Monday, January 07, 2008

The Value of Instructional Designers

I've been having on ongoing conversation with other instructional designers as to whether or not we need to have the technical skill sets to actually build the courses we design.

Many instructional designers (Christy Tucker, Wendy Wickham) build their own courses using tools like Captivate. (See Christy's post, Technology Skills for Instructional Designers for more on this conversation.)

I come from an old-school approach: I sort of understand the technology, but I leave the graphics and programming expertise to others. I primarily focus on the content, the writing, and the schmoozing with the client. (My experience is mainly in development of self-paced eLearning for the corporate market.)

In the December 10, 2007 edition of The eLearning Guild's Learning Solutions magazine, Reuben Tozman (President and founder of edCetra Training) gets into this topic in The Next Generation of Instructional Designers.

He says it's important that instructional designers understand the tools and technology that are out there (as an architect understands building materials), but an instructional designer should be tool-independent and "technology-agnostic". The programming skills should be left to the programmers.

Reuben on the downside of rapid e-Learning tools:

The emergence of "easy-to-use" authoring tools, however,
has tempted us to believe that the instructional designer
can do it all! But, paradoxically, it is worth noting
that as instructional designers become adept at
using a specific tool, their value as designers will
drop. This is because an instructional designer is supposed
to avoid having to stuff material into a predefined

We imagine providing the same tools to subject matter experts that we expect instructional designers to use, and asking them to be a one person show. In reducing the value of an instructional designer by handing them tools to be lone gunmen, we have created the problem of believing we can replace or eliminate the instructional designer, since our in-house resident experts can do the very same job.

Reuben on the value of the instructional designer:

The skill that an instructional designer possesses, that writers, teachers, programmers, technical writers, and so on don’t, is the ability to systematically break down content so that it is applicable to learners and their learning styles.


Photo: Instructions for Monkeys by Sister72

While the instructional designer's value may be needed for more complicated content, what Clive Shepherd calls the higher tier of eLearning, is this true for the lower tier end work?

Overall, I thought this article was a good read, although I found the title a little misleading. I was expecting more of a vision of the future; more on what instructional designers need to do to stay relevant in today's changing world. This article focused more on what instructional designers should not be (lone gunmen).

What's your view?

  • Do you think instructional designers should be able to use the tools?
  • Do you work in or favor a design shop where each person has his or her own role (ID, graphics, programming, QA)?
  • Do you think instructional designers should go away and leave the rapid tools to the SMEs?
  • Do you think you actually add any value these days?
[I continue to wonder out loud on this sure to read all of the great conversation happening on this post in the comments section. And check out a subsequent post I've written: Instructional Design & Market Sector Differences.]


Tony Karrer said...

Great questions Cammy. What do you think about holding getting answers and converting this into the big question for February on Learning Circuits?

Anonymous said...

Hi Cammy,

Your questions are really interesting.

Atleast in India, as far as I know an elearning division has graphic designers, programmers and Instructional Designers where each of them have their own role to play.

Instructional Designers here design and visualize the overall course. They do not necessarily implement them.

Of course there are some companies in India too, who require Instructional Designers to implement courses using tools like Captivate.

In my opinion, knowledge of tools is certainly a value add. However it hugely depends on deadlines and project schedules, whether the Instructional Designers must implement the course themselves.

Poonam Sharma said...

I agree with Rupa when she says that knowledge of tools is an add-on while designing a training program. I am encouraged to innovate the design that also fits my tools.

But certainly, as a designer I am not required to use the tools myself. In India, we have a dedicated team who actually convert our ideas and design using the tools.

And I firmly believe I have been adding a lot of value to the design. Allowing SMEs to work on tool is a certain recipe for disaster. They have the knowledge and that is why we should use their focussed knowledge services.

Anonymous said...

Good post and comments.

Some of these discussions about tools is similar to the arguments that the main stream media has made about blogs and wikis. They think that only the "official" people have the right or expertise to produce good content.

The way I see it, like all other industries, the elearning technology is catching up and making the production of online learning easier and more affordable. It's only going to become more so.

The tools are democratizing the learning process (in the same way blogs did for information) and giving the capability to the front line people and removing the friction that the formal learning departments create.

