It’s tempting to paint all instructional designers with the same brush. After all, they seem to do much the same thing, whether they’re working for a business, a nonprofit, a government organization, or are involved in academics. However, the truth of the matter is that there are many different paths to follow and many different niches into which a aspiring designer might fit. The key is to know what’s out there. Here’s a quick look at some of the options would-be designers might want to consider. instructional designer
LMS Management -Instructional Designer
Learning management systems (LMSs) are not only still viable options, but they’re becoming more important as new systems come online. They’re ideally suited for large businesses and organizations, but require a knowledgeable hand at the helm. This is a particularly good fit for instructional designers who specialize in technical areas, although completion of the vendor’s training program will still be required.
Optional Media and Learning Formats
While instructional design embraces many different types of media and learning formats, some designers choose to specialize. However, others might find that getting involved in one of the many new offshoots of online learning is very rewarding. For instance, there is gamification, instructional game design and development, the creation of self-led guides, podcasts, video production and editing, and electronic performance systems to name just a few.
Consider The Work Environment
Instructional design serves many purposes and there are roles available in areas such as academic institutions, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and government programs. The environment itself differs drastically, and designers might find that a specific field is better suited for them than others. For instance, working within a nonprofit can be very personally rewarding, while working within a corporate environment might allow a designer to flex his or her muscles in content customization. Working within the academic world can offer significant flexibility, and government work might offer more stability.
Internal, Outsourced, or Product Creation
Instructional designers also have the choice of working with different organizations that go about the design process very differently. For instance, one might work within a business to create training materials for in-house staff. Another might hire themselves out to create training programs for companies without actually being an employee (they move from company to company). Yet another might work to create training products that go to the market.
Specializing in Specific Industries or Subject Areas
Most designers are what is known as “content neutral”, but some choose not to be. These specialists have almost SME status in their areas of expertise and are often highly sought after for content creation by relevant businesses and organizations. There are pros and cons to this type of specialization, but for designers or aspiring designers with a significant amount of knowledge in one area, this can be an excellent choice.
Course development has moved away from text-centered content to include a wide range of different media types. Designers with experience in audio or video design, animation, or graphic design can find very rewarding careers by designing and integrating this type of content into courses.
Social Media Learning Manager
Social media is beginning to usurp LMSs for informal learning, particularly with smaller businesses and organizations. Like LMSs, these communities require managers with design skills and expertise. From the rising area of social media learning to specialization in multimedia production, there are many potential paths forward for aspiring or existing instructional designers. There’s no reason to be stuck in one particular area when there are so many different choices available.
From eLearning.net, What eLearning Designers Need to Know about Gagne’s Nine