How Instructional Designers Use AI to Optimize Workflow and the Learning Experience

In education and training, a synergy between artificial intelligence (AI) and instructional design is reshaping how people create and deliver training. This powerful collaboration can equip instructional designers with new capabilities that can make creating educational and instructional content easier, ultimately enriching the learning experiences of those they educate.

The growth of AI and the availability of more advanced training in instructional design mean that now is an exciting time to become a course or curriculum designer! To meet the growing demand for skilled instructional design professionals, the University of Cincinnati (UC) offers an online Master of Education (MEd) in Instructional Design and Technology program. It’s designed for new and more experienced professionals and can be completed in less than two years.

Personalized Learning Paths

Instructional designers at every level of professional achievement aspire to be learner-centric, creating relevant, engaging learning experiences that make the lessons memorable. AI makes it easier for instructional designers to do precisely that — meet individual learners’ needs with personalized learning paths, adaptive learning systems, and enhanced interactivity.

AI can analyze individual learner data, such as past performance, preferences, and learning pace, to create lesson sequences tailored to each student. This ensures content is relevant and engaging. For example, if a student struggles with algebra but is proficient in geometry, a personalized learning path will present the student with lessons that bolster a more robust understanding of algebra while continuing to challenge the student further in geometry.

Adaptive Learning Systems

Personalized learning paths are built for individual learners but don’t typically change or adapt in real-time as a learner progresses. Like a virtual tutor, AI-powered adaptive learning systems rely on real-time feedback mechanisms to assess learners’ performance and adjust lessons accordingly.

For example, an online coding course with adaptive learning can offer progressively complex challenges to quick learners and provide foundational support to those struggling with advanced concepts.

Real-time feedback can also serve as an early warning system to help educators identify struggling students and deploy timely interventions and support.

AI-driven feedback mechanisms also power speech recognition for language learning and automated grading systems that provide learners with instant feedback on their performance.

Enhanced Engagement

One of the best ways to keep learners engaged is with interactive games and simulations. Game-based learning experiences, powered by AI, can be adaptive, automatically adjusting the level of challenge based on the learner’s progress. Imagine a virtual chemistry lab game where players complete synthesis reaction experiments.

Their assessed understanding of molecular interactions might unlock more complex compounds available for future experiments.

Simulations are also effective for creating an immersive experience that keeps learners engaged. For example, a medical student might interact with an AI-driven human body simulation, allowing for a comprehensive exploration of physiological systems or assessment of patient symptoms.

Instructional designers can enhance their productivity, ensuring the relevance and quality of their output — from the research and brainstorming phase to content creation — using AI.

Instructional Design and Technology Curriculum

At UC, our online MEd in Instructional Design and Technology program stands out for its innovative curriculum. The program’s goal is simple: to empower students to excel in the world of instructional design, using cutting-edge digital tools. What sets UC apart is our fully online learning environment, supported by our university’s state-of-the-art virtual lab, and our two-decade commitment to exceptional online education.

UC’s interdisciplinary approach for this master’s degree education draws from fields such as cognitive science, education, design, information technology, and computer science. Throughout the program, students immerse themselves in courses ranging from instructional design and learning sciences to multimedia studio, online assessment design, and more. Students also explore the latest trends and challenges in learning technology evaluation. (View full curriculum.)

Upon graduation, our students emerge as confident, competent instructional designers and content creators, ready to make a more significant impact at work. (Explore graduate portfolios.)

Optimize Content Development Workflow with AI

The field of instructional design is often considered to be for the tech-savvy. Today’s instructional design professionals can embrace AI tools to stay on top of the tech game in the rapidly evolving e-learning landscape.

By integrating AI into four critical steps in the process of creating an educational experience, instructional designers can enhance their productivity while ensuring the relevance and quality of their output.

1. Research and Brainstorming – AI streamlines and enhances the important prep work needed for building comprehensive, current, and engaging learning experiences.

AI tools can:

  • Efficiently transcribe and analyze subject matter expert interviews.
  • Summarize transcriptions and long articles and identify insights.
  • Automate content-gathering from multiple online sources, curating relevant articles, research, and more.
  • Propose ideas for content structures and interactive elements based on gathered information.

