When I tell people that my job title is instructional designer (ID), I am often met with this reaction: a blank stare and “Huh? What’s that?”. I really don’t blame people for not knowing what an ID is because not long prior to actually becoming one myself, I would’ve had the same reaction. .
I’ve since come to realize that what instructional designers do is critical to ensuring organizations have a properly trained workforce. Instructional design is a great field to be in; globalization and the tech revolution have created an ongoing need for well-design online training materials.
Read on to find out what the duties of a typical instructional designer include.
Analyze and Assess Training Needs
One of the key tasks that an ID will carry out is a training needs analysis. This is when an ID gets a clear understanding of what training is needed, why it’s needed, and what the business goals are.
The ID also assesses the training audience, to determine their background and demographics, in order to develop training that is audience appropriate.
In addition to this, the ID will interview stakeholders, employees, and managers to gather source content. The ID might also review existing training materials, create a project plan, and develop the learning objectives.
Work with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
The instructional designer does not necessarily have any knowledge or expertise in the subject that learners need to be trained on. IDs are experts in training design… they can’t be experts in everything after all!
The job of being the expert actually belongs to the appropriately titled Subject Matter Expert (SME). The SME is an expert in his or her job or domain; the ID works with the SME to extract the knowledge and information that needs to be imparted onto others.
Working with SMEs usually involves meetings where the SME explains a process or demonstrates how a task is done accurately. The ID will record this information and include it in the training. Read More: 20 Helpful Tips for Working with Subject Matter Experts)
Develop Training Materials
Instructional designers apply ID methodologies such as the ADDIE model and Adult Learning Principles, to create instructionally sound training materials. Whether it be a PowerPoint presentation, a one page job-aid document, or a highly interactive e-learning module, instructional designers often are the ones to not only design but also develop and create the final training materials.
Implement Evaluation Strategies
One of the most important aspects of the instructional designers job is evaluating the effectiveness of training. An organization cannot measure the Return on Investment (ROI) of training without proper evaluation techniques that provide insights into what performance changes and metrics have changed.
Instructional designers use principles such as Kirkpatrick’s Levels of Evaluation and Keller’s ARCS Model to measure training effectiveness. Common methods of evaluation used by instructional designers include feedback forms, using metrics and KPIs to measure change, and using pre- and post-training evaluations.
These are just some of the tasks that IDs carry out as a part of their job. Depending on the project and their skill-set, they may do more or less of the things identified here.