Online Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design Programs
Graduate certificate in instructional design programs prepare educators and other professionals to design, develop, and evaluate instructional materials, particularly those using web-based or technology-based instruction. These multidisciplinary programs draw from the fields of communication, psychology, education, project management, technology, and computer science. Successfully trained instructional design individuals can apply instructional theory and methods to learning situations in various environments to create interactive learning experiences, engaging digital content, and new learning products.
Graduates may be prepared to work in PreK-12 classroom settings, higher education, business and industry, government organizations, educational publishing companies, insurance, marketing, healthcare, retail, travel, telecommunications, non-profit organizations, and as freelancers. In addition, graduate credits earned while completing a graduate certificate program are often transferable to a full master’s degree in instructional design should students decide to continue their education after earning a graduate certificate.
What is an Instructional Design Graduate Certificate?
An instructional design graduate certificate combines communication, psychology, education, and technology to prepare graduates to create effective education programs for certain populations of learners. Whether in PreK-12 classrooms or organizational business settings, instructional design professionals impart information and skills in ways learners can more easily understand, acquire, and use, often through online technology and media. Instructional design demands creativity, innovation, and an acute understanding of various learning styles and learning challenges.
Often, graduate certificate programs in instructional design develop curricula from the Instructional Designer Competencies, which were developed by the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction (ibstpi®). As well, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards ensure that research-based best practices are used to define technology success in educational and coaching environments. Instructional design graduate certificates may be accredited through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) or the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP).
Online Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design Programs
Online graduate certificate programs in instructional design may appeal to current educators and business professionals who want to move into instructional design and technology education in the classroom or workplace. Opportunities also exist in medical, military, and government settings. These online programs can typically be completed in about six to 18 months and often consist of three to six graduate-level courses.
Online graduate certificate programs use learning management systems (LMSs) to deliver courses and course materials. Common learning management systems include Blackboard, Canvas, and D2L Brightspace, or an institution may have an LMS specifically designed for its college or university. These platforms support web-based applications for synchronous classes and interactive sessions, discussion boards, and other online learning programs. Through their LMS, students also access course syllabi, grades, course materials, recorded lectures and videos, readings, assignments, online textbooks, assessments, and other components. It is important to note that online programs offer the same curriculum as their campus-based equivalents.
How OnlineEducation.com Identifies and Classifies Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Instructional Design
Graduate certificates in instructional design may be offered through psychology, science, or education departments at colleges and universities, and may have names such as:
- Online Instructional Design Graduate Certificate
- Online Graduate Certificate in Workplace Instructional Design (WIDe)
- Online Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design and Technology
- Online Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design for E-Learning
- Online Graduate Certificate in Learning Experience Design and Technology (LXDT)
Through independent research, OnlineEducation.com identifies graduate certificate programs in instructional design that are offered fully online or include no more than two required campus visits. Graduate certificate programs that require students to attend more than two campus-based sessions are considered hybrid programs and are not currently listed on the site. Also, programs on the site must be offered by regionally accredited, non-profit colleges and universities.
What Students Learn in Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Instructional Design
Instructional design graduate certificates teach students how to design effective instructional materials for any delivery method, whether as standard instructional models or for eLearning environments. They also teach students how to use computer-based training to address instructional issues and problems, align instructional activities and assessments to required standards and learning objectives, manage the instructional design process from start to finish, and evaluate the effectiveness of the instructional design in practice.
Topics include instructional design and design methods, standards for education and training, eLearning research, multimedia instructional development, analysis and evaluation, distance education, diversity, inclusion, exceptional learners, multicultural considerations, and project management. Coursework may include the use of instructional graphics and other technologies in instructional design, and may include a capstone or applied project with opportunities for field experiences.
Note: Graduate certificate programs in instructional design are not typically intended to prepare students for their initial teaching licensure.
Common Courses in Online Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design Programs
The table below provides an overview of coursework that is typical of a graduate certificate in instructional design. The courses and descriptions are drawn from actual online graduate certificate programs in the field.