I think we need to be careful that we don't become elitists, thinking that as trained ID, we are the only source for sound instruction.

I can't speak for others, but I think it's in my best interests to be as well rounded as I can when it comes to the total design of elearning courses. Our industry is always in flux and those with the most diverse skills have the best chance of remaining employed.

Cammy Bean said...

Thank you for all the comments and insights.

Tony, I'd be delighted if this question were expanded to the larger Learning Circuits audience. I think a lot of people have a lot to say on the topic. But I'm not sure I can get people to hold their answers back...

I agree with Tom on the elitist comment. I think there's a tendency to get kind of polarized with this topic -- people seem entrenched in their own positions.

I've noticed this same polarization a little bit with some of the discussion around instructional designers with advanced degrees. (Are you a trained ID or an experienced ID? Is there a difference?)

Overall, I think the field is wide open for a bit of everything. Some companies don't have the budgets for full training divisions with all the technical roles divided, in that case a one-stop shop does the trick quite well.

Cathy Moore said...

I don't think good instructional design requires a degree. However, it does require the ability to think both logically and creatively, and it requires some knowledge of what research has shown works (as opposed to what our personal tastes tell us should work).

A SME often won't have all those traits. A degree won't necessarily confer those traits, either. I've been hired several times to redo what degreed designers created.

Just as easy website creation tools don't turn people into graphic designers, elearning production tools don't turn people into instructional designers. I think the conversation should be more about abilities and experience than tools or degrees.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Tony, but I'm going to jump into the conversation now. Don't worry though; I'm sure I'll still have more to say if you do this for the Big Question for February.

So much of the technology skills needed for a job seems to be related to the size of the organization. Larger organizations have the work divided up, as with your team Cammy, and what Rupa and Poonam described. I'm on a smaller team though, so we are basically the "one-stop shop."

There are exceptions though; during my brief stint at Accenture, the IDs created content using Captivate, RoboHelp, or a proprietary tool. Dedicated graphic designers and Flash programmers were available for some projects, but not all. It seemed to depend on what the client paid for.

If I'm giving someone job advice on how to get into the field of instructional design, I'm still going to tell them that additional technology skills will help. I still agree with Wendy Wickham's comment back when we started this conversation: "More skills = more opportunities."

Personally, I do feel that I add value to the process. My SMEs could not produce courses of the same quality on their own. One of the big areas I help them is figuring out how to do activities successfully in our online environment. Sometimes that means using technology solutions, where I need to know both what technology will be effective and how to implement it. Sometimes that means rewriting discussion questions to promote better conversations though; many solutions are in the writing, not the technology.

Laura Jaffrey said...

Pertinent blog post Cammy. It's happened where those interested in adding to a corporate knowledge base, and even bought rapid elearning software, still didn't have the time to create the learning outside of their regular work. Hence, there was a need to call in an instructional designer.

While I think that most of the rapid elearning tools are very easy to use, it takes some time to develop a valuable learning experience. It also requires a certain skill set to know how to take a big picture approach to match learning solutions to specific business goals. In the earlier case I mentioned the client knew what they wanted but I think there are those who are looking for better learning solutions. I see the following areas of growth for instructional designers: understanding current learning options (wikis, rapid elearning modules, learning objects in a LMS, etc.), knowing the strengths and weaknesses of various options and delivering the best learning solutions based on a thorough needs assessment. In the business world, the justification for the expense of a learning solution has to be proven by providing some sort of measurable outcome.

I agree with Tom K's statement that IDs should be well rounded. We also need to seek to provide value to an organization by delivering learning that contributes to the goals of the organization. Thanks for the food for thought Cammy.

Cammy Bean said...

Christy...are your SMEs developing courses themselves or do you take their content and build it? Are they doing some level of instructional design?

Laura...thanks for the comments. As rapid eLearning tools gain momentum and SMEs take on more of the course development, do you see the role of the ID shifting (in some organizations) to more of an oversight postion -- working in conjunction with SMEs to provide the instructional design expertise?

Cammy Bean said...

Rupa and Poonam...eLearning is a big industry in India. Do you think the the model you've seen is true across the entire country? Do you work for eLearning development houses (vendors) or do you work within corporate training departments?

Anonymous said...

