10 “Super” Instructional Design Skills

If you ever wondered what it takes to be a successful instructional designer, then the inforgraphic below (originally detailed by SHIFT elearning) is a good place to start.

Generally speaking, a good instructional designer is someone who can take information and present in a way that effectively changes (or reinforces) a particular behavior or way of thinking.

The inforgraphic below lists 10 skills that every instructional designer should have in order to be successful and effective. I have expanded upon each one of these so as to provide some more context.

10 Instructional Design Skills

1. Passion for Learning – Being interested in graphic design is not enough. You will need a passion for learning in order to find success in instructional design. It’s this passion that will motivate you through the tough times – like when a client berates the course design that you spent 40+ hours working on, and demands that you start over.

2. Understand How People Learn – There is some controversy over this, particularly if you come from a learning style perspective, but nonetheless it is important to understand how people learn. This doesn’t mean you need to study human psychology, just keep-it-simple. Consider what works for you and expand upon that. Understanding key concepts, like that most people are very busy (be concise!) will go a long way.

3. Strong Visualization Skills – Don’t be surprised when you are given a list of requirements for your courses and then are sent on your way to create six hours of elearning. The ability to visualize the end-result is critical. With the vision in place, you can begin taking the steps necessary to achieve that vision.

4. Ability to Write Well – Arguably the most important aspect of any course. You should have a strong command over the language of your course. Proofread as often as possible and have others with a vested interest also go through your course. Nothing will kill your credibility more than poor grammar.

5. Creative & Analytic Problem Solving Skills – Every elearning project will face its fair share of issues. Don’t be afraid of these challenges! Think of creative solutions and support them with empirical evidence.

6. Organization Skills – Courses and elearning programs can take on a life of their own. Be organized! Figure out a system that works for you so that you. It is very important to be organized. For example, if you can quickly present your clients evidence of their sign-off on course storyboards, then you will be saving yourself the headache of scope creep and rework.

7. Active Listening Skills – When you are in meetings, don’t just sit there like a lump on a log. Instead, engage your clients with clarifying questions based on the criteria they present. You will find that most people don’t really know exactly what they want in an elearning program, so by actively listening and engaging with key stakeholders, you will be better able to create a course that is aligned to their expectations.

8. Technology Skills – If you aren’t technologically inclined, instructional design probably isn’t a good career for you. The elearning and mobile learning world is full of gizmos, gadgets, and new technology on a seemingly monthly basis. You should have a solid grasp at the tools available to you and your clients.

9. Innovation & Creativity – Stay current with industry trends and effective methods for content delivery. You can leverage them when you create your course content.

10. People Skills – I think this skill spans across almost any industry. The most successful people have the ability to interact with others and develop a rapport. Without people skills, you will find it tough to get anywhere in instructional design.

Skills-of-an-Exceptional-Instructional-Designer-Infographic

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

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