Instructional Designer Hacks to Become a Pro (Even Without a Degree!)

As eLearning experts, over the years of working with clients, we’ve perfected a process for hacking instructional design. Now, if you’ve ever wondered how to become an instructional designer without a degree, you can use our five-step process to help you get an idea of what designing an online course looks like. 

Step 1: Identify Your Learners

The very first step to hacking instructional design is to identify your learners. We talk about this in our free MasterClass. You need to understand your learners, especially their biggest challenge. Remember that when creating a course, you always want to focus on the biggest challenge for your learners. Save the other challenges for future courses.

Step 2: Build Your Learner Transformation Statement (LTS)

Once you identify the biggest challenges, the next step is to create your learner transformation statement (LTS). This highlights the journey that your learners take. It goes from their starting point A to their ending point Z. A is where they are before the course, and Z is where they are after the course.

Step 3: Build One Module

When you create your LTS, you will divide it into milestones and divide those into modules. Then, take just one of those modules and build it out. Don’t build your entire course, as you want to get your learners’ feedback and make adjustments before you do so.

Step 4: Get Learner Feedback

Getting learner feedback is perhaps the most important part of hacking instructional design. After you create that first module, ask for feedback. This is your chance to confirm that you really are addressing the biggest pain point of the learners.


The feedback also lets you ensure that your learners like everything else about your course. They will give you important feedback about the user experience and any questions or information gaps they may’ve noticed. Part of how to become an instructional designer without a degree is listening to your learners since you are creating the course for them.

Step 5: Build the Rest of the Course

Now that you have that initial learner feedback, you are ready to build the rest of the course. You will have the overall system, strategy, or guidelines in place based on what your learners told you about the initial module.

You should keep getting additional feedback at various points along this process. Just remember to strike a balance. Savvy instructional designers will be able to get feedback at just a few stages and apply it throughout the entire course.

Bonus: Take Your Own Course!

In addition to the above process, we strongly suggest taking your own course. This is the best way to confirm that the course does what it is supposed to do and is organized logically and clearly. Think of it as reading a book you have written before you publish it.


Regardless of whether you have a degree, you can hack the instructional design process by following a few simple steps. Always start by identifying your learners’ biggest challenges and creating a learner transformation statement. Then, create a single module of the course and get feedback from learners before designing the rest of the course.

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