Most of the time the SMEs are developing large parts of the content, and I serve as a guide for that process. So yes, they are doing some of the instructional design. Everyone we have as SMEs has teaching experience though; all of them are either current or past K-12 teachers. It's a little different working with people who have education degrees than it would be with SMEs who have just technical expertise.

Some of the SMEs do more of the direct content development than others. For one of the courses I'm developing right now, the SME basically did no writing at all. Everything was done based on me interviewing her about topics and collecting that information, like a more traditional corporate SME relationship. That's an extreme case for my current job though; usually the content is written by both me and the SME collaborating. Then all of the technical work is done by me; putting content into web pages and Blackboard, creating Captivate as needed, etc.

Anonymous said...

I'm coming late to the conversation - my aggregator hasn't been picking up your rss feed, lately, Cammy :-(

I think I'm a bit like you in the role I play in the process. I like to be involved as far forward in the process as I can, including needs analysis and scoping, if possible. Most of the technical stuff, I leave to the production team.

I work closely with SMEs, but not as closely as I would like. I would like to spend more "beanbag time" with them, in a relaxed environment, where we collaborate and be creative.

If I need to, I can put a rapid e-learning module together using Articulate, although I'd have to get a graphic artist to create a template for me if I were to customise it beyond a certain point.

Having said all of that, one of my co-designers is busy upskilling on Flash as we speak, so there is a chance I might lose ground if the need for technical skills increases.

I do find, though, that we seem to becoming increasingly specialised, but the specialisations don't always map across to a different organisation. I was recently passed over for a new job because I was considered too much of an analyst/theorist and not enough of a practitioner, so maybe there is a shift afoot. Maybe SMEs will just start to put their own resources together, leaving us out of the loop.

Mark said...

I cringe while I type this question because I think it is doomed to be misunderstood but I come to this field as a historian and an anthropologist..that makes me both less informed in some regards and more so in others. I hope people take this question in the spirit of honest inquiry and not anything like an attack of any sort...but from a historical perspective and an anthropological one as well...learning has been going on since Man first stepped out of whatever primordial ooze you believe in. Tell me then, what value has ISD added to long tradition and perhaps asked a different way....what would happen if all the people doing ISD, just stopped? I'm gonna go strap some pillows around my head now....

Mark said...

I think I am already regretting that last question...but I think what I am looking for are some passionate descriptions of why people go into the field and feel passionate about its value not a defense of its existence.

Mark said...

:-) I really do love all my ISD friends..... :-)

Cammy Bean said...


I think what you're asking is what's really the difference between a teacher and an instructional designer? I've been wondering the same thing myself.

Is it simply the insertion of technology in the equation? I'm sure we could do a little research into the history of ID (which one would get if one had a graduate degree in ID...) and discover just when the term instructional designer appeared and why...

I'll let you know what I come up with.

Anonymous said...

What value has ISD added to long tradition and perhaps asked a different way....what would happen if all the people doing ISD, just stopped?

An anthropologist and historian ought to recognize that "long tradition" is often a synonym for "inertia."

ISD isn't going to prevent dental cavities or eliminate crabgrass, but it can (not will) help people acquire new skills and knowledge more quickly and more effectively than rote memorization, lecture, read-for-understanding, and my favorite strawman, seelou training.

("See Lou? Do what Lou does.")

(I include in my definition of ISD a front-end analysis that includes examining possible causes of non-performance, pointing out the causes not addressable by training, and making use of non-instructional approaches such as job aids.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Cammy,

Sorry for the late response.

As far as I know the model I have seen is true across the entire country.

I have worked with both corporate training department and elearning development houses, where I just had to do Analysis, Design and Storyboard.

After storyboarding I had to work closely with the graphic designers to make sure that the course is implemented as planned.

Dick Carlson said...

I'm not sure that I'm actually an Instructional Designer. I've been doing it for money for a lot of years, but I often find that what I'm doing has more to do with OD or just simple project management.

For example, the vast majority of clients that I deal with come to me with a problem that isn't really "instructional" in nature. For example -- a Telecom giant that wants to get their marketing managers on board with a new system to track their every waking minute.

The employees are good at their jobs, but management is uncomfortable with the fact that there are multiple methods employed in the field to service partner needs. So the VP has come up with his "model" of how it should work, and the troops are revolting.

