The Must-Have Instructional Design Skills for 2023

11 July

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The Must-Have Instructional Design Skills for 2023

Instructional designers are in hot demand worldwide thanks to the growing popularity of eLearning. This dynamic and fast-changing industry offers many opportunities for talented instructional designers. As the global eLearning market is projected to hit $282 billion by 2030, these skills will remain highly sought after. And if you want to stay ahead of the pack, you must ensure your knowledge and skills are top-notch. This article is essential for anyone considering a career change to instructional design. And it’s relevant for existing designers who want to enhance their skill set. We delve into the crucial skills for instructional designers in 2023.

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How do I improve my instructional design skills

Improving your instructional design skills begins with knowing where you’re currently at. Our comprehensive list of instructional designer skills will help you identify any areas for improvement. The field of instructional design is constantly changing. And even seasoned designers may discover gaps in their knowledge. To ensure your skills stay up to date, consider the following tips:

  • Keep updated on industry trends and developments: Stay informed about the latest best practices by following industry experts, influencers, and relevant channels. Set aside regular time to research and experiment with new ideas and tools.

  • Seek feedback: Gather feedback from participants and gain insights into what works and doesn’t. Use this feedback to refine and enhance your instructional design practices.

Engage in continuous learning: In today’s fast-changing world, updating your knowledge and skills is crucial. Enrol in relevant courses to refresh your understanding of multimedia elements or explore exciting new developments like virtual reality. Continuous learning is an effective way to sharpen your skills and expand your expertise.

The instructional designer skills you must have

Instructional design is a varied career. And that’s one of its biggest attractions. Different companies, industries and programs need different approaches. For example, a health and safety course will likely have a different format from teamwork skills training.

There’s no one-size-fits-all skillset for instructional designers. However, there are several common elements. Here’s our list of must-have skills for an instructional designer.

20 Essential skills for instructional designers

  1. Instructional Design Principles: A solid understanding of instructional design models, theories and principles to create engaging learning experiences.

    Employers expect instructional designers to have a deep understanding of how adults learn. You should be familiar with adult learning theories and instructional design models. The most important include ADDIE, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Mayer’s Principles and Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels. These theories ensure instructional designers understand learners’ needs and know how to design effective eLearning to address them.

  2. Needs Analysis: The ability to conduct comprehensive needs assessments to identify learning objectives and design appropriate solutions.

    Needs analysis involves gathering data about learners’ prior knowledge, attitudes, preferences, and performance gaps. It also means deciding on the resources needed to develop and deliver the learning solution. It could be technology, materials, subject matter experts, and budget.

  3. Content Development: Expertise developing engaging and interactive learning content, including text, multimedia, and assessments.

    Well-structured, accessible content and interactive multimedia like games, scenarios and videos enhance learner engagement. And they also improve knowledge retention. Content development also involves creating assessments to evaluate learners’ understanding. Options include quizzes, tests, case studies and assignments.

  4. Learning Management Systems (LMS): Familiarity with LMS platforms like Blackboard, TalentLMS and iSpring to effectively share and manage digital learning programs.

    Instructional designers must leverage LMS features beyond just delivery and management. Instructional designers should also use the LMS to track progress, administer assessments or host live events.

  5. Multimedia Design: Knowledge of multimedia design tools and techniques like animations and screencasts to create visually appealing and interactive materials.

    Proficiency in authoring platforms like Articulate Storyline, Adobe Creative or Lectora is valuable. These tools offer a range of features to help you create dynamic, interactive and responsive content.

  6. Storyboarding: The ability to create storyboards outlining the eLearning’s structure, flow, and interactions.

    Storyboarding ensures consistency, logical progression, and appropriate use of multimedia elements not to overload students.

  7. Visual Design: Graphic design and visual communication skills to create visually engaging learning materials.

    Infographics, graphs, videos, and interactive charts enhance students’ understanding. Moreover, there’s only so much information learners can take in at one time. Breaking down complex ideas into eye-catching visuals also helps prevent cognitive overload.

