To grow and sustain one’s position in today’s increasingly competitive world, every individual needs to make the best use of his capabilities and emerge successfully in the educational and/or professional sphere he wishes to be a part of. However, the concepts and skills you learn during usual degree programs are designed for the masses and are limited to a specific set of information, with negligent scope for considering the specific learning needs of every individual. This has led to the need for specially designed programs and courses facilitating further learning for employees and individuals, which means an increase in the demand for instructional designers as well.
Instructional design is a relatively new term, but offers a multitude of great opportunities, thus attracting individuals from varied fields. However, before planning to make a career in this field, it is essential to be thoroughly aware of its meaning, scope and benefits.
What is instructional design?
In simple words, instructional design refers to a systematic process, involving designing and development of instructional materials. It involves analyzing the learning needs of individuals, along with the goals to be achieved, in order to develop a learning system matching those particular requirements. It can also be explained as a process which identifies the gaps in skills, information and knowledge of a target group of individuals and creates or suggests learning experiences to fill those gaps, using the best available practices and theories from the given field.
What role does an instructional designer plays?
An instructional designer is responsible for developing a comprehensive learning experience. The job of an instructional designer varies from traditional course builders in many ways and can be explained through these steps.
• Planning – It involves conducting assessment and designing programs, using various techniques which can ensure better dissemination of instructional content.
• Designing and development – This step requires selection, development and modification of appropriate models, as well as instructional materials, as per any given program.
• Implementation – It involves effective implementation and management of instructional design programs.
The above mentioned are only a few competencies of an instructional designer. It should be remembered that every instructional designer does not perform every task listed above; as the responsibilities can be segregated depending on how advanced an instructional designer is in his career. Overall, as an instructional designer you should be able to endure:
• Effective communication through various mediums
• Regularly upgrading skills and knowledge related to instructional design
• Efficient application of theory to instructional design courses and projects
Qualities needed to become an instructional designer
Being an instructional designer is a rewarding opportunity for those who understand the responsibilities and requirements this career involves. Teachers and instructors, who is already working in the teaching-learning field, can be a good fit. However, it is more about the desire and willingness that a person feels, rather than just having the right educational background or qualification. As an instructional designer, you should be capable of:
• Working together with subject matter specialists to guide them about the entire process of course development
• Making effective use of technology to make course development easier, further facilitating dissemination of information
• Continue learning and consider it an opportunity to update your knowledge, so that the job can be performed well
• Willing to help others learn and make a difference in their lives by enhancing their educational and professional capabilities
If you think that you possess the qualities mentioned above and being an instructional designer is what you will be happy doing, then the road is open for you.
Why enroll in instructional design course?
As mentioned earlier, the process of instructional design involves conversion of information into learning modules. Established learning concepts and theories are brought into use when it comes to identifying training needs and arranging information as per established standards, in order to design learning plans aimed at the achievement of specific goals.
This is where instructional design differs from the conventional training methodology, as the latter is focused on one sided transfer of information, while the former adopts a learning approach which is result oriented. Therefore the instructional design courses being offered include both practical and theoretical skills required for designing, developing and implementing enriching courseware. These programs and courses are aimed at providing professional qualification, along with developing job related capabilities and skills.
What to consider when selecting an instructional design course?
Instructional design courses are available in various institutions. However, the suitability of a course should be determined in advance, in order to gain the most benefit out of it. Following points should be considered before selecting an instructional design course:
• Curriculum and course structure – Make sure that the curriculum being offered matches your needs and can help you in achieving your professional goals. Also, check the duration of the programs, as well as whether the course is available online or you will need to attend regular classes.
• Staff or faculty – The faculty responsible for designing and teaching the instructional design courses should be experienced, so that you can gain from their knowledge. They should also be approachable and willing to help.
• The cost of the course – Although it should not be a primary factor affecting your decision to join a course, it is essential that the cost of learning materials and tuition is affordable. If not, then look for other financing options, such as scholarships or grants.
Enrolling in instructional design courses can open plenty of avenues for you, in terms of career opportunities. A certified instructional designer can make his career as instructional writer, content editor, technical writer, etc. If you find yourself unable to attend a full time course due to personal or professional obligations, then you can opt for instructional courses being offered online by several reputable and renowned institutions for the convenience of individual learners. So whether you wish to enhance your career prospects by joining an instructional design course or make a career as an instructional designer, the opportunities are plenty.
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This article was written by Eliana Sarsforst Zulsberg, a learning consultant specializing in topics related to instructional design.