Written by: Greg Kearsley, Ph.D.
Being an instructional designer is a complex undertaking. Generally speaking, I feel that Instructional design programs aren’t as effective as they could be in preparing people for this vocation. While most Instructional Design programs provide good coverage of instructional theory and the process of curriculum design, some skills areas don’t get addressed, but are critically important for instructional designers to have. Some of these skills include:
- Project Management – getting courses done on time and budget
- Collaboration – successfully working with content experts
- Management – handling organizational/management issues that affect course development
- Environment – creating a suitable learning environment
- Creativity – being original
As with all industries, classroom and professional settings vary greatly. Like so, instructional design activities in the academic domain are quite different than the training world (i.e., lack of performance outcomes). When key skill areas go unrecognized in the classroom, new instructional designers lack the skills needed to be proficient, and it takes a long time to acquire these skills on the job. To ensure instructional designers are fully prepared to enter the work force, instructional design programs must consider the benefits of internships and project-based coursework, and integrate these components into curriculum.
Dr. Kearsley is the director of online graduate programs at the University of New England, Adjunct Instructor in the ISD program at UMBC, and has written a number of articles and books about eLearning.
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