Are you a teacher interested in becoming an instructional designer, but not sure how to begin that transition? Do you have questions about what instructional design (ID) is, what skills you need, and how to find a job in this field? If so, you are not alone. Many teachers are curious about instructional design, especially in the era of online learning and digital transformation. Below, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions that teaching professionals have about transitioning to instructional design, and provide some tips and resources to help you on your journey.
What is Instructional Design?
Instructional design crafts compelling learning experiences by integrating learning and instructional theories with multimedia design. Designers analyze learner needs, create engaging materials, and assess outcomes. Sounds familiar to what teachers do? That’s because a lot of what IDs do is also like what teachers do! Working across sectors, IDs develop diverse learning products, including online courses, webinars, and simulations. Their impact spans education, corporate, government, non-profit, and healthcare settings.
What employment prospects can teachers, looking to transition into ID, expect?
Clearly, experience and skills count towards “employability”, but without going into specifics, a simple query on any online job-search portal will offer some great insight into your employment prospects as an ID.
Leading industries such as Education, Finance, Marketing, Corporate Training & Development, Healthcare, IT and Consulting, Gaming, and many others, have seen spikes in demand for ID professionals. Consulting firm McKinsey reported a six-fold increase in venture-capital investments in the education space between 2017 and 2021. Online degree providers have also seen a staggering growth in enrollment – up by 92% year-over-year between 2019 and 2020. All of these bode well for a corresponding demand for ID-related skills.
What types of “typical” projects might an Instructional Designer work on?
Unlike teachers, who typically function in classroom environments, instructional designers engage in diverse projects spanning various educational sectors. Within higher education, they contribute to course development, institutional learning initiatives, pedagogy workshops, and quality assurance for online courses. They also offer support for educational technology, pedagogy, and accessibility.
Beyond these, designers create gamified learning experiences, interactive e-learning modules, and scenario-based training programs, encouraging decision-making and consequence understanding. They may also specialize in mobile learning, microlearning, and immersive technologies like virtual and augmented reality. These designers craft engaging and interactive educational experiences, ensuring a rich and dynamic learning environment. This broad spectrum of projects reflects the creativity and innovation within instructional design roles across industries and geographies within the USA and globally.
What skills do I need to become an instructional designer?
Instructional design is a versatile field demanding a blend of skills from diverse domains – many of which teachers already possess. Essential competencies include understanding learning theory to grasp factors shaping motivation and knowledge retention. Proficiency in instructional theory aids in crafting effective learning solutions. Mastery of multimedia design tools is crucial for creating engaging content tailored to the audience. Communication skills are vital for engaging stakeholders effectively, including learners and experts.
Additionally, project management expertise ensures timely and budget-conscious delivery of projects. Research abilities are necessary for needs assessment and informed decision-making. Creativity plays a pivotal role in problem-solving and fostering innovative teaching methods. Mastering these skills will equip teachers-turned instructional designers to create impactful and engaging learning experiences tailored to diverse audiences and contexts.
What other skills do I need to master to stand out from the competition?
As a teacher, looking to compete with other ID in the field, you’ll require a range of skills tailored to the role you play on ID projects.
- Subject matter expertise is essential, providing background knowledge in the specific domain you’re designing for, like accounting principles for business courses.
- Programming skills come into play for creating intricate functionalities in games or simulations.
- Graphic design expertise is crucial for crafting visually appealing elements, whether in videos, infographics, or other learning materials.
- Proficiency in audio/video production is necessary for producing high-quality content, such as podcasts or webinars.
Depending on the context of the project you’re working on, these additional skills enhance the instructional designer’s ability to create effective and engaging learning experiences for diverse audiences. However, often, ID projects are team-based endeavors. Therefore, you might not necessarily require expert level proficiency in each of these skills. A demonstrable working knowledge of many of them is often all it initially takes for teachers to transition into the field.
As a teacher, how do I go about searching for jobs in ID?
For teachers seeking instructional design positions, there are diverse approaches to explore.
- Job search engines like Glassdoor, Indeed and LinkedIn allow tailored searches by location and job type.
- Teachers may find professional associations, like AECT and ISTE, which provide job boards and other valuable resources, a great starting point to ease the transition into ID.
- Networking through conferences and online communities connects you with industry peers and potential job leads.
- Freelancing platforms like Upwork and Freelancer.com offer freelance opportunities for instructional designers.
Additionally, tapping into personal and professional networks can yield valuable referrals, often leading to promising job openings. Utilizing these strategies expands your avenues and enhances your chances of finding suitable instructional design opportunities.
As a teacher, with no previous Instructional Design work experience, what can I do to make the transition easier so I stand out from the competition?
Transitioning from teaching to instructional design can be a rewarding journey with the right approach. Here are four steps you can take to ease the transition and set yourself apart:
- Learn the Skills: Familiarize yourself with instructional design models, learning theories, rapid authoring tools, project management, and visual design. Online courses, workshops, and books are valuable resources for skill acquisition.
- Build a Portfolio: Showcase your expertise by creating a portfolio demonstrating your designed learning experiences. Contribute to open-source projects or volunteer for non-profits to diversify your portfolio.
- Network and Gain Experience: Attend conferences, engage in online communities, and participate in webinars to connect with fellow professionals. Work on small projects for friends or family and volunteer for non-profit organizations to gain practical experience.
- Consider Certification: While not mandatory, certifications validate your skills. Explore instructional design certification programs to enhance your credentials.
By embracing these steps, you’ll enhance your expertise, expand your network, and boost your chances of securing a fulfilling role in instructional design. Best of luck!
Summing it All Up
For teachers, instructional design is a rewarding and exciting career that offers many opportunities for learning and growth – while still leveraging your existing skills and experiences. If you are interested in transitioning to instructional design, we hope that this blog post has answered some of your common questions and provided some tips and resources to help you on your journey. Remember that becoming an instructional designer is not a one-time event but a continuous process that requires passion, curiosity, and persistence.
If you’re ready to dive deeper into the world of Instructional Design, don’t miss out on the opportunity to join my Instructional Design Mastery program. Take a step towards a fulfilling and exciting career by enrolling today!