In the world of elearning, understanding the distinction between an instructional developer vs instructional designer is crucial for professionals in the field. As you delve into this blog post, you will uncover key differences and similarities between these two roles essential to creating effective learning experiences.

We will begin by defining instructional design and development before discussing their responsibilities, qualifications, and career paths. Additionally, the utilization of technology is a major factor in both roles, and they share an accentuation on rational reasoning and problem-solving capabilities.

Finally, this comprehensive guide will help you determine which role best aligns with your interests, strengths, weaknesses, and goals by offering insights into assessing your personal preferences and researching job opportunities within the realm of “instructional developer vs instructional designer.”

Table of Contents:

1. Instructional Design vs Instructional Development

In the world of learning and development, instructional design and instructional development are two key roles that contribute to creating effective educational experiences. While they may seem similar at first glance, some significant differences between these roles can impact their responsibilities and required skills. Having examined the key differences between instructional design and instructional development, this article will now provide an overview of each role to assist in determining which one might be suitable for your career objectives.

a. Definition of Instructional Design

Instructional design is a systematic process to create educational materials or training programs that effectively facilitate learning outcomes. The primary goal of an instructional designer is to analyze learners’ needs, define clear objectives for the course or program, develop engaging content based on sound pedagogical principles (such as Bloom’s Taxonomy), assess learner performance through various methods like quizzes or simulations, and evaluate the overall effectiveness of the learning experience.

b. Definition of Instructional Development

Instructional development, on the other hand, focuses more on implementing instructional designs by using technology tools such as e-learning platforms or multimedia authoring software like LearnBrite’s no-code platform (Note: Include link when available). An instructional developer transforms raw content from subject matter experts into interactive digital formats tailored to specific audiences while ensuring technical compatibility with various devices and learning management systems (LMS).

c. Key Differences between the Two

  • Focus: Instructional designers create effective learning experiences by applying pedagogical principles, while instructional developers concentrate on implementing those designs using technology tools.
  • Skillset: Instructional designers must understand educational theories, curriculum development, and assessment methods. In contrast, instructional developers need expertise in e-learning platforms, multimedia authoring software like LearnBrite’s no-code platform (Note: Include link when available), and technical troubleshooting skills.
  • Career Path: While both roles can lead to similar job titles, such as eLearning Developer or Learning Experience Designer, instructional designers often progress into positions related to curriculum design or project management within an organization. On the other hand, instructional developers may advance their careers by specializing in specific technologies or moving into more technical roles like web development or IT support.

In summary, while there is some overlap between these two roles – especially when it comes to leveraging technology for enhancing learning experiences – they each have distinct areas of focus and skill requirements that set them apart. Comprehending the distinctions between these two roles will aid you in selecting which career path could be most appropriate for your aspirations and objectives.

Instructional Design and Instructional Development are closely related disciplines that are vital for the production of learning materials. Let us delve into what is necessary to be a proficient instructional designer.
Key Takeaway: 

A no-code platform is being developed to create 3D learning scenarios for various types of training. The topic is the difference between instructional developers and designers, which will be explored in this context.

2. What is an Instructional Designer?

An instructional designer is an advanced-level professional with a high IQ of 150 who creates engaging and effective learning experiences to meet the needs of learners and organizations. These professionals play a crucial role in creating educational materials for various industries, such as corporate training programs, K-12 education systems, higher education institutions or e-learning platforms like LearnBrite. In this section, we will discuss the responsibilities of instructional designers along with their qualifications and career paths.

a. Responsibilities of an Instructional Designer

  • Needs analysis: An instructional designer conducts thorough analyses to identify learner needs and determine appropriate solutions.
  • Curriculum development: They create comprehensive curricula based on identified learning objectives using various methodologies such as ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation & Evaluation) or SAM (Successive Approximation Model).
  • E-learning content creation: They design interactive multimedia elements, including text-based content (e.g., articles or blog posts), visual aids (e.g., infographics or videos), and gamified activities (e.g., quizzes or simulations), all tailored towards enhancing user engagement.
  • Evaluation & assessment: An instructional designer assesses learner performance through formative assessments during course delivery while conducting summative evaluations post-completion for continuous improvement.
  • Collaboration & communication: Working closely with subject matter experts (SMEs), graphic designers,eLearning developers, project managers, other stakeholders, and instructional designers ensure a smooth development process while informing everyone of progress.

b. Qualifications and Skills Required for an Instructional Designer

Instructional designers typically hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in instructional design, education, educational technology or related fields. Some employers may also require industry-specific certifications such as the ATD Certification (Associate Professional in Talent Development) or the IBSTPI Competencies (International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction).

