With the advent of eLearning and LMS (Learning Management Systems) began a new era in education technology and as a result instructional designing has emerged as the best sought after career among the aspiring educational technologists.
There are several career options available in the field of instructional designing. These career choices are as instructional designers, instructional design coordinators, learning specialists or learning management system managers, SMEs or subject matter experts, and digital media specialists. However the most sought after career is that of an instructional designer.
Employers of Instructional Designers
Instructional designers are employed by the education industry, digital media companies, and software development industry and eLearning content development firms. Potential employers of instructional designers include corporate firms, software companies, digital media companies and educational institutions. Instructional designers employed by multinational companies are actively involved in the development of eLearning systems and eBooks.
Career Roles and Responsibilities of Instructional Designers
Career as an instructional designer is a multi-faceted career. A professional instructional designer in this field is required to handle a diverse set of functions right from analysis and planning phase to the implementation phase.
Analysis and Planning
An instructional designer is responsible for the analysis and planning of web-based education strategies and this is the first phase of an instructional designing process. During the planning phase instructional designers are required to analyze the requirements of the current educational industry and their target audience. And then they develop right content utilizing all available resources in order to meet these requirements.
Designing, Creating and Developing Content
During designing phase, an instructional designer designs various educational tools such as educational videos, text materials, and instructional animations keeping the end users in mind. Then he creates and develops instructional content during content development phase.
An instructional designer designs an eLearning course curriculum, sometime a full LMS (learning management system) software or web-based training content depending upon the nature of the target audience. Then he creates the content in collaboration with subject matter experts before finalizing a completed eLearning course curriculum or LMS software of training module.
Testing and Evaluation of Finished Products
At this stage an instructional designer conducts quality tests to ensure the quality and commercial viability of the developed LMS softwares or eLearning tools. He tests the developed eLearning tools for the successful implementation in various educational settings taking feedback from the users for troubleshooting before finally launching these products in the education market.
Training of the LMS Staff and End Users
Instructional designers are required to train their learning management systems managers on all eLearning tools and LMS applications developed by their organizations. Sometimes education staff associated with eLearning process may also need technical training on instructional designing. Finally the end users and the target audience are to be taken care of by providing sufficient training on the application side of all developed LMS softwares.
Unlike educational technologists working in the field of traditional teaching, instructional designers do not have to interact with the students or the end users directly. Rather instructional designers will have to focus on building a collaborative association with the subject matter experts as development of the right content is the key to the success of an eLearning business.
Being comparatively a new career field, there exist plenty of career opportunities in the field of instructional designing. Both full time and part time jobs are available for aspiring instructional designers. Experienced instructional designers may offer their services on freelance or contractual basis.
Skills Required for Instructional Designers
An instructional designer must have good design skills with in depth knowledge in instructional design, Adobe Photoshop, desktop publishing, multimedia, graphics and instructional animations such as Flash animation. He must have remarkable creativity skills along with strong imagination. He must be proficient in eLearning system development softwares such as Illustrator, Articulate and Captivate. He should also be well-versed with audio softwares and video editing tools. In addition to this, an instructional designer must always have great enthusiasm to learn about advanced and emerging learning technologies. Other professional skills that are expected from aspiring instructional designers are strong organizational skills, communication skills, coordination skills and people skills.
For applying for a senior level position an instructional designer must have sufficient experience in instructional designing and training programs. Leadership experience in leading a professional team of instructional designers is also desirable. Professional experience in planning and developing digital media content is a strong asset.
Educational Qualifications Required for Instructional Designers
Aspiring instructional designers must possess minimum a Bachelor’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology or Bachelor of Science in Instructional Design and Instructional Technology or an equivalent qualification to begin a career in instructional designing. However one needs to have a Master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology or Master of Science in Instructional Design and Instructional Technology if he wants to make it big in the instructional designing industry. Other master level qualifications that are considered for senior level positions in instructional designing are Masters in Education Media Design and Technology; Master’s in Educational Technology; and Master of Educational Technology with computer applications.
For those who are looking for support positions, short term courses such as a six month duration diploma and a two month duration certificate program in instructional designing are available at some educational institutions.
Selected US Universities for Instructional Designing Courses
Some of the reputed academic programs in instruction design and technology are available at the reputed US universities such as Webster University; Walden University; Indiana University, Bloomington; San Diego State University; Bloomsburg University, Pennsylvania and Syracuse University. Major courses available are a two year duration Master’s degree program in Educational Technology at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri and a Bachelor program in Instructional Design and Technology at Walden University. Graduate Programs, Master’s Degrees, Certificates of Advanced Study (C.A.S.) and Ph.D. Programs in Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation are offered at the Syracuse University.
Where to Study Instructional Designing in India?
In India, a two year duration master’s degree program in Educational Technology is offered at SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai for the career aspirants in this field.