Ellen Wagner is a learning industry analyst with a passion for sustaining innovation and accelerating enterprise adoption of technologies for education, training and performance support. This is her blog.
My interests in this ongoing discussion about instructional design competencies are both professional and personal. I have always been drawn to the way that one can structure, direct and produce a learning experience very much in the way that one can construct a museum exhibit, or art-direct a photograph, or write a screen play. Today I continue to be drawn by the possibilities for ID that are emerging at the intersections of RIAs, social networking, new media, e-publishing and mobility and games.
Today's IDs are guided by an instructional design/media model that virtually every aspiring teacher and certified learning professional in America must learn. And that model, of course, is ADDIE, the Analysis-Design-Development-Implement-Evaluate model that I have been poking at in the last several posts.
My issues with ADDIE have nothing to do with the model. It's a fine model. My issue rests with the naive expectation on the part of some that knowledge of the 5-step ADDIE process model is the same thing, or as good as, knowing how to do all of the things called for in each step of the model. And that is just not the way it is.
One of the biggest "a-Ha" moments of my ID career came after years of seeing ID models as a way to guide our professional processes. I came to understand that value is realized from ID models when they are used to guide production - of solutions, of interventions, of digital learning products. A focus on production suggests that something real is being created. In other words, an ID model may serve us better as a product model rather than a process model. For better or worse, a " process model" suggests "that which someone should be able to do", without insisting that one can actually do that which is being specified.
This would suggest that before one even gets to the point of thinking about ADDIE as a product model, there are some prerequisite skills to be mastered. In order to be productive and all.
There are essential things that an aspiring ID - well, an aspiring new media professional of any kind - will be well-served to know. Even before analyzing audience requirements, or producing a solution to a learning or performance problem, or creatively express ideas and information in digital form, or measuring the impact of a lesson on knowledge or performance. If an ID model can effectively guide production, than all IDs must be able to produce.
First, one must be able to express oneself effectively in writing, using a variety of forms and styles to achieve different effects. Of course this means emails, blogs, IMs and tweets. But also means knowing how to write a variety of types of documents, including things like a status report, a review of professional literature, a market analysis, a course syllabus, a creative brief, a grant proposal or two or three, project proposals, a statements of work, a bid for services, white papers, press releases, website copy, research proposals, case studies, a business case or two, a concept specification. If only I'd known.
Second, one must know how to present ideas to others in such a way as to inform, engage, persuade and to get a response to a call for action.This means expressing oneself verbally, both with and without a variety of presentation media, using a range of forms and styles. This includes public speaking, conference presentations, teaching, training, briefings. But it's more about learning the psychology of persuasion, overcoming objections, inspiration, engagement and motivation.
Third, one must develop a moderate level of technological proficiency, and will need to be able to demonstrate those proficiencies using a variety of software. Powerpoint, Excel, Word. Photoshop. Premiere Elements. Garage Band. Illustrator, Fireworks. Web tools. SWF tools. Acrobat or some kind of PDF/ portfolio platform. Web conferencing platforms. Social media tools. User-generated media production. Yes, you really do.
Fourth, one must have an appreciation for design. So many instructional designers jump into the work without have a broad view of the process of determining the form, function, appearance or characteristics of something. There are many categories of design, including graphic design, industrial design, fashion design, and interior design. For some, design is closely linked to art and can be considered the expression of an artistic aesthetic in a practical environment. For others, design is a process of specification, composition and construction. A large element of contemporary industrial design is web design, which includes both the technical and aesthetic aspects of creating websites. Increasingly, rich internet application design emphasizes user experience, demanding even more sophisticated design sensibilities.
My .02, anyway.