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  • Writer's pictureTravis Jordan

3 Reasons Why Instructional Designers Need to Change

Updated: Jul 20, 2019

Instructional Design

Instructional design is evolving. Fast. Last week I was in a conversation with a colleague and I stated, "if instructional designers don't shift soon, the industry is at risk." As a learning professional, why would I say something like that? Although the need for effective learning is more important than ever, traditional instructional design is often bypassed and even ignored. In modern industry, subject matter experts and organizational leaders are looking for new methods to create and deliver learning experiences that do not require an instructional designer and proprietary tools. Why is this happening? I believe that this is happening for three reasons:


When is the last time that you said, "Wow, I sure have a lot of spare time to learn, think, and improve?" The reality is that most of us are too busy doing, and not spending enough time becoming. The modern professional is trying to balance time working, exercising, developing relationships with family/friends, fulfilling hobbies, consuming social media, trying to change the world, (oh, and sleeping occasionally). Our days are filled with unlimited tasks to perform leaving little time, if any, to sharpen the saw. This puts learning at risk. This has placed an even more urgent emphasis on effective chunking, micro-learning and on-demand learning methods and delivery systems.

Gone are the days when we can deliver 3-4 hour courses over many days. As a body of professionals, we have the opportunity to deliver more effective learning experiences in smaller and more consumable chunks at the time of need. If we don's shift we are at risk.


Millennials (generation Y) are defined as those born between the years between 1980 and 2000. This age represents the current college student body and much of the rising work force in business. The millennial learner needs diverse learning methods to maintain attention. Their attention spans are shorter, and they quickly move on to other methods of learning. Next, it is critical that the millennial learner has access to current information. For example, allowing them to leverage Google to solve problems and make inferences might be a good technique. Lastly, the millennial learner needs to be provided with "the why" or the rationale. Simply delivering "the what" and "the how" does not work. This is primarily because they were raised in less authoritative and less structured environments. As a result, rationale and explanation is key.

Gone are the days when we can deliver authoritative, instructor-dominated training classes. As a body of professionals, we are not effectively meeting the needs of the millennial learner. We have the opportunity to deliver shorter, more diverse, and more engaging learning experiences to capture their attention. If we don't shift we are at risk.


How many times have you created a learning product only to have it outdated within weeks of it's delivery? Content, user interfaces, and information changes weekly, sometimes daily. Subject matter experts, organizational leaders, and learners have little patience for outdated learning that takes weeks to create. In the business sector, speed of delivery and accuracy of content is often times more valued than effective design and pedagogy. As a result, traditional instructional design teams and proprietary tools are being bypassed to accelerate expediency.

Gone are the days when we can take weeks to deliver costly training that can only be updated by ID teams. As a body of professionals, we have the opportunity to deliver learning content much faster and cheaper and to expand our authoring access to a broader audience. Additionally, we have to be willing to compromise some instructional quality to deliver content faster. If we don's shift we are at risk.


Are your subject matter experts, organizational leaders, and learners more critical than ever and found looking for ways to bypass you and your ID team? If so, this may be hint that things need to change. Consider how you can create training faster (much faster), in small chunks, in more diverse methods, during the time of need. Also consider how you can partner with subject matter experts to create and update content. These small shifts might save your job and help to rise the entire industry to the next level.



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