Saturday, March 14, 2009

What should ID be?

I came across a blog post entitled The Great ID Debate the other day. I actually found it quite interesting to read.

I found the last three paragraphs quite poignant:

Think about it - these days a good ID needs to be able to write instructional objective. Conduct a content analysis. And an audience analysis. Measure job/performance outcomes. Write a criterion referenced test Create a shared collaborative experience and measure its impact. Script a simulation. Create Camtasia movies. Know a .swf from a .flv. Produce a virtual webinar on any number of web platforms. Develop a website. Administer a blog. Program in Actionscript 3. Administer an LMS or two or three. Metatag your content so that everyone in your organization can find it. Create a video and post it to YouTube. Write a report. Evaluate the impact of a performance support initiative in your workplace. Manage a project. Handle a budget. Fix the copier. Trouble-shoot the network....

With all due respect to the university faculty who have taught each and every one of us how to be instructional designers....very few faculty types have ever had to actually produce learning content for a living. With all due respect to the greater minds among us, sometimes the trick of ID is not coming up with the most unique, creative, forward-thinking, innovative response to a learning problem or opportunity. Sometimes a repeatable, scalable approach to solving a performance problem for the greatest number of people at the least amount of cost really IS the best answer.

So...what to YOU think and ID should be able to do? Are we technologists? pyschologists? evaluators? programmers? DO we need business skills? theoretical cognitive skills? IT skills? Are we artists or engineers or a little of everything in-between?

What IS an instructional designer? What should an instructional designer be able to do? Let's say that this instructional designer just finished their Masters degree. I think this is a good question to ask because it points to a general disconnect that I've seen in many fields between hiring processes, job requirements and the insistence of a certain degree.

Now as a student, while it is important for me to learn something about the technology aspect, I think it's more important to learn about the psychology and the educational theory aspects in Instructional Design. Technology comes and goes, those aspects are (somewhat) universally applicable in my opinion. To require someone to be a programmer, a technologist, an evaluator a business guru and ten other things really means that you want a jack of all trades (therefore a master of none).

If you need an LMS administrator - you don't need an instructional designer. If you need a project manager, you don't need an instructional designer. If you need an animator, you don't need an instructional designer. Now if an instructional designer can competently do more than one thing that is great, but you shouldn't expect your Instructional Designer to have all those aforementioned qualities. It's like expecting all subject matter experts to be instructional designers as well. Some may be, but it's generally not true of the whole class.

What do you think?
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