On March 17, InSync celebrates Instructional Designers!
Have you thanked your instructional designer today? You really should. Instructional designers are the unsung heroes of the learning and development field. The job description for a designer has changed so much in the last decade. As we’ve introduced new instructional strategies, techniques, and technologies to our training toolbox, it’s been the instructional designers on the front line learning how to develop content in new platforms, how to engage learners with technology, and making the business case to invest (or not invest) in the latest and greatest EdTech trend.
Instructional designers need to be project managers, writers, software developers, adult education experts, and business partners.
Once they complete projects, they are onto the next thing.
Here is my list of reasons why I appreciate instructional designers. If you have more to add, please share in the comments!
- They know the difference between gamification and game-based learning. I truly appreciate the patience it took to explain it to me time and time again. (I get it now! Click on the link above for a quick video that explains it.)
- They have many tools to address a training need and know how and when to apply them. The EdTech Toolbox is expanding all the time. As my colleague Phylise Banner shared in her eBook Sorting Through The EdTech Toolbox:
“We keep saying that technology is just a tool, but what do we really mean? I have a full toolbox out in the garage, but I have to admit that I’ve used a shoe to hammer a nail into the wall on more than one occasion. Are we using the right tools to design, develop, deliver, facilitate, produce, and curate learning? Or, are we using our shoes, staplers, or anything sturdy enough that we have on hand to get the job done?”
- They automatically strive to align learning outcomes with the business strategy. Identifying “Alignment” is an instructional designer’s superpower! Instructional content should prioritize business goals. Performance objectives especially align with those business goals. Learn more about how to achieve this alignment by reading: Aligning Learning Outcomes with Business Outcomes: Curated Resources for your PLN.
- They keep the learner at the center of the design. When the focus was traditional classroom training, it was often focused on the event: delivery-centered, very scheduled, and centrally managed. To engage learners in today’s environment, instructional designers know to combine traditional training models with a pull learning culture that’s learner-centered! They know when to “push” and when to “pull” learners and the instructional theory behind that reason.
- They keep a straight face when someone asks if they can implement chat bots, augmented reality, or geofencing in the new program next month. While some training technologies look great in vendor demos or in white papers, they may not be practical to use in your organization for years. Your instructional design team will do the research.
The best way to thank your instructional designers? Recognize the work they do in the background, ask questions about design decisions before rejecting them outright, and try not to come to them with a predetermined answer to your perceived training problem. Give them a chance to design the best, learner-centered solution.
After all, they ARE the experts.