If you’ve ever thought about becoming an instructional designer, you may wonder what a typical day would look like.  Part of the allure of becoming an instructional designer is that there isn’t really a “typical” day.   You might be getting screenshots for a software skills course one day and editing a video for a sales class the next. There is a lot of variety!

Being an instructional designer can be creative, fun, energizing and fulfilling.  It can also involve long hours, difficult SMEs and limited resources.

To illustrate what you might experience in an instructional design role, I’ll put you in the shoes of an ID in a sort of “day in the life” using various examples from my own career. Continue reading “What’s It Like to be an Instructional Designer? A Day In the Life”

Instructional Design is an exciting and growing field. If you have decided you are interested in getting into Instructional Design, you may be worried about your lack of experience.  It can certainly be intimidating as you begin to look at job postings.  You may even be tempted to give up on pursuing instructional design as a career.  You might be surprised, though, about how much experience you already have and how you can take steps to gain more on your own.

I’ve been doing instructional design in some capacity for the past 20 years for companies big and small.  In this article, I’ll share ideas and resources you can use to build up your own experience.

Continue reading “9 Pro Tips For How To Get Experience in Instructional Design”

people seated at an interview

You found an instructional design job you’re interested in and applied.  Now they want to interview you.  How should you prepare?  What kinds of questions are they going to ask?  That’s what this article is all about.

In my over 20 years of experience in corporate training and development, I have been on both sides of the instructional design interview and I know what you are likely facing. Here are ten common questions along with how to answer them.

For more interview advice, be sure to check out my Ultimate Guide to Getting a Learning and Development Job article.

Interviewing for a combo job such as Training Specialist?  Use this guide together with Insider’s Guide to Answering Corporate Trainer Interview Questions.

Continue reading “Insider’s Guide to Answering Instructional Design Interview Questions”

title slide with background of a person at a computer in a virtual meeting

More and more corporate training is shifting from being held in a traditional meeting room or classroom to being held online in tools like Zoom or Webex.  This was happening even before the pandemic as companies sought ways to save money on travel and other costs associated with “in person” training.  Now, of course, it has become a requirement for most companies to hold any training online. Sadly, just like with in person classes, virtual training sessions have many pitfalls that cause disengagement for the learner.  Actually, even more so.  What can a trainer/facilitator/instructional designer do? Quite a bit, as a matter of fact!

Continue reading “8 Tips for Engaging Your Learners in a Virtual Training Session”

When creating a training class, one of the first questions you might have is how long should the training be?  The short answer is…it depends.  There are many factors that can contribute to the length of your class.  Is it in person? Virtual? Self-paced? Instructor-led?  How much content is there? These are all things that can impact the timing.  Here are some general guidelines I use for various types of training.

Instructor-Led, In Person: For this type of training, you have the most leeway.  Training time can range from 30 minutes to a week or more.  It will depend on the training program and what needs to be taught.

Instructor-Led, Virtual: Teaching through the computer is very different from teaching in person.  I like to keep a virtual training session to an hour or less. If it needs to be longer, then it needs to be very carefully thought out as to how it will be structured and how you will allow for breaks.  I would also consider holding separate one hour modules that are spread out over several days or weeks (depending).

Self-Paced Learning: E-learning courses should usually be around 15 – 30 minutes total.  Some self-paced learning such as videos can be a lot shorter: 3 – 5 minutes.

These are just some general guidelines.  Read on for more information and details on each training course type.

Continue reading “How Long Should Employee Training Be?”

Even before COVID-19 hit my team was doing a lot of virtual training in the form of webinars, e-learning and mobile learning.  After COVID hit that increased as we had to quickly pivot to transform in person learning programs to online.  While there does appear to be some light at the end of the tunnel with more and more people being vaccinated, it’s still a good idea to be prepared to continue with virtual learning for the foreseeable future.

Here are some things you need to do as we all continue to flex.

