A Note From Shawntay – if you’ve been following my blog you already know I love connecting with people interested in becoming an instructional designer.
In my last guest blogger series, I highlighted career changers. These highly motivated professionals successfully transitioned from teaching to instructional design. In their posts, they shared their tips for career changers and other resources that helped in their instructional design transition.
This time around, I’ve invited graduates of the Instructional Design and Tech Accelerator Program to share their experiences. I have truly enjoyed working with these Accelerators and am so proud of how far they’ve come!
Becoming an Instructional Designer with Teresa
I love learning! This passion led me into the K-12 classroom, where I was a music educator for many years. Along the way, I started my own business – an all-ages community music program. I’ve also volunteered for several years in technology and communications support for local and state-wide environmental advocacy organizations.
I am a naturally curious person. I was the kid who spent hours at the library researching random subjects. Now, I’m the adult who takes deep, joyful dives into many topics. Google searches, podcasts, workshops, documentaries, Linkedin Learning, YouTube – non-fiction is my go-to!
I am not afraid of being a newbie at anything. My love for helping others and my curiosity led me to discover instructional design as a career. Several years ago, I earned a graduate certificate in Instructional Design from the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
My ID certificate was only the beginning of my journey to becoming an instructional designer. However, changing careers requires lots of time, planning, support, and most of all, hard work! Now, I’m finally making the transition into the field, thanks to the incredible community of instructional designers and career changers who generously exchange information. The first task for my transition? Revamping and expanding my professional ID portfolio!
Through the ID community, I found the Instructional Design Company’s (IDC) Tech Accelerator Program led by Shawntay Skjoldager. Another teacher-turned-instructional-designer shared a link to Shawntay’s excellent free ebook: How to Create a Professional Instructional Design Resume. So, when Shawntay offered the Tech Accelerator Program, I jumped at the chance to participate. The program focuses on building assets for a professional portfolio – exactly what I needed.
12-Weeks of Jam-Packed Learning
The 12-week program was jam-packed with valuable resources, tips, and techniques to succeed in the field of Instructional Design. Shawntay and her team brought participants together into a fun learning community. With every weekly lesson and live-streamed Learning Jam led by specialists in DEI, graphic design, video-editing, Articulate Storyline, and more, I improved my ID skills. And most importantly, I grew more confident in my ability to make a successful career transition.
What I loved most about the program was practicing the skills taught in each lesson. The material was organized strategically, making it easy to create a micro-learning course using the ADDIE model. Each week I built another asset for my micro-learning project portfolio.
- a learner persona
- a design document
- video-on-demand and live-training versions of the course
- an e-learning lesson created with Articulate Storyline
- participant and facilitator guides
Even though the Tech Accelerator Program is over, I continue my journey to becoming an instructional designer as I polish my portfolio and begin applying for instructional design jobs.
‘Need to Know’ versus ‘Nice to Know’ Content
I’ve learned some great tips from the Tech Accelerator course that I will carry into my career. One is to be mindful of ‘Need to Know’ versus ‘Nice to Know’ content. Organizing content with this in mind is fundamental to designing effective learning solutions. I am naturally high-energy and passionate about learning and sharing new ideas. However, these personality traits can make it hard for me to filter out the ‘Nice to Know’ information.
Sometimes, I find myself struggling with scope creep on my own ID portfolio projects. In Episode 4 of the Dear Instructional Designer Podcast, Kristin Anthony reminds us to practice “…ruthlessly reigning in the scope” of our portfolio projects. “None of us want to be that guy or that woman with the folder dedicated to unfinished projects.” The Accelerator Program reinforced how critical the sifting and sorting of information is in the ID process.
Designing Learning Solutions with the Brain in Mind
As I continue on my path to becoming an instructional designer, I am filling up my ID resource library with practical brain-based design tools and methods. The human brain is hardwired to learn in specific ways. So, being mindful of how the brain processes information is key to designing effective training. Instructional designers should strive to use stories and scenarios as well as structuring content and interactions to maximize learning. The Tech Accelerator Program itself is actually modeled brain-based techniques.
Here are a few gems I experienced as a learner in the Program:
- Brain-based learning solutions using the 4 C’s model of effective instruction, as described in Sharon Bowman’s excellent book, Training from the Back of the Room
- Timing the release of new information in a learning episode to maximize learner retention, as shown by the Primacy/Recency Effect
- Improving retention of information beyond the learning event by providing timely reviews or triggers to practice newly acquired skills, as described by the Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve
Community of Learners
One of the best parts of becoming an instructional designer is discovering all the generous people who share their ideas. For example, I’ve already learned a ton from the E-Learning Heroes community at Articulate Storyline.
Also, I’m a big fan of L&D podcasts.
My favorites are:
- Dear Instructional Designer
- Teacher Transition
- Train Like You Listen
- E-Learning Scenario Design
- E-Learning Coach
I’m gaining a lot from the YouTube channels of content creators like Devlin Peck and Cath Ellis. In addition to the excellent content on the IDC website, L&D experts Cathy Moore and Christy Tucker are giving back to the community with rich content on their blogs.
And, I am learning from the ID community via several Slack channels, including ones hosted by Cara North and the kind folks from Teaching: A Path to L&D.
Wrapping It Up
There seems to be no end to the camaraderie and sharing taking place in the L&D community. Not to mention the variety of ways to access the content. It’s enough for a lifetime of learning. And that’s a good thing for those of us in the business of supporting life-long learners!