Sultana's 4 Things an Instructional Designer Should Do!

Nazmeen Sultana wrote an article in August of 2016 titled 4 Things an Instructional Designer Should Do! As a lead instructional designer, Sultana is familiar with managing teams and delivering effective learning to different organizations. Her article was an interesting read for me this week as often times I'm asked, "So, what exactly do you do..."

As my day in - day out experiences are constantly changing, I often find myself opting to tell people I create online courses. Is that all that I do--no. Is it a small part of what I do--sure. It does not begin to cover all of the items I do. I design training. I apply learning theories to courses. I create job aids. I analyze, research, and evaluate so many things. Of the four items Sultana mentions in her articles, two really hit home with what I'm working on this week:

Design and Redesign

In one of my last posts, I discussed a project I'm working on where a lot of information is being presented in an online course. I mapped out the course objectives and how the assignments aligned with those objectives (see Holly's Course Mapping blog for more info). Then, I focused on fixing the spots where objectives were not being met or areas where assignments did not match the objectives' goals. Most of my time on this course redesign was learning about the design and redesign process of the current assignments being presented in the course. Last week, I took vacation and headed out of the state. This week vacation gave me time to really reflect on my current projects (without the pressure to work on them the next day or a few hours later).

Not only was I redesigning projects but I created new assignments to replace the current ones. After my initial meeting with the SME, I worked to take their feedback and implement it in the assignments. This week break, gave me time to reflect (without outside influence on the projects I'm working on). For me (personally) this process was not something I was able to work on continuously. I worked for a few hours and took a break. I worked for a day then skipped a few. Taking these steps back away from the project allowed for my design and redesign process to grow--especially with the long week break I had. While I realize I will not be able to a week break in all of my projects (that would be the life, eh?), I was able to understand how important this process is and how taking a step back is vital to my own design and redesign techniques.

Solve a Problem

While it is the instructional designer's job to solve problems and create solutions--this item hinted at something different to me this week. As an instructional designer, we absolutely should solve problems. However, we should also be careful not to create problems. If a training, course, assignment is working well and meeting the needs of the learners--does it need to be redesigned? Does it need to be updated? We often talk in ID about keeping up with the ever-changing trends. I think it's important to realize that not all trends require a mass redesign of projects. I think it is also especially important to note that a trend does not affect the time tested methods of ID - such as the use of certain strategies in a course. For example, virtual & augmented learning are the new and upcoming trends for 2017. While these may be great for a course that focuses on hands-on tasks or learning, to use these methods to learn about theories and different ID models may not be the best fit. I think IDers need to realize where issues are and solve them (without creating issues moving forward). Often times, I find beginner IDers looking for problems to try to fix and that's not always the case...

What did you think about Sultana's article? Do you agree with her four major items? Do you disagree? I'd love to hear more.

Until next week-- h