December 2, 2023

Instructional Design Skills

Author: Christy Tucker
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This is post #3 in a series about how to become an instructional designer. Links to the rest of the series can be found at the end of this post.

I know many instructional designers were originally teachers or trainers who changed careers (just like I did). Many of the skills overlap between these fields, so it can be a pretty easy transition. However, just like every other field, instructional design has its own set of jargon and specialized knowledge.

Instructional Design Skills

Free Online Resources

If you’re considering moving into instructional design, I think one of the best things to do is just to start reading about it. Fortunately, many free resources are available online.

Books plus an App

For slightly more than free ($2.99), the Instructional Design Guru app for Android is a mobile glossary of almost 500 terms related to ID. If you’re constantly looking up jargon while you read up on the field, this will save you time.

If you have a little budget, there are some great books available as well.

Online Courses and Graduate Programs

Especially if you’re moving to the field of instructional design from a career in something other than teaching, formal training can be the fastest path into an instructional design career.

edX offers an instructional design “micromasters” program. It’s four online courses. You can take them for free or pay for verified credit.

Open Learning has a free online course on instructional design that includes some solid foundation content and a guided process for creating a project. A paid certification is available too (although the certification may not count for much with employers, you might want it just to have a formal credential).

If you want a graduate certificate or masters degree, Connie Malamed (the eLearning Coach) maintains a list of US instructional design programs. Many of these can be completed completely online.

Other Posts in this Series

  1. What Does an Instructional Designer Do?
  2. Getting Into Instructional Design
  3. Instructional Design Skills (current post)
  4. Technology Skills
  5. Professional Organizations and Career Options
  6. Is instructional design the right career?

Read all my posts about Instructional Design Careers here.

Looking to hire an instructional designer?

I help organizations who need online learning that gets results and changes behavior. Interested in learning more? Check out my portfolio and the services I provide.

Originally published 5/31/2007. Last updated 2/21/2019.

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