Or the High Tech company that has a huge turnover in customer service reps -- and they see the problem as finding a way to train the avalanche of replacements quickly so they can provide value immediately, as they replace the dissatisfied folks who depart for greener pastures.

I'd submit that the main value I bring to the table as an "Instructional Designer" is identifying goals that really aren't instructional at all.

Not that I tell clients that -- I'm still working for money -- but much of my time is spent in trying to fix broken systems so they can be "instructed" successfully.

Cammy Bean said...

Dick...Thanks for chiming in. I think your experience is fairly common among "instructional designers" working in the corporate sector.

Dave Ferguson provides a broad definition of ISD above, to include a "front-end analysis that includes examining possible causes of non-performance, pointing out the causes not addressable by training, and making use of non-instructional approaches such as job aids."

I'm curious Dave, why you consider job aids to be "non-instructional". I would lump them into performance-support tools and not outside the realm of informal instruction.

Anonymous said...

Cammy: I think of job aids as non-instructional in that you don't have to be taught the content of the job aid.

Assuming we've got knowledge you need on the job (especially procedural stuff), we can try to store it inside your head, or outside. Inside is almost always way more expensive.

As a designer, I can ask questions about the nature of the knowledge (Used infrequently? Lots of steps? Complex steps? High consequence for error? Low need for rapid-rate response?). Each "yes" is one more argument for storing the knowledge in a job aid, rather than teaching it (which means storing it in memory).

So, if I'm not teaching, I'm not instructing.

I'm not being a purist here; often it's helpful to provide practice in using the job aid. But showing you how to use a job aid is not the same as teaching you the knowledge it contains.

(We can talk about the training-wheel versus guard-rail effect...)

Cammy Bean said...

Dave...thanks for clarifying. And I agree. Yet instructional designers may often be responsible for creating these performance support tools. It's one of those blurry areas.

Mark said...

Cammy, et al,

Aren't these "blurry" areas part of the problem in defining the value of ISD? (again, innocent question) Isn't it difficult to define the value of something that can have so many parts the inclusion or exclusion of which is dependent on so many varying contexts?

Anonymous said...

Oh, certainly an instructional designer can build job aids and other forms of support -- in fact, if that's not the case, I'd worry about the ISD skills.

I've worked on many projects where I didn't get to ask whether any evidence existed that the stated problem was one worth solving. Or whether anyone had searched for possible causes outside the skill/knowledge area. Or, once we'd focused on skill/knowledge stuff, whether some of it wasn't crying out for job aid or performance-support treatment.

That's why Joe Harless aid an ounce of analysis is worth a pound of objectives, and that's why Bob Mager doesn't see "they really oughta wanna" as a sound rationale for inflicting training on people.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cammy,

I wish you had brought up the part of the article where I do talk about my vision for ID's in the future. The fact that somebody can ask the question "What would happen if all the ID's were to go away" is a sure sign of our decreasing value in the design and development process.

Another disturbing comment was the question of whether it is "technology" that separates the instructional designer.

My article points to the notion of Instructional Designers developing an agreed upon semantic language for defining learning content and events. This sort of work is already happening with groups like the DITA for Learning sub-committe out of the OASIS group.

This group includes folks from the ADL, IBM, Sun, etc. Becoming involved in learning discussions and not "what tools do you like to use" will help instructional designers get back to what makes them valuable.

Wish I had more time to address some of the other comments but thanks for reading the article and getting a discussion going.

Reuben Tozman

Cammy Bean said...

Reuben...I'm so glad that you've chimed in and I would love to hear more from you on this subject. (And I promise to go back and read your original article again!)

What I'm realizing is how vast the field of instructional design is. There are many people out here practicing in the trenches who call themselves 'instructional designers', and yet we all seem to do so many different things. It's become a catch-all term for, perhaps, much more than it was intended.

Reuben Tozman said...

Hey Cammy,

Here's the way I like to think about it: What skills/knowledge do instructional designers bring to the table that is unique to our profession that other trades do not? If we can answer this question, we can pinpoint what our unique value is. Is our value in wielding the latest and greatest rapid development tools? Not if our SME's are using them also? Is it our knowledge of psychometrics when we create assessments? Nope. Is it our writing abilities? Is it our knowledge of communications?

