The role of a Learning designer or an Instructional designer has evolved over the years. Innovations in technology, research into the fields of psychology and neuroscience for learning further make the career extremely interesting and challenging. Thus, having the right skills to take on these challenges is essential.
The top ten skills a learning designer must have to be effective in the 21st century :
Understanding how humans learn is most important and every learning designer must know this aspect. This is important so we make appropriate design decisions and design learning experiences which are compelling, engaging and relevant. Children learn in a different way than adults. A deep understanding of the learner which comes from detailed learner analysis, a thorough knowledge of the various learning theories, models is also critical to the design of learning experiences.
Understanding learning technology – tools that can be used to create and deliver the learning experience, learning management systems, mobile and cloud-based solutions all help in making the learning solution robust and innovative. Technology is the answer to enhance reach, access and scale of the learning-training interventions and experiences and thus learning designers must be aware of what technology to use, why and when. Virtual reality and artificial intelligence provide profound ways to design learning. Keeping abreast of new technology is imperative too.
Visual design brings the learning design to life. It is the use of color, perspective, balance, graphic elements, style that get the learner’s attention. Learning designers must not only have a sense of visual design, they must be aware of the science and the art of it. It helps to know; so, we work collaboratively and efficiently with the visual designer to bring forth the most engaging learning experience for our learners.
Effective communication skills are required for a learning designer to make their mark. Writing the design documents, objectives, audio, video, eLearning scripts; working with subject experts; briefing development teams; communicating with internal; or external clients to understand needs, present solutions, inform progress all require above average communication skills. Honing them through constant practice and off and on the job is paramount to success.
Learning designers are basically problem solvers. They analyze the problems and make appropriate design decisions to solve them. Thus, their skills help in deciding whether a training program is required or whether mentoring and coaching would solve the problem or which strategies would be the best to address the identified needs. They problem solve by providing solutions that can take care of project and budget constraints as well.
Learning designers who are good at research work on knowing about the latest trends, they research the subject area that they are designing for. This helps to bring in the latest approaches and techniques as well as to interact seamlessly with the subject experts.
The core of any learning designer’s job is analysis. Conducting a Needs Analysis to find the gaps and their root causes, analyzing content – understanding, sorting, organizing and assimilating it, chunking it into logical units are skills that are a must. Analytical skills help to take a logical approach, think of creative solutions and strengthen problem solving skills.
Learning designers must be creative, think out of the box, use simple yet effective techniques to make the learning content interesting and appealing for their learners. They must use strategies and design the learning experience in a way that engages the learner in a meaningful and compelling way.
Interacting with clients, development teams, subject experts is central to a learning designer’s role and as such having the right people skills goes a long way. Having great listening skills, an optimistic and enthusiastic attitude, being able to work as a team member, taking responsibility and effective communication ensures acceptance and success.
The ability to learn on your own in less time has its own competitive advantage. Learning designers work on varied topics and subjects. Getting a good grasp of the subject helps in planning and design as well as interactions with subject experts. Learning new skills is also imperative. Learning designers who have the motivation, aspiration, are curious, self-aware, have the right mindset – a growth mindset stand to shine with flying colors.
In addition to the above it helps to have time management and project management skills along with some hands-on experience in using technology tools, video – audio production and editing, creating effective presentations.
A learning designer is a multi-skilled person. Constant upgradation of knowledge by reading, interacting with experts, joining communities of practice in the field are further recommended.
Here is a free tool designed for you to review and rate your skills as a Learning designer. It is called the Learning Designer’s Skill Wheel. Use it to map your present and future skill level.
Enjoy your learning design journey