What is Instructional Design?
In short, instructional designers create learning products and experiences for employees of a company, or students in an educational establishment. The most widely followed model in Instructional Design is the ADDIE model, short for analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate. Within each of those steps, there exists considerable knowledge, skills, and abilities that will need to be developed in order to become proficient as an Instructional Designer.
Degrees in Instructional Design
Many educational institutions offer degrees in instructional design. The curriculum for instructional design vary, but most include classes on the following:
- Instructional design theory and practice
- Adult learning principles
- Assessment and the instructional design process
- Selection of instructional materials
- Educational media design
- Developing online courses
- New design models and emerging needs
This is only a partial list. Getting an instructional design degree will demonstrate to future employers that you are committed and competent enough to learn at a high standard. Also, a degree may be required to progress to higher level positions in instructional design. But getting a degree does not mean that you are done with your training. While a degree will provide a good foundation for becoming an instructional designer, success in the field will depend upon gaining real life experience and additional training.
Although a degree in instructional design may be preferred by most employers, a certificate in instructional design can provide the needed skills to get started in the field. Also, many instructional designers choose to pursue a certificate in instructional design in addition to holding a degree. Many of these programs can be completed online and at a self-directed pace. These certificate programs vary considerably from place to place, but should include training on the following skills at a minimum:
- Conducting research, and synthesizing information from various sources.
- Communicating clearly, both visually and verbally.
- Identifying expected outcomes, based on audience analysis
- Selecting the most appropriate learning platform
- Building the appropriate structure with the right instructional strategy
- Designing course material on time, and within budget, including pre-class activities, presentations, practice problems, case studies, and more.
- Problem solving, with the ability to overcome setbacks and obstacles
- Creating fair and effective assessments and evaluations
Don’t forget, to be an instructional designer, you don’t have to be a subject matter expert (SME) on the topic you are designing. That’s why you need all of the above skills to be successful in this field.