Instructional designers come from many different fields – teachers, authors, corporate trainers, industry experts, just to name a few. What brings these different backgrounds together? They have these qualities that make an ideal instructional designer!
Over the past few years, the demand for instructional designers has been at a constant rise as new learning methods are being embraced. Hence, there is no one better than those who specialize in designing practical learning courses to provide much-needed assistance in this new age of online learning.
10 Qualities of an Ideal Instructional Designer
You already know that an instructional designer’s job is to create instructional experiences that meet clients’ business goals. Check out this in-depth article to learn more about what an instructional designer does on a day-to-day basis.
Even though instructional designers are in demand, there are many new professionals entering the field. So to set you up for success in your job search, we’ve compiled the top ten qualities that make an ideal instructional designer.
Knowing the Audience
One of the most important qualities that make an ideal instructional designer is understanding their audience. They should be able to put themselves in the learner’s shoes and design an instructional experience that factors in all elements of learning. Every learning experience is directed towards a specific audience; hence an instructional designer should pay attention to the learner’s skills, interests, and needs and develop an approach that will get the desired results.
Passion for Learning
It’s no secret that instructional designers have a passion for learning, but what differentiates an excellent instructional designer from an average one is the passion for education and everything related to learning. They are continually searching for new topics to learn and teach regardless of the industry and the area. They stay at the top of their game by reading scholarly articles, researches, eLearning blogs, tech blogs, and all things educational. Moreover, they don’t just read but also implement all these techniques in their everyday instructional design work.
Solid Technological Skills
An instructional designer should have a solid command over content management and various eLearning software. Some tools (like eLearning authoring software) can be learned over time. But with such immense competition in the industry, instructional designers who already know their way around a few basic tools will definitely stand out.
Here are some ideas for tools to familiarize yourself with. If you already know how to use these, be sure to include them in your resume. If you haven’t used a tool, you can try out free-trial versions or watch free tutorials online. Remember: your passion for continued learning is one of those desired qualities of an ideal instructional designer!
- Image editing tools like Snagit
- Screen recording tools like Camtasia
- Familiarity with Learning Management Systems like Litmos or Lessonly
- eLearning authoring tools like Articulate or Captivate
An instructional designer’s main job is to create a systematic approach to learning. In order to fulfill this task, they must have a similar mindset for their own workload. A well-organized instructional designer is efficient, hence can easily manage strict deadlines. Healthy organizational habits, focus, and time management are important qualities that make an ideal instructional designer.
Another trait that can be included with the organization is consultation. Instructional design is a highly consultative process. It’s so important to communicate and brainstorm with clients and stakeholders in order to understand their training needs. Successful instructional designers are prepared with all the right questions to ask during meetings so they can suggest the best training solutions.
You can check out my training analysis template as part of The Ultimate Instructional Design Starter Kit for a step-by-step guide to effective communication with clients and stakeholders.
Strong Visualization Skills
The human brain is primarily visual, and we all are visual learners. An instructional designer should be aware of this and remember that people tend to retain more information through sight compared to any other sense. Therefore, the instructional designer needs to look at the bigger picture and keep the learning goal in mind at all times.
I always say, visual design can be learned! You don’t have to be a graphic designer to know how best to use imagery to support learning.
This one can sound scary for beginning instructional designers. You’re just looking for your first instructional design job, who said anything about management? But project management has a huge place in the instructional design process.
The best instructional designer knows how to manage time, resources, tasks, and people tactfully. Those are all project management skills! Check out this guide to project management for instructional designers to learn more.
Exceptional Writing Skills and Active Listening Skills
An instructional designer should be able to convey information in an understandable, concise way. American psychologist Jerome Bruner says, ‘You’re twenty times more likely to remember information if it is delivered in the narrative format’. Hence a successful instructional designer has to be a phenomenal storyteller. What better way to break the forgetting curve than by using storytelling to engage the learner!
Most instructional designers partner with subject-matter experts for each project. The subject-matter expert has all the content knowledge your audience needs to reach the learning goals. The only problem? Experts aren’t always the best teachers. It will be your job to take the SMEs content and organize it in a way that is easy to understand and remember. That’s why writing is one of the top ten qualities that make an ideal instructional designer!
An instructional designer should also be able to understand their subject. Hence the importance of strong listening skills. Listening skills allow the instructional designer to understand their clients’ needs. This also includes addressing and asking relevant questions at the right time to clarify situations and ultimately contribute to the learning outcome.
Creativity and Innovation
Instructional designers can’t be successful in their careers if they don’t have creative and innovative traits.
This industry’s dynamic requirements expect the instructional designers to think of different creative ideas that keep the learners engaged. Another tricky thing here is that you need to be able to think creatively, considering the budget limitations.
Creative inspiration comes from everywhere. You can learn a lot about keeping an audience’s attention from social media and advertising. There’s a reason so much marketing money goes into those campaigns!
You can also borrow ideas from past projects, even if you’re new to the field. Techniques you use to present information in a meeting or in lesson plans can all be sources of inspiration in instructional design.
In the current tech-savvy world, don’t ignore the importance of data! Suppose instructional designers don’t have access to data. In that case, they’re left in the dark about whether the experience created by them was useful or not. All you have to go on is the client’s feedback.
An effective learning experience needs to gather information from multiple sources. Instructional designers can create their own sources of data collection by creating post-course temperature checks. This can be a simple survey to gauge the learner’s immediate reaction to a course.
Depending on your relationship with the client, you may be able to use data collected via course quizzes to determine if the audience is meeting learning objectives. What you do with the data is the most important part.
Effective instructional designers use data to improve their practices and identify areas where your courses can be improved.
Instructional designers should empathize with the learners, as this would allow them to generate content that is meaningful and relevant. They should be able to comprehend and relate to the potential obstacles that the learners can face while grasping complicated subject matters. Empathy might appear as an unusual trait, but it is one of the essential skills in this field.
Wrapping it up
It is no secret that instructional design and eLearning are rapidly growing fields.
Any instructional designer’s main goal should be the three E’s – effectiveness, efficiency, and engagement.
Be sure to leverage these skills in your resume, cover letters, and job interviews. You can also choose projects to include in your portfolio that highlight these qualities that make an ideal instructional designer.
Looking for more motivation? Check out this free masterclass on getting started in instructional design!
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