Tuesday, June 12, 2007

One Letter of ADDIE

Christy Tucker asks whether Instructional Designers NEED Technology skills. (emphasis mine)

Read the comments and conversation carefully in her post. Quite eye-opening.
I occasionally envy those folks whose world is so compartmentalized. Who have the luxury of being able to focus on one letter of ADDIE. Who are able to let go after they have finished their Design piece.

Realistically, I'm probably too much of a control freak to thrive in that situation.

That said - whenever I start dreaming of a work life of relative ease where I can focus on one skillset, I think of my friend the Graphic Designer.

The Graphic Designer REALLY wants to find a new job. She's very good at the nuts and bolts of graphic design. She created beautiful things on paper and has an impressive portfolio of work.

But she continues to run into the same problem.

All of her potential employers ask about her computer skills. Does she have a web site and web development experience? What desktop publishing tools does she use? Is she skilled in Photoshop? Illustrator? Quark XPress?

The change happened slowly...imperceptibly....

She keeps arguing that her current skill set is enough.....yet she still hasn't found new work after 2 years of searching.

Her field has changed. Folks are looking for people who can design in multiple media. And our world is becoming more computer-dependent by the day.

I look at Help Wanted ads and find that more employers (especially corporate employers) expect their trainers to have baseline computer skills (mostly Office and PowerPoint) and their instructional developers to be familiar with a wide array of educational technologies.

Having the professional knowledge and experience of an instructional designer gives you a theoretical base. And, as has been documented in other educational blogs, the theoretical sands are shifting.

More importantly, as organizations and universities move towards computer-based education - either as the core of their educational strategy or as a supplement - our clients will expect instructional designers to be versed in the technological tools of our trade.

Are you ready?


Anonymous said...

I had no idea how much discussion this topic was going to spark. I figured there might be some debate about which specific skills are most important, but I didn't realize the basic idea of needing technology skills would be questioned.

When I first decided to move into instructional design from corporate training, it took me a full year to find a job. I'm sure part of the issue was that I'd never had the title "instructional designer" and not everyone doing hiring saw the connection between teaching, training, and instructional design. But I also didn't have technology skills beyond Office and really pathetic web design/html.

Last year I ended up doing two job searches. Both of them took less than a month. I know that my technology skills are part of why I had so much less trouble with my job search. Even with the skills I do have though, I had to turn down jobs (or was turned down for them) because I didn't have enough skills. My lack of Flash experience meant I wasn't qualified for a lot of jobs out there--and I plan to do something about that in the next year.

Your graphic designer friend might find a job without updating her skills; I'm sure there are a few jobs out there somewhere. But she'd give herself a lot more opportunities if she broadened her definition of what she does to include the technology.

Wendy said...

Admittedly - I'm probably preaching to the choir (considering what I know about my audience). Maybe it's because my personal bias is towards having as many tools in the toolbox as possible.

I'm as shocked as you are that the topic about whether we need tech skills is still so hot.

Cammy Bean said...

The hotness of this topic is showing us how much variety there is in this field; how much room for different skills. I agree: the more skills, the better.

There are many skills that instructional designers need that aren't technical: writing, communication, project management, analysis, and instructional design -- to name but a few.

I can't imagine that many instructional designers exist who just do the Design piece. I do all but one letter of ADDIE -- everything but Develop.

So much depends on the team with which you're working.

I may be a freak in the field, one of the few IDs without any great technical experience. But as I've mentioned before I've been with e-Learning vendors my entire e-Learning career. It's different out here. This is all we do, so we have folks who focus on graphics and programming.

That said, I'm certainly "familiar with a wide array of educational technologies." But that's different than having to build things with them.

Perhaps where I should be worried is if rapid e-Learning tools take off and companies stop buying custom e-Learning programs.