The fictitious job vacancy can be viewed here: Job Vacancy-Instructional Design.
The Instructional Design job posting assignment was interesting for multiple reasons. Since commencing my Masters program I have heard the term ‘Instructional Designer’ being thrown around with such commonality; however, when I sat down to complete this assignment I was tasked with truly understanding what an instructional designer does and their specific responsibilities that come with the title. Reflecting back on this assignment, I now feel that I have a clearer picture as to some of the subtle and major differences between an educator and instructional designer.
I myself am an educator. I do not and have never considered myself to be an instructional designer. Yes, I gather content together and try to deliver it in a fun way that creates learning for not just one group of people but for all groups of people. This differentiated learning style allows me to incorporate a bit of technology here and there but I do not need to be tech savvy to be good at what I do. As an educator I am responsible for the students that come to my class. I assist these students with social and emotional issues that occur daily. I mentor students. As part of my job, I have the opportunity to create fun ways to deliver content that intends to reach every student. This includes but is not limited to oral presentations, visual cues, reading and study guides etc. Educators can make learning personal.
While conducting much research on instructional designers and their major functions I found that the expectations were somewhat different than those given to educators. In my opinion, instructional designers seem to work their magic away from the lime light. What I mean by this is that they seem to function away from the classroom, that they assist the faculty in course design and trouble shooting when things go wrong; however, it is the faculty’s main job to deliver the curriculum once it is in its proper format. I also noticed that instructional designers needed to be more up-to-date with trends in educational technology. Designers must be adept at using multiple learning management tools, web development and designing tools and furthermore be creative when designing new and innovative applications to be used in an educational setting. To do this, I found a common theme of previous education experience throughout each job posting. With experience in the education field designers should also have strong skills in pedagogy and assessment in order to be successful. I believe that these skills overlap an educator’s list of required skills.
To conclude, the three major differences between an educator and an instructional designer are as follows: 1) Teachers primary concern is what happens in the classroom and how it affects the students in it while the instructional designer concerns themselves with creating and developing curricula and instructional materials. 2) Instructional designers use proven methodologies and design principles to create such instructional materials while teachers must use their own educational beliefs/philosophies to make quick decisions regarding issues in the classroom. This requires educators to be flexible while holding to the standards the school has set. 3) Technological differences are evident. Instructional designers are current in their technology training and are required to continue being current to stay competitive in a global industry. Educators have limited exposure to such training and with current budget cuts, professional development opportunities are few and far between for most educators. This particular difference causes me to question the gap between a well-trained instructional designer who provides digital curricular to ill-prepared teachers. To me this makes no sense and provides an indication as to how well such curricular is being adopted into certain school districts. Should it be the job of the instructional designer to not only design and create such materials but also to train others in the particular functions and specifics of the course curricular in order for teachers to truly integrate it? Should there be an extension of instructional designers whose main responsibility is to learn the newest applications and then mediate between the instructional designer AND then train the educator to successfully use them in the classroom?
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