What does an instructional designer do?

Over the years, I’ve been asked by many different people what an instructional designer does. I love instructional design because it is a field where I’m constantly learning. Instructional design uses so many different skills—writing, graphics, UX, collaboration, project management, plus of course the art and science of how people learn.

This is the first in a series of posts on instructional design careers.

What does an instructional designer do? Text on a tablet screen next to a phone, glasses, notebook, and index cards on a wooden desk

What does an instructional designer do? Design and develop learning experiences

I’m emphasizing “experiences” here deliberately, even though that isn’t always how others would describe the job. I think one of the crucial things instructional designers can (and should!) do is make sure that students have opportunities to actively practice what they are learning.

If all you’re doing is dumping content into PowerPoint slides or text to read, you don’t need an instructional designer. The Subject Matter Expert or whoever knows the content can just write it, and the students will be passive recipients of that content.

What the instructional designer adds to the process is the experiences of learning and practicing. IDs know how people learn and can implement strategies to help them learn better.

If you’re looking for engaging learning activities or ways to make practice closer to real life skills, that’s when you need an ID. When you want people to change their behavior as a result of training (rather than just becoming aware of a new policy), an instructional designer can make a real difference.

How do we do that?

  • Work with Subject Matter Experts and others to identify what students need to learn
  • Develop objectives and align content, activities, and assessments to those objectives
  • Revise and rewrite content to shape it for learning needs
  • Structure content and activities for student learning, based on research and other factors
  • Develop assessments (note that this does not only mean tests)
  • Create media to support learning (visual aids, infographics, interactive exercises, animation, job aids)
  • Transform instructional materials created for one format to another format (usually this is adapting materials from face-to-face to elearning)

That’s not a comprehensive description by any stretch of the imagination. These are examples of typical tasks that instructional designers may do in either higher education or workplace training environments.

Variety in the field

Instructional design has a lot of variety. That’s one of the challenges with defining it; the responsibilities of instructional designers may hardly overlap between organizations. An ID in a university may primarily help faculty figure out how to best put their courses online and how to use the technology to connect with students. IDs in large corporations may focus on task analysis, design, and storyboarding, passing all elearning development work to others on their team. An ID in a small organization may do a little bit of everything: delivering and supporting webinars, building elearning, creating performance support, and more.

What instructional design is not

Instructional design isn’t just technical development. If your job is just taking storyboards and building them in a tool like Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate, you’re a developer, not an instructional designer. Those positions should be called “elearning developers” or “multimedia developers” to differentiate them from instructional designers. Development can be part of an ID’s job, but not 100% of it.

Other posts in this careers series

This post was originally published on May 26, 2007. For over 10 years, it was my most popular post. It’s still one of my top evergreen posts. Even after all these years, people are looking for the answer to this question. I last updated this ID career series in 2019. I will be updating the rest of the posts in the coming months, but a surprising amount of the information is still relevant.

  1. What Does an Instructional Designer Do? (Current post)
  2. Getting Into Instructional Design
  3. Resources for Learning Instructional Design Skills
  4. Technology Skills for Instructional Designers
  5. Professional Organizations for Instructional Designers
  6. Is instructional design the right career?

Read all my posts about Instructional Design Careers, including posts on freelancing and transitioning from teaching to instructional design.

Spanish translation

Read the Spanish translation of this post: ¿Qué hace un diseñador instruccional?

Originally published 5/26/2007. Updated 1/31/2019, 2/23/2023.


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312 thoughts on “What does an instructional designer do?”

  1. Pingback: The Profession of Instructional Design - Techiweek Educational Design

  2. Great blog post! Your explanation of what an instructional designer does is clear and insightful. I appreciate how you emphasize the importance of creating learning experiences, not just delivering content. It’s true that anyone can present information, but the real value an instructional designer brings is in making that information engaging and effective for learners.

    Your breakdown of the tasks instructional designers typically handle is very informative. It gives readers a good understanding of the variety within the field, from working in higher education to corporate settings. This highlights the adaptability and broad skill set required for instructional design.

    I also appreciate your distinction between instructional designers and developers. It’s a crucial point because, often, these roles are incorrectly conflated. Your explanation clarifies the unique contributions of each role.

    I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your instructional design careers series. It’s evident that this is a topic many people are interested in, and your expertise in the field shines through in this post. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and insights!
    HexaLearn Solutions

  3. Pingback: How to Find (and Hire) the Perfect Instructional Designer for Your Team - Talance.com

  4. Hi Christy
    I really appreciate your insight of what an instructional designer do.
    I am new in instructional design and I am learning on ways that I can make learning alive to my learners and also understand how best they learn. I must say that learners deserve to have teachers that make learning fun/ interactive, and interesting, instead of mere reading PowerPoint slides to them.

    I am currently doing a MS program and reading your post helps me to understand that I can do more for my learners. I think that as we improve ourselves as teachers we become more effective in teaching and also it benefits us as we develop ourselves, your blog adds toward that development too.

    I think that as IDs we fill in the gaps that may have been left out, for example accommodating children with Special needs within the curriculum. I think IDs and teachers are the most creative people in Education that can help each learner learn to their best of ability.

    Making learning experiences meaningful means that learners have high chances that they will do well in every learning area that they study.

    I want to give all my best to my learners through this blog. I can see that you have a lot of important content that you are sharing about.

    Thank you

    1. Thanks for your comment, Lucreacia. I think in K-12 education, the role is a little different than what I’m describing here. Most instructional designers work either developing workplace training for organizations or supporting faculty in higher education. In K-12 environments, a school district might hire instructional designers to develop curriculum that will be used by other teachers. It’s similar in that the IDs work “behind the scenes” and don’t interact with students or learners directly, but it isn’t necessarily the same. ID could provide general info on accommodating special needs, as you said, but the actual implementation of that in the classroom will be done by a teacher, not an ID. In public schools, there’s such a wide range of special needs that there’s no way to provide all the options at the district curriculum level. It has to be adapted and personalized by the teacher.

      When you say you “want to give all [your] best to [your] learners,” it sounds like you’re still planning to teach and directly interact with students. That’s great, and teachers can certainly build their curriculum development skills by studying instructional design. However, if you’re in a classroom delivering instruction, you’re still a teacher rather than an ID.

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  9. I am also considering transitioning from K-12 to instructional design. I took two instructional systems design courses as part of my MA program eleven years ago which is too long ago to seem relevant and was wondering how to make the transition. I have looked into certificate courses and am curious if this micro-credential course in Learning Experience Design from LSU would be a sufficient entry-point? It translates into 3 credit hours of course-work which seems less than other certificate programs I have seen that require 12 credit hours of course work but the cost is also less. These are the mini-courses taught in the micro-credential: 1.Foundations of Learning Experience Design 2.Tools for Learning Design and Development 3. Learning Resources and Technology 4. Designing and Teaching Accessible Courses 5.Translating Theory into Practice. Thank you in advance for your thoughts! Thank you also for the wonderful information presented on your blog.

    1. Lisa, I don’t know of anyone who has completed that program, so I don’t know anything from even second-hand experience. It looks OK, so it’s probably sufficient. It’s cheaper than some of the other programs out there, but (as you noted), it’s a lot fewer credits too. It looks like it’s self-paced; I can’t tell if you’d get access to an instructor to get individual feedback on your work. If it is fully self-paced (and without access to an instructor), it’s pretty expensive for what it is. I also can’t tell how much of it is hands on, practical experience versus traditional academic assignments.

      You might be better off with something like the IDOL Academy. That’s a shorter program and no academic credit, but it’s all very practical and hands on. It includes step-by-step lessons on how to build your portfolio, which isn’t included in the LSU program. You’d also get feedback from the coaches, which is important to the learning. You can read more about the IDOL Academy here: https://www.idolcourses.com/a/27762/F3DvgqWL (that’s an affiliate link–I teach the eLearning Freelancer Bootcamp with Robin).

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    1. Ouch. It’s hard to take that timeline infographic seriously when they refer to Benjamin Bloom of Bloom’s Taxonomy as “Bloomberg Benjamin.” That’s pretty significant typo that shows the company did only very shallow research to create the infographic.

      I would be very skeptical of anything created by Origin Learning. They clearly don’t have anyone doing quality checks, and it doesn’t appear they really understand the topics they’re writing about.

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  16. Hi, very informative writ. Was reassuring myself after reading it that I know everything except working with Storyline and Captivate. I was never into these techs. Currently I have Graphic Designers who do whatever is required under my instructions and guidance. But when I try looking for another a job in another company, they ask if I am skilled at these two—and I just say no. There is so much else to say! Anyway, thank you, I have saved your article, it boost my confidence!

    1. There’s a lot more than development, even though many ID jobs also include development. I’m glad this will help give you some more substance in your answer.

  17. Hi Christy,
    I discovered your blog after listening to your youtube vide, “Transition from Teaching to Instructional Design” which I found truly inspirational and further cemented my desire to pursue a career in I.D., thank you! As a newbie in the field, this post helped me to recognize the validity of the theory that I am currently learning. Based on your comments above, I can assume that it is the theory that is the foundation of a well-designed course. It’s good to know that what I am learning will be immediately transferable!

    1. Much of the science of how people learn is the same regardless of the age or audience. There are differences in the goals of education (a broad base of knowledge to use “someday”) and workplace training (skills to apply “now”), but I find a great deal of overlap in the skills of educators.

  18. I liked the way you set up this post. Great post regarding instructional design. It will really be going to be helpful to people.

  19. Thank you so much, Christy. I would love to call you. So Just to make sure I understand this right. I only pay for the cost of the call, right? can I call in the morning like 8:00 am or after work like 6 pm. would that work for you? Do you accept calls on Saturday? do you accept paypal for payment? Would you be able to give me some career advice on how to land a job in ID?

    1. On Clarity, you suggest several times to schedule a call. I can either accept those times or suggest alternate times. Clarity has several options for payment, and PayPal is one of them. I’d be happy to give you some career advice.

  20. Thanks again! I prefer to stay away from writing as English is not my first language. Do you think I can get away with it if I have great technical skills? I have a list of programs that I really would like to start learning. I will put your advice into consideration. If you have any advice for an ID whose English is not their first language on how to market themselves, I would really appreciate it.

