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Sunday, 12 July 2009

Jack of ALL Trades?

There is a fast growing and disturbing trend which is becoming apparent in the e-Learning world – no longer is it good enough to be an instructional design specialist, you now have to be a graphic designer and a programer as well!


Jack or Master?

I have spent years (14 to be precise) perfecting my specialism as an instructional designer of blended learning. However, only the other day someone rang me and said “Hi there Judith, I’ve got the perfect job for you. We need an instructional designer for 20 days to get an e-Learning programme produced. I assume that you can program in Articulate?”.

My reply to this was along the lines of “... err, sorry, no, I’m not a programer, I am an instructional designer. I have written scripts which were to be programed in Articulate, so I know how the suite of tools work, but as I have said already, I am not a programer and neither am I a graphic designer. I know and specify what graphics I want but I couldn’t design them to save my life!”.

Now, if this was a one off, then OK, but it wasn’t. I’ve had and seen numerous job opportunities recently for the ‘Jack of all instructional designer trades’, which makes me wonder what on earth is going on and, far more importantly, what effect this trend is going to have on the job which I do and, from what others tell me, do very well.

Becoming a top notch instructional designer takes years of experience and I’m still learning and developing in this role. I haven’t the time, skills or inclination to stop my learning and development to learn how to program, even if the authoring tools to be used are in the ‘Rapid’ category. We need more quality instructional designers and not ‘Jacks of all Trades and Masters of None’! Each to their own, that’s what I say. There are plenty of people out their who are ace at graphic design and others who just love programing – so let them get on with it, that’s what I say.

So, what lies beneath this worry trend? The answer my friend, is ignorance and greed! Ignorance of what instructional design is all about and greed in wanting to get something produced as quickly as possible and as cheaply as possible. Just as I thought we were finally turning the corner in the production of quality e-Learning programmes, it would seem that we are now in real danger of turning the clock back by expecting people with real instructional design skills and experience to become something they are not.

My dilemma now is, that in order to earn a living, should I learn how to use authoring tools such as Captivate and Articulate? I hope, most sincerely, that the answer is ‘NO’!


3 comments:

Rob Alton said...

Perhaps we all should. I think the skills/role of IDs are less understood/valued than they were even a few years ago and some production companies do not employ IDs any longer.

In my view, it's a dying profession.

Donna said...

I don't think ID is a dying profession I think it is a misunderstood profession. As we progress to more E-learning for all, and poor pedagogy at the forefront of most design, the role of ID will become relevant. At some point consumers will come to realize that just because it is flashy does not mean it is good.

Some companies wokr on quality some on quantity, people always come back for quality in the end, thus the legacy of the ID will prevail!

Judith Christian-Carter said...

I am with you all the way Donna and the more people raise this very important issue the legacy of the instructional designer will prevail.