On LinkedIn, I was asked: “I would like to ask sir, how can I be a world-class educational technologist?” And I thought that was a very interesting question. (Of course, my immediate response should be “how should I know?” ;) But I thought I’d do a bit better. So here’s a recast of my response.
First, I get requests about how to get started as an instructional designer (particularly offers to come work for me). And, well, I’m an independent consultant, and just haven’t been a business builder. But I want to respond helpfully, and it’s one of those things that happen enough that I have this canned response:
If you want a bootstrap, working volunteer for a not-for-profit (NFP) foundation is a good step if you can. Areas of specialization? Depends on what you like: kids – K12 or NFP, higher ed, adult – organizational L&D. They differ. As to skills, make sure you know the major authoring tools, e.g. Lectora, Captivate, and/or Storyline. And of course have some background in instructional design/learning science. If you haven’t covered performance consulting, look into it so you don’t design a course when there’s a better/simpler solution. Make sure you have a portfolio of work. Good luck!
In this case, I also pointed him to a previous post, where I’d outlined some roles for learning experience design.
Then, thinking at the bigger scale of not just getting going as a new ID, but persisting, I added this:
Overall, you have to have the passion, it’s a long road. Have a good understanding of learning science, a fundamental grasp of technology, a mind for both design and process, and then put it to work doing real projects! Continue to read, reflect, and then as you start getting your mind around it, start sharing your thinking and get feedback (and listen to it!). Start local, work outward to sharing regionally, nationally, and internationally. If you learn, adapt and improve, and persist, you can get there.
I think that’s the path to improvement, regardless. In short. There’s more: I have just finished reading Eric Barker’s Barking Up the Wrong Tree (affiliate link); thanks to an ATD Sacramento event attendee, and found it having very interesting recommendations. Things like setting goals, giving, getting mentored, and more.
I think aiming to be a world-class educational technologist is a noble goal. Even if you don’t succeed, you’re liable to be better than if you just go through the motions. Now, I’m sure you’ve found things I’ve missed, so have at it!