as often as you need.
You will learn:
- Build your own advanced actions for multiple choice questions
- Create effective simulations and demonstrations using Adobe Captivate 8
- Understand the Adobe Captivate screen recording process
- Understand and configure the Mouse, Highlight Box and Text Caption objects
- Choose the correct output type based on your audience
Excellent Course. Clearly explained the topic and the steps. Provided great resource files. Examples allowed us to see certain steps repeated to more clearly follow the instructions.
Also really appreciated the “best practices” segment in the middle. Saves a lot of frustration later and having to learn things the hard way when applying the lesson to real world work.
When the instructor explains the why behind the steps, it helps us to better understand the software and helps us to be able to think through and solve other challenges.
Best for: Designers with some experience using Captivate who want to learn more about the advanced features
9. Instructional Design and Technology MicroMasters (edX)
Price: $796 (edX pricing varies by course)
Duration: 32 weeks
This program consists of four courses:
- Learning Theory
- Instructional Design Models
- Digital Media, New Tools, and Technology
- Course Evaluation and Capstone Project
Each course is instructor-led with a set start and stop date and lasts for 8 weeks.
These instructional design classes are offered by University of Maryland University College (UMUC) and taught by UMUC professors.
Overall, the program focuses on understanding learning theory and shows you how to blend traditional instructional design models with rapid prototyping and data analytics to create online courses. You will gain hands-on experience developing and publishing online courses using the edX platform.
You will learn:
- Understand contemporary learning theories to develop online learning experiences
- Apply instructional design models to the development of online learning experiences
- Select, evaluate or design digital media to support learning
- Identify, evaluate, and integrate emerging technologies to support online learning
- Design an implementation process for online learning experiences
- Apply data mining techniques to the design and evaluation of learning experiences
I found the contents of this course very interesting. Being a research scholar in educational technology, I found this course very useful. Designing the course contents for a different combination of technology and pedagogy is what I am looking forward to.
Best for: People who want a more structured, instructor-driven program, designers who are thinking about a Master’s degree but aren’t sure it’s for them and want to try it out first, people interested in learning theories
10. Introduction to Instructional Design (Harvard)
Duration: 15 weeks
This is a college-level, instructor-led course with academic readings, group discussions, and six projects.
You’ll study learning theories and frameworks, project planning, content expertise, communication, writing, and technology, and apply these theories to instructional design projects.
Throughout the course, students work together to produce learning experiences using today’s media and technologies. Students submit a project every two weeks.
You’ll want to plan ahead for this instructional design course; it is only offered certain semesters, and it’s not available on demand.
You will learn:
- Good instructional design makes for better learning.
- Everyone needs to be a lifelong learner in the 21st century.
- Empathy is at the heart of instructional design.
- Metacognition is an ongoing practice that makes you a better learner and instructional designer.
Best for: People looking for an academic experience, professionals who want to build their portfolio, designers who want to work with others on academic projects
If you want to learn about eLearning and online education, you have more options than ever before thanks to these great instructional design classes online.
Your learning style, your goals, and your budget should all be part of your decision-making process. Think about how much time you have to devote to your learning.
Passing these online instructional design courses can help you to improve your ID portfolio and can help advance your career.
I also recommend previewing these instructional design classes (remember many of them offer free trials as linked above!) if you can. This will go a long way toward showing you whether the course is worth the investment.
Never stop learning, and enjoy the journey to becoming an instructional designer!
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