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Want a career in instructional design? Here's how!
Shilpa Shet
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October 23, 2007

Part I: All about careers in Instructional Design

The job market for trained instructional designers is booming at the moment. But what is instructional design? It is the science of designing instructions for learners, such that it leads to maximum knowledge transfer. And how does one go about becoming an instructional designer? About a year ago there were very few institutes offering training in Instructional Design (ID). Well, in fact, there were not more than four or five.

Lately, though, many new training institutes that offer ID training have mushroomed. A large part of these institutes actually are run by companies that are in the business of e-learning. A large part of the global e-learning projects are outsourced to India and so companies feel the need to constantly hone the skills of their designers.

How can I become an instructional designer?
Initial IDs learnt the hard way. They referred to books and learnt from their clients requirements. These IDs in turn trained the next batch that joined.

Currently, companies continue their internal ID training; however there are many new institutes that offer these to anyone who is interested.

Here's a list of institutes offering courses:

However, most of one's learning actually happens on the job. Hence, e-learning companies focus on constant skill upgradation for their existing designers.

Some of the above are actually e-learning companies that have ventured into ID training because of the demand. Says Vivek Padubidri of 4c Learning (Bangalore), "Response (to the course) is really improving over time. The basic awareness of ID needs to be created at the under-graduation level."

Punam Medh of iDesign Skills elaborates, "I do feel we need more institutions and universities to come forth and explore the potential of this field. There needs to be collaboration between us and reputed foreign universities so that young people interested in the field of training and education can formally adopt this as a career option."

Vivek, who has more than 18 years of experience across various industries, says, "Initially taining was for meeting internal needs. Now, we seem to like to do this more as a passion, it could yield financial results later. It is the passion that is driving it right now. We also see that as an e-learning development company, we can add practitioners' experience into the course. Therefore what we teach has some basis and hands-on experience. Our training is more from the practitioners' approach."

However, there are some sceptics who feel that the institutes are not doing enough justice. Says Dr Vinod Joshi of Knoah Solutions (Hyderabad), "Honestly I feel none of the institutes are doing justice to ID training. In fact according to me they are not doing any work on ID in true sense. A few of them stress on language writing, a few on management and others on technology. None of them do any serious training on ID."

Dr Joshi has learnt ID on his own and feels that there are very few people in India who understand the deeper aspects of ID.

He feels a typical ID course should have the following elements:

What are the career prospects?
Every e-learning company is 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 can earn anything between Rs 10,000-15,000, based on the skill and prior exposure. The experienced designers draw upwards of Rs 30,000, some even earning more than Rs 1 lakh a month.

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

Continuous improvement
However, it is not easy training to be an instructional designer. Experts say it could take antwhere between six months to two years to get a clear understanding of actual ID. This, over and above your core training.

And the training is never over. Seniors in this industry need to constantly update themselves with what is happening in the field. According to Punam, an experienced ID would need to spend a good amount every year to buy ID books to upgrade their skills.

There are web resources and online international universities too that offer courses for experienced IDs.

Part I: All about careers in Instructional Design

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