    1. I think you should look for roles that are “elearning developer” positions rather than instructional designer positions. Focus on larger companies that have bigger teams or companies that create custom elearning. Larger teams are more likely to let people specialize in either the writing/storyboarding or the development side, rather than expecting people to do a little bit of everything. Your English skills won’t be as much of a hindrance if you’re in a specialized technical role.

      1. Thanks so much! so it is either writing/story boarding or development. I wish that storyboarding was under development. there is a program called Toon Boom Digital storyboard Pro that was on my list, I think I will leave it for now because storyboarding is not on the development side. what do you think of animation? I wanted to study animation like 2D animation but I am not sure if it is a priority.
        Anyway, I know I took too much from your time, and I appreciate it. If you do some consulting work outside of your blog( career advice , etc.. ) , I would love to chat with you. you have my email address and I hope to be in touch.

        1. In the elearning world, storyboarding usually includes writing the script for voice over and any on screen text. It may or may not include creating the layouts for interactions. Most organizations use PowerPoint or Word for storyboarding. It isn’t storyboarding like storyboarding for a video or animation, unless you’re doing that kind of work.

          Animation isn’t as common, but you might find it useful as a specialty. The one place where I have used animators is in animating characters having conversations to explain content.

          If you want to chat, you can schedule a call with me at Clarity.fm. I use this service for paid calls because you pay by the minute, so you only have to pay for exactly the time you actually use. https://clarity.fm/christytucker

  21. Hi,
    I studied for a master in instructional design and technology ten years ago. After graduation, I worked in a different field. Now, I would like to go back to the ID field but I feel like the information I have is outdated. How can I learn about the most recent theories/ models in the field? I am sure a lot has changed since I graduated 10 years ago. If you could guide me to resources/ books/ programs, I would greatly appreciate it. I am also willing to study for a certificate or an online program to catch up. Thank you very much!

    1. I don’t think the models and theories change that rapidly. I don’t think an additional certificate would help you that much over your masters degree.

      If you only learned ADDIE and didn’t learn any agile approaches (SAM, LLAMA, etc.), you might want to read up on those development models. Michael Allen’s Leaving ADDIE or SAM is a good place to start.

      The larger change is in the technology. If you did your program 10 years ago, you maybe used Captivate or Camtasia. Articulate Storyline has become a huge player in the market now. Articulate has an active user community with tons of free resources, plus you can get a 60 day free trial to practice.

      1. Thank you so much! You are right. I only used ADDIE. I should read up on the models that you mentioned. Thanks for the recommendation!
        As for the technology, back then, I learnt basic HTML, Dreamweaver for web development. Flash, Director MX, Photoshop and basic Final Cut Pro.
        I also learnt a bit of 3D ( Maya).
        That is all what I know.

        1. OK, so your skills were much more on the technical end. Flash is going away, as you probably know, so mostly everything is in HTML5 now. Most people use elearning tools like Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline to create elearning rather than doing custom development. If you really like the technical aspects of development, rather than the analysis, storyboarding, and writing side, you could look into custom HTML5 development.

          One other change in the market in the last 10 years has been the increase in xAPI rather than SCORM. SCORM is still used by many of the LMSs, but xAPI is slowly becoming more prevalent. Since xAPI can track results outside of an LMS, it gives you some options that wouldn’t have been possible in the past. Torrance Learning runs a free program for learning xAPI if you’re interested in that. https://www.torrancelearning.com/xapi-cohort/

  22. Pingback: What does an Instructional Designer do? – Love 2 Techwrite

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  24. Thank you so much christy. While using word template i have used ADDIE model. But now in moodle i felt slight difference and unfamiliarity to do the moodle lessons. what i should focus to create interactive video.

    1. Is the content you currently create basically a content dump (maybe a narrated presentation with no interaction) plus a multiple choice quiz at the end?

      In your current template for ADDIE, do you in the analysis or design phase determine what teaching strategy and technology you use for different objectives?

      It sounds like you definitely need to improve your technology skills, specifically with Moodle and interactive video. You may also need to work on improving your broader instructional design and writing skills to use strategies like gamification and writing scenarios for videos. Organizations like ATD and the eLearning Guild have many resources (some free) for learning more about instructional design.

      Moodle has a huge online community and tons of free online resources to help people learn to use the tool. For example, while this table is somewhat dated (it’s for a previous version of Moodle), the overall design thought process is still valid. http://www.somerandomthoughts.com/blog/2012/03/15/a-moodle-2-version-of-the-moodle-tool-guide/

      For interactive video, you should ask what tool(s) they use to create this kind of activity. It can be done with standard elearning tools like Storyline and Captivate. It can also be done with expensive dedicated interactive video tools like Viddler and RaptMedia. Sometimes it’s done with custom development. Where you should focus your study depends on what they expect.

  25. hi ,

    i have experience in instructional designing 2 years. i have used word template for creating Storyboard for engineering courses. now i got the opportunity to work in the another organization where they want the training courses using moodle. like content creation and interactive videos and gamification based courses. is this job comes under instructional designing or any other designation

    1. That sounds like instructional design to me. What you’ve been doing may be a fairly narrow application of ID. Everything you describe in the second position can be done by experienced IDs. You may have an opportunity to learn many new skills.

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  28. Hi Christy,

    Thank you for this article. I’ve been an ID for several years, but just recently took on a job for a client who had a different approach than I’m used to. She is the subject matter expert, but hasn’t really provided much content. More-so topics and theories, but has asked me to create the content and deeper concepts on the topics. I don’t quite know how to estimate the time needed to develop the concepts on these topics and become a SME. Normally, the content, concepts and theories are provided to me and I may have to pull out a bit more information from the SME’s, but I focus mostly on cleaning it up, organizing it, adding to it, etc. as I design the training. Have you run into this? Looking at the content is typically how I estimate. Do you have any suggestions for estimating how long it will take just to develop the concepts and theories being taught? Is this a typical ID role, because it is new to me.

    Thank you!

    1. This is a great question. There are two general approaches to the ID role; some of us do both types. One is where the SME is the content creator and the ID cleans it up and improves it. I have seen those jobs more in higher education, but it also happens in corporate learning if you’re recycling content from other sources (like moving F2F content online). The other method is more traditional ID, where there is no existing content. The ID’s job is to work with the SME and others to research and analyze to gather all the content. Both are valid ways of defining the ID role. In fact, traditionally I think ID work has been more of the latter, expanded role. You don’t have to become a full SME, but you will have to do more research to understand the content at a deeper level.

      You will obviously need to plan more time than the kinds of projects you have been doing. Find out what resources are available. Is there any content or documentation in any form–help files, process documentation, policies, marketing material, books, online research? If nothing is written down, plan to spend a LOT of time interviewing your SME and others in the organization. Interviewing learners to find out what they don’t know and people who have recently learned these skills is also helpful.

      Also, you may want to budget more time for reviews and revisions because you aren’t (and can’t become) a SME. Anticipate that your first version will have a fair number of factual or content errors that need to be corrected. Hopefully with enough research that won’t be true, but it’s better to budget some extra time and not need it.

      Since you haven’t done a project like this before with full analysis and research, I recommend you do some reading on the process. Saul Carliner’s Training Design Basics is an excellent source for this. Chapter 2 on planning (including time and budget estimates) and Chapter 3 on needs analysis will be especially relevant.

      1. Hi Christy – I’m sorry I was traveling and didn’t see this. Thank you SO much for your insight. This was very helpful to understand that pulling all of the content together isn’t completely out of the ballpark. I really have been asked to be the SME and ID, with very little input from the client. I’ve been going in with an agile approach, doing a content outline first with everything I gathered and creating objectives and putting the content under each objective. Getting sign-off on that. Then, moving to the storyboard or script and getting sign-off on that before creating a voiceover, video or storyline. THEN, piece by piece reviews of the work. Even more reviews than in the past. So far it’s working, but luckily I have multiple courses on different subjects because this wouldn’t work if I had one course I don’t think. I’d have so much downtime during reviews… I’ll check out Saul’s book to get more tips on analysis, time and budgets. Really appreciate the recommendation. Have a great day!

        1. Being asked to be both the SME and ID is the rub. It’s reasonable to ask you ask an ID to do research and interview the SME. It’s even reasonable to ask you to talk to many people. I had a project last year where we spent months doing focus groups, interviews, surveys, etc. to learn more.

          The problem comes if the SME doesn’t have time to work with you, or to give you access to the people you need. Clients often underestimate how much time they need to invest in creating courses themselves. It’s ideally a partnership where you collaborate rather than you being a hired hand to do it all yourself.

          It sounds like you’re making the best of a less than ideal situation though. Plus, in the future you’ll know to watch for these warning signs and set expectations for involvement right from the start.

  29. Hello Christy, I was very pleased to find your blog. Your insights on the instructional design career are particularly helpful for me right now. After 32 years as a financial systems analyst and manager, I decided at the beginning of March to move my career in a new direction. I have always loved being in and around the classroom, and now I am at the stage in life where I can realistically get involved in education. Moving rapidly, I have already started my first semester at University of North Texas, in an accelerated program which will enable me to complete my MS in Learning Technologies in 14 months. It’s a great program and is saving me both time and money, but it doesn’t give me a lot of time to figure out my next move. Please write more career advice articles, they are fantastic!

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  31. Hi there. I came across your blog and have a question that you may or may not be able to answer. I have been engaged to develop education materials for a government agency. However it has quickly become evident that they don’t really have a strategy or delivery plans for their education so I have been helping with those as well. Now they are asking me to “develop the curriculum” which seems to be overstepping the bounds of what an instructional designer would normally do, ie, aren’t we meant to work out ways of delivering learning objectives rather than determine what those learning objectives should be? Any advice on how I should approach this?

    1. Doing the analysis and figuring out what the learning objectives should be is actually very much within the scope of an instructional designer’s job. It’s the A in ADDIE. That doesn’t happen in every job or project, but they’re being reasonable to expect it from you.

      I recommend you buy Saul Carliner’s book Training Design Basics. This has a whole chapter on analysis and another chapter on objectives. It’s a great book for people who are new to the training field or have recently switched from other careers and don’t have a formal background in training.

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  34. Hi! Thank you for your post. I’m a Tech Writer working and yes i did notice that i receive quite a lot of notifications for ID vacancies. I’m not quite sure if what I do can really pass as an ID as i really don’t have any idea on what ID is not until i read your post. Based on your How do we do that list, I think i’m doing most of it though not quite sure on how to really engage with the audience as we only do online trainings using Moodle softwares. Nevertheless, thank you for shedding light to my curiosity. 🙂

    1. I think there’s more overlap between tech writers and IDs creating software tutorials now than what was true when I wrote this post nearly 10 years ago. I know tech writers who use Captivate or similar software to create demo videos and interactive tutorials.

