Happy Teacher’s Day!
“Teacher! Being one is the highest privilege; Having one is the best blessing”, Anonymous
True isn’t it! I have been fortunate enough to be taught by one of the best teachers whether in school, college or while doing my professional courses. However, I believe all teachers are the best. As William Ward quotes, “The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, and the great teacher inspires.” So, there is nothing called a “bad teacher” because a teacher will always tell you what you have to do, explain you how to do a task, demonstrate how to do a task, and inspire you to do that task.
But, hold on for a minute! Don’t I also do the same tasks?
Yes, I admit that I am not doing all this in a classroom or I am NOT giving any lecture to students but I maybe helping a teacher or a trainer preparing for a lecture. Or, I may be assigning a group work to the students, helping teachers to prepare their lesson plans, or facilitate the video conference along with the teachers and students. If I‘m doing all this so doesn’t it mean that Instructional Designers are teachers.
Sounds confusing? So, what I or other Instructional Designers do?
Abdul Kalam, former president of India and an eminent scientist rightly said, “Teaching is a very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber, and future of an individual. If people remember me as a good teacher; that will be the biggest honor for me”.
Similarly, Instructional Designers have a maddening desire to create learning experiences in the digital space. Instructional Designers are not technologists and they may not be from the IT staff though they may understand technology. But to be honest, I feel that there are a lot of people and that includes few fellow Instructional Designers themselves who do not understand what an Instructional Designer is or what are their qualities. So, what does it take to become an effective Instructional Designer? Having been there in this field for more than 12 years, I have met some of Instructional Designers who feel very committed to their audience and to the learning. As a result, I have distilled the qualities, knowledge and skills that I think the Instructional Designer must possess.
An effective or a successful Instructional Designer should:
Have empathy towards learner
An Instructional Designer need to always focus on the learner (s). And by this what I mean is that the Instructional Designers need to empathize with the learner and identify their needs, goals, and requirements. They need to put themselves in the learner’s shoes and think from the learner’s perspective.
Have an eye for detail
This is an important point if you want to identify an ideal Instructional Designer. An Instructional Designer should pay close attention to even the tiny details. In addition, Instructional Designers need to have a bird’s eye view of the whole context.
Have an obsession for learning
Instructional Designers are passionate about learning anything and everything. They believe in the “Jack of all and master of none” philosophy. They may be learning everything but they are good at one thing, that is, Design for which they are experts. Instructional Designers have an ability to learn and understand new things. They are always passionate to gain knowledge by reading, observing, and listening.
Have commanding communication skills
An Instructional Designer need to be able to demonstrate powerful communication skills both written and verbal. And, this is the most obvious one, infact. They need to write clear, crisp, concise, and accurate for their audience.
Possess good visualization skills and creativity
An Instructional Designer need to think out-of-the-box in order to present the content in the manner that is creative and at same time engaging. They try to be innovative and brings imaginative ideas that are within the scope and specifications. The job of an Instructional Designer is like a movie director who visualizes the look and feel of thoughts, ideas, and scripts.
Be tech savvy
Instructional Designer need to and should be aware of technological advancements. As I mentioned earlier, Instructional Designers are not technologists, but they need to be passionate about technology and the delivery mechanisms. In addition, they should be aware of where to look for information and whom to ask the right questions. This is critical if they need to design an effective learning solution.
Be active in elearning communities
Last but not the least, an Instructional Designer should also demonstrate commitment to their careers via community participation. This means that they should be more active in various elearning forums and participate in any events, conferences, or workshops happening in their area.
So, these are some of the qualities of an ideal Instructional Designer, but this may not be an exhaustive list and there may be more to it.
Next time, you meet any Instructional Designer, just show some respect as they deserve as much respect than any teacher or a trainer. A teacher will teach a student; a student will learn but it’s an Instructional Designer who will create that learning experience.