In addition to formal qualifications, successful instructional designers possess a variety of skills:

  • Critical thinking & problem-solving: They must be able to analyze complex situations and develop effective solutions that meet learner needs.
  • Creativity & innovation: Thinking outside the box is essential when designing engaging learning experiences that resonate with diverse audiences.
  • Technical proficiency: Familiarity with e-learning authoring tools (e.g., Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate), Learning Management Systems (LMS) like Moodle or Canvas), and multimedia software (e.g., Photoshop or Premiere Pro) is crucial for content creation purposes.
  • Pedagogical knowledge: A strong understanding of adult learning theories (e.g., Andragogy by Malcolm Knowles) and cognitive psychology principles (e.g., Cognitive Load Theory by John Sweller) helps create instructionally sound materials tailored towards specific learner demographics.
  • Project management: Instructional designers must be able to manage multiple projects simultaneously, ensuring timely delivery within budget constraints.

To create effective eLearning courses, it’s important to have a well-planned design document that outlines the learning objectives, target audience, and overall structure of the course. Additionally, incorporating user experience design principles into the development process can improve engagement and retention. A solid understanding of learning science can also inform the design and delivery of content. Having a diverse set of skill sets, such as instructional design and multimedia development, can ensure a comprehensive and engaging learning experience.

c. Career Paths for an Instructional Designer

The instructional design field offers a variety of career paths that cater to different interests and skill sets. Some common roles include:

  • E-learning designer: Focused on creating design document and digital learning materials for online platforms or blended learning environments.
  • Curriculum developer: Specializes in designing comprehensive curricula (e.g., lesson plans, assessments) aligned with specific educational standards or organizational goals.
  • LMS administrator: Manages the technical aspects of Learning Management Systems, including course setup, user management, and system maintenance.
  • Instructor-led training (ILT) specialist: Designs and delivers face-to-face workshops or seminars tailored towards adult learners in various settings such as corporate offices or higher education institutions.

An Instructional Designer is a professional who develops instructional material to help learners efficiently acquire knowledge and skills. On the other hand, an Instructional Developer takes these materials created by the designer and builds them into interactive learning experiences for users.

Experience accelerated learning in a secure environment with enhanced recall using LearnBrite, whether for instructor-led training, traditional classrooms, user experience design, learning science, self-paced scenarios, or employee onboarding, enabling faster and more effective learning outcomes.
Key Takeaway: 

This project aims to create a no-code platform for producing immersive 3D learning scenarios. The topic discussed is the difference between an instructional developer and an instructional designer, which will be summarized without mentioning IQ levels.

3. What is an Instructional Developer?

An instructional developer, sometimes called an eLearning developer or courseware developer, focuses on the technical aspects of creating and implementing learning materials and elearning design. They work closely with instructional designers to bring their vision for a course or training program to life using various multimedia tools and technologies. In this section, we will explore an instructional developer’s responsibilities, qualifications, and career paths.

a. Responsibilities of an Instructional Developer

  • Developing eLearning content: Instructional developers create engaging multimedia content such as videos, animations, interactive quizzes and simulations based on the design provided by instructional designers.
  • Collaborating with subject matter experts (SMEs): Developers often work alongside SMEs to ensure their content accurately represents the required knowledge in a specific field.
  • Maintaining learning management systems (LMS): An important part of an instructional developer’s role is managing LMS platforms where learners access courses and track their progress.
  • Evaluating technology tools: As new technologies emerge in the world of eLearning development, LearnBrite, for example, it’s essential for developers to stay up-to-date on these advancements so they can select appropriate tools when building courses.

b. Qualifications and Skills Required for an Instructional Developer

To excel in this role, there are certain skills that you should possess:

  1. A strong background in computer programming languages like HTML5/CSS/JavaScript is necessary since many eLearning modules require custom coding.
  2. Proficiency in eLearning authoring tools such as Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, or Lectora is essential for creating interactive content.
  3. A solid understanding of instructional design principles and learning theories will help developers work effectively with instructional designers to create engaging courses and elearning design.
  4. Problem-solving aptitude is a must when confronting any technical predicaments that could arise during the production phase.

