How to Survive Being an Instructional Designer: Tips, Tricks, and Trivia
Instructional designers are the people responsible for creating user-friendly educational materials. These materials should be easy to understand, engaging, and accessible to everyone — no matter how old they are or what their education level is. There’s no doubt that a well-designed piece of content can make all the difference when it comes to persuading users to take action or change their behavior. With that being said, working as an instructional designer can be challenging at times. Eager learners, constant revisions, budget restrictions, limited time — these are just a few of the challenges you’ll face on a day-to-day basis. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources out there that will help you survive as an instructor; so read on if you’re interested in learning more!
Ever get frustrated because your team members aren’t catching all of your instructions? In order to succeed as an instructional designer, you’ll need to take control and be proactive throughout the project lifecycle. First and foremost, you’ll need to stay positive. There’s no use getting frustrated because your team members aren’t getting the instructions, feedback, or revisions you expect. They may not have the resources, knowledge, or time to work through all of your details. Relax and remember that all of the best advice in the world won’t do any good if you don’t take the time to implement it. Secondly, be prepared for changes. As a project manager, you’ll want to keep your team up to date with any revisions to the materials, but that doesn’t mean you can expect everyone to be on the same page at all times. Changes to requirements, content, and deadlines are a given when managing a project of this magnitude; you just need to be ready for them. Finally, plan for an expansion of your team as the project progresses. The sooner you can find a way to include new people on the team, the better. When teams are small, it’s easy to let duties get mixed up. While it’s okay to mix and match duties as much as possible when time and resources allow, be aware that it’s important to assign each person to a specific role within your organization.
Read More: How to Master Online Instructional Design: A Step-by-Step Guide
Set realistic expectations
Projects are never easy, and if you’re an instructional designer, they can be especially challenging. That’s why it’s important to set realistic expectations with your team. You’ll want to remember that you’re not dealing with seasoned designers or developers here. Many of your team members may have only held a few different roles throughout their careers, and they may not fully understand the full scope of an instructional project. You’ll also want to remember that there’s a big difference between being able to do something and actually doing it. You don’t want to set unrealistic deadlines for your team or expect them to complete projects that are beyond their skill set. Set expectations by using a project management framework to outline the overall project timeline, and then break down the various tasks by a person. This will allow you to define who is responsible for each step of the project timeline, and it will also help your team members understand the expectations associated with their tasks. It may also help to create a project charter that outlines the overall project scope.
Communicate frequently with your team
Instructional designers are in the business of educating people, and that’s a big responsibility. As an instructional designer, you’ll want to make sure that you’re communicating frequently with your team so that they know exactly what’s expected of them. Ideally, you’ll want to communicate at every stage of the project lifecycle. This way, you can ensure that your team members have all the information they need to complete their tasks.
Don’t get bogged down by small tasks
Instructional projects are very challenging, and the stakes are even higher than usual. It’s important to remember that you can’t rush a project just because it’s challenging. Take your time, but don’t get bogged down by small tasks. When you have a small task that you’re trying to complete, try to break it down into smaller tasks. Try to identify the specific steps that need to be completed, and then break each of those down. This way, you’ll be able to complete the task much more quickly.
Stay organized and efficient
Instructional designers are often tasked with creating multiple types of materials, including video content, written instructions, and interactive materials. Each of these materials requires careful planning and careful execution. To stay organized and efficient, try to break down the work you need to do into smaller tasks.
Instructional designers are responsible for creating easy-to-understand educational materials. Make sure that you’re up to the challenge: survive being an instructional designer by being proactive, setting realistic expectations, and communicating frequently with your team.