With the development and growth of online/e-learning, creating effective methods of learning through an online medium has become increasingly significant in higher education. If you have experience or interest in curriculum, teaching, or learning theory in addition to your librarian and information sciences background, can lead to a career as an Instructional Designer. An Instructional Designer’s objective is to assist people in learning by creating courses that engage the learner. The job can involve learning, relearning and unlearning design methods and technologies. Many of the skills that are valued in librarians can easily be translated to instructional design. In fact, many instructional designers work in conjunction with librarians (or is a librarian) and faculty to create innovative lessons for their audiences. Instructional designers will need a combination of skills and aptitudes that include being technically savvy, writing, creativity, and understanding how learners learn.
So what is instructional design? Berger (1996) lists several adapted definitions looking the lens of science, reality, and discipline. As a process, Instructional Design is defined as:
Instructional Design is the systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It includes development of instructional materials and activities; and tryout and evaluation of all instruction and learner activities.
In addition to the traditional competencies, a noticeable trend in searching for articles for instructional designers is collaboration. Being able to work successfully with others is a highly regarded aptitude to become an instructional designer. Collaborating with others on course development has both benefits and challenges, but according to Duckett & Nelson (2008), there are some traits that can lead to successful collaboration including commitment to the highest quality of teaching and learning, recognition of individual expertise, trust and willingness to learn, and a sense of humor. Instructional designers are highly valuable members of a team that supports the center of higher education organizations: the students. Collaboration between the library and faculty and instructional designers can strengthen student learning and build effective teaching practices (Hill, 2010). Below is a model created by Duckett & Nelson (2008) for instructional designers, instructors, and librarians on collaborative course design that keeps the focus on student learning:
A career in instructional design may be ideal if you ever considered contributing your skills to an academic or corporate learning environment. Looking at various articles, there is no one clear path to become an instructional designer, but creativity, the ability to collaborate, resourcefulness, writing and technology skills were qualifications that were sought after by employers.
Short video on What does a Instructional Designer Do? by Joel Gardner, PhD
While there are many resources to get you started on your path to instructional design, here are few that you may find useful:
- The Blended Librarian Online Learning Community: Blending Instructional Design, Technology, and Librarianship The Blended Librarians Online Learning Community is librarians, faculty, instructional designers and technologists, and other academic support personnel working collaboratively to integrate the library into the teaching and learning process.
- International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction A list of Competencies for Instructional Designers
- The Accidental Instructional Designer by Cammy Bean Article on becoming an instructional designer with several great resources
- Utilizing Technologies for Engaged Instruction by Rebecca Blakiston Power Point Presentation with examples of different types of technologies and tools used in instructional design
- How an Instructional Designer can Make a Difference by Stephen Bell Article on collaboration on instructional designers and libraries
- Instructional Design Librarian- University of Alaska Anchorage Sample Job description