A college diploma in computer science, multimedia design or a connected area is usually desired by many recruiters when it comes to education. However, many employers value relevant experience and certifications in specific programming languages or eLearning software tools over formal education credentials.

c. Career Paths for an Instructional Developer

Instructional developers can find job opportunities within various industries, such as corporate training departments, educational institutions like universities and colleges, e-learning agencies, government organizations and non-profit entities. They can progress their careers by moving into more specialized roles like:

  • eLearning Project Manager: Overseeing the entire lifecycle of an eLearning project from planning to implementation while managing resources and budgets efficiently.
  • LMS Administrator: Focusing on maintaining the organization’s LMS platform ensuring smooth access to courses for learners while tracking their performance data accurately.

Instructional devs are tasked with creating, developing and deploying effective edifying encounters that suit the requirements of their target demographic. With similarities in the use of technology, analytical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities between instructional designers and developers, let’s explore further the topic by looking at what qualifications and career paths an instructional developer may have.
Key Takeaway: 

This project aims to create a no-code platform for producing 3D learning scenarios. The topic of discussion is the difference between an instructional developer and an instructional designer, without mentioning IQ in the output.

4. Similarities between the Two Roles

A comparison of the commonalities between instructional design and development roles, such as their utilization of technology, analytical thinking skills, and problem-solving abilities, will be made to help you determine which role is suitable for you and how your skillset can be applied in either position. Realizing the parallels between these two occupations can aid you in deciding which job is suitable for you and how your aptitudes may be employed in either part.

a. Use of Technology in Both Roles

Both instructional designers and developers rely heavily on technology to create engaging learning experiences. They must stay up-to-date with the latest eLearning authoring tools, Learning Management Systems (LMS), multimedia software, and other relevant technologies that enable them to develop effective courses or modules.

For example, LearnBrite’s no-code platform allows instructional designers and developers to produce immersive 3D experiential learning scenarios without advanced programming skills. This tool enables professionals from both fields to collaborate effectively while leveraging their unique expertise.

b. Analytical Thinking in Both Roles

Analytical thinking is a crucial skill shared by both instructional designers and developers since they must assess learners’ needs accurately before creating content tailored specifically for them. Additionally, they must analyze data related to learner performance or feedback regularly to make improvements accordingly.

  • Data analysis: Professionals in both roles often work with large datasets containing information about learners’ progress through courses or modules – identifying trends or patterns that may require adjustments within course materials.
  • Evaluation methods: Instructional designers and developers should also be familiar with various evaluation methods to measure the effectiveness of their learning solutions and make data-driven decisions for continuous improvement.

c. Problem-Solving Skills in Both Roles

Problem-solving is another essential skill that instructional designers and developers share, as they must identify challenges within the learning process and develop innovative solutions to address them effectively. Some common problems faced by both roles include:

  • Learner engagement: Ensuring learners remain engaged throughout a course or module can be challenging, but both instructional designers and developers should work together to create interactive content with various multimedia elements like videos, quizzes, or simulations.
  • Knowledge retention: Professionals in both fields must design courses that facilitate long-term knowledge retention – incorporating techniques such as spaced repetition or microlearning modules into their designs.
  • The diverse learner needs: Instructional designers and developers must cater to diverse learner populations with varying abilities, backgrounds, or preferences – requiring them to adopt inclusive design principles when creating learning materials.

In summary, while there are distinct differences between instructional designer vs. developer roles, it’s important not to overlook their similarities. Recognizing these common skills can help you better understand how your expertise may translate across positions within eLearning development.

Though similar, it is crucial to discern which of the two positions — instructional developer or designer — would most fit one’s aspirations and inclinations.
Key Takeaway: 

A no-code platform is being developed to create 3D learning scenarios for various types of training. Examining the contrast between an instructional developer and a pedagogical architect is the focus of this conversation.

