What is an Instructional Designer?

Instructional Designer

An instructional designer isn’t a teacher, but knows how students learn.

An instructional designer isn’t a subject-matter specialist, but understands what materials the classroom instructor must teach.

An instructional designer might not even work within a classroom because many courses are designed for online students that don’t require a physical setting.

In short, an instructional designer creates ways to make teaching more effective and efficient while keeping the lessons appealing. They “develop learning experiences,” as one veteran instructional designer put it on her blog in the response to the oft-heard question, “What do instructional designers do?”

Instructional designers aim to reach all learners

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.

Instructional design is a potentially lucrative field as well. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay was $60,000 a year in 2012 for an Instructional Coordinator.

Instructional design goes beyond school systems

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 a recent article in ELearning Industry.

There also are opportunities for instructional design consulting, either with a number of 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.

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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