In my world, the value an instructional designer brings is really their ability to assess and design a learning event that creates positive change for the intended audience. Its not necessarily developing the event or writing it out. It is the creativity and cognitive awareness of the elements required to support the intended change. Does one need schooling for this?

At the risk of sounding like a total a$%, I like to think about this the way I think about art. Can anybody be an artist? We can all splash colors on a canvas, give it form and shape and call it abstract art. It may even be nice to look at. But is the product a result of true understanding of colors, shapes, shadows, etc? Can the same person sketch an image from their mind and make it look like the image in their mind? Can they give the image life? To me, what makes an artist is the knowledge behind the product and the practice and application of that knowledge systematically and with intention each and every time. Does art school help? You bet. Can someone do it without schooling...sure. But do they possess the same level of understanding of their own intentions as someone who has studied the theoretical aspects of art?

The problem in having a loosely defined definition of instructional design, is that we can question whether instructional designers are needed at all.


Mark said...

How about instead of looking at what an ISD does (process) for a job definition; what if we look at product? Reuben uses the example of an artist and how anybody can call themselves an artist regardless of training. Perhaps then it is the market which defines it...anybody can make 'art' but if you can sell that, then I think even without any formal training whatsoever, you'd have a pretty good case for calling yourself an artist.

Another interesting point is that Reuben points out groups that are defining the "semantic language for learning content and events" - there is a noted dearth of academic insitutions. This I cite as neither good nor bad but something that I think is interesting. Perhaps ISD's 20th century origins in a post WW-II labor market are now divergent from other movements within the field of a more academic bent. Hmmmm....

Cammy Bean said...

Mark...I agree that in many situations it's the product -- or rather the market -- that defines the role of the instructional designer and what skills will be needed for the task at hand. Some instructional design teams are given a complete performance situation to address. Others are simply told to "create this course." Are they both doing instructional design? Or something different? Is there a scale of instructional design?

And I agree that there is both an art and a science to instructional design.

Unknown said...

Hi I'm jumping back in and have to confess I didn't read all of the later posts. So if I'm repeating anyone, many apologies.

Just wanted to add that I think the role of the ID, as seen in Canada at least, seems to be one of instructional consultant. This is from the numerous job posts (mostly medium size organizations) where they are asking for instructional designers who can assess the learning needs of the company and deliver the right training solutions in a blended format. Basically, they want an 'expert' to tell them how and what to train. There seems to be a mix between contract and full time positions, and I'm not sure how to read into that. I've worked as a technical writer for a long time and am seeing a drop in that area and an increase in instructional designers.

I don't know how to interpret this, nor are my findings indicative of any official status in IDs. I'd like to add that I think IDs should be proficient with a variety of tools, but especially become tuned in with the business needs and analysis. I think the role of learning is now similar to the way IT evolved over the last decade. It needs to be more aligned with the goals of the organization to be seen as adding value. "Lies about Learning" is a good book that discusses some of this.

As for SME's delivering content, I'm finding that they'd like to but often don't have the time, in the business world anyway.

Mark said...

Just an additional thought...what if part of the problem is that we are a bit sloppy about using "instruction" and "learning" as if they were interchangeable? I don't want to get too far off track but I've always thought that part of problem was that we called it "e-learning" instead of "e-instruction"...the latter being much more accurate but hardly as sexy. Are we muddying our own waters?

Cammy Bean said...

Laura...are you finding that instructional designers are involved less in course development and more in overall strategy?

Mark...your favorite topic, I know. Is it instruction? Training? Learning?

I'll buy that what I do is actually more about training and less about learning. But what about instructional designers who work in the academic sector and ARE actually involved with learning?

I'm wondering if we're different species.

wslashjack said...

Sorry to come to this topic so late, Cammy, but there are just so many things to do these days!

I like the architect comparison...I think IDs (who, btw, can be educated totally through experience, in my book) should know something about what is possible technically, but not be the developer. It DOES begin to close a box in on what the ID creates.

