Journal of Computing in Higher Education

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 34–54 | Cite as

Design tools in practice: instructional designers report which tools they use and why

  • Ahmed Lachheb
  • Elizabeth Boling


Minimal attention has been paid by scholars to practitioners’ views of and experiences with instructional design tools. Instructional design practitioners working in diverse setting were surveyed regarding the tools they use in their practice, and interviewed regarding how they explain their choices to use the tools that they do. A survey completed by 100 instructional designers shows that they use a wide array of both digital and analog tools, many of them not specifically focused on, or limited to, the design and development of instruction. Analysis of interview narratives with 10 instructional designers surfaced themes in two categories, rationalist and situational explanations for the use of certain tools, with appropriateness (a rational explanation) and individual preference (a situational explanation) offered most frequently. These findings, and the statements of the designers, highlight the role of instrumental judgment in instructional design practice and points to implications for the education of instructional designers.


Instructional design Instructional design tools Designerly tools Instructional designers 



We would like to thank Dr. Yonjoo Cho, Professor of Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University School of Education, for her support and help with this study, as she encouraged the first author to turn a literature review study into an extended research study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights

The study has been approved by the Indiana University Office of Research Compliance, Institutional Review Board (Protocol #1703628139) and has been performed in accordance with the ethical standards as laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IST Department, School of EducationIndiana University BloomingtonBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.School of EducationIndiana University BloomingtonBloomingtonUSA

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