Are you a teacher who wants to switch careers and become an instructional designer? Here’s the good news: Many teachers have the skills and experience to design effective learning experiences for various audiences and contexts. However, making the transition from teaching to instructional design can be challenging, especially if you don’t know where to start. In this post, we’ll offer a roadmap for educators looking to make the shift from teaching to instructional design. We’ll begin by providing some practical examples of how you can apply your teaching skills and knowledge to instructional design projects.
Similar – yet Different!
If you are a teacher interested in switching to instructional design, you may wonder how to transfer your current skills and knowledge to this new field. The good news is that you already have a lot of relevant and valuable competencies that can help you succeed as an instructional designer. Here are some of the key skills that you have as a teacher, and how they relate to instructional design:
- Lesson and curriculum planning: Teachers possess vital expertise in crafting lessons and curricula tailored to learning objectives. This proficiency is pivotal in instructional design, enabling the creation of compelling learning experiences for diverse audiences. For instance, skills honed in teaching fractions can seamlessly translate into designing impactful budgeting modules for adult learners, showcasing adaptability and expertise.
- Communication: Educators possess excellent communication abilities, crucial for conveying information clearly to students. This proficiency extends to instructional design, where effective communication with stakeholders, like clients and subject-matter experts, is paramount. Employing techniques that you now use, like analogies and visuals, teachers can create concise instructional materials, ensuring clarity and understanding for diverse learners.
- Facilitation: Educators excel in guiding interactive and motivating learning activities. This expertise extends to instructional design, enabling the creation of engaging collaborative learning experiences. For instance, employing group problem-solving and peer feedback techniques used in classrooms can shape interactive online discussions and group activities. In an ID context, using this approach ensures active participation and fostering meaningful learning.
- Assessment and feedback: As a teacher, you are proficient in assessing learner progress and providing feedback that helps them improve their performance. This skill is also relevant for instructional design, as you need to evaluate the effectiveness of your learning solutions and provide constructive and timely feedback to your learners. For example, you might currently use formative and summative assessments, such as rubrics, portfolios, self-assessments, and peer assessments, to measure learner achievement and to provide feedback to your students. You can use the same tools and methods in ID to assess learner outcomes and satisfaction and to provide feedback to your learners.
- Technology: Teachers often use learning technology to enhance learning and to create interactive and multimedia-rich learning materials. This skill is also essential for instructional design, as you need to use various technologies and software applications to develop engaging and accessible learning products. For example, if you used tools such as PowerPoint, Google Slides, Kahoot, or Padlet to create engaging presentations, games, or polls that supported your instruction, you can use the same or similar tools to create online courses, simulations, or gamified learning experiences for your learners.
The bottom line: ID is different, yet leverages many of the same skills that teaching requires. And that differentiation is important for instructional design. You need to consider the diversity of your adult learners and design inclusive and flexible learning solutions that cater to their varying backgrounds, abilities, interests, and learning styles. For example, if you differentiated your instruction by providing different levels of challenge, support, or choice for your students, you can use the same principles and techniques in ID to create adaptive or personalized learning paths for your learners.
A 6-Step Acton Plan
If you are a teacher who wants to switch to instructional design, here are six steps that can help you with the transition:
- Before you commit – Understand what ID’s do: As an instructional designer, you will need to do much of the same work that you do as a teacher, including:
- Conducting needs analysis to identify the learning problem, the target audience, the learning objectives, and the performance gaps.
- Designing learning solutions that align with the learning objectives, the instructional strategies, and the delivery methods.
- Developing learning materials and resources that are engaging, interactive, and effective.
- Implementing learning solutions in the appropriate environment and format.
- Evaluating learning outcomes and impact using various methods and metrics.
- Identify your transferable skills: As a teacher, you have many skills that are relevant for instructional design, such as curriculum development, learning assessment, communication, and collaboration. Make a list of your skills and highlight them in your resume and portfolio. To assess your current skills and knowledge, you can use various methods, such as:
- SELF-ASSESSMENT: You can use online quizzes, surveys, or checklists to evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses.
- PEER FEEDBACK: You can ask your colleagues or friends who are familiar with instructional design to review your work or give you suggestions.
- PROFESSIONAL FEEDBACK: You can seek advice from experts or mentors who have experience in instructional design.
- Learn the basics of instructional design: You don’t need a formal degree to become an instructional designer, but you do need to know the principles and practices of the field. You can take online courses, read books and blogs, join professional associations, and network with other instructional designers. You may also have some gaps or areas that need improvement. For example, you may need to learn more about:
- Instructional design theories and models
- Instructional design tools and software
- Instructional design project management
- Instructional design portfolio development
- Instructional design job market and opportunities
- Build your portfolio: A portfolio is a showcase of your work as an instructional designer. It can include samples of courses, modules, videos, podcasts, infographics, or any other learning materials that you have created or contributed to. You can use tools like WordPress, Wix, or Google Sites to create your portfolio website.
- Find opportunities to gain experience: Experience is essential for landing an instructional design job. You can look for freelance projects, volunteer work, internships, or mentorships that allow you to apply your skills and learn from others. You can also create your own projects based on your interests or needs.
- Update your resume and cover letter: Your resume and cover letter should reflect your skills and experience as an instructional designer. Use keywords and phrases that are relevant for the job you are applying for. Highlight your achievements and impact as a teacher and as an instructional designer. Be clear about your career goals and how you can add value to the organization.
Take the Leap
If you are looking to branch out into ID, there’s a whole new world waiting for you out there! Instructional designers use various methods, models, and tools to analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate learning interventions. They work in different settings, such as education, corporate, government, non-profit, and healthcare. And, they may design courses, workshops, webinars, e-learning modules, videos, podcasts, games, simulations, and more. Hopefully, the information provided in this blog will ease your transition from teaching into the exciting world of Instructional Design.
If you decide to explore Instructional Design for ELearning a bit further, join my Instructional Design Mastery program today and get a step closer to a new and rewarding career.