When I tell people I am an Instructional Designer, I am often faced with a puzzled expression. As important and diverse as the field is, it is not well known… So I’ll often follow up by explaining that the role of an Instructional Designer is to design and develop efficient and effective learning experiences.
Even after a brief description of what I do, I usually get a bland response like, “Huh, that sounds cool…” or even worse, the polite smile and nod. My job title and description still lose people.
From a very young age, I have known that individuals learn differently – with different motivations and learning styles. Throughout my schooling, I ultimately discovered my own best practices and methods for retaining knowledge which have shaped me in countless ways over the years. Now, they inspire me to discover the most powerful ways to engage others in the learning experience and find the most efficient and effective ways to train. Today, I am able to achieve this on a daily basis – as an Instructional Designer.
So…what is Instructional Design?
Overall, Instructional Designers play a vital part in business growth, and from a business perspective, provide not only Return on Investment (ROI), but Return on Experience (ROE) as well.
Instructional Design emerged in the 1940’s during World War II and is used today in business, government, health, education, the military – really anywhere that training is needed. Instructional Designers work to enhance the learners’ experience and ensure that the training actually aligns with expected performance. We design and develop these experiences in a variety of formats, ranging from mobile eLearning courses to instructor-led training, and from virtual sessions to experiential learning.
Our daily activities are as diverse as the delivery methods. On any given day, we could be working with a wide range of Subject Matter Experts to identify what the target audience needs to learn. In assessing the audience and establishing objectives, it is our job to find the most efficient and effective way of teaching the expected outcomes. On other days, I may be designing content storyboards – creating a blueprint that allows my client to visualize what the learning solution will look like once constructed. Or I may be working alone or with a team to develop training materials that will help participants learn and support application of skills in their work environment.
Overall, Instructional Designers play a vital part in business growth, and from a business perspective, provide not only Return on Investment (ROI), but Return on Experience (ROE) as well. We ensure training is aligned with measurable outcomes, which leads to desired performance results through Instructional Design principles.
Here’s a simple example of how this might look in an organization:
- Your customer service team needs to grow due to the expanding reach of your company.
- More employees are needed to accomplish the same goal as before for a now wider audience.
- All the new customer service employees will now need training.
The Design Solution:
- In evaluating the existing customer service team, you notice one employee, Sophie, is resolving more customer calls than everyone else.
- Now we determine one critical performance-related skill Sophie is doing different from the norm — one that makes her so successful at her job.
- Training is designed for that skill, which in turn will help everyone (new and existing customer service employees) do their job as well as Sophie.
Now you have a whole department resolving calls like Sophie – and what manager doesn’t want that?!
My name is Ashley Gose, and I am an Instructional Designer with a passion for determining the best solution to meet the needs of any learner and organization. Now that you know the role of an Instructional Designer, what training gaps might your organization need help solving?