Before the internet explosion and during the birth of CBT and e-learning roles were much easier to define. I worked in several e-learning development teams that consisted of
Researcher, Programmer/Author, graphic design, technical person, intstructional designer
over time the roles began to blur, the number of people required for each skill changed, programmers learnt photoshop and graphic designers learnt HTML and basic code and this led to much more flexibility, a good thing!
So has the same thing happened in Instructional design, its a term that I still hear but I’m not sure that I know what it means any more. Social media, interactive media, CD-Rom, web, podcasts, sim, games are just a few of the learning technologies that we are working with – I’ve not even mentioned iPhone! Maybe the job title is the same but the role and skills that are required have changed substantially. The instructional designer role is now much of an interactive designer, applying their thoughts, ideas and skills to a range of interactive media. At Real Projects we’ve thrown another set of skills in by using games designers on e-learning projects who bring a whole raft of new ideas and skills including Game Theory..
I’m never comfortable with the idea of keeping people firmly in their role, agile development and the rapid pace of technological changes means that was as well as being an expert in your field you need to have an understanding of what is happening in all the other development areas. Its no use putting forward a design that won’t work technically or isn’t making use of the amazing new technology that is out there. Check out PaperVision for an example. In our office we regularly exchange websites, articles and videos that we’ve seen to others in the team and everyday we seem to find something new.
What next for the instructional designer? I think they still have a vital role to play but the composition of what’s needed is going to change. They are going to need to be able to work on a range of media taking a little bit from game design, graphic design, instructional design and learning design. They could be the members of your team that actually being everything together.