What do instructional designers do?

Part One What does an instructional designer actually do?

Many people are a little unsure of what instructional designers actually do, and that’s partly because instructional designers do so many different things.  One of my favorites is teaching people how to take their courses to the next level.

Recently, a client came to me with a vILT course (virtual instructor led training) that he wanted to take to the next level.  He’s an expert in his field and he had already put a lot of thought and effort into creating a top-quality learning experience for his students, but he also knew that he wasn’t a learning specialist.  My role was to go over his course with a fine-toothed comb and find specific, practical ways to improve the learner experience and make the course more effective.

His course was good from the outset, but I was able to find a number of concrete, practical ways to make it better.  For instance, it’s well known that people learn better when practice is spaced out over time, so I recommended that he create a set of pre-scheduled emails that remind students of key points or ask if they have implemented particular tools they learned about in the class.  This is an efficient way to maximize the benefit that learners obtain from a course.

As an expert in maximizing learning, I was able to give this client over a dozen clear, actionable steps to fine-tune his course.  I find this aspect of being an instructional designer incredibly satisfying – it feels really good to know that I can use my expertise to help someone else become a more effective instructor.