      In fact, this article from ProEdit talks about how the fields of tech writing and instructional design are converging: http://www.proedit.com/technical-writing-instructional-design-convergence/

      If you’re already creating Moodle training online, you can probably do ID work where you create only software tutorials. There won’t be much difference in the jobs. Creating soft skills training, complex branching scenarios, or similar jobs would be more of a stretch. That’s where engaging with the audience and understanding how people learn differentiates ID from tech writing.

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  37. Hi there, I loved your post…
    I am an Instructional Designer, just completed my Masters in this. I belong from India. Could you tell me where does Instructional Designer fall in the category of? Like a copywriter would fall in the category of Advertising or PR or Events like a part of Mass Media job. I still can’t categorize where an Instructional Designer falls in?
    Also what all are the other names available for an Instructional designer like they are also called curriculum developer or a content developer. Can you tell me any other names for this profession? Thank You!

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  39. Hi Christy! I am so excited to have found your blog site. You definitely have a plethora of information on everything remotely concerning instructional design. I am not sure if you have answered this question in an earlier post or not but I am curious as if a beginning instructional designer would get more experience working for a company or doing contract work? I am working on transitioning out of the classroom as an early childhood educator. I would love to design early childhood curriculum for a publishing company, school district or charter school. I’m also interested in designing curriculum for people who are starting their own school or businesses. I’d like to know if interning would be a plus and where could I possibly find interning opportunities. Thanks so much!

    1. You’ll get different experience in a company or by contracting, but not necessarily more in one or the other. Short term contracts can get you experience with a range of people and fields. Working in a company with a team may give you the opportunity to be mentored by people with more experience. Both of those situations can be beneficial. You may find it easier to get some experience as a contractor first, as it’s hard to find entry level jobs that don’t require prior experience.

      An internship could help you get some experience so you can get that first job. Try KeelWorks for a part-time internship.

    2. @ Janzia, I just got started in ID recently transitioning from a career in charter schools. I have found the most success with UpWork to find short term contracts online. My biggest hurdle is putting together a portfolio with enough samples for clients to have confidence in my skills. Good luck!

  40. Hi Christy. Thank you so much for posting this! This has proven to be really helpful to me. I’m wondering if you might be able to offer me some assistance: I’m investigating some options for my Masters Program. I’m a foreign language teacher, and I have recently become slightly obsessed with whole-brain learning theory, particularly as it relates to the world language classroom. Moreover, I am very interested in physical classroom design (that is, arrangement of desks, incorporation of “child-like” learning practices in the high school setting) and curriculum design for young adults modeled off of the way we learn as children. I also really enjoy creating manipulative for children of all ages across a variety of disciplines and inventing educational games. I more or less just really love learning about how people learn across all age levels and finding ways to come up with interesting and engaging activities developed around these principles. I’m wondering if all of this would fall under the branch of “Instructional Design.” If not, do you happen to know of a better-suited “title” for this interest? If you could please let me know, that would be much appreciated! Thank you, Christy!

    1. Instructional design is a spectrum, and what you describe could fall under that title. I think “learning experience design” might be a slightly better fit for your passions, although you’re unlikely to find a masters program with that title, at least in the US. “Learning design” could also work.

      Regardless of what you call it, you could specialize in those areas.

      1. OK, thank you Christy! That’s very helpful. I will look into programs that mention these key words, and perhaps you’re right–Maybe it would fit under the umbrella of “instructional design,” with specialization in the particular facets that I love.

        1. When you narrow down your list of grad schools, I also recommend talking to faculty in those programs about your passions. That should give you insight into whether they will be receptive to supporting the directions you’re interested in or whether they have very set paths students must follow.

          You might also appreciate this article on Picking the Right Program. The list of programs there is very incomplete, although it does include tuition for comparison. The ideas on questions to ask your prospective school are helpful.

          1. Great idea. Thank you. I’m still about two years out from enrolling in a Masters program, but I wanted to start getting an idea of my options in advance.

  41. Christy,

    I enjoyed reading your post about what an ID is and what they do. I believe that the best instructional designer would be one that has experience teaching. I feel that, in order to relate activities to content objectives, develop assessments, and work with core subject teachers, the best ID would be one who has the background knowledge of how students learn, activities that keep them engaged, and has a deep understanding of content. I also think that a classroom teacher can easily become an ID in their own classroom, without necessarily having that job title. I love incorporating technology activities/programs into my curriculum that engages my students and that helps me meet their learning needs.

    1. Teachers can make great instructional designers, but they aren’t necessarily the best ones (and I say that as a teacher turned instructional designer). Teaching isn’t the only way to get a background in “how students learn, activities that keep them engaged, and has a deep understanding of content.” First, the final item on your list doesn’t belong there–instructional designers do NOT need a “deep understanding of content” like teachers do. We need a deep understanding of how people learn, but we work with subject matter experts who know the content. Second, masters programs, graduate certificates, industry training, PLNs, internships, and informal professional development can teach “how students learn [and] activities that keep them engaged.”

      Teachers who are used to being the content experts don’t always make a successful transition to not knowing the content when they start a project. You have to be willing to let go of being the sole expert and be able to collaborate with a SME.

      Some people who have great classroom presentation skills really can’t make the transition to working behind the scenes and not interacting directly with students anymore. If you’re strongly extroverted, as many teachers are, ID isn’t necessarily a job that will make you happy.

      I’ve also seen teachers who had a great grasp of how to keep students learning and engaged in a physical classroom, but that didn’t translate to writing instructional guides for other people to train. For example, I briefly worked with one former K-12 teacher who was a very energetic classroom trainer. As long as he was creating content where he was the trainer, he was fine. Unfortunately, the job was to create training for other experts to deliver. When you write for yourself, you can document just enough to remind yourself what to say. When you write for others, you can’t assume trainers can read your mind; you have to be able to put yourself in their shoes and give them everything they need. His instructor and student guides were so woefully incomplete on the first day of the pilot that it was embarrassing. A training assistant felt so bad for the class that she updated the student guides herself so they didn’t look so unprofessional.

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  45. Hi Christy
    I am looking at an online M Ed program in Instructional design from UMass Boston.I have a background in Consulting,training and teaching.I am looking at a Masters degree to kick start my career in ID rather than do some small time course.Do you thinks its a good idea?
    would an MEd do the trick or would an certification program in ID also suffice.

    1. The really short certification programs in ID aren’t particularly valuable, in my opinion. The ones that say you can get everything in 3 or 5 days, for example, can actually be a negative rather than even a small positive. Those programs sometimes make people think that they already know everything and don’t need to continually improve their skills. The Langevin certification course is the worst example; I’ve heard of hiring managers who immediately reject resumes of candidates with the Langevin certification.

      Graduate certificates, on the other hand, can be valuable. The kinds of programs that take a year or two to complete and are roughly the equivalent of a third or half masters degree are beneficial. Because you have a training and teaching background, you might be able to do just a graduate certificate instead of a full masters program. It could save you some time and money while still getting your foot in the door. You’d definitely need a solid portfolio, but I think you’ll need that anyway.

      I’m not familiar with the UMass Boston program. Will they help you create a portfolio with some realistic examples? If not, I’d strongly urge you to look at other schools.

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  47. Hi , I’m from Brazil . I am an instructional designer and facilitator.
    Recently did a training based on the ATD model. I believe that a well-made ​​ID ensures a secure learning strategy.

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  55. Hi, I am new to this sight and I hope you are still monitoring the comments. I am a registered nurse and am interested in ID. Can you tell me the best way to, outside of a formal education, get experience for an ID position? Where do I start? Have you heard of other nurses transitioning to an ID position?


    1. Have you done any training in your nursing career? That would be the easiest way to transition to ID. Any opportunities to design and deliver training in your current job would be beneficial.

      If you haven’t done any training and don’t have any way to get experience with training, you probably would find it easiest to get at least a graduate certificate in ID. That’s the most straightforward path to getting a job as an ID. You wouldn’t necessarily need a full master’s degree, but a certificate would be a good start.

      If formal education is completely out of the question, you’re going to have a more challenging time. It’s not impossible, but you’ll probably spend just as much time and effort learning on your own as you would getting a certificate. Start reading books like Design for How People Learn and learning software like Captivate or Storyline. Build a portfolio, since that’s going to be especially important without other formal credentials.

  56. Pingback: 37 Great Resources on Instructional Design | Student Guide

  57. Hi,
    Thanks for your great post summarising what instructional designers do 🙂

    Working as an instructional designer also means learning to project manage; scoping, drafting and getting agreements to contracts, assumptions, deliverables and identifying risks.

    There are some great tools such as google projects wiki tohelp if you are new to project management.

    I find that I usually work on a number of projects at the same time, working with several SMEs and other specialists (e.g. graphic designers or multimedia developers).

    It’s a career where the sands are always shifting as learner expectations drive the learning experiences we create and clients look to us to keep them informed.

    Keep blogging 🙂


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  61. Hello Christy,

    I am definitely considered a newbie to the field of Instructional Design. My background is in early childhood education but the field of Instructional Design has definitely peeked my interest. I am constantly wondering how I will break into this field with virtually zero experience in this field. You have calmed many of my fears because you said you have hired many people with little to no experience and they to have come from many different backgrounds. I am currently enrolled at Walden University and I am pursuing a Certificate in Instruction Design so that I may gain a more profound insight into the field of Instructional Design. You said that many people come into this field either the Direct way or Indirect way. I would have to say I would fall into both of those categories. I have a Masters Degree in Education but a background in Training and Education. I’m hoping that the combination of both of these routes will allow me to successfully break into this field and become a successful and effective Instructional Designer. I’ve gained great insight from reading your blogs.


    Crystal Farrar

  62. Hi Christy…
    I am into scientific and medical journals typesetting for past 3 years as a copy editor. And am really interested in switching my career as an ID. How will I fit the role? Will my experience with editing help me????

    1. Editing is an important skill for IDs, but you probably need to get some formal training to fill your skill gaps before becoming an ID. There’s too much you don’t know about the science of how people learn plus the technology used in the field, and there’s not enough overlap between what you do now and what you want to do.

