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.
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. These picks are based on the quality of the curriculum, instructor credentials, certifications, cost, and more.
What are the Best Instructional Design Courses Online?
Here are my 2022 picks for the top instructional design classes online:
- Become an Instructional Designer (Linkedin Learning)
- Online Course Creation: Intro to Instructional Design (Skillshare)
- 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)
In this instructional design class online, you’ll learn instructional design basics from experts in the industry. Each course features high production value.
Each topic is broken down into short chunks, 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 certificate is focused on corporate business settings and practical techniques.
You will learn:
- What is instructional design?
- Neuroscience of learning and adult learners
- Instructional design models
- Needs analysis and storyboarding
- Writing learning objectives
- 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.
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 to authoring tools and more.
- 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. 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 3,000+ 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.
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.
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
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.
5. 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 understanding 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.
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!
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.
7. Adobe Captivate Courses (Udemy)
Price: $19.99 per course
Duration: About 2 hours per course
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 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.
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
9. 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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