If you haven’t read my Instructional Designer Origin Story, I’ll give you the brief rundown of how I got into Instructional Design:
- Graduated from university and was applying for graduate programs in Speech Language Pathology
- Didn’t know Instructional Design was a thing
- Had a friend who worked as an Instructional Designer, thought I was smart enough to do what she was doing, and got me an interview at her place of employment
- I got hired, worked there for nearly 6 years, and fell in love with Instructional Design
That’s the quick and dirty. Growing up, I never aspired to become a teacher or work in education, because I ignorantly assumed that working in education was synonymous with being a teacher. I hated public speaking, something that might surprise a lot of you, and the thought of standing in front of a room full of little judging people sounded horrifying.
Little did I know that there’s a whole world of ‘background educators’, many of whom are Instructional Designers. In university I did become interested in the concept of technical writing after a particularly challenging IKEA build. Working in a role that allowed me to structure content in a logical and meaningful way to my audience satisfied my original interest. It actually peaked my interest in a world I knew very little about. While in that role, I discovered my passion for Instructional Design, obtained my Masters of Education (Post-Secondary Studies), and discovered my career.
So, Why Do I Love Instructional Design?
1. I Get to Craft Learning Experiences!
Before working as an Instructional Designer, I had been involved in my fair share of horrible training sessions (face-to-face and online), and I took my reflection of those experiences personally. I wanted to make it my mission to make learning more engaging, effective, and meaningful. I wanted the audience to leave their learning experience feeling as though they actually learned something that they could apply, tangibly within their work and/or life.
I wanted to ensure that instruction was being designed in a very purposeful, process-driven manner, and that the instruction and all activities or assessments were being developed to align directly to defined learning objectives or outcomes. Instructional Design allows me to do that.
Being able to craft learning experiences allows me to put myself in the learners’ shoes, and make learning an enjoyable experience.
2. I Can Appreciate the Underlying Theories
There are a lot of cool educational theories that underlie and inform Instructional Design, and they allow me to customize learning experiences further by applying concepts from these theories in order to optimize overall effectiveness.
A lot of folks know about Bloom’s Taxonomy, but do they also know about Gagne’s 9 Events? Constructivism? Behaviorism? Cognitivism? Scaffolding? Chunking? Kirkpatrick’s levels? There are so many other theories! I appreciate them all, and enjoy considering them during the analysis, design, and development phases of any project.
3. The Community!
There are many communities of Instructional Designers and aspiring Instructional Designers that I participate in, and I enjoy learning new things from many of the folks that I follow.
I make it a point to attend and participate in Learning & Development conferences, where I can learn from industry professionals and put my ‘teacher’ cap on and deliver sessions of my own. There are also many online communities that exist and are a wealth of knowledge for any industry professional. Here are just a few:
- Articulate E-Learning Heroes – The E-Learning Heroes Community has by and large been one of my greatest support systems, particularly when I was first starting out as an independent contractor. The weekly e-learning challenges have helped me grow my development skills and my portfolio, the community members have provided continual support – from reviewing my e-learning and providing feedback to helping me troubleshoot projects in a pinch, and I’ve met many of the Articulate folks at Community Roadshows and conferences – all of them are incredibly fantastic and supportive.
- The Online Network of Independent Learning Professionals – Patti Bryant started this group on Linkedin, and members meet every Thursday (live and online!) to chat about pointed topics or have community hours. Usually, one member will present on a given topic, and then a panel will be available to answer community member questions. Each session is recorded, so if you can’t tune in live, you can watch/listen later! This group has such a wealth of knowledge and I would consider participating – even if it’s only passively listening to the sessions – to be essential for any learning and development professional.
- The Instructional Design Sub-Reddit – This sub-reddit is a well-oiled machine, and there always seems to be readers kicking around asking questions, providing feedback, posting jobs, and offering support to folks new to the industry.
4. I Get To Share My Knowledge!
I love sharing all of my knowledge with my readers here on the blog, over on Twitter, or on LinkedIn. It makes me happy to be able to answer your Instructional Design questions, and if my knowledge helps you learn something new, that’s icing on the cake!
If you’re interested in learning more about Instructional Design, I have a 60+ lesson course, Essentials of Instructional Design that you can check out. Until November 28th, 2018, get $150 off all Sprout E-Learning courses using coupon code: bf150.