Instructional Designers are Architects of Learning

This was a comment to an article I read this morning called The Quest for Great Instructional Designers. Another commenter on this article made some strong points that I identify with:

The biggest problem, from personal experience as an instructional designer myself, is many institutions don’t have a clear definition, or simply don’t understand, of what instructional design (ID) is and what an instructional designer does. At the end of the day, instructional design is about taking everything we know about teaching/learning (systematically) and creating environments conducive to learning. ID postings that are seeking individuals to do high-end multimedia production, creating instructional media for faculty, and/or creating online courses for faculty is not instructional design. In cases like this, institutions are really asking for multimedia developers and course developers. Familiarity with contemporary learning management systems, in my mind, will always be an expectation for an instructional design position at least in higher education. With regards to knowing specific software applications, most ID graduate programs don’t offer much in terms of software skills. More focus tends to be on instructional design theory/practices, research, and andragogy. The software is one of those things that most instructional designers are left to learn on their own. By the way my MA and Ph.D. are in Instructional Technology/Design. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

The bold above is mine. Most job postings I see regarding instructional designer or technologist openings want someone who can do it all. So, great, you find a person who matches ALL of your requirements. They can do faculty development, understand how to use learning management systems, can program in multiple languages, have excellent video / audio / multimedia skills. First, is that what your organization needs, and second, you hire this one person who can do ‘it all,’ and a year later they leave. Back to square one. There is no I in TEAM!! You need a team of people to be ‘architects of learning.’

Keep an eye out for a research article hopefully later this year, which addresses this very issue. Dr. Linda Love, Dr. Faye Haggar and I did a survey on instructional designers in medical education and the results we got back address what is in this article and the comments. We are in the middle of writing up the results and hope to have it published within the next 6 months.

What is your perspective on what makes a great instructional designer?

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