What do instructional designers do? And, what do you need to know to be one of the two types?
According to the Association for Training and Development, “An instructional designer applies this systematic methodology (rooted in instructional theories and models) to design and develop content, experiences, and other solutions to support the acquisition of new knowledge or skills.”
What does this definition mean to us every day Joe’s and Jane’s?
In other words, it means that we follow a process to design, redesign, and develop the content that goes into the training course or program, but we don’t stop there. We also put the fun into the training by creating learner experiences. And, we might be responsible for building the participant handouts and trainer manuals, too.
What’s interesting about the role of an instructional designer is that it varies from company to company. Some companies describe instructional designers as the people who develop the content and create the storyboards. Other companies use the term instructional designer to describe a person who does everything, the whole enchilada. I call these Jack’s or Jill’s of All Trades.
Two Types of Instructional Designers
So, there can be two different types of instructional designers depending on the company you go to work for.
I have experienced the Jack or Jill types of instructional designer more than any other type but I have experienced both. There are pluses and minuses to both but it really comes down to your personal preference.
Let’s explore the options.
The Content Curator
Content curating is probably my favorite aspect of my role as an instructional designer. It is closely followed by project managing the development process, however. These two functions are almost tied as my favorite ID tasks.
Before we talk about the pros and cons of being the Content Curator type, why don’t we walk through what value this type of instructional designer provides a company. What does the Content Curator instructional designer do?
Content Curator Key Activities:
- Serve as project managers
- Analyze needs and target audiences
- Identify goals and learning objectives
- Lead scoping meetings
- Interview Subject Matter Experts and stakeholders
- Work with Subject Matter Experts to build out the content
- Create outlines
- Build storyboards
- Create experiential learning experiences
- Apply adult learning theory and cognitive neuroscience principles to engage learners
- Structure content to maximize learning
- Write scripts
- Create knowledge checks and assessments
- Build participant guides
- Build trainer manuals
- Suggest graphics
Content Curator Pros & Cons
What I like about having a dedicated content curator on the team is EXPERTISE. Having an in-house expert who can write engaging content that maximizes learning elevates the learning experience for learners. It is a skill to be able to design content and write scripts that brings life to a topic and makes learners want more.
Not everyone can create a want for more learning. I mean how many times have you been so ready to have a training end? Or, how many times have you been in a training doing something completely different than learning what was being taught?
We’ve all done it.
A great Content Curator can create training experiences that pull you into the training, however. You can’t be a body in a seat when the training is written right by an expert (i.e. the Content Curator).
The downside of this setup is that once the content is curated, it is passed off to someone else to build the training as a PowerPoint, a video, an eLearning course, or some hybrid of these formats. There is a risk that the Content Curator’s vision for specific activities will get lost or some of the content will get cut altogether for some reason or another.
In this type of situation, it is best if the content curator remains a strategic partner in the build-out of the training. It’s even better and more valuable if the Content Curator participates in the delivery of live training to learn how his/her vision translates to execution.
The Jack or Jill
Again, this is the type of instructional designer that I have the most experience with. In many places I have worked, the training budget was low so the number of bodies on the team was limited. This meant that each team member kind of had to do everything.
What does everything look like? It looks like everything the Content Curator does plus a little more.
Jack or Jill Key Activities:
Everything a Content Curator does, plus
- Work with talent to record audio or videos
- Serve as the voice talent
- Edit videos
- Edit graphics
- Build PowerPoints
- Build eLearning modules using software
- Host webinars
- Deliver trainings
- Write marketing copy
- Market trainings
- Upload courses to the Learning Management System
- Write course descriptions
- Admin the Learning Management System
- Write and administer training evaluations
- Analyze data
- Write reports
The Jack or Jill instructional designer does a lot, right? That’s a lot of stuff to know and learn when you are a Jack or Jill ID! If you like variety like I do, this is a great way to go!
Jack or Jill Pros & Cons:
One thing that is extremely beneficial about this ID type, is that because the instructional designer is doing it all, the process doesn’t have to be so linear. He or she can do some tasks that come later in the process during downtimes, such as the review periods.
The Jack or Jill ID also has the vision for the complete project so they can ensure the integrity of the content is carried all the way through all phases of the project. And, the project doesn’t get bogged down as much by needing to wait on fitting into someone else’s workload or prioritization schedule. This is a great benefit because the training project can progress a little faster than it does when passed to other areas of expertise.
