Red Flags And Not-So-Obvious Tips On Creating An Instructional Design Portfolio

Red Flags And Not-So-Obvious Tips On Creating An Instructional Design Portfolio
Summary: Crafting an effective Instructional Design portfolio is your ticket to success in this competitive field. But how do you create one that will work? Learn from HR specialists' insights in this article to avoid pitfalls and seize opportunities.

See Your Portfolio From An HR Perspective

In the competitive realm of Instructional Design (ID), a meticulously crafted portfolio can serve as your beacon to secure your dream job, captivate prospective clients, or increase your Instructional Designer's salary. However, the daunting task of creating such a portfolio can often lead even the most seasoned Instructional Designers to feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.

What should I include in my portfolio? How should it look? What will make it effective?

There's only one way to answer these and other worrisome questions with certainty. And that is to view your portfolio from the perspective of those for whom it's intended: hiring managers.

That's why all the advice you'll find in this article is based on the feedback and insights of HR specialists who have seen tons of ID portfolios and decided to share reasons why some of them pass and others fail.

Let's get started.

What Is An Instructional Design Portfolio?

A portfolio is not just a collection of your projects; it's your professional identity, a dynamic showcase of your skills, creativity, and the value you bring to the table.

A portfolio can but doesn't have to include actual courses. Whether or not to include them is up to you. Ask yourself this question: Am I interested in creating eLearning for clients? If yes, then sure, it would be nice to see some samples of your work. If not, if you offer your problem-solving skills for client training, then a case study would be more appropriate.

Contrary to popular belief, an Instructional Design portfolio is not confined to a website. While a website is undoubtedly a popular choice, due to its visual appeal and ease of sharing, it's essential to understand that a portfolio can take various forms, each with its advantages.

Here are some of the most common options:

  • Website Portfolios

A website portfolio is like an interactive gallery that allows you to display your projects in a visually engaging manner. However, creating and maintaining a website might require more technical expertise, as well as a greater investment of time and money.

  • PDF Portfolios

A PDF portfolio (or a Word or Google Doc portfolio) compiles your projects into a downloadable document, allowing you to showcase your work in a compact and easily shareable format. This might not be the best option if you need to demonstrate your eLearning courses, but it's perfect for case studies.

  • Specialized Portfolio Platforms

Few portfolio platforms are designed for Instructional Designers, but still there are some. One example is iSpring Suite's Course Portfolio. These platforms provide ready-made templates and user-friendly interfaces, streamlining the process of portfolio creation and hosting. They are equally effective for showcasing your courses (in their original SCORM format, by the way—a rare luxury!) and other works, like case studies, tutorial videos, and eLearning games.

Regardless of which format you choose, the essence of your Instructional Design portfolio remains constant. It's about presenting your projects in a way that highlights your skills, engages viewers, and demonstrates your ability to create effective learning experiences.

Avoiding Red Flags: What Not To Do In Your Portfolio

As you navigate the process of creating your portfolio, it's crucial not just to make sure you present evidence of your knowledge of Instructional Design principles, but to be aware of potential red flags that can hinder your success.

Here are some key points to avoid:

  • Lack of work samples – Your portfolio should showcase your projects, not just your philosophy. Avoid presenting a portfolio devoid of concrete work samples. But be mindful of the following point.
  • Including proprietary projects – If you break confidentiality by showcasing projects from your previous (or current) job, how can a prospective client trust that you won't do the same with their projects? Always ask for permission to include works in a portfolio. If they don't provide it, craft new samples—this is what most IDs do.
  • Poor writing – Lengthy paragraphs and multiple typos can discourage engagement. Avoid overwhelming your portfolio with excessive textual content.
  • Unreadable fonts – A cluttered or unreadable design can harm your portfolio's impact. Avoid using fonts or design elements that hinder readability.
  • Outdated content – Outdated content can give the impression of stagnation. Avoid recycling old projects that have not been updated.
  • Focusing solely on tools – Tools matter, but don't let this overshadow your Instructional Design skills. Avoid turning your portfolio into a list of tools you're proficient in.