I also have great suspicions about tools that are "as easy as powerpoint," because the results are so, well...powerpoint-like. ID is really where graphic design was 20 yrs ago when desktop publishing made any one with a computer and the right software into a designer...NOT. In graphics, there is room for both the single practitioner and the level of project that deserves more. Same for ID, I would wager.

Cammy Bean said...

Jack, I think we're of the same mind on this topic. It's all about flexibility and willingness to find the right (if that's possible) solution to the learning challenge at hand. Sometimes that may require more or less ID. Sometimes intuition and artfulness hit the mark the first time...

Anonymous said...

Guys,I have "chimed in" pretty late but as I see it, a lot many times it so happens that we as instructional designers have very little to create with all the templates, standards and customised tools right there in place!!

Anonymous said...

What if you asked a group of realtors if they were necessary? I already know what they would say, although many homes have been successfully sold by owner. I would ask the question differently: Is it possible that an SME can do the job of an Instructional Designer if they have the time and "skills" that everyone here is implying are unique to those with degrees in Instructional Design. Is it possible that experience or a degree in Engineering, Project Mangement, or Business could generate the same skills that you mention? I think it is possible. But people are getting defensive out there.

Cammy Bean said...

I think it is possible. As evidenced by the fact that there are many practicing and good instructional designers out there without degrees.

It is interesting how polarized this conversation gets. Everyone's got a stake to protect. Me, I just want to do good work!

Anonymous said...

Cammy, how do you KNOW that there are many GOOD practicing instructional designers out there without degrees? What are the measures you would use to separate the good from the not so good?

I'm curious, because I, too, have heard a lot of people claim the title (including one Ivy-League prof and book author who claimed to be an ID although he no "official" credentials. He told me that "if you've ever designed a lesson plan, you're an instructional designer.")

Even our secretaries have to prove they can keyboard and spell. What should ID professionals have to prove they can do to demonstrate that they are "good" instructional designers?

Are the traits of a good Instructional Designer subjective and situational? Or are there some universal objective criteria that are common to every “good” ID practitioner?

Dick Carlson said...

I'm not sure that "good" is synonymous with "degree" in the case of instructional design. (But then, my Master's is in Education, which has little to do with instruction, now does it?)

The value I see in good instructional design is that we tend to stop clients and SMEs from jumping into actually creating the product without doing a little thinking about goals, process and outcomes.

The old metaphor of taking a trip by jumping into your car is a great one -- without a destination, any road is the right one. And clients usually are interested in "rapid" learning, so they like to see lots of movement at the start.

No needs assessment, no functional spec, no design -- just get that ppt deck going and slap some e-learning together. (Wouldn't you just love to have a heart surgeon who had participated in "rapid e-learning"?)

As an ISD, my major function is usually being a wet blanket and saying "just a minute, here."

Anonymous said...

Dick, I've never been a "wet blanket", but I've frequently been a "devil's advocate." (smile)

I can relate to your situations and to your comments.

And, it's also true that a degree doesn't necessarily indicate quality. I personally know some less than ideal instructional designers who've graduated from some top programs.

Where I can't find any traction is on what the word "good" means. If there are no objective criteria by which to judge, then "good" can mean just about anything. Unfortunately, so can "instructional designer."

Cammy Bean said...

Well, "good" is a highly subjective term, isn't it (or is it?) Perhaps it's all in the eyes of the beholder -- in this case, the intended audience of the instruction that has been designed. Is it "good" if it does it's job? -- which might be to teach a few specified learning objectives, transfer some information that can be used on the job.

But really, I don't know the answer to that question. I often wonder myself -- am I doing "good" work? Who knows? If the client signs up for more then I suppose it's good. If my boss gives me a raise, then I suppose that's good too.

In the meantime, I continue to call myself an instructional designer -- whether I'm actually good or not and un-degreed, for sure.

Sreya Dutta said...

