Each year, we are required to complete a self-evaluation and then have our supervisors review our work. It is required in most positions and while I completely understand the benefit of having these, it can always be difficult to evaluate yourself and where you essentially rank. This post is to consider a few of the major elements that most companies evaluate you on and how to rank yourself (from this IDer's perspective).
In instructional design, communication is a very, very important element. One has to be an effective communicator. One has to be able to tweak their verbiage to fit the stakeholders they are working with. One has to be able to communicate in various forms - email, documentation, verbal, tones, etc. In my evaluation this year, I discussed how I am able to work with different people and change my language based on my audience.
As it turns out, not every SME is going to give you all of the information you need to finish a build. In addition, you may be working on a project when the budget gets cut - the company changes technologies - the direction of the project changes - do you see a theme here? Changes. Every instructional designer must be able to pivot. Pivot. PIVOT! [Friends reference - hopefully you get it]. Along with being flexible is being able to communicate with everyone about how the changes affect the project.
As you will quickly find out - many of these elements are tied together. Collaborating with different stakeholders and having open and honest communication are important when designing and developing different projects. It is best to always be clear with individuals and understand how to best communicate with them [both individually and as a team].
After something is designed and developed, on-going support is sometimes needed. Being available and knowing what the expectations are with all involved parties is critical. In some cases, a client may just need to openly discuss something or even work through a problem together. Providing support is especially important and also creates great relationships.
As an instructional designer, you have to manage a lot of different moving pieces, a lot of different stakeholders, and a lot of [well] everything. Being able to track and keep those projects on task is an important skill. Instructional designers need to find a method to that works for them to effectively manage projects they are apart of. In addition, some elements of people management come into play. If a piece of a project is not on track, reaching out and working individually with people may need to occur.
There is very rarely any project that I've worked on that did not have some sort of problem that needed to be solved. Time constraints. Budge constraints. Moving pieces. As an instructional designer, you must be able to find the root cause of problems and work to create multiple solutions to solve them. Now, I hope you caught on to the word "multiple." I've found that looking and coming up with a lot of different solutions can help to determine what will work and what will not. Even better, the solutions that may not work for this problem may come into play with another problem that you run into later down the road. Another key element is to write these down. Brainstorm and keep track of the different solutions you develop.
Tied with problem solving and finding the root of an issue is being able to evaluate a current project or problem. Look at what is working, what is not. Look at the data that is being collected and evaluate the project. Provide suggestions and keep open lines of communication with your stakeholders. Do not be afraid to pull in other people to help look at the item you are evaluating. An external point of view is extremely helpful.
And obviously.... Design and Development
The most obvious skills that you need as an instructional designer is the ability to design and develop. However, the good news is that these are skills that can be learned. Take a course. Get involved in professional development. Work a training program. Of all of the skills we discussed in this article, I believe that design and development are items that can be learned. These are typically tied to the culture of the company you are working for - so in a weird way, these need to be learned.
Recently, our University developed the baseline information needed to implement and use a 360 evaluation. Welp, what is a 360 evaluation? A 360 evaluation is where data is collected from a wide variety of individuals in order to give your supervisor a full look at what you do, what you are capable of, and how others view your work. While initially a scary thought, the idea behind 360 evaluations is that it provides additional data points for you to be evaluated on. So, while you think you are great at communication...others may view it another way. Or, let's say something you view as a weakness may actually come out in the data as something others think you are excellent at.
I'm curious to see how 360 evaluations work in our University. Do you have experience with 360 evaluations in your setting? If so, please share your experiences below. Our first go-around with this style of evals is happening in the spring. Therefore, once I have experience using these - I'll update you all and let you know how it goes!