The 4 Basic Models of Instructional Design


Understanding and implementing different instructional design models is crucial to making your online training a success, since. These models are used to define the activities that form the basis of your e-learning courses, and they allow you to effectively communicate the purpose behind your strategy.  

While many theories, resources, and models exist, there are 4 key models used by instructional designers for creating well-structured courses. But, before we look at them in more detail, it’s important to understand what instructional design is.  

What is instructional design? 

In the world of e-learning, instructional design refers to the process of creating successful learning experiences. In other words, it is a science focused on understanding how people learn in order to design engaging and effective teaching plans. 

As part of this practice, elements that accompany the learning experience are carefully selected from a pedagogical perspective. This enables students to acquire knowledge both efficiently and in a way that looks good. 

Additionally, during instructional design, we must also consider the necessary teaching resources, materials, and content, as well as the way in which a student will be presented with the information, and the objectives of the training.  

Principles of instructional design 

The origins of instructional design stem from behaviorist psychology-. It focuses on understanding how people acquire knowledge, identifying the resources they need, and other aspects to consider when creating an educational program. 

In essence, instructional design is based on cognitive and experiential principles including: 

  • Creating a suitable environment and providing educational resources. 
  • Supporting the student with didactic elements to maintain their attention. 
  • Facilitating the learning process. 
  • Motivating the students’ educational journey. 
  • Activating their prior knowledge. 
  • Distributing the educational load appropriately. 

Basic models of instructional design


The ADDIE model is based on 5 phases: analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation. Each phase is an opportunity to reflect on the content and make changes before moving on to the next one.

  1. Analysis: What is the objective of the training? As designers, the first thing we have to do is to answer this question, but not before collecting information and defining our target learner in order to understand their needs. This analysis drives the design and development process.
  2. Design: Once we’ve decided on the strategy to be followed, we then choose the most appropriate means and methods to achieve it. 
  3. Development: Having chosen the methods in the design phase, we can now start developing the course materials.
  4. Implementation: The course is launched and we monitor student progress.
  5. Evaluation: The course is evaluated to ensure that it’s producing the expected results, based on student comments and surveys.

ADDIE model instructional design

Merrill Principles of Instruction (MPI)

Proposed by David Merrill in 2002, this model is based on 5 basic principles:

  1. Task-centered principle
  2. Activation principle
  3. Demonstration principle
  4. Application principle
  5. Integration principle

Merril model instructional design

These principles provide the instructional designer with a new vision, as well as equipping them with the keys to ensure effective learning:

  • Training should focus on real-world problems. In other words, it should reflect real problems/the needs of the learner and how to solve them.
  • In addition, training should stimulate the learner’s existing knowledge base, by connecting previous knowledge with what they are about to learn.
  • Training should also present knowledge in a way that stimulates the different regions of the brain, so that knowledge is retained for longer.
  • Training must provide the necessary tools for learners to apply their new knowledge on their own, by practicing and learning from their mistakes.
  • Finally, training must offer learners the chance to integrate this knowledge in real situations they face, through reflection, discussion and presentation of the new knowledge acquired.

Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction

Robert Gagne devised a framework comprising a series of events aimed at a systematic instructional design process. It involves creating a flexible model that can be adapted to different learning situations. Gagne’s model is one of the most widely used as it provides a solid foundation for effective e-learning development.

Gagne model instructional design

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom created a classification system of measurable verbs to describe and organize the different levels of cognitive learning. This system was modified in 2001 and is known as the revised taxonomy.

The idea is to push learners beyond the initial steps low down on the learning scale towards gaining greater mastery of the higher capabilities of understanding, reflection and application of their knowledge. The aim is to develop the individual process of problem solving and content creation.

Bloom model instructional design

The future of instructional design 

We are living in an era of constant transformation, which directly affects cognitive processes. As a result, the future of instructional design will evolve alongside new technologies and teaching methods. 

To harness instructional design effectively, it is crucial to stay updated with trends and changes in the education sector. This ensures educational resources meet the ever-evolving needs of students and therefore can help them to reach their full potential.  

Digital platforms are fundamental in this way since they allow users to design and continually update engaging educational programs easily and efficiently.  

 Now that you are familiar with the different instructional design models put them into practice with isEazy Author? Design courses using a flexible, straightforward, and engaging methodology that transforms the learning experience. Start your free trial.  

Close this search box.


Design and share your own training content.


Bespoke content creation in record time.


Learning and management centred on the user experience.


A complete catalogue for upskilling your team.


The training app for frontline workers.


Gamification app for boosting the success of your training.


Sustainable app with a wide range of courses online.