I don't have a master's degree in instructional design or education. In fact, I don't have any kind of master's degree at all. I have never taken a class in pedagogy. I have never taken a course in adult learning theory. And yet here I am. My current business card says I'm a "Manager of Instructional Design". How did that happen?
I have learned everything I "know" about instructional design and teaching by doing.
A brief history:
Education: English and German Major.
Had thought I would go into teaching. Got accepted to a Master's program for secondary ed, but deferred. Got a job at an awesome company. Loved the people; loved getting paid. Bought a bike and took scuba lessons. Thought I'd try the working thing for awhile -- so long as I never had to wear panty hose.
I started my professional life in operations -- behind the scenes helping people do their jobs better. After a few years, I got involved in an IT initiative (then it was called MIS) -- designing a new software application to support our call center business. I talked to the users, translated their needs into requirements, translated that to the techies, worked up flow charts, designed screens, etc. That led into training. I did stand-up classroom sessions on the software. I wrote a monthly user-newsletter -- tips and tricks for maximizing the application. I had expertise. I had a knack for communication. I was an SME.
In the mid-90's, I made the leap to a multimedia training company. They liked my software training experience. I thought multimedia sounded pretty glamorous. I was a SME turned instructional designer. We produced loads of CBTs -- delivered on CD ROM. Lots of video. Lots of simulations.
My boss had an educational technology degree from Harvard. She taught me the basics of instructional design, although looking back it wasn't much: Instruct, Demo, Practice, Assess. I was never told about Gagne's 9 Events or the Kilpatrick Levels or ADDIE or the ARCS model or even much about adult learning styles, except that people all learned differently.
We had a novelist, turned video pro, who was our most creative instructional designer. Through observing him, I learned how to make good video -- the essentials of good lighting, dialogue, directing, storytelling.
I was there for 5 years, and then the company went under. Didn't make the transition to the web and got lost in the bubble.
Since then, I've done a bunch of freelance instructional design and script writing. I was a classroom assistant and lead teacher at a trade school for adult learners -- very hands-on (quite literally -- it's massage therapy). And now I'm here -- "Manager of Instructional Design."
I've created a lot of bad e-Learning over the years -- page turner after page turner. And I've created some really good stuff.
I've got a lot to learn about instructional/learning/experience design.
But at this point, I'm here to stay. This is my career. This is how I support my family. This is my expertise, even without the fancy letters after my name.
If you'd like to learn more about what I'm doing these days, check out my current job description.
My point is this: I don't think I'm that unusual. Or am I? What's your story? How did you get to be an "instructional designer"?
So let's get the tools and information out there to support folks like me. People who get "promoted" from SME to instructional designer and just start running with it. I believe that with the rise of rapid e-Learning tools, we'll see more and more non-instructional designers doing instructional design.
The 30-minute masters is a great start. What else have we got?