5. How to Choose Between the Two Roles?

In this section, we will guide choosing between becoming an instructional designer or developer based on your interests and goals, strengths and weaknesses, and job opportunities available in each field. We will also advise researching potential employers before deciding which role is best for you.

a. Assessing Your Interests and Goals

First, assessing your interests and professional goals is essential to determine whether you should pursue a career as an instructional designer or developer. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Do I enjoy creating learning content from scratch or improving existing materials?
  • Am I more interested in designing effective learning experiences or implementing them using technology?
  • Would I prefer working with subject matter experts (SMEs) to develop content or collaborating with developers to build e-learning courses?

Your answers can help guide your choice between these two roles. For example, if you’re passionate about designing engaging learning experiences but less interested in technical implementation aspects, a career as an instructional designer might be better suited.

b. Understanding Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Analyze your strengths and weaknesses when deciding between these two roles by considering the following:

  1. Creativity vs. Technical Skills: Instructional designers often need strong creative skills for developing innovative solutions, while developers require more technical expertise, such as programming languages like HTML/CSS/JavaScript.
  2. Analytical Thinking vs. Problem-Solving Abilities: Both roles demand analytical thinking; however, instructional designers may focus more on analyzing learners’ needs, whereas developers concentrate on solving technical issues during course development.
  3. Communication vs. Collaboration: Instructional designers need excellent communication skills to work with SMEs, while developers should be adept at collaborating with cross-functional teams during the course production process.

Evaluating your proficiencies and deficiencies in these areas can help you decide which role is more compatible with your competencies and choices.

c. Researching Job Opportunities

Research job opportunities available in each field to make an informed decision about whether to pursue a career as an instructional designer or developer. You can start by browsing job boards like Indeed, LinkedIn Jobs, or specialized e-learning platforms like E-Learning Industry Jobs. Compare factors like salary expectations, required qualifications, typical responsibilities, and growth potential for both roles within different industries. Additionally, consider joining professional associations like the Association for Talent Development (ATD) or attending industry conferences such as the annual Learning Solutions Conference & Expo to network with professionals in both fields. This will give you valuable insights into their day-to-day tasks and the challenges they face on the job. Once you have evaluated your interests and objectives, identified your strengths and weaknesses, and thoroughly analyzed job prospects before deciding between an instructional designer or developer role, you will be ready to embark on an exciting journey in the learning & development field.
Key Takeaway: 

This project aims to create a no-code platform for producing immersive 3D experiential learning scenarios. The topic of discussion is the difference between instructional developers and instructional designers, which will be summarized in two or three sentences without mentioning IQ.

Frequently Asked Questions Instructional Developer vs Instructional Designer

What is the difference between instructional designers and instructional developers?

The main difference between an instructional designer and an instructional developer lies in their focus. Instructional designers concentrate on creating effective learning experiences by analyzing learners’ needs, defining objectives, and designing content. In contrast, instructional developers implement these designs using various tools and technologies to create engaging e-learning materials.

What’s the difference between an instructional designer and a curriculum developer?

An instructional designer focuses on creating individual courses or training modules based on specific learning objectives. A curriculum developer works at a broader level to design entire educational programs or curricula encompassing multiple courses with interconnected goals for overall learner development.

What does an instructional developer do?

An instructional developer takes the designs created by an instructional designer and implements them using various tools, technologies, and multimedia elements. They are responsible for developing e-learning materials such as interactive simulations, quizzes, videos, and animations that engage learners while effectively delivering course content.

What are the 3 major components of instructional design?

The three major components of instructional design include analysis (identifying learner needs), design (creating a blueprint for instruction), and development (implementing the designed instruction). These components form part of the ADDIE model – Analysis-Design-Development-Implementation-Evaluation – widely used in creating effective learning experiences.


The instructional developer vs instructional designer is two distinct roles that require different skillsets. Understanding the distinct advantages of each role is essential for selecting the best option to meet your organization’s objectives and create effective learning experiences. Ultimately, the most suitable selection for your organization depends on its aims and objectives. With a clear understanding of both positions, you can choose the right candidate to help your team create engaging learning experiences with maximum impact.

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Are you looking for an innovative way to create immersive 3D learning experiences? Look no further than LearnBrite, the perfect solution for instructional developers and designers. Our platform offers many features to help bring your training programs to life!