Sunday, March 9, 2008

How do I explain what I do?

This question is directed towards all instructional designers. Have you ever been asked what you do and received a blank look in return. Don't know about you, but I have come across such situations several times. I am then forced to explain what elearning is and then what ID is. If I continue to get blank stares, I resort to saying, "Well, we are into training." People understand this better.

So, what is instructional design? You must have come across several definitions. Let's not get into that (some are vague while others are complicated!). I think ID is the most effective way to teach a particular concept. There are several methods that we can use to teach a particular concept. For eg. you could teach the concept of evaporation by explaining the process in words, using a story, a diagram, or a combination of these. As an ID, what we need to identify is which strategy will facilitate learning. All forms of training, whether elearning or classroom, use instructional design to impart learning. The main difference is the tools used to teach are different. ID also includes:
  • identifying the desired Bloom's level
  • designing the scope of content and arriving at a consensus regarding the course duration
  • understanding the learners' needs and ensuring ways to guarantee motivation
  • choosing the most appropriate media to teach
  • identifying methods to ensure retention and transfer of learning
  • using strategies to ensure high impact and immediate understanding
  • introducing assessments to help the learner understand where they stand
  • designing course that meets learner's expectations
I have no idea whether this information will help us explain what we do. But at least we are clear about it. :)


Mousumi said...

Hi Archana,
Like you've mentioned i did encounter such situations where i was unable to explain my job profile. Usually i end up saying i make teaching materials in the form of CDs. The info put up on this post was quite enlightening. Now i guess i'll be able to explain my job profile.

Geeta Bose said...

Congrats Archie! Am sure this will become a great forum for debates and discussions.

Good post to begin with. This is indeed a familiar situation and, this is how I handle it. I typically ask people to recall what distinguished a good teacher from a bad one in their school days? They invariably come up with answers like - some told us stories, some teachers were so good that we remember our lessons even now...some were boring, some read from the books while others gave us challenging tasks...etc. Now they know where I'm heading...although these teachers taught the same concepts, good teachers helped us learn better by making things easy to learn, making them more interesting, more rememberable, and finally more learnable! That's what we as instructional designers do...By now most of them join in with their perceptions of a good teacher. Then we easily move on to discuss "what" makes a good teacher as you have mentioned in your post!

Archana Narayan said...

Thanks Mousumi. Glad you found the post helpful. :)

Hey Geeta! Great approach! Should try that next time someone asks me what I do. Taking this discussion forward.... the next thing people want to know is whether we are 'qualified to teach' a particular topic. Then, I go on to explain the role of a SME and this actually adds to the confusion... So I guess what differentiates us from teachers is that they are SMEs also while we are just facilitators of learning.

Thanks for responding guys!

Anonymous said...

It’s a great relief that I can surely say your blog has offered me, Archana. I have been victim of such a situation over a year now. Not that I am not able to describe my profile, but the people in our community have ‘not got used to with this new learning approach that has taken its head out of the comfort zone for over a decade now. It is really difficult to put our job profile into words. However, Archana’s words would certainly rescue us from this annoying feeling we get when we fail to tell them what we do! I guess what Geeta has suggested is a good way to convince whoever inquires us on our profile. But the descriptive nature of the inquiry is certainly not going to be feasible for us ‘busy people’.