A Note from Shawntay- One of my favorite things about being an Instructional Designer & Trainologist is meeting new professionals (both in-person and online) that are passionate about making a change. Hearing from people of different backgrounds and how they came into the instructional design field is interesting and inspiring. Not to mention, it’s a great way to share resources for career changers!
So in this new series, which I’m calling ”Instructional Design Journeys: Career-Changers Who Are Crushing It!”, you’ll hear from different beginning instructional designers as they share their journeys through career-changes. They’ll share some of their favorite tips and instructional design resources for career changers that helped them transform into instructional designers!
My journey as an instructional designer began 10 years ago when I attended my first educational technology conference. I saw the potential for hybrid and online learning to grow and become a part of modern classrooms. Everything I learned, I brought back and created my very first online course using Google Classroom. I also used Edmodo to create interactive course materials. The kids and I were hooked from the beginning! We enjoyed having a classroom that was accessible from anywhere.
The Online Shift
In March of 2020, education shifted entirely. My confidence in my ability to create videos and online learning materials that were effective for a remote classroom grew. I researched degree programs that might provide me with the credential I needed to leave the classroom. Unfortunately, with economic uncertainty looming, I didn’t want to be tied to a 2-year master’s degree program. My goal was simply to learn the most skills instructional designers need to know and transfer what I’ve learned from years of teaching. Listening to podcasts and taking several short online courses, including Instructional Design Lab, were easy low-cost steps. Soon, I felt confident enough to begin applying to jobs. Now, I’ve been working as a freelance instructional designer since the summer of 2020.
Transitioning to Instructional Design
If I could go back and do it all over again, I would have definitely started sooner! Teachers tend to be perfectionists. We are afraid to make mistakes. Learning how to be an effective instructional designer has been a humbling and personally rewarding experience. My advice to teachers is to not let the barrier of self-doubt stop you from jumping in and doing something new. Instructional designers have a wide range of skills, including project management, curriculum design, graphic design, and even LMS administration.
The most difficult part of the journey can be “putting yourself out there” and allowing other people to see your work. The Hangout on Facebook has been a great place for newbie instructional designers to share their work, receive feedback and work through the fears of imperfection.
What I love about instructional design is that it blends together my background in journalism, marketing, and teaching. To be an effective instructional designer, you need to know how to ask good questions, motivate learners to grow professionally, and teach new skills that will impact the success of the company.
My Favorite Resources for Career Changers
Here are a few resources for career changers that really helped me on my journey to finding my passion for instructional design:
Edited by Lisa Spinelli, this book is a collection of stories of teachers who took their passion for education and transitioned from teaching to other related roles. This book offers a new perspective on our role as teachers and introduces career opportunities in the growing industry of talent development.
Brittney Long’s blog is relatable for former teachers. She is a former science teacher turned entrepreneur who now makes six figures working from home. Staying in teaching was negatively impacting her health and family life. She found that many skills we have as teachers can be applied to other professions, including remote jobs.
Ali Parrish’s podcast is inspiring. She encourages teachers to see how they can use the skills they already have to go into another field. I don’t think we realize how many transferable skills we have as teachers!
Shawntay’s course helped me to understand foundational instructional design principles as well as how to deal with difficult situations, like SME communication.
The Hangout on Facebook is an incredible resource for career changers. We encourage one another and build each other’s confidence as we are learning new skills. I joined Shawntay’s coaching group in December of 2020. The wisdom and experience she shared with us were invaluable. She has transitioned from teaching to full-time instructional design and eLearning and wanted to ensure our success. So she met with us out weekly giving us 1-1 coaching, reviewing our course content, outlines, learning objectives, portfolios, and more. She taught us how to become effective project managers and coached us through each step of creating our first course.
As a result of my hard work, I was able to pick up a part-time instructional design job through Shawntay’s company. In 2021, I’ve been honing my skills and getting myself ready for my next step in my career as an instructional designer.
Recently, I let my current school know that I will not be returning next year to teach. This step was scary! But I knew it was necessary to apply the skills I have learned through Instructional Design Lab.
I look forward to what the next few months hold. I know I’ll continue to grow in my instructional design skills. Furthermore, I’m eager to check out the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator 12-Week Certificate program. If it’s anything like the Instructional Design Lab, I am going to ACCELERATE my learning at warp speed.