|Course Title||Course Description|
|Foundations of Learning Design and Technologies||Covers learning design and technology foundational concepts and the changes currently taking place; explores possible career paths, past and current accomplishments in the field, and current issues facing instructional design professionals.|
|Design and Development Tools||Explores trends and issues in instructional design for eLearning, including developmental tools, methods, and web-based design; covers the technical and developmental requirements for eLearning in K-12 education, the use of social media tools in education, and the various learning channels available; students design an original web-based project using software applications and authoring tools.|
|Design and Development of Instruction||Examines various instructional design models for use in a variety of learning situations for the design and development of competency-based instructional materials.|
|Instructional Design: Project Management||Takes students through the full cycle of an instructional design project from start to finish, including the development of a project scope, how to work with stakeholders in schools and organizations, schedule development, accountability measures, and teaching methods; finally students develop, design, and implement their project and use feedback to refine their project.|
|Instructional Games and Simulations||Requires the identification, evaluation, selection, use, adaptation, and creation of games and simulation projects for educational and training settings, including thematic units, training sessions, educational lessons, inquiry-based learning, and various technology-rich learning situations.|
|Teaching and Learning Issues in E-Learning||Presents educators and administrators with the necessary knowledge and skills to provide effective distance learning experiences; explores the conceptual and theoretical foundations of distance learning, practical skills, and knowledge; includes opportunities for hands-on learning and practice.|
|Design Education||Students address an education-based learning problem by applying theoretical models and methods in the design and development of a learning experience; steps include an initial problem analysis and the use of a design process to create a solution to the problem, including the analysis and evaluation of technology applications and tools; focuses on identifying and addressing issues concerning equity, diversity, and inclusion of exceptional learners.|
|Instructional Strategies and Assessment Methods||Explores research-based methods for learner performance assessment and assessment mapping methods connected to instructional strategies and published learning standards and objectives.|
|Designing Computer-Based Training||Covers user interface design, visual design, program-specific scenario-based modular design, usability testing, and instructional strategies for self-paced computer-based training products.|
|Multimedia Development and Implementation||Presents an introduction to multimedia design, development, and evaluation in various learning environments; covers fundamental knowledge and skills necessary for the design and implementation of multimedia learning projects; students analyze and critique multimedia-based learning experiences; and explores the tools for the production of online instructional materials composed of graphics, audio, and video components.|
Admissions to Online Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design Programs
Interested professionals must be graduates of a bachelor’s program from an accredited institution, usually with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Additional admissions requirements vary by university. Application materials may include an online application and fee, a personal statement or essay, a resume or CV, two to three letters of recommendation, and proof of English language proficiency as necessary. GRE test scores are not typically required or are optional if applicants think their scores will strengthen their application.
Note: Some programs may be specifically designed for educators who are already licensed and practicing teachers with several years of experience. Therefore, prospective students should review admissions requirements carefully before applying to programs.
Online Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design Format Options
Online graduate certificate programs in instructional design offer the flexibility to earn a graduate certificate while continuing to work full-time. Outlined below are structural and instructional variables that students may want to consider as they explore programs. The variables include online instructional methods, enrollment options, and required campus visits.
Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Instruction: Instructional design graduate certificate programs may be offered synchronously, with live, weekly web-based class sessions that students attend using video conferencing software (live sessions may be once or twice per week, typically in the evening, or on the weekends). This type of instruction most closely resembles campus-based programs with live learning, collaboration, and the ability to interact in real-time with faculty and peers. Asynchronous assignments, projects, and other requirements are completed around live class sessions.
Asynchronous instruction provides recorded videos and lectures, readings, discussion boards, projects, assignments, and assessments available to watch and complete anytime, 24/7. Assignments and instructional materials are clearly outlined in course syllabi, and deadlines are defined to ensure students stay on track in the absence of traditional live weekly classes. Asynchronous instruction may benefit highly motivated individuals with good time management and planning skills who need maximum scheduling flexibility. Prospective students should consider their current time commitments, individual learning styles, and time management skills when choosing programs that incorporate synchronous instruction versus programs that mainly (or fully) utilize asynchronous instruction.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time Enrollment: Unlike traditional master’s programs which may offer full-time and part-time enrollment options, the majority of graduate certificate programs are designed for working professionals, and offer students the ability to take courses based on their desired course load. In addition, as the majority of graduate certificate programs are not eligible for financial aid, the distinction between full-time and part-time enrollment is not as critical.
The majority of graduate certificate programs can be completed in six to 18 months, with students taking one or two courses per term. In addition, online programs continue to make earning a graduate credential easier by using alternative academic calendars that allow for five to eight-week terms instead of traditional 15-week semesters or 10-week quarters. These allow students to focus on one course per term while still completing two courses over a 10 to 15-week period.
Campus Visits: Campus visits may attract those who enjoy in-person learning experiences and want to connect with faculty, peers, and professionals in person. Graduate certificate programs in instructional design typically do not require campus visits but may require field experiences. Those who do not wish to participate in campus visits should seek programs where coursework can be completed fully online. OnlineEducation.com does not currently include online graduate certificate programs in instructional design that require more than two campus visits.