I've been meaning to follow-up with you or at least say hi. I've been in the weeds at work, as you can tell and haven't had much surfacing time. Nor have you, from what it sounds like . . .. But I don't want to let the thread die.
What are you thinking these days?
I totally agree. I'm still trying to wrap my head around this whole situation. It's been quite interesting actually, and I think very good for me. As an "academic" you tend to buy into the notion that we know what we're doing. And don't get me wrong, I do (and I know you know that—I've worked corporate as a designer as well). But in the Ivory Tower, it's easy to think we have the answers. Yet, one day, I stumble across some blog by someone without a degree but who is an instructional designer, and you think, "Isn't that quaint!" And then I start reading it (your blog), and I all of the sudden realize, "This gal knows her stuff," and "Why didn't I think to ask that question? What a great question!" So it's been good for me to remember that academics don't have a monopoly on what instructional design is or isn't.
So where does the conversation need to go? I'm not sure. I'm intrigued by this idea of who gets to be called an instructional designer. Why don't we have certification? Mechanical engineers have certification tests that you can take (and if you pass you're good to work) whether you have an academic degree or not. You have to be a certified pilot. You have to be certified to spray chemicals on plants. You even have to be certified to work on cars at Wal-Mart! But to be an instructional designer? Nope. One of my former students, Chris Duke, thinks it's because we'd never get anyone to agree to what it should entail. Well, why not? Why can't there be some sort of portfolio system for it? You know, you and I submit portfolios, and if my instruction is sound, then TA DA! You're an instructional designer. We sprinkle fairy dust on a certificate, and you impress your mom and dad. Chris says that we'd never get behaviorists and constructivists to agree on what constitutes "sound instruction," but I don't agree. I mean, EVERYONE agrees objectives and assessments have to match, don't they?
So assume we're then going to have a certification. What goes in it? What do we need to be able to DO to be an instructional designer? What skill set do we need to demonstrate? WHO gets to decide?
That's what I'm thinking, and I think it's an important conversation. And I think that the only way to get an answer to the questions it for those in the "ivory tower" to collaborate with those "in the trenches."
Did you see Karl Kapp's post on this subject -- he had weighed in our our conversation (you were cited, so I figured you had seen it)...
I think trying to get corporate America to buy-in to the whole notion that you need a certificate to practice this thing (ID) that exists on this vast spectrum will be the ridiculous part. So a company has to get a specialist with a certificate to create a PPT presentation that's going to be used as a self-paced eLearning? No way, Jose.
Let's keep talkin'....
I think that's the disconnect between academia and corporate. I forget that in the "real world" there is generally no real difference (if any) between a designer and a developer. When I think instructional designer, I think DESIGNER—the one who designs the stuff. It's the developer who makes the PPT.
That's a light bulb moment for me. That's one of the BIG differences, no?
Well, in that sense, I am just the designer and I am in the corporate world. But I do think I'm an exception. Look at the comments on my recent post about the current project I'm doing. A number of people responded that they do the design and build the sucker. The reality is that is usually a combined role (which is why IDs increasingly are expected to know the tools that are used). There has been controversy on this point on my blog as well.
But with the rise of rapid eLearning tools, the lines get blurred even more. For better or for worse, anyone can create eLearning. (Some would argue that it's actually eLearning that's getting created....)
So what then, in your eyes as a corporate designer, is MY JOB as an academic?
Ooh. Now that's an interesting question. I'll have to ponder that and get back to you...;)
Sounds good. For now, I'm going to edit this up a bit and post it. Let's see what type of reaction and input we get.
I know it's some of my colleagues CRAZY. They think I'm a big heretic. I think I'm a realist.
You are a heretic.
Did you read Karl's post?
Yeah. When I read what he thought I was kind of like, HUH? I mean, let's be honest, as instructional designers, WE'RE NOT CURING CANCER. Lives are not at risk, though we act as though they are (and granted sometimes they can be—I think of an instructional evaluation I just did for the Department of Defense on ammunition packaging and shipping). But seriously, you know, in academia I think most are trying to justify their student loans and show off the fancy calligraphy on the walls than they are to truly trying to get to the heart of the matter. And the heart of the matter in instructional design is designing instruction that helps people learn better. That's really all I care about. I want to know how do we do it and make learning more efficient and engaging.
But what I do, in my opinion, is no more important to the field than what you do everyday in your guerilla design sessions.
Although this particular guerrilla design project feels more like training than learning...maybe that's the distinction/the difference.
Don't they have to go hand in hand? If training is effective, then won't learning take place? Or, if learning doesn't take place, then have they really been trained?
Yes, but...you can "learn" how to use a software tool, yes. But maybe where true instructional design is necessary is when we're talking more about learning concepts, true behavioral changes...less procedural?
THEORY ALERT: If learning can be broken down into different domains, then learning is learning, no matter what the domain. For example, Gagne said we have a) verbal information, b) intellectual skills, c) cognitive strategies, d) motor skills, and e) attitudes. He then said, no matter what the domain, for learning to take place, there are nine events that have to take place (although what happens in each step might vary depending on the domain): 1) gain attention, 2) inform learner of objective, 3) stimulate recall of prior learning, 4) present stimulus, 5) provide learner guidance, 6) elicit performance, 7) provide feedback, 8 ) assess performance, and 9) enhance retention and transfer.
Do these not hold up whether you're learning software or a concept?
I think they do. I believe learning is learning is learning.
OK. Learning is learning.
But Gagne Schmagne.
The reality is: you start to get into the shades of training/and learning. If you're just providing performance support does the learner really need to learn it or do you just show them where to access the info they might need? Do you actually need to assess the learner? Isn't that what their job is about? Especially when you get into software training...
I was interviewing a potential ID the other day (no master's degree, although she did a full load of course work in Training & Development for a master's...) -- at the company where she works, the users wouldn't bother with the assessments. They just wanted the info. So she had to completely refocus how she designed her training resources. This is the reality.
[I'm multi-tasking right now, so these thoughts may be ALL over the place...caveat emptor!)
I must also admit to feeling incredibly burnt out from this project I'm working on now...my perspective is probably hard and jaded. Just get the damn thing done and who cares about the rest!
So there you have it, Sports Fans. An academic and a practitioner both trying to figure out what it all means and how we work together. Any feedback or your thoughts on what we've said here are welcomed.