If you’re considering a teaching career change to instructional design, you’ve got to learn to speak the language!


Instructional design language, that is. 


Teacher Career Change Teacher Speak to Instructional Design Language


In my past few blog posts, I’ve been highlighting why instructional design is a perfect fit for many teachers, so be sure to check out my blog for even more information. This week I want to focus on how teachers can use instructional design language to refocus their résumés and stand out when applying for instructional design positions. To help you explore whether or not instructional design is for you, we have created a dedicated teacher page just for you.


Why Learn Instructional Design Language?

Making a career change is stressful regardless of the field, but there’s no better way to give your confidence a boost going into an interview than to know the lingo in advance! 

Instructional Design Language

Understanding different instructional design terms has many benefits. You can use them in place of niche educational phrases in your résumé and on job applications.  Speaking of, you’ll also be able to better understand job descriptions (both in-person during interviews, and when you’re searching for potential jobs). 


Additionally, when you make it to the interview stage of the hiring process, it’s likely your interviewer will list off some common tasks for the role. In this case, it would be to your benefit to understand what those tasks are specifically. But you should also be able to provide examples of how you have successfully completed similar tasks in your current position.


You might feel like you’re entering this new job market with a disadvantage. Especially when every job posting you see asks for 3-5 years (at least) of instructional design experience. Plus, even though you might see how similar your work as a teacher is to the work of an instructional designer, the person in charge of hiring might not. 

Teacher Speak to Instructional Design Language


It’s going to be up to you to sell your skills. In order to do that, you have got to change your language! The good news is, so much of your work in education directly translates to instructional design, which is why I believe teachers make some of the best instructional designers


The Teacher to Instructional Design Language Translator

If you’ve ever tried to learn a new language, you know the importance of vocabulary. In this section, you’ll find some important instructional design vocabulary so you can change your language and talk up your strengths like a pro.


Some of these vocab words are synonyms, so you’ll see how your skills connect right away. With others, it might not be as obvious, so look out for my ‘Tay Tay Tips’, where I give specific examples of common teacher responsibilities that would fit the description to help you craft your résumé and describe your relevant experience with ease.



This is an acronym for ‘instructor-led training’, which is just what it sounds like! You may also hear it referred to as F2F, which stands for face-to-face. In ILT, the learners gather in person and a trainer will use the materials created by an instructional designer to implement learning.


Teacher Speak to Instructional Design Language

Teachers know ILT like it’s their job (because it is), although educators might also call it direct instruction. It’s important for teachers turned IDs to understand that ILT is not the preferred method of delivering instruction in many instructional design projects, but your organization, classroom management, and delivery skills can come in handy even if you never create an ILT as an instructional designer.



Thanks to stay-at-home orders, many teachers are all newly familiar with this term. eLearning is material that can be accessed outside of a traditional training environment, which learners navigate on their own.


eLearning courses are very popular with many instructional design clients. They’re the most efficient and effective ways for companies (especially large companies) to deliver uniform training across multiple locations.


Teacher Speak to Instructional Design Language

Tay Tay Tip: if you’re a teacher who transitioned curriculum to eLearning due to COVID-related school closure, this is absolutely valuable and relevant experience that you should highlight in applications or interviews.



Many teachers would recognize this as ‘blended learning’ (and it’s often referred to as that by IDs). Hybrid or blended training in instructional design is when there is both an eLearning and a face-to-face element to the course that is being designed.


Tay Tay Tip: if you’re a teacher who has ever assigned reading for homework, then prepared an in-class learning activity during which your students actively used what they learned the night before, you’ve already got the hang of the principle behind hybrid or blended learning. You understand what content the learners are capable of absorbing on their own and how to design an experience that allows them to apply their learning as a group, with the help of an instructor.


Reference Materials

This is a broad term that instructional designers may use to refer to any resources that will benefit the instructor or the learner in addition to the course. Learner course companions, instructor guides, how-to guides, and other help documents would all fall under this category.


Teacher Speak to Instructional Design Language

Tay Tay Tip: if you’re a teacher who has ever created a study guide or guided notes you have experience writing course companions. If you’re a teacher who has ever written plans for a substitute teacher you have experience writing instructor guides. Finally, if you’re a teacher who has ever written out step-by-step instructions for your students when they have to use a new tool online, you have experience creating help documents.


