Using Instagram for Instructional Design, Particularly Microlearning

If you’re an instructional designer, it pays to stay current on social media trends; you have to produce content where your audience consumes it. Instagram (abbreviated “IG”) is a not-too-new social media platform that seems to be gaining popularity. It’s mainly used to post photos and/or videos with related text. By virtue of this, Instagram has value as a instructional platform, particularly, if you produce microlearning photos, cards, videos or text.

To get started, you just need to download the ap. Instagram is a free mobile app, and on a mobile device, it can be used to view and publish IG content. Within a desktop browser (not on a mobile device), IG content is viewable but publishing IG content gets a little tricky or gets impossible. Therefore, my recommendation is for you to use it entirely on your mobile device.

IG account setup is fast and easy, and publication of multi media content is easy too. You’ll have to choose between creating a private or a public account, but there really is no difference, so create a public one.

When you’re ready to add content, you need to first the get the content to your mobile device so you can upload the content into IG, or you can either create photos and videos via the IG app.

Adding text that annotates your photo/video is the tough part of IG. You need to plan your text. The text editor is painfully basic (e.g. it can’t even preserve line spacing) so you need to really spend some time thinking about how to get around the ways the IG editor will mangle your text. Understanding the text editor takes some practice, but don’t worry, your text is editable after publication.

Additionally, your text can and should contain hashtags and at-mentions, which are the keys to socializing your content. Adding relevant hashtags and at-mentions takes time and research. This too will get easier over time.

When I publish official IG content, I pre-plan all of it using a spreadsheet that has these columns:

  1. Publication date: the day I will publish the IG post
  2. Media: the photo, photos, video or videos that I will publish
  3. Text: the explanatory text for the media
  4. Hashtags: the topical hashtags that will be used by IG to index my post
  5. At-mentions: the other IG accounts that will be at-mentioned in my post. I use this very sparingly so I don’t spam IG accounts.
  6. Total number of likes after 1 week
  7. Total number of comments after 1 week
  8. Total number of views after 1 week (video only)

I also ask for peer-reviews on columns 2-5.

As an instructional designer, IG should not be a difficult tool for you to adopt to increase the reach of your instructional content if you just use the spreadsheet approach. This blog post tells you who you are likely to reach on IG, but basically: teens consider it one of the most important social networks and most IG activity is from outside the US. This tells me if that if I want to reach an international audience of up-and-coming adult learners, I need to tap into Instagram’s power.

Happy posting! When you do, tell me about your experience with Instagram via the comments.

Education government and policy Instagram accounts:

Examples of Instagram accounts that publish microlearning videos

An example of an Instagram account that publishes microlearning cards:

An example of an account that publishes static microlearning text

Game ideas for Instagram


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