Top 10 In Demand Instructional Designer Skills
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Top 10 Instructional Designer Skills That Today's Instructional Design Candidates Should Have

Instructional Design jobs are in high demand as more learning professionals are turning to technology to create meaningful educational and training content. In the past several years, training has shifted from classroom training sessions to fully interactive online training modules, delivered online through cloud-based Learning Management Systems. It’s no longer ‘good enough’ to have a basic understanding of learning theory to gain a career in Instructional Design. Today's professional needs to be able to apply learning best practices to technology tools that create remarkable content for the end user.

According to a joint survey conducted by the Association for Talent Development and International Association for Continuing Education and Training, 31% of current Instructional Designers feel that their job title doesn't accurately describe what they do. Many are looked at as ‘Jack of all Trades’, required to take on new and challenging tasks on a regular basis as methods adapt to the needs of learners. It is far better to focus on the top skills that align closely with career goals and the learning objectives of organizations than to be a little good at a lot of things.

In order to gain employment or advancement in the field of modern learning, I’ve identified 10 key skills that Instructional Design candidates should work on obtaining. Here is a break down for quick review. How are you doing?

1. Deep Level Of Understanding Of Learning Models

In many job advertisements, I note that the three most popular requirements for Instructional Designers continue to focus on learning models. These include ADDIE, Bloom’s Learning Taxonomy, Kirkpatrick's Levels of Training Evaluations. Many  job postings for Learning and Development roles just say something to the effect of “must know adult learning methodologies”. It’s a good idea to have a deep level of knowledge of how humans best learn, including through the use of integrative technology.

2. Learning Technology Experience

It is absolutely critical to have the ability to create, develop, manipulate, and share learning content using a variety of technology. The most popular continue to be Sharepoint (file sharing), Captivate (creating learning content), and a number of Learning Management Systems that are dependent on organizational needs. Get to know what mobile and cloud-based Learning Management System have to offer, as this is the way of the future.

3. Presentation Technology Knowledge

In addition to the normal creation of learning modules, learning instructors are often tasked with developing videos, live training sessions, webinars, and more. Therefore, having the ability to whiteboard ideas for learning materials and develop presentation slides and handouts combined with serious design and script writing/video production chops can take a candidate far.

4. Project Management Skills

Every learning management professional will be asked to head up some, if not all, of the project management aspects of course development. Staying mindful of stakeholder objectives is a part of all projects. This requires strong interpersonal skills, organizational ability, and a deadline-driven focus. Develop project management skills by taking on new projects and using PM software to manage steps, processes, and resources.

5. Visual And Artistic Talents

Nearly every job posting for eLearning professionals and Instructional Designers I see include the critical skills of knowing how to use Articulate, Canva, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, WordPress, and other visual design tools. Storyboarding, creating imagery out of ideas, and presenting facts in an interesting way requires a level of artistry that few possess.

6. Assessment Development

All learning design candidates need to know how to create powerful assessment elements to accompany courses. Organizations use this information to measure the success or failure of new courses. In many cases, the ability to align assessments with company objectives is a talent that few Learning and Development pros can pull off.

7. Understanding Of Virtual Reality

An emerging area in learning is the use of virtual reality (VR) tools and applications that immerse learners in real-world simulations. As we move more into this realm of learning in the mainstream, Instructional Designers must be able to understand how to apply VR to learning content and collaborate with visual designers.

8. Above Average Communication

All Instructional Designers need to possess superior communication skills in every aspect. A great deal of the time, Learning and Development pros must be able to communicate complex topics in terms that others can understand. This includes the use of communication platforms for creating and distributing content.

9. Passion For Knowledge

Instructional Designers are expected to be lifelong learners, with a demonstrable passion for learning and teaching others. They must be interdisciplinary focused and experts in their field of interest. Most off all, they must remain focused on the outcome of learners, and continually set the bar high for themselves and others. Many Instructional Design professionals are published authors, speakers, and industry leaders because they have this drive.

10. Proactive Career Growth

Top candidates in learning and design know that they are only at their best when they are advancing in their own careers. This requires always learning to do things better and more efficiently. Instructional Design candidates need to be mindful of their performance metrics to measure their own success.

This is not an inclusive list of the skills that learning and design candidates need to have — there are merits to other traits such as creativity, the ability to work as part of a team, and leadership skills. In order to land a job as an Instructional Designer, make sure you can confidently demonstrate most of the above skills through current and past work history.

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