What are the most effective uses/tips to become an Instructional Designer?
By Deborah Decker Halvorson
There are many paths people take to become Instructional Designers; mine happened to be intentional. After working in the field of education for over a decade (both in the classroom and online), I realized I wanted to focus more on the design and development of learning rather than the actual delivery. I decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology, and the program I was in had a strong emphasis on Instructional Design and Adult Learning Theory. One of the best pieces of advice I received came from one of my professors, who told us to go online and search Instructional Designer job postings, look at the skills employers required, and then to use that information to tailor our thesis and capstone project according to the type of job we wanted. It was immensely helpful to know exactly what skills I would need in the workplace as I was learning them in the classroom.
I believe the requirements for becoming an Instructional Designer include:
Prerequisite: A Passion for Learning
In order to design courses that keep learners engaged, it is essential to understand how people learn and what motivates them to learn, and then design accordingly.
Education: Whether Formal or Informal
If time and resources are available, get a degree; if time and resources are limited, get a certificate (such as the ones offered through ATD); if time and resources are non-existent, find a mentor and/or read some of the great Instructional Design books out there, such as Instructional Design (by Patricia L. Smith and Tillman J. Ragan) or The Accidental Instructional Designer (by Cammy Bean).
Continuing Education: Never Stop Learning!
Today’s learners are very different from those of 20 years ago, and the technology available (as well as learners’ technology skills) is growing quickly; it is important to keep up with trends in the field of training and education through professional memberships (ATD, the eLearning Guild), conferences, Blogs (e.g., Allison Rossett), and online communities.