      1. Thanks a lot Christy….! But I would really wanna take this up… I also kind of train people on copy editing and use different models that i develop to make them understand few intricacies of editing. As you said, i might probably need training.
        Can you please suggest any online tutorial that would be of help? Am eagerly looking forward to make a move.

  63. I never actually knew this job even existed.
    Thanks for instucting about Instructional Design!

    😉 D’you ever use things like mind-maps and memory improvement as part of the instructions?

    Apologies if you’ve already answered this is in the many comments you have answered.

    1. I personally don’t tend to use mind maps, but I know IDs who do use them as part of the planning process. I’ve also seen courses where students created mind maps. Memory aids are pretty common in courses.

  64. It is interesting that you talk of audience. I believe it is global. What you outline is what all learning materials should look like for any learner. You may be interested in Next Generation Global Education and the development of the Universal Library for Learning. http://youtu.be/c03vnPbzbAk
    Love to hear your ideas.

    1. Don and Joseph, I hate to disappoint you, but my audience is pretty heavily American. To give you an idea, I’ve only had about 800 views from Germany in the entire last year; I’ve had over 80,000 views from the US in that same time period.

      I’m not sure if there are any LinkedIn groups specifically for instructional design in Germany, but there are certainly international groups like the eLearning Guild. You’ll probably get better responses from posting this job listing in LinkedIn groups than you will here.

      I wish you luck finding the right candidates though.

  65. Skills: Instructional Designer
    Location: Germany
    Duration: 6months
    Rate: 6K / Month Max

    We need 2 Instructional Designers (English language only) who would be primarily based out of Germany but is willing to travel to other countries like UK and France. The need is urgent and they are looking at deployment in the week of April 8, 2013.

    These IDs should be experienced (at least 7/8) and should able to work closely with clients and should be good in client/stakeholder management. In addition, they should have the ability to work in sync with the offshore team based out of India. Let me know if you have any questions.

    Do detailed analysis and design of learning projects
    Create training content for all forms of training: elearning, ILT, SOPs

    Communicate effectively in oral and written form.
    a) Writing according to the learner needs and characteristics
    b)Clear, concise, and grammatically correct messages
    Communicate with the customer about the course strategies

    · Knowledge of Instructional design and Strategies· Analytical Ability· Ability to conceptualize training needs/content and design· Working knowledge of computers· Good communication skills, both oral and written· Eye for detail· Team worker

  66. . I thank you for letting into your blog, i am currenting a phd student and interested in isd and instructional communication. i need to design an instruction for Micro-teaching for my school. please how do i go about it beginging with a storyboard.

  67. Great post! I currently work for Career Education Corp. and we are converting our online courses into LCMS (Learning Content Management System) and I am being a part of the team that helps convert everything. I have to say I love it, who knew creating these courses would be so intense! However, I work in a separate department and am only temporarily helping the Instructional Designers. I want to apply for an open position someday so my question for you is: What should I do to be better qualified for the ID position? I am currently pursuing my B.A in Business Management, great with LCMS software and have excellent detail oriented skills. Please help with any advice, I am eager to learn more!

    1. If you’re really loving the process of loading content into the LCMS, maybe you’d be happier doing something like an LMS Administrator position rather than instructional design. That’s a role focused on that technical side of the development. If that’s the case, take a look at job listings in your area for LMS Administrator or Coordinator positions and see what’s required. The bachelor’s degree plus your experience might be enough without anything further.

      If you’re actually interested in instructional design, in creating and writing the courses, you need more background in how people learn and how to design for learning. For people who already have an education or training background, I often say they can skip formal education and credentials in ID. With your background though, I think you need something more directly related to instructional design. Consider either a masters or a graduate certificate that will help you build a portfolio.

      As someone who interviewed and hired a lot of instructional designers for CEC, I hate to say it, but I wouldn’t hire you right now. You have no experience teaching or training. We hired a lot of people without ID degrees, but they all had experience teaching, training, or developing courses. You don’t have any of that, so you need more formal education.

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  69. Hi Christy,

    I am currently a Data Systems trainer, with a Masters of Education looking to broaden my learning and teaching. I dont want to be a teacher but my friend is an ID and thinks it would be a great transition for me. I don’t have any ID background other then WBT, assessments and leading trainings. I want to look into it more but and weary of starting it, finishing but not patiently loving it. I am at that point in my life where i want to find that career and love going to work. Any suggestions in the route to becoming an ID? and do you see someone of my background making that leap?

    1. Lots of other former trainers have made the transition to ID, so you probably could too. Whether it’s the right career or not depends on what you enjoy and what you want to do. If you haven’t read Is instructional design the right career? I would start there.

      Check out the rest of my posts on instructional design careers for more on how to get started in the field.

      Maybe once you’ve done some research, you can try a small instructional design project, either through your current job or as a freelance side project. Trying it out is the probably the best way to see if you really want to make the switch.

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  71. Hi There, does anyone know where i can go to find ID’s? I live in Melbourne, Australia and looking for experienced ID’s for a small but rapidly growing business in Melbourne’s business district. If anyone can perhaps recommend networking groups that would be great too. Thanks!

    1. Evelina, if you need IDs for e-learning, I’d start with the eLearning Guild job board on LinkedIn. For e-learning or face-to-face training, there are multiple groups for instructional designers on LinkedIn. Look for the active groups and try posting there. You might see if there’s a group specific to Australia or Melbourne, but I’m not sure about that.

      Outside of LinkedIn, Instructional Design Central has a job board, although it looks fairly US-centric to me. http://www.instructionaldesigncentral.com/htm/IDC_instructionaldesignjobs.htm

      Good luck!

      1. Halo Christy,

        I have 4+ years of experience as process trainer,Currently working as global trainer where in I’m involved much into class training/facilitation. Would like to up skill my knowledge and get a broader view of activities required in an organization in terms of L&D. Could you also help me what are the other kinds of certification courses would suite my profile. One is of ID is what i thought would be relevant.

        Looking forward for your suggestions.


        1. Personally, I’m not sure that certifications are particularly useful. I sometimes see people with the CPLP (Certified Professional in Learning and Performance). That certification is from the ASTD; I don’t know if it’s available or even relevant outside the US. I have a CTT+ certification (Certified Technical Trainer) from CompTIA, but that honestly has never helped me get a job. I also have a certification from InSync; you might look at their Synchronous Facilitation certificate if you’re interested in teaching online.

          If you don’t care about certifications, but just about learning more, there are plenty of topics to look into to expand your skills. Project management is a good skill set that applies to many different positions, including L&D managers. Instructional technology can be beneficial, including learning a specific development tool or two. Presentation and graphic design skills are both related to L&D.

          It all depends what your goals are.

    2. Hi Evelina, I’m not sure whether you’re still looking for IDs, and will see this, but fingers crossed!

      I’m an ID living in Sydney (see http://remotepossibilities.wordpress.com/about/ ) and can recommend 2 placement agencies I’ve worked with: Techwriter Placements and HCi. They both place people in Melbourne (and elsewhere in Australia/NZ). Please see http://www.techwriter.com.au and http://hci.com.au/hcisite5/home/Instructional%20designers.htm

      I hope that’s helpful.

      P.S. Please mention my name if you end up going with either of these agencies!

      Craig Hadden

  72. Uduakabasi Umoren

    Hi Christy, i`m Uduakabasi a student, I`v gone through your post and i give you a thumb up, you talked about ADDIE somewhere, pls, can you help me explain ADDIE model of instructional design? I will appreciate if you do. Thanks

  73. Hi im Bala, i am working as a Graphic Designer. i have an idea to switch over to other company in a good profiled job, but the thing is i am skilled in designing softwares, but i am not that much skilled in story board writings, and also i got the job in ID, so shall i go forward to that job?????????

    1. How are your writing skills? Do you think you’ll be happy doing more writing and less graphic and software work? If so, take the ID job and plan to put in the hours on your own time improving your skills. If you hate writing or know that your skills are not very good, stick with what you know.

  74. Presently working as a Merchandizer,, before life seems boring. I would like to look for something which is of my interest. So, pls pls guide me

    1. Hi Deepa, my advice to you is the same I gave Anjan above. Read my series on instructional design careers and some of the resources from the instructional design skills post to see if you think this would be a good field for you. If it does interest you, check out Manish Mohan’s post for ways to get started.

  75. Inspired with this,, should i need to do learning….
    I would like to see myself in a place where working is made interesting and every new day is inspired to think something new….

  76. Anjan Mukherjee


    Preasently I’m a Graphics Designer working in MNC.I,m a learner of ID, just started and hope I m in this field soon, am very much interested to know more details on this subject. I,m greatly influenced from my frnd.

    Would request you to provide me the right path for this subject and suggest me how to improve in this field. Really I need help.

    Anjan Mukherjee

    1. Anjan, if you haven’t read the rest of this series on instructional design careers, that’s where I would start. My Instructional Design Skills post has several resources to start improving your skills.

      Manish Mohan also has a great post from a few years ago on Getting Started with Instructional Design.

  77. Christy, am writing to you for the very first time.
    Just wanted to know whether it is wise to move from Instructional designing for corporate settings to Instructional designing for K-12.

    An ID professional

    1. Online K-12 education is a growing area, so it’s certainly an opportunity. It’s still a much smaller part of the market than corporate learning though, and it will likely continue to be.

      Should you take a K-12 job if you are offered one? Sure, if it seems like a good fit for you. But why would that prevent you from moving back to corporate learning when that job ends? It’s not like if you take a single K-12 job that you’ll never be able to work in the corporate world again.

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  79. Hi Christy!

    This is excellent information! I am currently working as a product trainer and am planning to switch career paths. Thank you for the inputs!

  80. Hey Christy,

    Thank you for your advice. I have started reading the ebook now and lot sounds familiar to me from what the teachers I was working with were talking about. In your post on 26 May in 2007 you say an Instructional Designer develops assessments. I also read in a job description about the duties of an Instructional designer to be planning and developing of online and automatted assessments and assessment schedules. Does the devopment of assessments means using tools to develop exersises, tests and visual aids and uploading it to a LMS?

    Thank you Christy in advance.

    1. The job listing you saw with “automated assessments” was almost certainly talking about creating online tests that can be automatically graded by a computer. Those could be built in an LMS, using a rapid development tool like Captivate or Articulate, or with a dedicated assessment tool like Questionmark or something proprietary. My guess from reading the rest of that job listing (I googled it) is that they are either building quizzes/exams in a rapid tool like Captivate or using the built-in quiz functionality in Moodle.

