Recently, I began thinking about what it means to be an instructional designer. I’ve come to realize that eLearning and ILT are not going to cut it any more. Today’s learners just aren’t going to sit through a class, no matter how short. They want the answers they need now, not after the class next week, and not after slogging through a 20 minute page turner with a knowledge check.
As someone who became an ID by feasting on a healthy diet of authoring tools and LMSs, this is significant shift in my personal world view. At times I’ve even wondered if “instructional designer” even describes what I do anymore. Am I designing instruction, or am I curating it? Am I training employees how to do their jobs, or am I supporting their performance? A question of semantics? Maybe.
When I first got into ID I thought the field was innovative, at the leading edge of developing people through brand new technologies. In school I studied HTML and Java Script. I wonder if today’s students are studying Twitter and YouTube.
The challenge now is to get back to that edge, looking forward. First, We have to catch up to the learners, giving them what they are asking for: just in time, mobile, efficiency, etc. Then, and here’s the hard part, we have get ahead of them, anticipating the next shift in audience expectations.