Conference participants gather around a topic of interest at an ungodly early hour, while sipping coffee and eating croissants. A bleary-eyed, loosely organized conversation.
If you know me, you’ll know my topic was right up my alley:
“Instructional Design: You Do What for a Living?”
Over 25 IDs gathered to talk about how they got here and where they're going.
I asked people to introduce themselves and tell their stories – how they each got into instructional design.
Some points of notes:
- Of the 25 plus IDs in the room, only two had advanced degrees in ID.
- Most people found themselves in the role of ID somewhat by accident – by “discovering that I had a knack”, demonstrating an affinity for ID, by being a good teacher, etc.
- We all agreed that no one set out in their early days with the grand vision of becoming an instructional designer. Many of us thought that we would be teachers.
- A senior ID at a well-known high tech firm in Silicon Valley told us they had hired a number of well-degreed IDs. None of these IDs made it longer than 6 months as they were too rigid in their approaches and not able to work in the open-minded, flexible way that the business required.
- Steve Nguyen said “Why can’t we just be seen as people who create great content?” He mentioned the LeFevers at CommonCraft who create amazing instructional videos without an ID degree! Ah – the heresy…
- The perception was that ID degrees teach people the technology and the means, but not how to focus on the content. Instead it’s about the bells and whistles and flash.
- One participant revealed himself as a non-practitioner – a manager spying on us IDs. He thought the phrase “we create content” an interesting one. “Do you really create content? Isn’t it out there already?” We talked about packaging content. But some said, “well, I create new graphics, new ways of seeing things so that’s creating content.”
I then asked the group to think about essential ID competencies:
- Know the science behind learning – know what works.
- Keep up with things
- Know when to stay quiet, when to speak. Make it relevant.
- Help teach people how to learn in new ways.
- Journalism skills – how to interveiw a SME, how to look at aggregate content and sitill it to the essentials. The journalistic pyramid.
- Consulting skills rather than order taking. Help the business by identifying what problem you’re trying to solve.
- Challenge the status quo – what if we do it differently?
- Create learning experiences – what is fun? what turns people on?
- Know how brains tick.
- Know how to facilitate.
- Build in motivation.
- Know story and design and how it translates to people.
What about you? What was your road to ID? What do you see as key ID competencies in the 21st century?
Photo credit: Free Cup of Coffee and Flowers at Daybreak Creative Commons by D Sharon Pruitt