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The One Thing Every Instructional Designer Must Do

statsOne of the best pieces of advice I received in regards to my instructional design career was to never be afraid of hard numbers, and to go one step further – talk about your accomplishments in hard numbers. For one reason or another, many instructional designers shy away from communicating statistics when speaking about their experience in interviews or on their resume; or perhaps we just forget about them. Either way we are doing a disservice to our value.

We live in a world where statistical facts rule the day. Don’t believe me? Pick up a copy of USA Today newspaper (or any newspaper), and I guarantee that the front page has some sort of graph, chart, or statistic. People love this kind of thing because it’s easy to understand and conceptualize. It also provides a digestible summary of the topic at hand. In a world of information overload, quick facts and stats are memorable.

Why then, do most IDs put stuff like “created Articulate and Captivate template for elearning implementation” on their resumes? Albeit true and valuable, this doesn’t convey anything. Even putting something like, “Created eight courses on workplace safety delivered to a corporate-wide audience” isn’t that much better. It lacks “sticking” power. There is no “wow” factor.

Granted, in order to include stats regarding the learning you create, you need to make an effort to capture them. If you aren’t, then you are doing yourself (and your client/organization) a disservice. You can easily leverage these as real, tangible results from your training. And seeing as how making the case for training tends to be an uphill battle in most organizations, including stats will go a long way. Be it on your resume, or in conversation, you should share something like:

  • Created 325 hours of elearning training delivered to 11,000 users over three months
  • International elearning implementation where I created 175 hours of training to 4,000 users, resulting in a satisfaction score of 4.6 out of a possible 5
  • Created and delivered 55 hours of systems training for 250 employees resulting in 12% increased productivity over four months

Each one of these demonstrates real value to the organization. It takes the focus off of you as the instructional designer and puts it on the results you obtain (that’s all any real organization wants anyhow: results). If you do contract work in ID, then you need this kind of thing to stick out from the crowd. Don’t be afraid of numbers. They carry a degree of accountability, and they will help you land more work.

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the Founder of LearnDash, a WordPress based LMS and Learning Strategy provider. He also works as a Learning & Collaboration Consultant where he implements large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies.

4 Comments
    • Joseph

      Very good thoughts justin. In addition to what you said- this advice of numbers is simply just good resume guidlines to say the least about it.. I have know this for a long while to quantify. Thanks for the important elaboration and reminder!

  1. I wonder what the psychology is behind this phenomenon. Why do instructional designers tend to place high value on numbers? Is it because numbers are what our clients care about? Perhaps some of us place a disproportionate value on quantitative data due to the perception that our field (of instructional design) is a soft science, which doesn’t require a ton of measurement to develop training materials. Perhaps we are trying to compensate. Perhaps numbers are just more convincing right now.

  2. As opposed to – I performed an up front analysis for a 30,000 user implementation which included a gap analysis, story boards, course (overarching), unit / lesson objects and evaluation. Doesn’t sound quite as sexy does it? Scholars marvel at Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci’s great works. They represent some of the highest art of the Renaissance and the greatest power brokers of the age: the Uffizi (the Baptism of Christ), the Mona Lisa, the Bronze David. The great master could have recorded the hundreds of hours he and his “school” spent creating this high art. His personal time spent with chisel and hammer at the David. The calculating artistry of the Adoration of the Magi and the all important Annunciation. You can name those things – through journals you could even quantify the time spent engaged in the endeavors. But what’s only become sexy recently are the sketches that supported the great works. Instructional development is seen as an indivisible ADDIE step from design. And after all it’s the sexy content in the LMS that we admire isn’t it? Even if that sexy product isn’t instructionally sound, doesn’t measure a darned thing and violates every known principal of human cognition that exists. Everyone wants to boast about the end product – no one is interested in what preceded it. And I opine that what preceded the great works of da Vinci (just as what precedes our work) may well be MORE important than the end result!

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