You asked, Shawntay answers! I’ve got the answers to all your burning instructional design questions right here.
As an instructional design mentor, I have the pleasure of working with people coming from all different backgrounds. The one thing they have in common? They’re interested in instructional design and want to know where to start.
So here are some fantastic instructional design questions from our Hangout members to get you pumped about getting started in the field.
Your Instructional Design Questions, Answered: A Rapid-Fire Interview with Shawntay
Shawntay is in the hot seat. Let’s see if she has the answers to these common instructional design questions!
What are the best inexpensive tools an aspiring instructional designer can learn?
Best and inexpensive are two different categories! Luckily, a lot of the tools an instructional designer needs can be found for low or no cost. And I definitely recommend you stick to free tools for as long as you can.
Here are some basic tools you’ll need as an instructional designer:
Whether it’s for storyboarding, presenting to clients, or designing facilitator/participant guides, you’ll need something like Google Slides or Powerpoint. I love Google Slides, and it is free if you just have a basic Google Drive account.
However, as we learned in the Accelerator course, Powerpoint can be a designing super tool if you know how to use it. But, you’ll need to subscribe to Microsoft 365, which is around $100 a year.
This is a given, instructional designers work with a lot of written content. Since instructional designers are responsible for organizing subject matter, you’re not going to get very far if you’re using Notepad!
Just like with slides, Google offers a free tool, and Office 365 requires that yearly subscription.
This is an important one that new instructional designers might not think about until they need it. Imagery is key in training, so you’ll need access to stock images that you have permission to use. There are some great free options like Unsplash and Pexels that will definitely get the job done.
If you’re going to get (and stay) organized in any project, a project management tool is really useful. Aspiring instructional designers can use project management tools to organize their portfolio projects. It’s also great practice for when you land your first job, even if you use a different tool in your role, the foundation is already there.
Do I need to purchase Articulate 360 or Captivate to be in the Instructional Design and Tech Accelerator program?
I get this question a lot, my Instructional Design and Tech Accelerator program has a whole module on using Storyline. We actually design a full course that you can use in your portfolio. But no, you don’t have to purchase a subscription to participate.
Articulate 360 offers a great free trial, it’s a full 30-days. If you wait to start your trial until we get to the Storyline module, you’ll have a course outline and a storyboard ready to work on in Storyline.
What’s the key to writing phenomenal learning outcomes?
This is one of my favorite instructional design questions. I always say the learning objectives are the destination you want to take your learner on. Your learning objectives need to be specific and measurable.
How can I effectively incorporate Bloom’s taxonomy into my learning objectives?
My advice concerning Bloom’s is to avoid the lower level. Those are the verbs like ‘define,’ and ‘understand,’. Those outcomes are actually implied in the upper-level categories. For example, if you’re able to synthesize something, you already understand it.
With that said my second piece of advice is to avoid double-barreled objectives. Don’t use two verbs in one outcome.
How many outcomes should you have per module?
The number of outcomes per module or per course all depends. There’s no magic number or one-size-fits-all here since every learning solution is different. It all comes down to how much a learner can really demonstrate at the end of a specific module or lesson.
Do I have to be a creative writer to be a good instructional designer?
I hear this concern, or something similar, a lot with aspiring instructional designers. You don’t have to be a creative writer or talented graphic designer to be successful.
Creativity is definitely an asset in instructional design, but it’s not a necessity. Your strength as an instructional designer is in your love of learning and your knowledge of the learning process.
What’s the best platform for my instructional design portfolio?
You can use any free tool to host your portfolio. If you already have your own website, use that! Otherwise, you can easily build or host an instructional design portfolio on Wix, Weebly, or Google Sites. If you already subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud, the Adobe portfolio is included.
Start with a free version. As your portfolio grows, you can always explore more robust platforms that might be worth a monthly charge.
How can I market myself as a freelancer to get projects with small colleges or universities?
For instructional designers interested in working with Higher Education, you’ll be happy to hear that it’s common for smaller universities to contract out their course design.
You can find these roles in all of the traditional job search platforms like LinkedIn. The best way to get work in higher ed is by making connections. When you land one contract, network with those subject matter experts and make friends with the project managers. They can recommend you for upcoming projects in other departments or with sister schools.
What does a typical day in the life of an instructional design business owner look like?
Not everyone is going to like this, but I’m part of the 5 a.m. club! That block of time is really productive for me. Mostly because I’m not getting pinged or pulled into meetings. Some people have that protected, uninterrupted time later in the evening, but I’m a morning person!
The rest of my day is packed with prospective client meetings, coaching, and consulting. Depending on what part of the instructional design process my training projects are in, I might be organizing content or reviewing completed modules. On top of that, I’m always working to improve the Accelerator program and I like to check in with my Hangout members several times a week.
Not to mention the administrative side of owning a business- billing, balancing the books, forecast goal-setting. I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot of work. But it’s a rewarding experience and I wouldn’t trade it!
What’s your instructional design superpower?
I’m so happy to end on this question! I would say my instructional design superpower is being able to absorb massive amounts of information, then break it down in a way that’s easy for people to understand.
Wrapping it up
So, did I answer all of your instructional design questions? If not, you have to jump over to The Hangout. It’s full of great resources and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can ask me!
Before you leave- I told you what I think is my instructional design superpower, but what’s yours? Drop me a note in the comments or tell us about it in the Hangout!