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.
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?