Instructional designers are like movie directors.

Instructional Design Hollywood sign

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

I like to compare online learning development with Hollywood movie production and in this analogy, Instructional Designers play a very similar role to a Hollywood movie director. Bear with me while I explain this without torturing the analogy.

From start to finish the movie directors role is to:

  • Interpret the script
  • define the vision for the film
  • work with each of the heads of departments making the movie
  • work with the casting director/s to find the talent
  • develop storyboards
  • direct the actors and also position the scenes and camera angles
  • work with the editors to shape the final product
  • work with sound editing and music departments

Lets compare that to an instructional designers role:

  • interpret the course content provided
  • define the vision for the online course
  • work with each of the experts in the eLearning team (designers, builders, editors)
  • work with the Project Manager to define the team needed
  • develop storyboards
  • direct the team on building content (look and feel)
  • provide QA (edit) the final product
  • get feedback from Project Manager and stakeholders

The processes are very similar. I have found that the role (and therefore the importance) of the Instructional designer is often misunderstood or understated in importance. For me, the ID is critical to the success of any eLearning project. Imagine trying to produce a Hollywood movie without a director? Yet, often eLearning projects are commenced without this work being done.

Not every business needs to have an instructional designer

Not every business has the budget or headcount for a full time instructional designer, however I would argue that every eLearning project needs the instructional design discipline.

Let me give you an example that I often use to simply explain the value of good instructional design. A good ID will take 10 pages of words in a manual and will turn that into a one page diagram. They will work first to understand the audience, understand the learning objectives, understand the budget and time available and then design an interactive diagram to explain what is being taught visually. They will storyboard this out, get a graphic designer to help with the visuals, assign it to an eLearning developer to build the model and then test it themselves and with the client.

Anyone who knows me will know I bang on about the importance of good instructional designer. At the time of writing this, I am actually looking to hire one right now as our extremely talented ID got poached! So if you are reading this article and you’re an instructional designer get in touch. If you’re the team member who took an offer too good to refuse and you’ve changed your mind… your laptop is waiting and my shout for lunch.

About Paul Eldridge

Paul is the Head Honcho and has close to 15 years of online and blended learning experience. With many battle scars and war wounds over the years, he likes to help other organisations navigate the sometimes complex landscape of learning platforms and content development.

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