      In other contexts, assessments might mean something broader. In a higher ed job, assessment could be discussion boards, written assignments, group projects, presentations to peers, etc. Sometimes that’s the case for corporate instructor-led training too. It could also be simulations or scenario-based practice exercises. I have a few samples of scenario-based activities in my portfolio if you’re interested.

      1. Hi Christy,

        Thank you for your help. I am looking out for ID development positions in New Zealand in the last year but there were so far none which required Adobe Flash skills. Usually it is Captivate, Articulate that are named and the positions require you to design and develop. So last year after our chat to get into the design part more I was looking for volunteer positions as instructional designer and it was difficult to find something which I have not expected. I got declined first and I had to unsure that I don’t need to be coached in writing storyboards. It was interesting doing a different project, different target group and all that but it also practiced my writing and my English skills of course. I am considering now of maybe taking a course in Technical Writing. I have the impression it plays a big part in the ID field. What are your thoughts on that? I looked on your site but couldn’t find any information from you. If you or anyone else can share their thoughts on this it is appreciated.

      2. There are many more jobs requiring Articulate and Captivate now. Flash is on the downturn, although I still do some work where Flash developers are used. More work will be done with HTML5 and mobile development in the future.

        If you don’t like the design side of instructional design, you’re going to hate technical writing. It’s even more of the writing and less of the development and visual work. Technical writing is a separate but related field, not part of instructional design. Some people are able to do both, but I’ve found it’s hard for a lot of people to switch even though many skills overlap.

        This post on the difference between technical writing and instructional design might help clarify the roles.

  81. I am intrested in working as an Instructional designer. I am a digital media and computer science graduate and in my last position I worked with developers assisting them programming language exercises. In time I got more involved in the whole process by showing interest and initiative to help. I analysed the curriculum and talked to teachers to get background knowledge. I started helping teachers for ideas for exersises and writing storyboards. I think my programming and graphic design background is an advantage but I have no teaching education. Do I have less chances on the job market because of that?

    1. Olga, if you focus on e-learning developer positions, your background might be a better fit. Look for teams that are big enough to split the instructional design and development functions, so an instructional designer writes and storyboards the content but a developer builds it in Flash or another tool.

      If you are interested in the design side of things, you need to fill the gap in your skills in understanding the theory and science of how people learn. You can do that on your own through reading books, conferences, etc., but it’s probably easier if you get a graduate certificate. That would give you a formal credential in the field.

      You know yourself though: if you are motivated enough to do the equivalent work to graduate courses on your own, it’s certainly possible to do. Start with Julie Dirksen’s Design for How People Learn (a good book even if you will eventually do a graduate certificate). There’s plenty of instructional design reading lists from there.

  82. Great presentation Joel! Thanks for sharing. The presentation neatly summarizes earlier discussions emphasizing the role of an ID.

  83. I have experience as a trainer on technology courses, and converted PowerPoint decks / raw source material to e-learning courses (from drawing up content outline to LLD and story-boarding).In most of these projects I have worked with subject matter experts. I believed till today that I had the right kind of ID experience. Today in a chat for an ID position, I was told that as an ID, I needed to have expert knowledge of the subject matter content. My understanding is that ID skills are generic to structuring any sort of content. The different perspective left me flummoxed. Can someone tell me if this a new thought that is taking root? BTW, I am in India.

    1. Just read the article Christy provided – spot on! I think it depends on the company/organization as both the author and Christy pointed it. I could go on and on about this, but I need time to organize my thoughts.

      1. Hi There, does anyone know where i can go to find ID’s? I live in Melbourne, Australia and looking for experienced ID’s for a small but rapidly growing business in Melbourne’s business district. If anyone can perhaps recommend networking groups that would be great too. Thanks!

  84. Hello,
    I was working as a content editor for an online marketing company. i’ m planning to do a Instructional designing course. Do you think this will help me in my career. please suggest.

    1. I don’t really have enough information to tell whether or not a course will help your career. There are too many variables: your experience, the course content, how well respected the course is, who you’ll network with during the course, where you’re located, etc. Yes, in theory, a course should help you. No single course is really enough to prepare you to be an instructional designer though. You’ll have to continue learning on your own.

  85. Hello,
    I am currently in school for a PhD in Educational Psychology with a specialization in Learning, Development, and Instruction. As this program definitely focuses on learning theories, it does not focus on the application of technology skills. If I were to choose a career outside academia, do you think it would be difficult to obtain an ID career with this degree? Also, do you suggest any additional computer/tech courses to consider?

    1. It’s probably possible, but not necessarily easy. Do you have any experience developing courses? I admit that a PhD with no work experience is a red flag anywhere outside academia. I actually once worked for a company where a PhD meant your resume was automatically rejected for an ID position, regardless of experience. The assumption was that anyone with a PhD would be bored (and that had been their consistent experience in the past).

      I’m not sure if more courses is what you need, although if you aren’t able to teach yourself something like Articulate or Captivate you may not have much choice. Lynda.com has courses on Captivate for a reasonable price. Articulate is pretty easy to pick up if you have strong PowerPoint skills. Either of those programs is a good choice.

      The best thing you can do is create a portfolio showing your abilities. Hopefully you have some realistic projects from your academic career. If not, I suggest volunteering your time to build your portfolio. That will also give you some practice using whatever tool you decide to learn.

      1. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, I have other questions but have been a bit busy with finals-sorry for the delayed response.
        I am planning on volunteering in the summer to build a portfolio. Overall, do you think this is a realistic career for me to pursue? I guess what I am trying to say is, will an internship along with my degree suit me as a qualified person for a position as an ID?
        Thanks again for your help

        1. It depends on what the company is like & how their department / team is broken up. I know at my current place we need people who can really develop as much as design, and there’s an existing culture of us also having to play the SME as well – or at least people trying to. So, I don’t think it would be a great fit – but other places where the design and develop side are split, might be better

      2. I’m not sure I’m qualified to decide what’s a “realistic” career for you. The only things I know about you is that you’re getting a PhD and you’re interested in instructional design. I don’t know your skills or your personality or your goals or anything else.

        If the internship/volunteer work will provide you with projects that you can use to create a portfolio, and the projects you create are good, then yes, you’re probably in a position to get a job as an instructional designer. There’s no promises, and it’s often really hard to get the first job, but it’s a growing field with a lot of demand.

    2. Maria,

      You are quite welcome. The best thing to focus on if you are interested in a career outside of academia is to start trying to create lessons on simple topics and then sending them out to people to review. And, there are plenty of free courses online you can watch and then break down and analyze based off of the many theories – try to find ones where you have a chance to email the person/company that created them so if you have questions, observations, etc. they might respond. I was a h.s. teacher first out of college, then when the economy hit managed to wiggle my way slowly into the field. I had a m.a. in education so i started taking courses towards a m.s. in instructional technology, but it really didn’t fit my needs – even though it was geared towards “everyone” according to the school it was really meant for k-12 teachers, maybe higher-ed folks could benefit, but it wasn’t very helpful in corporate training. So I’m on the look out for a program or certificate where I can focus more on the devleopment and that can give me more business acumen. So – think about what you’re lacking or want to grow and let that be your focus

  86. Hi mam,
    It was really helpful your guidance ..i m looking for career in instructional design..but scope in my contry(india) is very less.i have recently started instructional design ..becoz i donot know abt this field earlier. I have been completed for One year in Content developer at Bajajallianz company ,so i m wondering from where to start…Hope u can guide me.

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  89. Ashwini Kumar K R

    Hi Christy,
    I am working as UI designer for about 8 years.Now i see the nice job opening for Instructional Designer.I wanted to know what are the skill set needed from me to take a creerer oppertunity in this domain as i am expert in HTML,CSS, Photoshope, Flash and PPT.
    Is this very hard to start up to take a creer or not can i know where can i find metrials for this to refer and aslo i am not a content writer to.

    Ashwini Kumar K R

    1. If it’s just an eLearning Developer position, then you mostly just need the technical skills that you already have. If it’s an instructional designer position you want, writing skills are critical. Organizations that have both IDs and developers usually use the IDs to analyze content and write storyboards, which are given to developers to build. Sometimes IDs do everything though, especially with rapid development tools like Captivate.

      Read the rest of my posts on Instructional Design Careers for more details on the skills needed an how to get them. Manish Mohan’s Getting Started with Instructional Design may also be helpful.

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  91. what does it take to become an instructional designer? any technical skill? I really want to build a career as an instructional designeer. how do i start?

  92. Hi
    Thanks for the 6 part write-up on ID’s. I recently learned how to use Adobe Captivate 5.5 as I am transitioning from Powerpoint. Would like to know if you know of any company’s looking for ID’s to work in a timezone suited for American consumers. I am based in Australia and feel that we are perfectly positioned (timewise) to deliver training to households (especially) and companies given the time difference between Australia and USA.
    Secondly, besides Learning Guild and ASTD, are there any other sites where we can look for American firms looking for ID’s or content writers?

    1. LinkedIn is a good site for finding jobs and making those connections. The eLearning Guild has a group and job board on LinkedIn, and there are lots of other e-learning and instructional design groups.

  93. Hi! Having read this article, makes me want to be a designer. But, I’m a Bachelor of Science in Art Education degree holder and I wonder if I have a chance to work as an Instructional Designer.

    Please leave a reply. :)) Thank you. 🙂

    1. As someone with a Bachelor of Music Education and no other formal qualifications for the field, I can say that your chances are good. 🙂

      You need to either put in the time yourself to learn the instructional design and technology skills or get a graduate certificate or masters degree. I’ve met a number of former teachers who have become IDs though.

  94. Hi Christy,

    Thanks for this post. It was a good read. I remember going through a short course of ID some time ago and what struck me about the role of an ID is that it does not only cover the aspects of enhancing learning experience but as an ID we are also involved in analyzing business situations and proposing the best way to solve them. Sometimes the issue in hand may not necessarily involve the need to train and we could also propose other ways to fill the knowledge gaps like perhaps through improvising interfaces or maybe the need to improve workplace environments, etc.

