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What you should know about a career in Instructional Design
Shilpa Shet
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October 22, 2007

Do you have good English language skills?

Do you have an analytical bent of mind?

Do have a passion for teaching?


If you have answered yes to all three questions, here's a booming new career opportunity for you. Search any job site with the keyword 'Instructional Designer' and you will have your answer to how wanted this species is.


The job market for an Instructional Designer (ID) is exploding. And, according to experts, there are very few trained IDs in India. Here's what one market leader has to say. "It's a dismal scene, really. No institutes, so no trained IDs, so there is a huge demand in the marketplace. We are losing quality projects and letting go of opportunities to impact learning at various levels because of lack of awareness of ID and lack of world-class training institutes," says Vivek Padubidri of 4c Learning (Bangalore).

Not to be confused with industrial design, instructional design has been around for more than a decade


What is instructional design?

Instructional designers largely work in the field of e-learning. However, the knowledge learnt can be applied to any educational development field.


It is the science of designing instructions for learners, such that it leads to maximum knowledge transfer.


You are probably wondering -- why do you need to go to such lengths? The answer is that learners all over the world are undergoing a transition. In this age of computers, learning has taken on a new dimension. Teaching and learning is not just restricted to your classroom. There are online courses, there is game-based learning, and there are computer-based training programmes that you people can avail of.


This means that the focus has now shifted form the teacher to the learner.


And focusing on the learner and learning is what an instructional designer does. Punam Medh, founder iDesign Skills and 'Partners in Learning', says, "ID should be considered a design field and not a technical field. It is instructional design, and it follows its own design process. I cringe when it is treated as a writing course or a computer course."


Something on e-learning

E-learning is really nothing more than using some form of technology to deliver training and other educational materials. The global e-learning market is expected to touch $28 million by 2008. A large part of this is now being sourced from India.


Globally, IDs create content/ material for e-learning courses and hence the mad scramble to get good, trained IDs.

Who can become an instructional designer?

Almost anyone can. If you have the skills mentioned in the first three lines, you can become an instructional designer. Punam, who has been conducting ID training for four years, feels, "In terms of traits, you need to have a sense of being hands-on, should love the idea of learning and education, should have an eye for detail and be process-oriented. In terms of skills, you need to be aware of learning theories at a high level, be a good communicator, and structured thinking."


Anyone who has dealt with content and has good analytical skills can become an instructional designer. ID hones all writing skills because it provides a structure to all content.


What are the career prospects?

As everyone in this article has been almost screaming -- they need IDs! An ID can grow to be a manager and then eventually a consultant. A fact that is echoed by Punam when she says, "For a start-up ID, they can go far in an organisation which has ID as its core offering, like an e-learning or a content development company. However, 10 years in this field and you can start to look at consulting as an option."


An ID at the entry level will earn anything between Rs 10,000-15,000, based on skill and prior exposure. An experienced ID draws upwards of Rs 30,000, some even earning more than Rs 1 lakh per month.


Big players in the field are Tata Interactive, Accenture, NIIT [Get Quote], Sify, Aptech, and many more.


Part II: Tomorrow

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