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Why Instructional Design is a Good Fit for Teachers - Skills That They Have in Common

Are you a teacher looking for a new career in instructional design?

Are you not sure what skills you can bring to the table in this enormously growing field?

Surprisingly, the path from teacher to instructional designer isn't as well-known in education as you would expect.

However, it is a great career path for teachers, because teachers possess many transferable skills.

Moreover, most teachers are hard-working people who are willing to do what is necessary.

If you are a teacher who is ready for a career that brings into play your strongest skills as a teacher, instructional design could be the perfect career for you!

Let's examine some skills you possess as a teacher, which are also needed as an instructional designer.

Even though the job requirements and skills vary according to the company, these topics allow you to see that you truly possess some basic skills needed to perform the job tasks.

Some of the skills teachers and instructional designers have in common include:


ANALYZING THE NEEDS OF LEARNERS

Teachers understand how learners learn best, and have strong analytical skills, allowing them to solve problems with learning solutions.

While a teacher interacts directly with learners more often than an instructional designer, the principles behind a teacher's approach to determining needs are similar to those of an instructional designer's approach.

A teacher often uses pre-assessments or the previous year's state test results to determine a student's current level in a subject. Instructional designers sometimes use pre-assessments, but not to the same degree. 


WRITING OBJECTIVES/GOALS

Just like teachers, instructional designers are expected to write observable and clear learning objectives and goals following Bloom's Taxonomy. This is a very important skill that teachers have hard wired in their brains.

Then instructional designers take those objectives or goals and turn that content into organized lessons for the learners, just like you would as a teacher.

DEVELOPING LEARNING ACTIVITIES AND CREATING CURRICULUM

Teachers understand the theory and practice of instructional design. Although you may not be familiar with instructional design or instructional design language, you will realize that you have been using it all along.

The practical experience of creating and implementing lessons, then using feedback to improve your own practices, is an invaluable skill shared by teachers and instructional designers.

You may be directly involved in the curriculum, like many teachers. Perhaps you have sat down in a committee that decides which content should be required for a particular grade level.

Or maybe you're a teacher who writes your own curriculum. You've been responsible for preparing the curriculum for the week, six weeks or even a semester.  

But regardless of your individual experience with developing learning materials as a teacher, you understand how much content a learner can comprehend in a given time. This is one of the things that makes teachers great instructional designers.

Teaching has also helped you see natural content breaks, how to use themes to connect content, and how and when to check for understanding.

If you're an effective teacher, you don’t just take a chapter from the text and call it day. You might have spent hours outside of your workday searching for better resources and tools so that you provide the best instruction to your students.

If you're a teacher transitioning to instructional design, you can apply your knowledge of these skills to ensure that learners receive the best lesson possible.

Teachers know how to engage learners by chunking content in a way that enhances the instruction. 


DEVELOPING TEST ITEMS

Like instructional designers, you've probably used strategies to assess your learners’ understanding of the content.

Teachers spend years perfecting their assessments, using various assessment methods that effectively align to the learning objectives.

Designing effective assessments can be a struggle for many instructional designers. If you're a teacher transitioning to instructional design, you're more likely to...

  • Get creative with your assessment ideas
  • Incorporate problem-solving and real-world scenarios
  • Bring more variety to standard knowledge checks


EVALUATING TEST SCORES

If you're a teacher, you undoubtedly know what to do with assessment data afterwards.

You are very familiar with the evaluation of test results. You understand how to make changes to the lessons to improve student learning.

Even though you haven't been using the same terminology as a teacher, you have constantly cycled through the instructional design process - sometimes even evaluating and revising things up in the middle of the lesson.


FACILITATING DISCUSSIONS

Like you've done as a teacher, instructional designers set up all the facilitated discussions.

In an eLearning course, instructional designers are expected to create all the dialogue, collaborative activities, etc. that are involved via discussion forums for the learners in the course.

Finally, you understand how to use motivation to get your learners’ engaged in the lesson.

As an instructional designer, you will be expected to differentiate instructions in order to reach a broad skill level. Instructional designers can take dry content and find a way to transform it into engaging learning. 

All these skills were hardwired into your brain from the time you started your teaching program!

If you're a teacher who hasen’t formally studied instructional design, these real-life experiences are what give you a head start in becoming one of the best instructional designers.

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