    1. This is the key – “we are also involved in analyzing business situations and proposing the best way to solve them”. Especially given the plethora of eLearning tools out there now, a L&D or training department can either be a “content factory” churning out material to look effective, they can be a “cool factory” putting out less stuff, but it looks cool & engaging, or they can be a “learning” group actually partnering with the rest of the organization to find, research, understand, and then solve performance & business problems. Going back to eLearning, unless you work in a technical company, then eLearning needs to help solve problems, not just be a place where the stuff looks cool or dazzles with stuff that the non-techs don’t understand.

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  97. Dear Christy,
    I am in the Aviation , Travel & tourism field. I have been in the management division and after being there for several years , I moved out and picked up a trainer’s job and I have done IATA conducted courses on train the trainer, management,Instructional technique and finaly ID. That is why I was looking in to it to find out how it looks like. ADDIE is discussed in the Train the trainer course and now I realised how deep you go for designing.
    Pls send me your in puts ans any sample worth applicable for my course, a class room study.
    warm regards
    Jagadish, cochin , Kerala , India

    1. Hello Jagadish,

      I’m not sure I’m clear what you’re asking for. If you’re looking for samples of content related to aviation, travel, or tourism, I’m afraid I don’t have anything like that. If you’re looking for general samples of instructional design work, perhaps my portfolio would help. Otherwise, some Google searches for ADDIE samples or instructional design portfolios or sample courses will certainly turn up more options.

      If none of that is what you’re looking for, could you please try to clarify what you want?

      1. Dear Christy,
        Thank you so much for your kind reply. Yes, now I have to prepare a facilitators guide, & a leaner’s guide’ (Training participant’s guide) on customer service. can you help me by providing some samples please
        warm regards
        Mob + 91 8547624221 , guider’s academy, Cochin, Kerala , India

      2. I’m afraid I haven’t developed anything for traditional face-to-face training in years. I have no samples for that kind of learning that I can share.

        Fortunately, a few searches turn up many options for you.

        There’s a lot of variety in how these guides are developed and what’s expected, so I suggest you try to find some examples from within your organization to know how they are usually handled there.

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  99. Hey Christy,

    Thanks your answer is extremely useful to me, I got some amount of clarity.
    I really find the site interesting, informative, and educative for a beginner.
    I’ll get back to the blogs once i’ll start with something…

    Thanks once again.

  100. Hi ,

    My name is Dorina Dabre . I have done my ID course for Women’s university- santacruz – mumbai- India in 2006. I am so interested in this field but at that time after this course I receive my BEd degree in 2007 , there after I got married and came to US and did not get chance to work as ID.

    But at present also I can write storyboards and assessment , so can you suggest something on it , I want to start with it . how should I proceed?

    Dorina Dabre

  101. Hi Christy,
    I am working on my master’s in Instructional Design and Technology. I enjoyed reading your blog and am realizing that there are a lot of opportunities in Instructional Design. My current class is in Learning Theories and Instruction. As an instructional designer it is important to know and understand how learning happens. It is also important for the learner to be involved and engaged with the materials. As an instructional designer what are your thoughts on learning?

  102. Christy, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your series on ID, which I found only last week. I’m a student in a certificate course on distance ed. For the instructional design overview portion, we were asked to develop a short quiz for our fellow students. I chose to build my quiz around your blog posts. The quiz is at http://testmoz.com/22200 – for now it’s open with no password.

    1. Wow, I’m flattered, Jim! I tried to check out the quiz, but the testmoz site seems to be down at the moment. I’ll check back in a few hours. I’m very curious to see what you put together.

    2. Testmoz is up again now so I was able to look at the quiz. Very fun to see.

      How did you like working with Testmoz as a tool? I hadn’t heard of this tool previously, so I’m curious about your impressions.

      1. Yes, the quiz was more proof-of-concept than a serious evaluation of our Instructional Design comprehension.

        I’ve used Testmoz only once before for a set of more factual-answer questions from a piece of writing. Testmoz is very easy and straight-forward to use. It isn’t the greatest at open-ended questions – I felt like I was forcing it a bit. I chose it over Survey Monkey or other services in this case, because it doesn’t require registration, neither from the test creator, nor from participants. It’s kind of like etherpad in that way.

        I’ve recently been exposed to Douglas Rushkof’s “Program or be Programmed” and kind of enjoy evading data harvesters.

      2. Interesting–I’ll file that away about it not requiring registration. It looks like it would be easy to use for a simple survey too. I used SurveyMonkey for something recently, but I’ll take a look at Testmoz too. Thanks!

    1. I’m afraid I don’t know of anything there. Perhaps an online program from another country would work? I believe Athabasca has a program open to international students, and plenty of US programs are online.

  103. Pingback: 6 Instructional Design Sites | Museum Designs

  104. Pingback: 9 Instructional Design Sites | Museum Designs

  105. Hi,
    I am an ID with 4 years of experience. I am from India. I want to know if it’s possible to get an Instructional Designer job in the US.

    A little background on my education: I have a Bachelors in Communication and a Masters in MBA (HR-Distance Learning).

    Can you guide me?

    1. If your question was about getting a job with an American company, I’d say your chances would be good. Accenture always seems to be hiring, for example, and plenty of other US companies do at least part of their ID work in India.

      I suspect your question is really about your chances of getting sponsored for a visa to come to the US. If that’s what you’re asking, I think your chances are very low. The unemployment rate in the US is still fairly high, which means plenty of qualified American IDs are looking for work. Most companies won’t deal with the hassle of sponsoring someone from abroad when so many people are available here.

      If you were already in the US and didn’t require sponsorship, your chances would rest more on your portfolio and experience than where you lived previously.

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  110. hi
    i am a final year student pursuing b.com hons. I wanted to know if it will be suitable for me to enter this field after graduation ,and what are the career prospects after this,and how about the colleges and placement opportunities?i am very confused,help me come out of this confusion.

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  112. Hi Christy,

    I’m new to blogging, as I’m in OMDE 603 at UMUC — Teaching and Technology in Distance Education. A classmate sent me — in my blog — a link to your blog in that I referred to Instructional Design as a possible career change. I plan to go back and read your entire blog from top to bottom.

    Carol Cron

  113. I am new to blogging and I’m working towards a degree in Instructional Design – this site has been helpful in getting me through my current assignment. It is good information as well and have set up a RSS feed so I may see more content as it’s published. Thank you for your efforts.

  114. I will be graduating this December 2011 with a M.S. in Instructional Design. Thanks to the blog, I now know that Instructional Design is for me.

  115. Christy (or other readers)

    Been a hs teacher for six plus years, have a ma in education. Going back to get an ms in instructional technology/design. Just wondering if anyone had tips or tricks or answers to some specific questions that might pop up in the interview process and some career ideas.

    1. I’ve written several different curriculum, so how do I translate that into the “business” world?
    2. Does ID vary from company to company so much in terms of the technical skills needed. I’m pretty good with technology and am trying to teach myself new things via lynda.com and obviously the ms program will help, but how do I know the degree of technical skill the company requires via the posting or how should that be brought up in the interview process.

    All I can think of for now, but there will be more.


  116. Hi, i graduated with my Masters in Instructional Design and technology from VA Tech last summer. I haven’t really looked for jobs because i’ve been the assistive technologist for disabled student services for the past 8 years at a local community college. I want to know what type of jobs in ID should i be looking for as I am just starting to get into the field?

  117. Because you only have 74 comments to this post I’ll add my own voice (possibly already duplicated): teaching instructors how to teach all over again. Online learning and teaching is very, very different than face-to-face.

    1. Congrats on being comment #75 on this post! 🙂 2.5 years later, this is still my most popular post. I’m thrilled it’s still generating questions and conversation after this long.

      Online learning is absolutely a big reason the field of instructional design is growing, although plenty of people work developing face-to-face training too. But I agree that if you try to teach online exactly the same as you do face-to-face, you won’t be very successful, and IDs can be very helpful there.

  118. Pingback: Three Interesting Instructional Design Blogs To Check Out « 21st Century Design & Technology

  119. Good presentation on what instructional designers are. Are instructional designers specialists in certain subject or its the next stage where the periphery of instructional designers would go to. Any thoughts?

  120. I am an instructional designer with about 6 years experience. The area where I live in has few oppurtunities for instructional designers. Recently I got hired by a MNC IT giant as an instructional designer. The pay is good and the brand name on the CV is awesome.
    Though this company has an instructional design department, I have been put to work as a technical writer. When I tried to reason with them I got the explanation that technical writing is a part of instructional design. Coming from an elearning background, this is a bit difficult for me to digest. Would appreciate your thoughts on this.

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  122. Hi Christy,
    I found your blog in my first year attending the MA in Learning and Technology at RRU and intently read your piece on “What does an Instructional Designer do? “. Thanks for the insightful read.

    Currently I’m looking for on-line career development resources, specifically for graduate students (all disciplines – distance / f2flearners. Information regarding notable sites would be appreciated.


  123. Hi!

    I’m taking the Masters of Educational Technology at the University of British Colombia in Vancouver, B.C. I was asked to create a wordpress blog for my class, “The Foundations of Educational Technology.” I was wondering if I could include your point form response to, “What does an Instructional Designer Do?” on my blog? I will reference you, of course!

  124. Pingback: Getting Started with Instructional Design | Daryl Guenther's blog

  125. I enjoy reading your blog. I am near the end of a cert in ID. I was wondering where to IDs work? I am crossing over from education–Teaching secondary English. I know there are myriad fields, but how do I choose the one that’s right for me and me for it? Keep sharing. Very insightful. 🙂

    1. The “Career Options” section of my Professional Organizations and Career Options post provides some answers to your first question.

      How to choose the right fit for you is a much harder question. You can find plenty of books and resources about finding a good career fit, so start with What Color is Your Parachute? and continue from there. I’d say be open to contract positions, even short ones. If you can get some short contracts in a few different industries and types of jobs, you can get a better idea how much you like each one.

  126. Thanks for the great blog on design and designers…I was wondering if anyone knows of any tips for upcoming web designers looking to learn the trade?

  127. Hi
    Thanks for this blog and all of its contents. For the past 6 years, I taught MsOffice at different levels and wrote some manuals, booklets etc. based on target audience. What I want to know is when you look towards this ID branch, is it necessary to know all the current technologies? Because even if they have SMEs, charting a course methodology would mean you must have a fair degree of understanding of the subject. An ID would be served with different needs of clients with varied subjects … What is your recommendation in this regard? Thanks

  128. Christy,

    I really would like to get into the field of ID. I am currently working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership which is the similar to ID. The problem is that many of the jobs want 3 years experience or the entry level jobs might think I am over qualified because of the doctorate. I thought about doing volunteer work. The problem is finding someone to volunteer for. Right now I am just wondering what can I do to sell myself. I have a BA in Psychology, and minor in Business, and a MBA with a concentration in HR and OD. I have taught 2 and half years at college level and 1 at middle school level. Can you or someone else please give me some advice?