  • Be flexible
  • Stay patient
  • Maintain positivity
  • Keep innovating
  • Continue to blend
  • Create a transition plan

I fully expect to continue holding classes that were formerly in person online for a while.  That being the case, here is my planned approach.

Continue reading “Six Must Do’s for Employee Training During a Pandemic”

Instructional Design Models listed alongside a puzzled woman

If you are getting started with instructional design, you have probably come across several of the instructional design models.  ADDIE, SAM, Action Mapping, Dick and Carey, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction… to name a few…  As you read about each one, you may wonder “which one should I use?” or “which instructional design model is the best?”

It basically boils down to these three:

  • Which one does your class/course use?
  • Which one does your company use?
  • Which one do you like to use?

I know that may seem a bit glib but I can tell you that in most corporate environments (that’s what I can speak to) nobody except you is going to care about which one you use. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use one.  Each model has benefits and if you are serious about working in the field, you’ll want to get familiar with at least a couple of these.  Do you need to be an expert in every one?  No, you don’t.

Most articles I see on this are pretty high falutin’ and go into a bunch of detail about each model without really giving any real life examples or context.  Or they do a brief summary of a whole bunch of them. That’s fine and can be a good way to start learning the differences. What I want to do here is give a very real world view of the ones I actually use and why.

Continue reading “What is the Best Instructional Design Model to Use?”

Do You Need a Masters Degree to be an Instructional Designer

I’ve noticed that there is a lot of interest lately in becoming an Instructional Designer/Learning Experience Designer and/or an E-Learning Developer.  Maybe that’s just because I tend to follow a lot of ID related forums though.  At any rate, a question I see that comes up quite a bit is whether or not a person should pursue a Masters Degree in order to get started as an instructional designer.  (Or they ask it about getting into e-learning development which is usually a part of instructional design.  I discuss each of these roles in more detail here and here.)

I understand why people ask this.  Many people in the field DO have a Masters (myself included) and many of the job postings I’ve seen list it as a requirement. But do you really NEED one to get into the field?  In my opinion and based on my own experience, no, you don’t.  There are plenty of other ways to get experience and there are plenty of jobs that do not require it.  I did instructional design in various capacities for about 15 years before I got my Masters.  When I did decide to pursue the Masters, it was a personal choice and not due to any requirement or pressure from anyone.  Was it worth it?  Yes, for me it definitely was.  But, as I said, it is a personal choice that you will have to make for yourself.  In this article, I am going to share some questions you should ask yourself along with my experience which will hopefully help you as you embark on your own career path.

Continue reading “Do You Need a Masters Degree to be an Instructional Designer?”

Career Spotlight: How to Become an Instructional Designer

Are you a creative person who likes to help others learn? Do you enjoy working in a variety of tools while identifying potential training opportunities?  Then a career as an instructional designer might be for you!  In this article, I will share my tips and tricks on how to become an instructional designer based on my 20+ years of corporate experience.

For an overview of several Learning and Development positions, check out I Want To Be in L&D: Getting Started in Learning and Development

What is an Instructional Designer?

When you think about a training class or a job aid or an e-learning course, they didn’t just appear magically out of thin air.  Someone had to design and build them.  That person is (typically) an instructional designer.  I realize that is a pretty simplistic way to explain it and I’ll go into more detail as we move along.  At the most basic level, though, that is what an instructional designer is.  They are the person who designs the instruction.

For the purposes of this article, I am going to focus on jobs where the main responsibility is instructional design.  Throughout most of my career, I held positions where I did a lot of instructional design but I also did other things like facilitate classes and/or administer the Learning Management System.  I will spotlight those types of positions in a separate article, though.

Also, a lot of the cool kids are calling themselves “Learning Experience Designer” or “LXD” nowadays.  I have also seen “Learning Designer”.  Those are basically the same as what I will be describing here.  I do like those titles and think they probably more aptly describe the role but, most job postings and companies that I’ve seen still use the “old school” term.

Continue reading “Career Spotlight: How to Become an Instructional Designer”