Learning Objectives

I know you know this one! Just like in lesson planning, in instructional course design, you’ve got to have learning objectives. You’ll align the course content to the desired learning objectives if they are provided by the client, or you may be responsible for identifying the appropriate learning objectives after reviewing the client’s content and discussing their needs. Either way, as a teacher or former teacher, you’ve got this!


Knowledge Checks

Also called quizzing, in instructional design, these are the assessments, and often, they are just referred to as assessments. The kinds of assessments you will need to create for instructional design projects are likely less intense than the ones you have grown accustomed to as a teacher.


Teacher Speak to Instructional Design Language

The knowledge checks you would be expected to create as an instructional designer are typically short and easy to measure. For example, you might be designing a course to help prepare learners to take a real estate license exam- but that final exam already exists. Your job is to introduce the content and place the knowledge checks in a way that gives the learners the tools they need to pass that already created exam.


Tay Tay Tip: when highlighting your strengths in assessment creation, be sure to mention if you’ve used Understanding by Design or Backward Design in your curriculum planning, both were trendy in both education and instructional design.


Bonus Tay Tay Tip: teachers align their assessments to their learning objectives all the time, this is another one of those phrases that translate in both fields, so be sure to mention it!



Often pronounced as a word instead of an acronym, this stands for ‘subject-matter expert’. As a teacher, this can be confusing, since in the classroom the teacher is usually considered the SME! In instructional design, the SME is the person who’s in charge of deciding what content must be included in the course. The SME gives the ID the information so the ID can organize it into a meaningful learning experience.


Teacher Speak to Instructional Design Language

Tay Tay Tip: you may be asked about your ability to work with a SME in an application or interview for an instructional design position. If you’ve collaborated with other teachers to create lessons or develop curricula, this is similar to working with an SME. Be sure to highlight that relevant experience in working with your colleagues instead of saying you don’t have any experience with SMEs.



Yes, just like in education, instructional design has many acronyms. When you change your language to match your teaching skills to instructional design skills, you get to learn a whole new range of them! An LMS is a learning management system, you can read this article to get a more in-depth understanding if you haven’t used one before.


Many school districts now use an LMS like Canvas or Google Classroom as a place where teachers can post assignments and other resources that students can access from anywhere they have an internet connection. You’ve also likely used an LMS like Blackboard to take post-graduate courses.


Tay Tay Tip: if you’ve used an LMS with your students to distribute resources, complete online assignments or assessments, or in conjunction with eLearning, this is definitely something you should highlight as you pursue an instructional design job. You can also familiarize yourself with common learning management systems (that way, if a job posting or your interviewer mentions an LMS name, you’ll recognize it as an LMS even if you have never used it before) and learn about some LMS best practices.


Teacher Speak to Instructional Design Language


This is a common project for instructional designers. It’s basically a roadmap that allows your vision of an eLearning or F2F (face-to-face) course to come alive. The instructional designer uses a template (often a Word document or a Powerpoint deck) to map out training. The storyboard shows how content is chunked, when and where narration, on-screen text, images, and animations should occur.


Tay Tay Tip: as a teacher, it’s likely that you skip this step when doing the lesson plans. You do your fair share of creating slideshows and screencasts for your students. Since you don’t have your very own eLearning developer on hand to design the visuals, storyboarding isn’t on your to-do list. A close second to a storyboard is an in-depth outline of a lesson, and I bet you do plenty of those.


Instead of focusing on your lack of storyboarding skills, highlight your ability to create quality, detailed outlines. Be sure to include some in a portfolio you can share with potential employers, too. By showing your final products, it should be clear that you would be able to storyboard if necessary.


storyboarding Instructional Design Language


These are two important effects in learning. It’s true that they are two separate ideas. However, instructional designers use them in tandem so learners remember key ideas from the training after it’s over. 


You can read an in-depth explanation of the two concepts. You’ll definitely recognize the methods. You probably use them both in your classroom. In a nutshell, Primacy/Recency tells us that learners learn best what they learn first and learn second best what they learn last. Knowing this, you want to create many first and last opportunities.


