Traditionally, learning design has been conservative about user interfaces in digital interventions. Designers have been unwilling to make too many assumptions about learners’ levels of technological and cultural awareness, often due to the pressure of ensuring that learning interventions are accessible across very large populations with wide ranges of ability. However, while I applaud this intention, the ubiquity of standard digital user interfaces in everyday life means that learning design of this kind is running the risk of losing credibility from an increasingly tech-savvy audience.
Ask someone what e-learning is – usually that person automatically conjures up an image of an hour-long module filled with text and the occasional question, navigated through with a ‘next button’ and a certificate to print at the end. This is the predominant meaning of e-learning in the common consciousness, and it is making it harder to break people’s preconceptions around the scope and depth of digital education.
Instructional design is evolving rapidly, and the view of the instructional designer as a rapid-authoring expert is no longer relevant to the needs of the market. I am often asked about what makes a good instructional designer, so I have put together some of the key skills (beyond the baseline design and authoring abilities often associated with the role), which I think a modern instructional designer needs to possess in order to produce effective and engaging learning interventions.