  8. User Experience (UX) Design: Understanding UX principles to create intuitive and user-friendly learning experiences.

    A well-designed UX enhances learners’ engagement and motivation. Straightforward navigation, logical progression, personalisation and adaptability are critical to the UX.

  9. Gamification: Knowledge of gamification and incorporating game elements into digital learning for increased engagement and motivation.

    Understanding when and how to apply gamification like leader boards, badges, or simulations is vital. However, these techniques should enhance rather than distract from learning objectives.

  10. Assessment and Evaluation: Expertise in designing assessments and evaluating the effectiveness of learning programs.

    Knowledge of various assessment types and the ability to analyse assessment data for continuous improvement is essential. Options include the following:

    • formative assessments to provide ongoing feedback

    • summative assessments to measure learner achievement at the end of a module or program.

    Furthermore, different assessment formats, including multiple-choice questions, simulations, performance tasks and projects, offer more choices on how best to gather evidence of learning.

  11. Project Management: Ability to manage projects, set priorities, and meet deadlines within the instructional design process.

    Strong organisational and time-management skills are must-haves. Furthermore, proficiency in project management software like Trello or Notion is valuable.

  12. Collaboration and Communication: Strong interpersonal skills to effectively collaborate with subject matter experts, stakeholders, and other team members.

    Instructional design is a team effort. You must have strong interpersonal skills to develop productive collaborations. This involves clear and concise communication and active listening skills. Negotiation, conflict resolution and project management abilities are also helpful.

  13. Problem-solving: Ability to analyse complex problems and develop creative solutions within the design process.

    Instructional designers should think critically, explore alternative approaches, and consider different perspectives to overcome the inevitable roadblocks.

  14. Adaptive Learning Design: Familiarity with adaptive learning technologies and strategies to personalise learning experiences based on learner needs and performance.

    Learners have diverse backgrounds, prior knowledge, learning styles and preferences. Instructional designers use data analytics, machine learning and algorithms to adjust content, activities, and assessments based on the individual.

  15. Mobile Learning: Solid understanding of mobile learning design principles and the ability to create mobile-friendly experiences.

    In today’s fast-paced world, learning on the go is a must. Instructional designers should be well-versed in responsive design principles for smaller screens and touchscreen interactions.

  16. Video Production and Editing: Expertise in using video production and editing tools to create high-quality instructional videos.

    Instructional designers use tools like Camtasia, Adobe Premier, and Final Cut Pro to create engaging learning content. You should be skilled in capturing screen recordings, editing video clips, and adding annotations.

  17. Data Analysis: The ability to analyse learning data and metrics to make informed instructional design decisions and optimise learning experiences.

    The best instructional designers understand how to gather relevant data from various sources. Possibilities include assessments, surveys, learning analytics, and user feedback. This data provides insights into learner performance, engagement, and satisfaction.

  18. Storytelling: Experience incorporating storytelling techniques to make learning content more engaging and memorable.

    Instructional design is all about creating a narrative for students to follow. Stories can provide valuable context, make strong emotional connections, and capture learners’ attention. Examples of storytelling techniques include case studies, role-playing, scenarios, and simulations. Storytelling brings learning to life and enhances knowledge retention.

  19. Knowledge of Learning Technologies: Knowledge of emerging learning technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI) for potential integration into learning experiences.

    Staying updated on emerging technologies is essential for instructional designers. You should thoroughly understand the capabilities and limitations of VR, AR, and AI. Expert instructional designers know when and how to use these tools to enhance engagement, interactivity, and the effectiveness of immersive learning.

  20. Continuous Learning: A commitment to staying updated with industry trends, best practices, and new technologies in instructional design.

    Instructional designers should actively seek professional development opportunities. You are expected to engage with the instructional design community and stay informed about the latest advancements.

Instructional design skills: Final thoughts

If you are an instructional designer looking to upskill or reskill, there’s no better place to start than the Digital Learning Institute.

Our university-accredited, industry-leading certificates and diplomas will equip you with the skills for success in 2023. Stay ahead of the curve and take your career to the next level. Talk to one of our professional advisers for more information.

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