How do you do this? Simply, you create short, bite-sized lessons.


Tay Tay Tip: as a teacher, you already know that you should create short lessons to keep your learners engaged. You are most likely teaching students in 5-15 minute chunks followed by either a review or a practice. That is exactly what Primacy/Recency is all about. Create short lessons and then give the brain some downtime to reflect/practice what was just learned.



As a teacher, you know all about pedagogy. From when you first studied the theory in college to putting it in practice every day. In order to change your language to match instructional design terminology, you’ll need to add andragogy.


instructional coaching Teacher Speak to Instructional Design Language

While pedagogy is a child-centric learning theory, andragogy is an adult-centric learning theory. There are key differences, I encourage you to take a look at those
differences in this article so you can be prepared to explain how your deep understanding of pedagogy will contribute to your ability to design and develop quality training for adult learners.


Tay Tay Tip: if you read that article, I bet you looked at some of those ‘key differences’ in pedagogy and andragogy and thought to yourself, “well, child learners actually…” I know because I did the same thing! The theory is different from the practice. If you have experience teaching middle school and older, you realize andragogy applies to your approach to teaching. Common teaching methods like problem-based learning even rely on the fact that children can take charge of their own learning. You also know that kids have vastly different lived experiences. Teachers can reach them better by taking that into consideration. Remember, you are your own best advocate and no one knows your skills better!



If your first thought was Tay Tay Tip, that’s not it! T3 actually stands for Train-the-Trainer. Train-the-Trainer means that you train other instructors on a topic.


instructional coaching
Tay Tay Tip:
as a teacher, you have probably mentored student teachers, other teachers, and/or taught other teachers a lesson or how to do something. If you have, you facilitated a Train-the-Trainer session!


Learning Strategies

These are exactly what they sound like. They are strategies to facilitate learning. As a teacher, you most likely referred to these as instructional strategies or engagement strategies.


Tay Tay Tip: teachers apply instructional and engagement strategies from the delivery of their first lesson. Think about what those strategies are and how you implemented them. Then, think about how you can repeat those same strategies in an ILT or eLearning course. Instead of calling those strategies instructional strategies, call them learning strategies. You will be walking the walk and talking the talk! If you need help with learning strategies, check out my free course about the 7 Learning Strategies Every Course Should Have.


Now that you know the lingo, jumpstart your instructional design career by checking out my free instructional design course kit! You might even recognize some of these new vocabulary words! 


Training Templates - Instructional Design Language
 know, here I am telling you to change your language so you can more easily and effectively navigate the field of instructional design, and yet I’m closing out with some classic teacher vocabulary!


But the teacher in me can’t help but give you a little assignment. I want to make sure you’re as prepared as possible to take on a new role in instructional design. Do a Google search for “instructional design positions”. Click through a few postings (do this even if you’re not ready to start applying to new jobs yet).


Pay close attention to the job requirements. Look at the action verbs. How can you use these in your revamped résumé to better change your teacher lingo to instructional design language? Share your findings in the comments! 


See anything in those job postings that make you nervous? Take those phrases that make you go “hmm” to The Hangout, and I’ll be your ID to teacher translator!


Ready to transition from teacher to instructional designer and eLearning developer, without earning another degree? The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program program will give you the knowledge, inspiration, tools, and unparalleled support on your journey to transition into instructional design and eLearning.

The Testimonials are In:


Shola Richards

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.

Shola Richards


Graphic Designer

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.

Gayle Bower


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.

Laurie Henderson


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!

Wendy McMillian


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!

Gabby Grimaldo


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!

Shanna Howe


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).

Aviva Berkowitz


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.

Darlene Dalgleish


Instructional Designer

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!

Shawnice Edge


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!

Brian Hightower


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!

Sarah Smith


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.

Lee R


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!

Sheryl Rhoades
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.

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.

Amanda Buckley
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.

Susan Gatti
President, IMMIXID


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.”

Rick Miller
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach


eLearning Development

“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.”

Ashley Christian
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.”

Jonathan Burt
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!”

Mellora Moore
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.

Patrick Hodges
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!

Mike Stubblefield
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics


“Spot on”

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.

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!


Katie Carter
Training Specialist, LegalShield

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