5 Tips for Instructional Designers Without Formal Training

It is becoming more and more common for businesses to dedicate specialized resources to organizational learning. As such, more workers are getting degrees in fields such as educational technology, educational psychology, instructional design and more to fill this need. A degree, diploma, or certificate in an education related field, while very useful, is not necessary to work in instructional design. In fact, some of the best educators I have had a chance to work with did not have formal training but were experts in their own field that adapted to an educational role through experience and self-study.

Here are some tips if you are working in an instructional design role without formal training. These are attitudes and approaches that often come as a result of formal training that might not be explicitly stated.

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ELearning and Scaffolding

Making your eLearning materials interactive always sounds great at the beginning of a project. Interactivity has become synonymous with engaging and fun. But there’s a catch—interactivity can be very tricky to execute, especially if you don’t have a deliberate and realistic design to implement right at the start. How should we design eLearning materials that are also interactive?

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CMS vs LMS: What’s the Difference?

Ever since the internet came and took over our lives and our work, programmers have been creating online management systems. Customer relationship management, content management, learning management, and so on. Each management system did something unique that made it specialized for its purpose. But the number of systems that became available diluted the meaning and made it hard for users and organizations to determine what’s best for them. Let’s take a quick look at Learning Management Systems (LMS) and what makes them specialized for learning apart from other management systems such as Content Management Systems (CMS).

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What’s the Deal with SCORM?

Everyone working in Elearning should be aware of SCORM and xAPI even if you don’t work directly with elearning tools or code. That’s because SCORM (and xAPI) is not a specific tool or technology but a big-picture set of standards that ensure elearning content is shareable and reusable.

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Instructional Designers: Assemblers or Directors?

Instructional designers are not primarily assemblers, although it might be easy to associate instructional designers with some commonly used tools (such as: captivate, storyline, sharepoint, wordpress, fabric, etc) and assume that’s all they do. These tools are great for assembling concepts, multimedia, quizzes, and more into a tangible package, but that is just one piece of an instructional designer’s job.

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Instructional Design Skills on Your Team

Creating a world-class training program, like most other big projects, is not the responsibility of a single person; it takes a team to make something great. Think about all the pieces a learner touches when they go through an effective training program—administrators, instructors, online infrastructure,  multimedia, online resources, live training, assessments, etc. Training programs are complex things made up of multimedia, processes, and design and more that require a wide array of skills.

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Sharing the Load with your LMS

When you’re an LMS Admin, your LMS is your workhorse and partner. It should be doing the leg work so you can focus on big-picture planning, decision making, and working with your stakeholders. Does your LMS fulfill its duties as your trusty companion or do you find yourself doing most of the heavy lifting?

Here are a few ways we’ve seen LMSs help or hinder their admins. These are based on real stories and experiences (the good and the bad)!

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What’s in Your Instructional Design Tech Kit?

Hello learning professionals! When you’ve been working in training for a while, you get attached to the stuff you work with (and the people too I guess). In this blog post, I want to share about some of the tools that have become part of my everyday work and why I think every instructional designer should consider them.

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Job Roles in the Training Industry

Instructional Designer? LMS Administrator? Trainer? You’ve probably seen these terms in job ads or have even used them to describe yourself. If you’re just beginning in a training related profession (that’s not in a school) or interested in getting started, it can get confusing trying to describe what these different roles are and what they actually DO.

In this brief article, we’ll look at common training positions and what they entail. We’ll relate them back to 4 things a training department  must do to be effective in a modern organization:

  • Communicate knowledge to learners.
    Somebody must understand the knowledge well enough to teach others face-to-face. For most of human history this was as far as a training team department went.
  • Create learning resources.
    It turns out creating and using materials that can be distributed and shared makes training much more efficient. Technology and research have greatly improved the kinds of materials that can now be created.
  • Manage resources and records.
    Record keeping is necessary for training to become integrated with the operations and policies of an organization. The bigger the organization and the more knowledge they have to train, the more complex a task this becomes (which is why electronic Learning Management Systems have become commonplace).
  • Plan the big-picture direction of the team.
    A modern training team might be comprised of unique individuals with unique skills, but they need to be able to work towards common goals inline with the rest of the organization.

Assuming most if not all training departments are trying to accomplish these 4 things, the roles below should now make sense!

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