All jobs require a certain set of talents and skills, whether natural or acquired. But what skills does an instructional designer need in order to be successful and stand out? Check out the following comprehensive list and bear in mind that it can be expanded depending on the course, its scope and the audience.

Skills Set of an Instructional Designer

  1. Possess interdisciplinary knowledge, cross-cultural competency, as well as commitment and passion for learning and technology.
  2. Have a background in education, a critical attitude, and clear learning objectives.
  3. Conduct thorough research, boast good analytical skills and the ability to synthesize information from various sources.
  4. Effectively communicate both visually and verbally, be a good listener and create measurable objectives, based on the audience’s needs. This requires the successful identification of the learners’ general characteristics.
  5. Create content with information that can be used and applied in the real world and especially within the audience’s professional field, always in cooperation with SMEs, professionals and team members.
  6. Select the right instructional media, and write effective copies, texts, audio and video scripts. This requires thorough media knowledge.
  7. Focus on the expected outcomes, based on the audience’s prior skills, experience, expectations and needs, and design a course based on the available technology, budget and time.
  8. Be an effectual project manager, able to develop the right instructional strategy and the appropriate structure, with pre-class activities, presentations, learners participation, practice problems, case studies, and evaluations.
  9. Be a successful, flexible and resourceful problem solver, able to tackle with any kind of setback and obstacle.
  10. Be able to create effective and fair assessment methods that foster the learners’ development by providing opportunities to demonstrate their mastery of the learning goals.

Instructional designer skills set overview

If we take a closer look at the list above, we will realize that it all comes down to: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation (aka ADDIE model). And while it’s important to create a valuable framework for the necessary instructional designer skills, it is equally important to remember that these 10 (or how much ever you stumble upon) features are dynamic and flexible components of a whole.

Instructional designers usually come from diverse educational and professional backgrounds and even though it’s crucial to boast a solid foundation in learning theory and cognitive science, the creation of a successful course requests a wide knowledge, an open-minded mentality and a multilevel familiarity with various different subjects. Thus, this 10-item instructional designer skills list can be dynamically expanded with endless parameters, depending on the subject, specialization and field of the instructor, the course and the audience. Different instructors bring different aspects, have different perspectives and incorporate their own unique experience and know-how in the course they design. In other words, this is only an instructional designer skills guideline to build effective training courses and tools.

Finally, the skills set of instructional designers should include the ability to identify potential failure of the course’s structure, means or teaching methods, acceptance to feedback and evaluation, as well as flexibility to improve their material and the overall learning experience of their audience.

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