The negative is that very few people can do everything, especially in the beginning. There is a pretty steep learning curve to learn how to do all of these key activities.
And, even if someone can do everything, they aren’t necessarily good at everything. You know what they say, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
What’s Your JAM?
Both instructional designer types are equally good. They both have pluses and minuses. You have to decide where you want to start and where you want to end up and create the path which gets you there.
Personally, I like knowing a little bit about it all and having my areas where I shine most but there is no right or wrong answer. The advantage of knowing a little about it all is that it makes you more marketable in the job market.
Whatever your JAM is, you can get there through formal and informal education. The formal education path is your typical college class or program. Many universities around the world offer instructional design programs.
You can also take online courses offered by other instructional designers who walk the walk every day, which is an example of an informal education program. Other informal education options include Lynda.com classes, YouTube videos, and Linkedin Learning.
The advantage of completing informal education courses before completing a college program is that you can test the waters and determine whether or not this field is for you before you spend a lot of money and time on pursuing a degree in instructional design.
Of course, you can also read books and attend conferences, too. If you want to know which book is my favorite, leave me a message in the comments below, and I will share my FAV with you.
Conferences are a blast to attend. If your organization will send you, GO! I love conferences because you learn new ideas from others. As a designer of learning experiences, you should be continually learning yourself.
Attending conferences is a terrific way to keep up with what’s trending. And, what you do learn, you can apply to your training projects to spice them up or improve your process, thus making your work easier. Plus, you will make some new friends who you can look forward to seeing year after year.
Sharing is Caring!
Who do you know who is thinking about becoming an instructional designer? Share this info with him or her to help them decide which type of instructional designer they would like to be.
Feel free to pin, tweet, or leave a comment below.
Connect with me on Facebook, too, so that we can keep in touch and you have a go-to resource for help when you need it. Join the group here.
The Testimonials are In:
Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.
I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.
After taking the Instructional Design & Tech Certificate program and joining my fantastic team for support, I found the structure and approach to be what I need to take my next steps, evening improving my skills in the development stage.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!
L&D Project Manager
The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!
Future Instructional Designer
If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!
Future Instructional Designer
I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).
Future Instructional Designer
I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.
Krista Johnson Awomoyi
Freelance Instructional Designer
I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.
This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!
Instructional Designer Training Facilitator
Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.
I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!
Freelance Instructional Designer
My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!
Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design
I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.
Turns Your Written Thoughts Into a Masterpiece!
Shawntay Skjoldager can turn your written thoughts into a masterpiece. She is great to work with and the most organized person I know!
President and CEO, The Creative Entreprenuer
Shawntay has been incredible!
Shawntay has been incredible and her team is responsive and effective in translating my training programs into professional presentations. Don’t hesitate to contact her for your project.
Beth B. De Lima, MBA, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP
President and Principal of HRM Consulting, Inc.
IDC is My Secret Weapon to Soar Above My Competition!
The IDC team has been my secret and special weapon of success. They have delivered above and beyond with every single project out in front of them. They have met and beat timelines. They have been Uber responsive every step of the way. I keep them on speed dial and have and continue to recommend them to friends and clients. If you are in need of instructional design and plenty more, this is THE ALL-STAR team that will more than deliver and help make you and your project soar above the competition.
LT. COL. Jason O. Harris
U.S. Air Force Officer, Special Operations Pilot, U.S.A.F. Academy Instructor, Motivational Speaker
A Tremendous Asset to the Project Team!
Working with Shawntay and the Instructional Design Company has allowed our university to meet the growing demands of our programs. Shawntay’s expertise allowed for the course development to be completed on time and met all of the university requirements. Shawntay’s project management skills were phenomenal and allowed my team to work on other areas while she completed this project for us. Her work is of high quality and her professionalism and willingness to help made her a tremendous asset to the project team.
Academic Quality Assurance Specialist, Abilene Christian University
Creative & Highly Talented!
Shawntay is a creative and highly talented instructional designer. She brought a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership that enabled her to own the design and creation of a full scale facilitator curriculum and train-the-trainer program. It was a pleasure to partner with Shawntay, her project management and communication skills ensured the project was on time and on budget.