    1. Volunteering would be a great way to get some experience and build your portfolio. Do you have a personal favorite (non-controversial) issue or charity? Just about every non-profit group has some need for developing educational materials, even if it’s just something to help people learn more about the organization. If you don’t have a personal passion for a charity, check out the LINGOS contest.

      1. No personal favorite organization, but I will check out LINGOS contest. Thank you. Also the class I am currently taking we have to build develop a course online so that will help as well. Thank you.

  129. Great post. I was just pulling one of my ISD books to answer this question but then decided to Google my question instead. Very timely. I’m working with a couple of SME’s who haven’t worked with ISD’s before so this is really helpful. Thanks!

    1. Glad I could help! This question comes up all the time; I’ve found it much easier to give people a link to this post than to rewrite the same info over and over myself.

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  133. Hello,

    I found your posting to be very interesting. I recently enrolled in Walden University’s Instructional Design and Technology certificate program because I wanted to learn more about the profession of instructional design and technology. I am not an instructional design per say, but I do provide workshops and information for learning purpose for people every day. I am interested mostly in a career in training and development, but I felt like I needed more training on this educational path. I have always believed that presenting materials to an audience was about more than just “dumping” some content on a PowerPoint slide. I know how it feels to be in trainings where that has happened and the presenter just stands there and recites every word on the slide. When I leave I feel like I know just as much as I knew before I arrived which was nothing. When I deliver presentations and trainings I always want to ensure that my audience learns and understands the information provided.

    I believe the information that you provided on what an instructional designer is, presents the designer as a very useful, yet meaningful person to the learning process. The Instructional Designer is knowledgeable on how people learn and seeks to target the audience that is obtaining the information. The Instructional Designer does not just dump information on a PowerPoint and say here it is, there is more to their role. As technology has an e-learning has developed over the years this career and role has been deemed necessary. Thank you for posting this information and I look forward to reading more of your series.

  134. Hi!

    I find the site interesting, informative, and educative for a beginner. Is it possible to create a visual on a particular module, concept, or skill? thank you.

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  138. Hi Christy,

    I am an electrical engineer, USA graduate 1989. I have been in training for 12 years, teaching Industrial Automation and electrical courses for engineers & Technicians.Lately,I found that E-learning is booming everywhere and I am trying to find a good Uni/college in teaching online E-learning design for Industrial automation,so please help if you can in this issue.

  139. Christy,

    I am an elementary school teacher and I am trying to narrow down the focus of my graduate degree. I have been accepted into a few different schools, both in different areas. One of them is an ed. degree with an instructional technology focus. Do you think that my background is sufficient for a career as an instructional designer? Another question I have is whether or not there are many part-time positions. I want to begin a family soon and would like to be in a field where part-time work (for at least a few years) is a possibility. Thank you for any suggestions and all the information you have provided!

    Thanks, Kristy

    1. Instructional technology is a great fit for an instructional design career. That plus your prior teaching experience should prepare you well.

      Increasingly, instructional design work is either contract or freelance. If benefits aren’t a concern for you, you can probably do freelance work and give yourself a lot of flexibility around your family. If you don’t take on too many projects, I think you can make it a part-time job.

  140. Hi Christy,

    I am a graduate student at the University of North Texas pursuing a Master’s Degree in Applied Technology-Performance Improvement. I am currently taking a curriculum design course and wondered if you would be willing to share with me the method that you use for instructional design? I’ve done some reading and learned that the variations even amongst expert designers can be quite large. If you would be willing to share your method of choice and some comments as to why you find this method the best, I think it would benefit my learning.

    Thanks for your time.


    1. Depending on the project, I either use roughly ADDIE or a rapid prototyping cycle. When I do ADDIE, I always try to have evaluation happen multiple times in the process, not just at the end. I don’t like ADDIE as a strict waterfall, but as a general guideline it’s a good place to start.

      If the goals of the project are fuzzy, I’d rather do rapid prototyping, similar to what Michael Allen describes in his books. That means I have less to redo if the goals change. If your client doesn’t know what they want and you’re not making progress trying to do traditional analysis, I think you’re better off scrapping ADDIE and just doing small prototypes to get gradually refine what they want.

  141. Christy,
    I feel that your blog is great! It provides a great deal of information about the ISD world as well as additonal links and references. I think your thoughts based of your previous experinces and what a Instructional Designer does allows those of us hoping to join the ranks expecatins of what to expect from someone who actually does it!
    I look forward to reading your new posts as well as continuing to read those from the past.

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  143. Thanks!!!! I saw the post and it mentions a lot of places, but i’m searching for on-site courses of about three months duration and live in another country. Today i was thinking and it seems canada’s better for me, cause i want to go with my boyfriend and in usa it’s usually more complicated to get a visa.

    Do you know any course there?

    Thanks again!!!!!!

    1. Getting a visa for the US can definitely be a challenge. Check out Athabasca in Canada. I’m not sure if they have anything for just three months, but I’ve heard good things about their programs.

    2. The University of Wisconsin – Stout has an online Instructional Designer Certification program. I am in the first of four 8-week sessions.

  144. Hi!

    It´s Denise again, i didn´t notice that I wrote “EUA” sorry, it´s because in Brazil USA means Estados Unidos da América (EUA). But i´m looking for courses at USA. Do you know any about Instructional Design?


  145. Noted that few ‘academically trained’ ID specialist are on this forum. have a look at the IBSTPI (www.ibstpi.org) website to see the internationally validated ID competencies. Then you get a sense of the capability of what someone with an ID qualification should be able to do. For myself (with a grad degree in ID) my work ranges from developing business strategy, training/non-training gap assessment, programme design, and of course evaluation of intervention (i.e, use of success case methodology)etc. The view of ID in UK is seriously limiting and from experience a case of ‘not-built-here’ as evidenced by the very anti-US so-called ID contingent.

    1. Hi Mal, this isn’t precisely a “forum.” This is a blog, where I post my thoughts and experiences and people comment. Check out the video Blogs in Plain English for an explanation; hopefully that will help you understand the difference between blogs and forums.

      But you are correct that most of the people who have commented on this post don’t have training. Most people who find this post find it with a search for something like “what is instructional design” or “what is an instructional designer.” I wouldn’t expect most people with a grad degree in ID to search for those phrases; would you?

      The IBSTPI guidelines are a great resource for people in the field or perhaps HR professionals looking to hire IDs. I don’t find them particularly helpful for explaining ID to people outside the field though. This post really came about because of questions I received from people in a networking group. These were people from a wide range of backgrounds for whom the level of detail from IBSTPI would be overwhelming. As an instructional designer, I do try to write with my audience in mind. Don’t you agree that understanding the audience is an important part of what we do?

      As for your comments about the view of ID in the UK, I’m not sure what relation that has to my post. I’ve lived my whole life in the US and have only worked for US companies and schools. No one has ever accused me of being “anti-US” before; that’s a new one for me. But I know a number of instructional designers in the UK, and I don’t see that kind of limiting view from them. But perhaps the UK IDs who write blogs (which is really the only ones I interact with) have a different attitude from whoever you’re accustomed to.

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  147. By EUA, do you mean the European University Administration? I’m afraid I don’t really know anything about education programs outside North America. Sorry I can’t help.

    1. Srikanth Gundala

      I’m srikanth, from india.
      I’m in search for universities which offer Instruction Design course in USA.

      could you please help me.

      thank you.

  148. Hello,
    I really liked your blog, congrats!

    I´m from Brasil, and i´m searching for courses of Instructional Design in EUA.

    Do you have any recomendation?

    Sorry about my terrible english…

  149. Bhargav sathya

    I have been getting job opportunitues from naukri for ID post. But i want to know wat exactly it is. As im working in architecture field designing, i have done my 3Ds Max course. I need to know can i apply for tat post.

      1. Yugank, no, I don’t think Bhargav was an instructional designer, just someone who saw job listings and was trying to understand them. That comment was from three years ago, so I’m afraid you’re unlikely to get a direct reply from Bhargav to confirm.

  150. Pingback: What Does an Instructional Designer Do?——from Experiencing E-learning « Dan Tao’s LS & IT

  151. Hi,
    i read through your posts and got an idea of the job of an ID.and also of the skills required.I am a software engineer by profession,recently i got an opportunity to shift as an ID..thats when i searched,and read through your posts..it was helpful..but i was wondering,if u could help me figure out,if its wise of me to make this field transition..i know its entirely 2different fields..is there job opportunitues as an ID in companies-big ones,permanent ones and not contract basis?..is the growth of the field lik that of software engineer?..is it a new field,and is there scope in this field in future?..what do u think?..
    Thank u

    1. There are ID positions that are long-term, salaried positions, like the one I have. I don’t have any statistics to back me up on it, but my guess is that more permanent positions are in academia than in businesses. I’m not sure how the job growth compares to software engineers. I don’t see a huge growth right now, but long-term I think the increase in K-12 online schools will fuel some more need for IDs.

      I will point out that instructional designers need to have excellent writing skills, and it’s not a field you’re likely to find fulfilling if you aren’t a good writer. Can you see yourself being happy with a job where a significant portion of your day is spent writing?

  152. Hi,

    I’m inspired with your writings and it helps me to explain to people what ID is all about.

    I’m from Malaysia and here, ID is not quite a popular job and people would be curious when I said I’m an ID.

    Thanks, and I will keep on reading your writing.

  153. I am a Spanish teacher considering moving into ID. I would like to know if my language skills would be a bonus in this career, and if there are many opportunities for travel to Spanish speaking countries to implement training.

  154. Cheryl, your background is a good foundation, but it does sound like you have some gaps to fill. Others will disagree with me, but I don’t think you need a masters degree to learn adult learning theory and instructional design models. If you’re willing to put in the time reading, reflecting, and practicing on your own, you can do it without paying tuition. You will need to brush up on your technology skills, although you may want to focus on rapid development tools to start rather than the web development tools.

