I spent close to 20 years in the semiconductor industry working for several competitive memory chip makers and for the world’ largest chip maker. First as a technical operator of the highly engineered equipment that produced the chips then becoming an advanced level equipment engineering technician responsible for leading small dynamic teams in maintaining the availability of these engineering systems. My background consisted of operations, process development, equipment engineering and training. I chose to pursue the Training and Development path because of my background in training, design, development, and technology. What I found out about my less traveled road was that I had a tremendous wealth of knowledge in the industry and enjoyed building successful teams to perform at a high level. As the years passed in the semiconductor industry I became very aware of my background experience and how important it would become for me to utilize that experience to my advantage. I have been asked more than once how I got into Instructional Design from the manufacturing world of semiconductors.
Well, it wasn’t until I was in my first year of graduate school at the University of New Mexico that I could truthfully answer that question with some sense of validity. I had become a self-directed learner and had taken my experience and turned it into a potential career in Training and Development. With the many options that were afforded to me with at my last employer I saw that my interest and career laid in building learning programs for adult learners. As I developed in my career with Intel Corp. I pursued opportunities that would help me learn a new program or some new technology. The combination of these two attributes allowed me the experiences that I would need to complete my degree in Instructional Technology which would include several courses in adult learning and design. So how does all this tie into the title of this post? Well, I am going to tell you just how.
There have been many questions and descriptions of what an Instructional Designer is or does. So, these are some of the roles or tasks that I have had to support in the last couple of years of participating as an Instructional Technologist. Clearly, the main responsibility that I have had to support is the development of either course content, curriculum design, or instructor resources for either classroom training or education instruction. ADDIE has been the development model of choice with Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation as a support tool for measuring feedback. Understanding the five phases of course development has been the most important since this is where the projects begin and are structured. But you have to understand that this process takes months to finalize and long hours of collaboration with course managers and SME’s. So interpersonal skills in communication, listening, leadership, and time management are very important to the partnership with the development team and the success of the project itself.
The most important skill that I have been able to rely on recently has been my experience with using technology tools. Anything from office tools to advanced knowledge of authoring tools has helped me support a couple of extensive projects where I was the project coordinator. Being able to have a background with the use of LMS’s or Knowledge Management Systems is a plus to support more than the daily routine of working on design, development, or analysis tasks to build a course. So, my opinion in defining the requirements of an Instructional Designer is to become adaptive to the needs of your team and capitalize on opportunities that go beyond the ID role in training and development. I guess I am still learning and creating a newer path for my own career development.