Breaks Down Mammoth Projects
“Shawntay is quick study and carefully synthesizes information for presentations that are clear, concise and captivating. Her personality draws the audience in and her content mastery is excellent. A team player and organizer, Shawntay has the ability to break down mammoth projects, keep everybody on time and on task.”
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach
“I have had many opportunities to work with Shawntay—mainly in the support of implementing new eLearning initiatives. I have been very impressed by her ability to quickly learn how to use rapid eLearning development tools and effectively use them to create multiple courses within a short timeframe. Shawntay’s enthusiastic nature, attention to detail, and dedication to her work make her a pleasure to work with and a great asset to both Texas A&M University-Commerce and the broader training community within the Texas A&M University System.”
Director of Learning Strategy, Caveo Learning
Top Notch Professional
Working with Shawntay has been an immense pleasure. She is atop notch professional who brings enthusiasm and extensiveexpertise to professional curriculum development and execution. Her knowledge of tried and true techniques to maximize the effectiveness of presentations is invaluable.
Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Vice President of Research, CEIR - Center for Exhibition Industry Research
Fortunate to Find Shawntay!
“I was fortunate to find Shawntay when our organization was looking to expand and update our educational offerings. Shawntay proved herself to be an educational and personal development expert who immediately made an impact with our clients throughout Europe. Everyone who came into contact with Shawntay was immediately impressed by her level of expertise and willingness to share her knowledge with those around her. I would not hesitate to recommend Shawntay to anyone looking for an education subject matter expert.”
Director of Qualifications and NSD Services, Mary Kay Inc.
Short Turn Around. On Time. Under Budget!
“We hired Shawntay to develop a training facilitator’s guide and PowerPoint slide deck for an operations manual heavy with technical content. The project was made more challenging by a very short turn around, 5 business days, and the fact that the operations manual wasn’t complete and was being updated simultaneously with the facilitator’s guide and slide deck. Despite these challenges, Shawntay delivered as promised. On time and under budget.”
Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services
Need an Expert Who Consistently Delivers?
“Working with Shawntay you will immediately notice her professional presence and poise, but over time her tenacious pursuit of excellence and her skills in instructional development and adult learning will really impress you. I worked with her at Mary Kay, and was able to experience firsthand her great rapport with regional partners in Europe, understanding their unique sales force training needs. In addition, Shawntay consistently exhibited grace under pressure, made executive decisions to move business forward. If you are looking for an expert who consistently delivers and goes the extra mile to get things done, contact Shawntay!”
Marketing Director, Academic Partnerships
Quality Products & Solutions!
“I had had the pleasure of knowing and working with Shawntay on more than a few occasions. I found her to be a very good business partner and very committed to delivering a quality product or solution in a timely manner. I have always had a positive experience in partnering with Shawntay and would recommend that you consider leveraging her talent.”
Judy Owen, CPC
Transformational Leadership Coach
“Invest in yourself and take your skills to the next NEXT level!”
Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.
Managing Partner, PHiG
“Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!”
Shawntay has exceptional knowledge and experience with all aspects of creating and implementing effective, performance based training for adults. She is exceptional at needs analysis – identifying target audiences and collaborating with business owners to keep training focused on business needs. And she is great to work with – always providing great support to get projects done on-time and on-target. She is always on the look-out for new and more effective ways to engage learners. Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics
I have known and worked with Shawntay as a education program director and use the expertise of ShawntayMichelle for the development of my presentations. The service has always been “spot on” with professionalism, care and attention. Shawntay’s recommendations to my ideas make me look good to my clients.
Al Lomas CMP, CEM, CMM, CFE
Owner, Certified Consulting Services
“Shawntay Skjoldager reached in and made my training life so much easier!”
I am new to the training design and development world and I was SO excited to get in there, but I really lacked the real-world knowledge that would set me apart from my peers. And, then Shawntay Skjoldager walked into my life with an outstretched hand and a seemingly endless list of ways to knock every training out of the park. From the Training Analysis Form to the Tay Tay tips, this course made my life so much easier and even ironed out the review process that I had been struggling with for months.
Take time to invest in your own learning and make sure to put Shawntay Michelle at the top of your personal development list!
Training Specialist, LegalShield