RE: How to become an Instructional Designer?

Subject: RE: How to become an Instructional Designer?
From: "Dubin, David" <David -dot- Dubin -at- sage -dot- com>
To: 'Steven Baratz' <sbaratz -at- mindspring -dot- com>, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2006 17:06:08 -0400

I've been a curriculum developer/instructional designer/teacher/trainer for
part of my military career and most of my civilian career. I did, however,
work as a technical writer/editor with PriceWaterhouse for several years
before I was able to move back into instructional design. To help answer
your questions, I'll give you the "wisdom" of my experience. (Please review
the quotes around wisdom!)

For me, the principal difference between tech writing and instructional
design/curriculum development is focus. Sage Software's technical
communications philosophy is that tech writing focuses on features and
functionality while instructional design focuses on business process
integration with the applications. The difference is writing the WHAT of a
product against the HOW, WHEN, and WHY of the product.

You asked, "What are roads, traditional or otherwise, to become an
Instructional Designer?" The best answer I can give is to use your teaching
credentials as the wedge to get job interviews and yes, "there such a thing
as an 'entry-level' job."

I would also advise that before you look for either technology-based or
web-based curriculum development positions, you spend some time in
instructor-led development positions or do some in-depth studies in adult
learning theory, human-computer interface knowledge, and the like. The
reason is that adult business learners are very different than
adolescent/college level students. Their motivation is different, their
learning styles (and therefore needs) are different, and their expectations
are much higher.

Finally, see if you like doing either or both by freelancing. Get together
with your local STC chapter and ASTD chapter and see if anyone has
short-term projects that are being outsourced. The best way to get
experience is to get experience by doing. If you have any other questions,
feel free to email me offline.

David B. Dubin, PHR
Senior Curriculum Developer
Sage Software
727-579-1111 x 3356
david -dot- dubin -at- sage -dot- com
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