Like many in the world of eLearning and Instructional Design, I entered the field through a wandering path. Finally, I’d found a job that benefits from my “jack-of-all trades” skill set, including:
- customer service
- design thinking
- information literacy
- problem-solving and troubleshooting
- technology, including social media
- training and teaching
- technical and web writing
- user experience
Also, I’m good at Tetris—a skill that comes in handy when you’re trying to fit content together.
While this broad experience is useful, instructional design requires some extra dedication. Before I started as an ID, it would have been nice to know the following things:
You’ll always be learning
Our job requires us to continually learn in order to be relevant. I’ve always been a motivated learner—I’m an avid reader, curious, and fond of “useless information.”
But I’ve had to step it up a notch. I’ve had to set goals to learn not only for my job but also for professional development.
To learn and keep relevant, I’m constantly:
- Seeking out discussions with my co-workers and networking with professionals on social media
- Reading books and blogs about instructional design and related topics
- Watching instructional videos on Lynda.com and YouTube
- Adapting what I learn into my instructional design
- Researching professional associations to join
While I haven’t joined a professional association yet, it’ll be to network and keep up-to-date on eLearning and instructional design trends.
You’ll juggle many hats
While our team regularly collaborates, much of my time is still spent on my own projects. Whether it’s developing or redeveloping a course, communicating with a Subject Matter Expert (SME), instructing our student workers, or working on a special project, I always have something to do.
Also, we have an open concept office, so I’m often asked to troubleshoot an issue or help others on their project.
In other words, I’m never bored.
It’s worth it
When you’re down to the wire and trying to finish a course development before a deadline, it’s sometimes hard to see the bigger picture. (Read 4 Tips for Rapid Development.)
When I get feedback from the SME, instructor, and students, it’s easy to put it into perspective. The work I do is rewarding.
I’m at the beginning of my instructional design journey, but I’m encouraged by what I’ve learned so far. And I’m glad I’ve discovered instructional design: I’ll always be learning, always be involved in interesting projects, and yes, all of the work is worth the reward of knowing I’m helping others in the learning process.
Did you know what you were getting into when you became an Instructional Designer? What do you wish someone told you before you started your instructional design career? Let us know in the comments.