What is an Instructional Designer?

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What is an Instructional Designer & What Do They Do?

As education and technology continue to evolve, so does the need for professionals who can utilize the two to produce effective and efficient learning materials for the next generation of learners. Educational material and curriculum need to be updated to meet the changes. You may think that updating the copy of a textbook or renaming a course would suffice, but often  the whole learning process will need to be revised. 

This is where the role of an instructional designer comes in. 

In short, an instructional designer creates ways to make teaching more effective and efficient, while keeping the lessons appealing. They “develop learning experiences,” for students and tailor these learning experiences to fit the current educational and technology standards. 

What does an Instructional Designer do?

Instructional designers are important in the process of learning. They are tasked with redesigning courses, developing courses or curriculums, and creating training materials such as teaching manuals and student guides. While instructional designers are not teachers, they know how students learn and take this into consideration when creating or re-designing educational material. While instructional designers are not required to be subject-matter experts in the subjects that are being taught, they are able to understand the materials that the classroom instructor will be teaching.


Skills that are recommended as an Instructional Designer
As more companies and organizations are turning towards technology for educational content, there has been an increase in the demand for those who can assist in the creation of this material. Today’s instructional design professionals not only need to be well versed in the appropriate tools and technology, but can also benefit from the following professional skills to help them stand out from the competition:

  • Project management skills
  • Visual and artistic skills
  • Strong communication skills
  • Willingness to grow and learn
  • Assessment development skills
  • Presentation skills

Where do Instructional Designers work?

Instructional designers are employed across a variety of different industries. They can create instructional material at the elementary level all the way up to the college education level. Schools and universities are not the only places that require educational material. Private businesses, the government and the military also train their employees and are in need of professionals to create and design courses and curriculum. 

Instructional designers have many tools at their disposal including interactive textbooks that can either display extra help for struggling students or challenge advanced learners with more difficult concepts.

What is the Instructional Designer career path?

Those who have some experience training and educating others and want to pursue a career that builds off these skills should consider an instructional design degree. Many of the new instructional design positions, BLS predicts, will be created through 2022, but may have nothing to do with school systems. Increasingly, major corporations are looking for people to help design ways to better train workers, as mentioned in an article in ELearning Industry.

There are also opportunities for instructional design consulting with several firms popping up across the country or as a freelancer. While some argue that an education degree and on-the-job training or an instructional design certificate are enough, others believe that a degree in instructional design boosts earning potential, helps build professional networks, and increases job stability, according to an article at ELearning Industry.

Ashford University’s Bachelor of Arts in Instructional Design* program prepares students for great careers no matter which path they choose: a school system, a corporation, a consulting firm, or freelancing. Graduates learn to work with all ages of learners from children to adults, and students are exposed to up-to-the-minute thinking in crucial areas such as textbook design and curriculum development. They learn to work with the latest education technologies while analyzing research and trends.

For those who want to increase their earning potential and take their instructional design career to the next level, a master’s degree in instructional design and technology is an advanced graduate degree that ensures you are properly equipped to meet the demanding difficulties of the field.

Perhaps most importantly, Ashford University requires a project management course that teaches vital skills such as planning, collaboration and considering cost factors. It all comes together in a capstone project required for graduation. Students demonstrate mastery of what they’ve learned at Ashford, and when they’re finished they have a resume-ready portfolio.

*For more information about on-time completion rates, the median loan debt of students who completed each program, and other important information, please visit ashford.edu/pd/obaid.

Written by Ashford University Staff


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