Cammy, thanks for this interesting post. I agree with Rupa and Poonam on the elearning industry in India but there are variations too. But I know of few variable cases too:
1. I know of companies who only hire instructional designers and buy Rapid elearning tools and expect the ID to do it all themselves to reduce the cost and over head of hiring graphic designers as well. One of the reasons is also that Graphic Designers often may not have much work, as sometime people just want ILT, or a few recorded sessions, other other delivery formats like remote training, that do no require heavy graphic or programming work.
2. Large MNC companies like IBM Deloitte (in India), sometimes just hire IDs and outsource the graphics/development work to elearning companies who have specialized graphics and development teams.
3. Microsoft in India, just hires content development managers, whose core skill sets is ID, but their role turns out to be that of a vendor manager and content reviewer, as Microsoft (in India) outsources elearning work to 3rd parties.
4. Oracle has Oracle University that provides services or graphics, editing and publishing to the other Business Units who need this for a price, but several times the BUs choose to have only IDs who would be required to create their own content, whether ILT, elearning, demos, etc using rapid development tools, to optimize the cost and get maximum output. Here IDs sometimes work as technical writers and TW sometimes write courses to optimize the cost. I was wanting to bring this up as a discussion in my blog sometime.

I hope this gives you a picture that once multi-nationals have entered they have changed the way in which companies work on elearning.

MCSE_Karrox said...

From a teaching point of view it is very important to use all the available means to make a student understand.

Geek said...

I agree a bit of both.Though instructional designers need not get into the programmimg aspects it will be of great help if they are well versed with the design aspects and tools like captivate.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cammy, Sorry for jumping onto this discussion so late but couldnt help myself after reading most of the comments. Here are my thoughts:
1. I do feel IDs at least need to know the tools, if not to use it themselves, at least train someone else (graphics dept maybe) so that the storyboard turns out the way they were intended to be.
2. But we shouldnt be restricted to using only these tools. they should be used only if the situation demands it.
My company has a combination of such projects - some projects use the rapid development process i.e. using Articulate and then some other projects which go through the entire development lifecycle. As learning is moving more towards collaborative learning, i think we need to be prepared to move along with the times.
3. As Poonam and Rupa pointed out, most elearning companies have relevant people with the required skills involved in development. Agreed that IDs are good visualisers but ultimately end of the day, its your graphic designer who brings your course to life!
4. Regarding Mark's question, I feel as IDs the main value add which we have brought about is put the structure to learning and set the goals (objectives) to any learning! I have been a teacher in my earlier profession so know that its very important to know about instruction design to create any type of learning.

Kevin Handy said...

Forgive me but I think it's a bit dangerous to combine instructional design and development. I've known some gifted instructional designers who couldn't use e-Learning development tools to save their souls. I've known developers who say they understand instructional design but they're constantly talking about flow, about graphics, about sequencing (not objectives sequencing but sequencing of information). If they are talking about lessons they're lessons related to the final product they're interested in completing. But what if we ask them to produce an ILT or web-based training session? Is the instructional developer going to be able to complete that design? Do they even have the skills to do that? I've met folks who appear to have all skills. Often that is not the case. Appearing to have all the skills and having them isn't the same thing is it? ID isn't just about e-Learning. And so what do we call people more concerned Kirkpatrick's say 3 or 4th level? Are those folks performance support experts / consultants? Are they instructional designers? In large shops you can break things down but that's not the point. In an increasingly complex world we can't all know everything. If I know Captivate but I'm not so hot with say something ancient like IBM Producer or something more recent like Articulate does that mean I am or am not an ID? No its truth one doesn't need to have a degree in ID - there are very few of those in fact. Instructional technology really is the most common degree - and a couple of instructional design courses and maybe some web bool development. ASTD efforts to qualify instructional design aside the community really hasn't answered one simple question: what is instructional deesign? The second one is more elusive, what is the instructional designer? Before we design the other roles perhaps we need to better attend to these two.

Unknown said...

My thoughts on this blog are that is it so true! The ID (Instructional Designer) can’t do it all. The value from being a designer decreases when they have to “do” every aspect of IDP. There should never be a “one and only” tool to help them design any instruction; that’s why we, as students, learn that we have a “tool-box” to be able to pick what/which tool(s) are appropriate per each situation.

Roosevelt University Student - Heather Geegan -

Unknown said...

My thoughts on this blog are that is it so true! The ID (Instructional Designer) can’t do it all. The value from being a designer decreases when they have to “do” every aspect of IDP. There should never be a “one and only” tool to help them design any instruction; that’s why we, as students, learn that we have a “tool-box” to be able to pick what/which tool(s) are appropriate per each situation.

Roosevelt University Student - Heather Geegan -