Just recently, Connie Malamed wrote an interesting piece on her blog making the case for giving “Instructional Design” a new name.
For those of you who may be new to the field, an “Instructional Designer” is the moniker given to those who create educational content.
Instructional designers create elearning, live-instruction courses, informative webinars, and so on. They specialize in using best practice methodology to maximize the impact of the learning programs they create.
It’s a field that has been exploding in popularity lately.
What’s in a Name?
In her article, Connie makes the case for why she is in favor for changing Instructional Design to Learning Experience Design (shortened to LX). By its nature, the nomenclature suggests more of an emphasis on experience than the current Instructional Design title.
I’m hesitant to say that this potential industry shift is the “next best thing”, but I do see how it could make sense.
While I agree with the three reasons Connie mentions on her blog (read them here), I personally like the change because of how it shifts our attention from the “instructor” to the “learner”.
Instructional Design places the emphasis on the “message sender”. There’s nothing wrong with this approach of course. However, lately the tools that we leverage for both elearning and live instruction have been created with a greater importance on the “message receiver”. The Learning Experience Designer title is very much in-line with this perception swing.
Makes Sense, but is it Necessary?
While this name-change does have its merits, how necessary is it? Do we lose something by maintaining Instructional Design as the industry standard?
Changing the way we refer to something in any industry cannot be forced. In fact, it is a really difficult thing to do.
All we need is look at the heartburn that is Tin Can API.
Even after a few years, people still reference SCORM – not because they think it’s better technology, but because SCORM has been an industry standard name for over a decade. People know it and reference it daily.
My gut feeling is that we will not see a change until formal educational institutions change the title of their degrees and certification programs. Nonetheless, the proposed change from Instructional Design to Learning Experience Design is intriguing.