Successful Instructional Designer: 5 Traits

5 Traits Of A Successful Instructional Designer

What it takes

The field of educational design is flourishing with more professionals pivoting from other fields. This is the key to knowing that teaching design is unlike most other areas. It combines theory, science, application, creativity and pure knowledge. Below are 5 features of successful instructional designers.

1. An insatiable appetite for learning

This is double. First, there are constantly new developments in technology and research in Instructional Design and EdTech. Plus some of the practices we swore to five or ten years ago are being questioned (I look at you WORK, lol). We need to be on top of these changes and developments to create the best experiences for our students. Second, by virtue of the nature of our role, we are learning. We collaborate with professionals to create experiences. We are sometimes our own experts and have to consume and synthesize large amounts of content. We inevitably absorb some of the knowledge we gain during the design process.

An understanding of where they fit into the “big picture” to help define success

I have met instructional designers who are part of a client success organization (like me). Others are part of human resources, some are in IT, product, etc. Some are even a whole own structure. Our position in the overall organizational structure can determine resources, priorities, how success is defined, level of autonomy and key relationships. I know that being part of a client success organization means that my success is partly defined by client engagement. That means I need to prioritize customer satisfaction and engagement metrics. I work very closely with others in the CS organization to keep an eye on feedback and communicate directly with customers. A person in HR can prioritize the employees’ performance and / or retention data. They may need to foster relationships with leaders and other leadership positions to accomplish the organization’s development goals.

An affinity for technology

Although I consider technology as a variable in sound teaching design, it is very difficult to build a successful learning experience without integrating technology. With technology, I refer in particular to computer-based learning, computer-based development and web-based delivery. Especially since the beginning of the pandemic, many designers have struggled to find ways to reach out and engage in this new stream of distance learning, which replaces their previous face-to-face synchronous methods. Face-to-face delivery is becoming less of an option as more children receive homeschooling and more adults work and learn from home. The role of the designer is to determine the best methods of delivery and engagement, given the limitations and characteristics of their students. It is becoming more and more common that technology is the vehicle used to provide the best experiences to most people.

4. The ability to read and adapt to the learning and the learning situation

Nothing destroys a learning experience more than one in which the learner finds no benefit in participating. One of the most important drivers of motivation is relevance. For an experience to be relevant, not only do you initially need to know your student’s characteristics, but sometimes you also need to be ready to pivot based on the real-time situation (especially in synchronous ILT situations). I have designed training workshop experiences where the results were that the student walks away with X, Y and Z. My design defined the achievement of this result based on an instructor / student relationship. In the real-time situation, we found that peer learning provided the very best experience and retention, so we turned around and it was incorporated into our design going forward.

5. A creative mind

Thinking “outside the box” is an important trait of a successful designer. As learning contexts become more complex, previous solutions become less likely to provide the optimal experience. I compare an instructional designer to a chef in this regard. The learning experiences we design are recipes that we use to create a delicious meal with the ingredients we have. There may be some common way to combine all the ingredients to create an “ok” meal, but to create something that satisfies a more sophisticated palate, chefs often have to think outside the box and combine these ingredients in new ways. . It’s exactly the same with design. Students can easily become less engaged when given the same combination of “ingredients”. It is up to us to combine these ingredients in new and engaging ways to provide a great experience for our students.


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