The furrowed brow. The pursed lips. The nods of feigned recognition. These are the familiar looks confusion that meet me when I explain that I am studying instructional design and technology. Fortunately I am accustomed to these looks, having started my higher education career in the Business Practice Improvement Office of Emory University as a Strategic Consulting Fellow. Can you say mouthful? I quickly learned to have an elevator speech of sorts prepared to explain what I do to those who ask and, without fail, want more information.
This is why I was thrilled to have been challenged by Dr. C to define instructional design on the first day of my Foundations of Instructional Design and Technology class. Thus far, I have been defining instructional design as:
The practice of utilizing systematic methods (aesthetics, psychological research, technology, etc.) to create optimal learning experiences for students. Instructional designers often utilize subject matter experts (SMEs) to ensure the delivery of accurate information. Instructional designers may also be or work with graphic designers, programmers, teachers, and others to create superlative learning environments for said students.
What do you all think? Am I on track?
In relation to this there has been some robust discussion in the field about whether to refer to a person who does the above as a learning designer, instructional designer, or something else entirely.
One of my favorite IDT blogs, Experiencing E-Learning by Christy Tucker, committed a recent post to this discussion. SPOILER ALERT: Tucker likes the term Learning Experience Design or LX Design and I have to say, it’s a pretty sexy title for the work. In her post on the evolving field Tucker also referenced a blog post by James Tyer in which he collected over 60 different titles for people in the learning and development field. Another one of my favorite IDT blogs, eLearningIndustry.com (a great resource if you have an interest in e-Learning), recently published a list of the top 10 TED talks for e-Learning professionals. I love TED talks and think they are incredibly informative. I’ll be spending the next few days watching these and seeing if and how my definition of instructional design changes. All in all, it’s fascinating that our own personal definitions of the field and experiences in the field can define our chosen, and sometimes assigned, titles.
As a “newbie” in instructional design I’m still learning. I am at the very beginning of my journey and I think instructional design can encompass many things. That is why I titled my blog “Learn.Dev.Grow.” There is learning, there is development, and most importantly there is constant growth in this field– for the practitioners and the students.
As the child, grandchild, and niece of teachers and the sister of a future speech therapist, I am surrounded education all the time. I’d like to remain in higher education and I see great potential for schools like Emory, my current employer, to focus more on e-Learning. I am pursuing this degree to bolster my expertise in this burgeoning field. Maybe one day I can help develop e-Learning programs and degrees for the university. Learning design combines principles of aesthetics, graphic design, education, psychology, and technology– all things that interest me. I look forward to learning more throughout the semester and reflecting upon the evolution of my definition in this blog.