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’!