Creating a Professional ID
December 2008

Creating a Professional ID

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Saswati Paik

ID Specialist
saswati.paik@gmail.com

Need to Design Instruction

Do we remember all our teachers who have ever taught us? Do we have sweet memories of all the classes we have attended during our student days? I am sure, you all will say ‘No’. Most of us remember only few teachers for reasons like their innovative teaching or their affectionate behaviour.

There are numerous factors which are responsible for the popularity of a teacher. Ideally a teacher is supposed to prepare him/herself for any class as per the requirement of his/her students. Since the ability to grasp a subject varies from one student to another, teachers have to explore the best way to enhance the teaching-learning process in the class.

A good teacher should necessarily have the following qualities: (i) good communication skill, (ii) analytical bent of mind to understand the requirements of the students, (iii) passion for teaching, and (iv) knowledge about the subject. All these qualities are so important and inter-linked that it is difficult to rank them as per their priorities.

Students, on the other hand, come from different family backgrounds and may have different mental make-up. Moreover, their learning capacity also varies. All these factors have a bearing on the impact various teaching aids have on students. But an effective teacher is one who formulates the design of the teaching process and follows some ways to get a better or best response from her/his students. Here lies the importance of ‘Instructional Design’ or ID as it is popularly called. Although the process followed by teachers cannot be defined as ID in present context, the origin of the concept lies somewhere in the teaching-learning process, which was once not accompanied by Computer Based Learning (CBT) or Web-Based Learning (WBT).

Why Instructional Design?

Following the IT boom, the past few decades has seen a change in the mode of learning. It has now become multi-faceted. With the change in the source of knowledge, the mode of knowledge transfer has also evolved. These days knowledge is not just confined to books or the traditional classroom-based teaching-learning process, it is easily accessible both online and offline through various media. People can easily avail web-based training programmes, learn through computer games and also attend interactive sessions from remote locations. With this shift in trends, the requirements of the teaching-learning process has changed with the courses concentrating more on learners’ requirements.

In such a situation, people with a passion for teaching, good communication skills and the ability to visualise best practices in learning, can look for a booming career in the field of ID. ID can be defined as both the art and science of designing instructions for learners, these instructions aiming at maximum knowledge transfer. It can be applied in game-based training for students, professional trainings and also interactive sessions on general knowledge.

Introducing ID as a Professional Course

An ideal ID course needs to cover the following areas: (i) Basics of learning that include various learning theories; (ii) Fundamentals of effective communication; (iii) Concept of Educational Psychology and implication of Educational Psychology in ID; (iv) Basic principles and tools of ID; (v) Concept of e-Learning and e-Learning authoring tools; (vi) Description of some ID models. All these elements can build up a professional course in colleges and universities.

Moreover, organisations having experienced content developers and professional Instructional Designers can initiate short-term professional courses for experienced professionals looking forward to join the e-Learning sector.

As per the standard requirement of IT industries working in the field of e-Learning, it is essential for willing ID professionals to achieve mainly three qualities: (i) basic understanding about learning theories and idea about CBT, WBT, Instructor Led Training (ILT), (ii) knowledge about basics of ID and e-Learning and (iii) mainly good communication skills. Usually, the ID professionals gain maximum knowledge on the job, handling various projects for different target audiences.

The origin of the ID concept lies somewhere in the teaching-learning process itself which was once not accompanied by Computer Based Learning (CBT) or Web-Based Learning (WBT)

ID as a Profession in India

ID is a process that analyses learning needs and promotes a delivery mechanism to meet those needs. A new age Instructional Designer should have some basic qualities like an ideal teacher. She/he also needs to have an open mind on constantly updating oneself to learn what are the latest trends in e-Learning tools and practices. The courses a designer designs, in any organisation, are made for a target audience already set by the organisation or onsite client. Therefore, a designer need to be flexible in terms of visualisation, knowledge update, and also inclination towards the subject assigned. Subjects, contents and mode of approach may vary with the nature of target audience. Sometimes they have to prepare learning instructions based on the contents provided, but at times they may also have to play the role of content developers as well. Therefore, big companies often look out for ‘Content Developers-cum-Instructional Designers’ rather than simply designers.

In India, the job market for trained instructional designers is booming. Earlier, there were very few institutes, not more than four or five, offering training in ID. Lately, new institutes offering ID training have mushroomed. Many of these institutes are actually run by companies that are in the business of e-Learning. Since a large part of global e-Learning projects are outsourced to India, these companies are in demand and so constantly hone the skills of their designers.

Unfortunately, the scope of ID has not been explored to the maximum. Students are pressurised into taking up engineering or medical streams to ensure a bright future. There is a need to change the mindset as far as Arts and Humanities streams are concerned.

The potential of this field cannot be fully realised unless more and more institutions and universities come forth to explore it. There is also a need for collaboration with foreign universities to generate an interest in ID among young people to adopt it as a career option.With every e-Learning company screaming for Instructional Designers, a trained designer can look forward to bright prospects and grow to be a manager and eventually a consultant, ten years down the line.

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