2. Curriculum Development – The planning phase of creating curriculum may involve analyzing large volumes of data. AI can streamline the process by analyzing data sets. For example, analyzing multifaceted needs assessments can identify learner requirements and highlight learning gaps. The resulting insights help instruction designers build personalized learning paths, constructing relevant and timely lessons.

At a university, an instructional designer might use AI’s predictive analysis capabilities to scan industry sources for educational trends. Once a trend is identified, like a rise in demand for quantum computing courses, the ID could recommend adjusting the university’s computer science program to meet the assessed need.

After completing curriculum analyses, instructional design professionals can leverage AI’s brainstorming capabilities to generate suitable learning objectives.

3. Course Design – AI streamlines the next part of the curriculum development process by ensuring content meets learning objectives, helping reduce the often-time-consuming design process for storyboards and assessments.

Generative AI aids in crafting initial storyboards, suggesting lesson sequences, visuals, and interactivity elements. For learning assessments, AI can recommend quiz questions and formats that align with learning objectives, create grading rubrics, and automate grading.

AI tools can also suggest course flow, break topics into modules, and suggest the recommended placement of interactive elements (quizzes, games, etc.).

4. Content Creation – AI boosts the speed and efficiency with which content can be created while simultaneously helping instructional designers boost the quality, interactivity, and personalization of their output, aiding:

  • Writing: AI produces initial curriculum drafts or summaries, which instructional designers can refine.
  • Curation and Aggregation: AI swiftly compiles content from online sources, noting key themes and recurring ideas.
  • Video Editing: AI tools streamline time-consuming tasks like trimming, enhancing, and adding effects.
  • Audio Editing: AI generates human-like voiceovers from scripts in various tones and accents and can translate audio or text into multiple languages.
  • Interactivity Elements: AI adapts game-based challenges based on learner performance, powering dynamic simulations in adaptive learning systems.

AI tools can assist in maintaining compliance with accessibility laws by keeping detailed records of accessibility efforts, such as audit results and changes made, proving adherence to required standards.

Ensuring Accessibility for Learners

Even though AI tools streamline workflow and the learning experience, instructional designers have a legal and ethical responsibility to ensure content they produce is accessible. For example, in the U.S., Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act mandate accessibility in educational settings. Similarly, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines provide international standards for ensuring accessibility on the web.

AI tools can automatically generate captions for videos, transcribe audio content, and provide language translations, ensuring content is accessible to a diverse audience, including individuals of all abilities. AI can also assist in making sure content is compliant with legal requirements to create inclusive and compliant educational materials.

Here are three specific areas where AI supports accessibility and compliance:

  • Feedback analysis, or data gathered by AI from learners in an active course, can help instructional designers improve the course for future learners. In some cases, consistent negative feedback on a section can prompt real-time alerts to designers, who can facilitate immediate course improvements.
  • Instructional design projects are complex and often involve many people. This requires efficient project management to remain on schedule and problem-free. AI-driven tools can generate timelines, track milestones, and facilitate collaboration, ensuring stakeholder involvement and alignment.
  • Since instructional design is iterative, documentation and version control are crucial to any instructional design project’s success. AI can track changes, manage version histories, and ensure stakeholders can access the most updated information.

Explore Instructional Design and Technology Education

People from various settings — corporate, government, educational institutions, and elsewhere — can receive a more personalized, adaptive, and engaging educational experience thanks to the work of educated, creative, and experienced instructional designers. And by incorporating AI tools into their workflows, instructional designers can take their skills to the next level.

Foundational knowledge is key, and UC’s 100% online MEd in Instructional Design and Technology helps you build your instructional design skillset. Upon graduation, our students are equipped to work in a variety of work instructional design settings, including education and training, communication, graphic design, learning sciences, and more.

Here’s what to remember about UC’s master’s program in instructional design as you consider the next steps to take to further your education and career:

  • There’s no GRE required to join this program.
  • Everything you study is fully online – no campus visits required.
  • You get opportunities for hands-on, experiential learning and project-based assignments.
  • You’re supported by a dedicated Academic Advisor and a Student Success Coordinator from UC, providing one-on-one support.
  • You benefit from the program’s 100% job-placement track record.

Ready to take the next step? Contact a UC Enrollment Services Advisor online to find out more about the instructional design and technology master’s program requirements and upcoming start dates. If you’d like to talk with someone immediately, call (866) 629-6075 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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