Also, think about nuances like your email address in the portfolio. If it's something like [email protected], consider creating a new one that won't give the impression that you've time-traveled from the '90s. No, it doesn't have anything to do with your skills and competency, but it does play a role in your image as a professional.

7 Tips On Crafting An Effective Instructional Design Portfolio

Your portfolio should offer a glimpse into your problem-solving prowess, your creativity when building engaging learning activities, and your adaptability to handle challenges. It's not just about showcasing the finished product; it's about taking your audience on a journey through your design process, your insights, and your growth.

Here are some tips that will help you achieve this and make your portfolio stand out and resonate with potential employers and clients.

1. Quality Over Quantity: Showcase The Work That Speaks For Itself

Imagine you're a seasoned chef curating a menu. Instead of offering an exhaustive list of dishes, you select a few signature dishes that showcase your culinary prowess. Apply the same principle to your portfolio.

Choose a handful of projects that truly embody your expertise and creativity. Hiring managers and prospective clients usually won't check more than three projects. Ensure they'll see the ones that make you the best candidate for the job.

2. Craft Engaging Learning Activities: Bring Learning To Life

Think back to your favorite childhood game that kept you engaged for hours on end. Incorporate that same level of engagement into your portfolio. Showcase projects that feature interactive simulations, branching scenarios, or microlearning modules. For instance, design a role-play scenario where learners step into the shoes of a customer service representative and make decisions that shape the outcome.

Think back to your favorite childhood game that kept you engaged for hours on end. Incorporate that same level of engagement into your portfolio.

This showcases your ability to create learning experiences that are both informative and captivating.

3. Highlight Realistic Challenges And Solutions: Problem-Solving Prowess

Transparency in sharing your journey is a compelling aspect of any portfolio. Describe a situation in which you encountered a content-related hurdle and came up with an innovative solution. Perhaps you had to condense complex medical information into a digestible format for a non-medical audience. Detail the strategies you employed, such as creating animated visual aids or simplifying language without losing the essence of the content.

4. Embrace Imperfection: Learning From Setbacks

Demonstrating your ability to overcome setbacks can be just as impressive as presenting flawless projects. Because very few projects—if any—are perfect, and HR specialists know it. Share a project where initial user testing revealed unforeseen challenges. Talk about how you adapted the design, incorporated user feedback, and turned the experience into an even more engaging and effective learning module.

5. Modern And Clean Design: Aesthetics Matters

Imagine that your portfolio is a finely curated art gallery. Each piece on display complements the overall aesthetic. Similarly, choose a sleek modern design for your portfolio that enhances your work. Avoid dated or excessive design elements and, instead, incorporate a consistent color palette and typography that is both readable and professional.

6. Personalize Your Philosophy: Show Your Unique Approach

While the focus should be on your work, a glimpse into your design philosophy can provide insight into your creative process. Include a brief section where you articulate your approach to Instructional Design. For example, explain how you believe in the power of storytelling to make complex concepts relatable, and then showcase a project that exemplifies this approach.

7. Keep The User Experience In Mind: Navigational Ease

Implement intuitive navigation that allows visitors to explore your projects effortlessly. Imagine you're designing a user-friendly app—every click should feel natural and lead to the desired destination. A portfolio's navigation reflects your UX design skills and affects the HR decision regarding your job application.

Elevate The Way You Create And Host Your ID Portfolio

Designing an outstanding portfolio can be challenging. Even with all the tips shared in this article, there's a large part of the process that can take a lot of your time, energy, and money—the actual building of your portfolio.

Simplify this part with iSpring Suite and its very first portfolio platform designed specifically for Instructional Designers and eLearning developers. For HR and clients, it will look like your personal minimalistic website that is easy to navigate and showcases your best work.

iSpring Suite's portfolio platform designed specifically for Instructional Designers and eLearning developers.

All you need to do is upload your projects (SCORM courses, scenarios, tutorial videos, storyboards, case studies—anything you want to showcase), and add info about yourself, your vision, experience, and skills. Then share it with prospective clients.

Test-drive Course Portfolio by downloading a 14-day free trial of iSpring Suite.

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