    Here’s a couple of places to get started:

    Getting Started with Instructional Design (This is more about careers in India, but still has some useful links.)
    5 Simple Ways to Get Started with E-Learning Development
    Essential Reading for Instructional Design
    How to get an Instructional Design education without paying tuition
    An immediately accessible instructional design education (A shorter version of the reading list above)

  155. Christy,

    I have enjoyed reading through your informative website. I do have a few questions, but let me give you a little background first. I have extensive experience in technical training. I was also a web developer, although that was eight years ago and I haven’t kept up with the technology. I have a B.S. in technical communications with an emphasis in video and multimedia production. I have never been formally trained and am not familiar with ADDIE, Adult Learning Theory, etc. So given my background would it be easy for me to transition to ID? Where is the best place for me to begin this transition? Any information you could provide would be much appreciated. Thank you!


  156. Edren~
    I’m currently an elementary teacher and just finished up getting my masters in instructional design at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. I was going to focus on ID for education; however, when I decided to dual in instructional design for education and corporate settings, I found that I learned a lot of valuable knowledge to use when teaching in the face-to-face and corporate settings. The following courses I took at Bloomsburg taught me how to effectively develop course content and deliver using MANY multimedia systems: LMS Administration, Website Development, Online Course Design, Multimedia Productions, and Authoring Tools. With these courses I was able to develop and implement my very own Blackboard course along with my very own course in the LMS system Plateau. I would highly recommend an ID program to help fine tune course development and teaching skills. Hope this helps Edren! Let me know if you would like any further information or experiences from an educator who went through an ID masters program.

  157. Edren, check out the discussion on my post Instructional Design Certificate or Masters Degree.

    Several people made good points in that discussion that I think are relevant to your question, assuming you want to work in instructional design. Look for a program that will give you lots of hands-on, practical experience and help you build a portfolio of work. A masters program should give you experience using real tools. Employers will be more interested in how you demonstrate your real-world skills than what your degree is in.

    However, if you’re not actually interested in working in instructional design (which is what it sounds like, since you say you want to teach), then you’re wasting your time getting a masters that won’t be about teaching. Being an instructional designer means working behind the scenes, not interacting directly with students. If you want to teach online, look at something like Sloan-C’s certificate for online teaching. (Shameless plug: I’m currently finishing up development on a course called Facilitating Online Learning Communities that would also be helpful if you want to teach online.)

    If you really do want a second masters to help you teach at the university level (which you really should be able to do with your current degree), why not look at a degree in Adult Education instead? An instructional design degree doesn’t actually match your stated goal.

  158. Hello Christy, I very much enjoyed your blog. It provided me with much information. I am an elementary educator who has three years experience teaching students with mild to moderate learning disabilities, nine years teaching general education curriculum, and hold a Master of Art Education Administration.

    I wish to obtain a second master degree in Instructional Design with a concentration in E-Learning to begin teaching at the university level.

    With so many colleges and universities offering master degree in Instructional Design, my question is what types/names of classes should the program have that would provide me with a knowledgable background for developing course content and delivering the information via different multi-media systems?

    I would appreciate your input and assistance.

  159. Basic html isn’t a bad place to start for technology skills; it’s certainly something I use all the time. If you have access to Captivate, that’s probably a better option, as I think those skills are more commonly used. Html has the advantage of being a skill you can learn for free without buying software–a definite plus.

    Learning Web 2.0 technology is another place to start. Create a blog, edit a wiki, join an online community. A year ago when I wrote this series, I didn’t include those on my list of technology skills. However, I think there are more organizations seeing the value in them and starting to use them. Again, these tools have the advantage of usually being free, so they can be easier to learn on your own.

  160. Very much enjoyed your blog. I have an undergrad in History and a M.Ed. in elementary. I sell for a curriculum company and think that the future is in instructional design.

    Do you think Basic html is a good place to start?

  161. In my personal definition, Courseware Developer would be less on the design end and more on the technical/programming development end. In an environment where courseware developers are used, then the designer would mostly have responsibility for the content design and the developer do the technical implementation. Basically, the ID does the AD in ADDIE and the developer does the DI.

    However, the title Instructional Designer encompasses a whole spectrum of jobs, including those outside the big vendors where those jobs are split. In most organizations, IDs do more than one or two letters of ADDIE. Many jobs, like mine, are titled instructional designer but include the description of courseware developer above. ID is the broader title of the two, as it can encompass all the responsibilities of the developer as well.

    Of course, individual organizations may decide to use those terms completely differently than what I described above. YMMV

  162. Nancy, I replied on your blog previously, but just realized I hadn’t done so here yet. Oops! Even those of us who have been at it for a while still make mistakes.

    I think that blogging and interacting with other edubloggers will give you numerous ideas about making what you teach more relevant. It won’t help on the time issue though. Teachers just need a few more hours in the day to get everything done.

    By the way, don’t forget when you comment on another blog to include your blog address in the URL. That makes it easy for people to find your blog, including people who might just be visiting. I knew who you were because I had already commented on your blog, but people who just come here won’t know how to find you. 🙂

  163. learningmosaic

    Hi Christy- you posted a comment on my blog after you were randomly led there by wordpress. I can’t see a link between my few posts and your site other than we both use wordpress. But then your blog has been around much longer than mine. I am glad you picked up mine as I now know of another field in education. As a classroom teacher designing instruction, I always wished I had time and assistance to create and integrate to make the school day more relevant. My current school is looking at NWEA testing, which I used in my past district. I appreciated the data it provided as a piece of the student’s profile that was easy to use to modify instruction. There is such a need to overhaul and integrate all subjects, not just tech, to allow engaging and meaningful instruction. Cheers!

  164. Pingback: Communicating with SMEs « Experiencing E-Learning

  165. Hi Suzanne,

    I haven’t really known any tech writers who became instructional designers, although I’ve interviewed some, so I don’t feel like I have as much expertise in this particular subject. However, I do think it’s possible to make the transition successfully, especially if you could find an ID job that focuses heavily on writing where your skills are already strong.

    In my previous two jobs, I did almost no graphic work. I did lay out storyboards in PowerPoint, but they were very rough. Our production group had the graphic design and Flash expertise, so I let them do what they were good at.

    My current job is with a much smaller company, and we don’t have the luxury of passing it off to someone else to finish. Most of my visuals are stock photos (with some basic editing). I’m starting to create more custom graphics now as I’m improving my skills, but it’s still pretty basic. Fortunately, one of the other IDs on the team does have strong graphic design skills, so when I need help she’s there to support me.

    I think it’s certainly possible for you to find something where you don’t have to do much, if any, graphic design. Larger companies are more likely to split up the work into specializations than small teams where you have a “one person shop.” Personally, I feel that the visual aspect is an area where I have a lot of room to grow, and I’m trying to learn more in this area. You should be able to get started in ID without it though.

    1. There is so much confusion prevailing over the role of “ID”. The term “ID” has become ambiguous over the expectation of corporates. I know of many instances, especially in India, where a tech writer is indeed turns to “ID”.

      1. There is a spectrum of what falls under the heading of ID. The blurring of the line between tech writer and instructional designer seems to be more prevalent in India than in the US or UK. I wonder if partly that’s due to the nature of the courses that are outsourced to India. US companies that rely on Indian e-learning development firms often use them for software demos and simulations. That kind of training is very step-by-step, and it’s not as far from the kind of help documentation that a technical writer might create.

  166. Hi,
    Enjoyed your posts. I’m a technical writer seeing a lot of job openings for IDs lately, and was curious about crossing over. You didn’t delve into tech writers too much, but I’m wondering how much graphics development is involved in your daily work. I’m finding that most job openings require several years’ experience, so breaking in could be intersting.

    1. Hi,
      It was really helpful..i m looking for career in instructional design..but scope in my contry(india) is very less.i have recently started instructional design ..coz i donot know abt this field earlier…so i m wondering from where to start…Hope u can guide

        1. Sau, Vishal’s comment is 5 years old. If you have comments for others who might be looking, please share. Remember that everything you post here (including your phone number) is public.

        2. Hi Sau,

          I’m looking for first hand experience in ID. I am self educating about the theories but need practice with the tools.

    2. Hello,
      I am new to the world of blogging and to the field of Instructional Design. I am currently an online student at Walden pursuing a masters degree in ID. I find your blog to be FULL of helpful information on the field of ID including some answers to a few questions I’ve had in the back of my mind. I thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge on this field and giving others the “good” and the “bad” of things to look forward to in a career of Instructional Design. I look forward to reading more on your blog and the comments others are sharing.

      1. This blog is really full of good information. I’m thinking about breaking into the field as well, and I was considering doing an online degree for the convenience of learning on my own time and being able to have a full time job at the same time. How are you finding your experience with Walden? I have considered them but I would love to hear from somebody firsthand.

      2. Erica, I’m not sure if Edward or any other Walden students are currently getting updates on comments for this post, so you might not get replies.

        There are a couple of other replies from Walden students on this post where I asked about an assignment at Walden.

        Here’s a few more recent blogs from Walden ID students who have linked to my blog. You might try contacting these bloggers or commenting on their blogs.

        A Google search for “EDUC6115” will also bring up a bunch of results from Walden students in that course, which requires students to create blogs and makes them much easier to find. 🙂

      3. Hi Christy,

        I thought I would share with you for your readers, if they are looking for fulltime or contract Instructinal Designer jobs then they should give us a look! http://www.TrainingFolks.com

        We currently have many projects that we are hiring for to support many of our fortune 1000 companies.

        All the best,


    3. Hi,
      I found your website really useful! I also used to be a teacher, and after completing an Instructional Design course, have transitioned into a new career. As part of my job, I created an online group, which has a webpage I designed, as well as job aids (with writing and screenshots) that I created. The purpose is to train people on how to manage their department webpage. I also lead webinars. Would this fall under the umbrella of instructional deign? I have yet to create any video tutorials so I wasn’t sure.

      1. Sandra, I would probably consider delivering webinars to be more of a training role than an ID role, although I have delivered occasional webinars as an ID. If you’re delivering lots of training, your role is probably more of a “learning specialist” or “training specialist” than an ID. If you’re mostly creating learning (including job aids and online groups), I’d call that more of an instructional design role. If you’re focused on improving performance, you might call yourself a “performance improvement specialist” as a broader term. Performance improvement and performance consulting tend to follow the model of “use whatever tool is best for the problem at hand, even if that isn’t a course,” which sounds like your job.

        Here’s a broad list of other possible job titles. There’s no real unity in the industry.

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