Instructional Design

Keyword: Design

I keep a pulse on the instructional systems design (ISD) job market for a number of reasons, i.e.:
• As CYA in the event that I need a parachute.
• I had a boss who told me it was smart to do so, and to keep my resume updated and posted on job boards.
• To keep up with what skills and experience employers are looking for so that I can stay current.

Side note: I have always believed that even if you are currently employed you should still keep a pulse on who is hiring and for what in your field. And keep your resume updated and posted on job boards! You never know!

It is the last of those reasons that brings me to write this post – the skills and experience that employers are currently seeking. Lately, I have seen a trend in ISD job descriptions that is concerning to me: employers seeking ISDs who are designers AND developers. And, recently, I learned that several of my colleagues are concerned with this trend as well.


Instructional systems designers, traditionally, exist to use their skill sets (knowledge of adult learning, learning theory, instructional strategy, etc.) to create design documents, storyboards, and/or scripts that serve as blue prints and road maps. Developers, also with a set of specialized skills, then take those blue prints and road maps and make them “come to life.” Designers and developers each typically go to school for their trades, spending good money to do a job well, and they continue their educations to sharpen their specialized skills.

With the disappearance of Flash and HTML as once-necessary tools to create web-based training, there is a growing trend in requiring instructional systems designers to be {rapid} developers who use Captivate, Lectora, Articulate and others. I believe this is something that both designers and developers should be concerned about.

Rapid development is trending and is likely here to stay, but I have yet to understand why it must be the ISD who is the one doing the developing.

ISD and ADDIE both contain the term “design” within them, but it is important to distinguish the difference between design and development. They are two distinct phases in the process, and should be treated as such. They (should) exist independently as gears in the big machine that is curriculum development. When companies require their ISDs to develop using tools like Captivate, etc. are they skimping on the design phase because the ISDs are doing both design and development simultaneously? Excuse me if this is a naïve question, but are design docs, scripts, or storyboards still used as blue prints for the stuff that is developed using those tools?

I wonder if this is a trend that will stick or if it is just a shortcut employers are taking as a result of the current state of the world. Employers everywhere are seeking one person to fill the shoes of two and three people – sometimes more – because of budgetary issues.

Do employers realize the differences in “design and “development??” Do they know why they (should) exist independently as gears in the big machine that is curriculum development?

Is it detrimental to an ISD career to resist having these developer skills and maintaining them?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s