The Characteristics of a Good Instructional Designer

The Characteristics of a Good Instructional Designer

Every job requires individuals to meet certain criteria to qualify for it. Professions such as physician, engineer, teacher, lawyer, etc., have set characteristics aspirants need to be proficient in.

Have you ever wondered what characteristics make a good instructional designer? Well, we all know that instructional designers create learning experiences that help learners accelerate their job performances. They have a clear understanding of how adults learn and their learning styles. They apply various instructional theories while designing online courses.

The beauty of instructional designing is that it caters to several industry domains such as banking, financial services, insurance, health, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, and more. So basically, instructional designers have the privilege of working across industries.

I have curated 10 of the best characteristics of an instructional designer here for you:

  1. Be learner-centric
  2. Have an eye for detail
  3. Have a passion for learning
  4. Be imaginative, creative, and innovative
  5. Have strong analytical skills
  6. Have effective communication skills
  7. Have good written skills
  8. Have good visualization skills
  9. Be technology savvy
  10. Be open-minded 

Be learner-centric

An instructional designer always focuses on the learners. He thinks putting himself in the learners’ shoes, understands what they do, their needs, and their goals, including their learning styles. He empathizes with them and understands things from their perspective.

Have an eye for detail

An instructional designer always pays attention to details. He makes a conscious effort to understand the minute details of every aspect and the bird’s eye view of the whole context.

Have a passion for learning

An instructional designer is a “jack of all trades and master of design”. He knows a lot of different things about each domain, and is specialized in designing instruction for learning. He is eager to learn and understand new things in this process. He is always passionate to gain knowledge by reading, observing, and listening.

Be imaginative, creative, and innovative

An instructional designer always imagines creative ways to present content in the best way that accelerates performance, in the shortest time possible. He tries to use existing ideas more creatively to engage learners. He thinks out of the box and laterally, tries to be innovative, and brings ideas that are pragmatic and within the scope and specifications.

Possess strong analytical skills

An instructional designer collects information in various forms and analyzes them in detail. He tries to visualize content from different points of view. He tries to connect concepts and understand the context of their use. He always finds ways to simplify and present content effectively. He tries to minimize complicated words and replace them with visuals to reduce cognitive load on the learners. One of the greatest characteristics of instructional designers is the ability to differentiate “need-to-know” content and “nice-to-know content”. 

Possess effective communication skills

An instructional designer is articulate and always seeks clarity in case of doubts. He clearly expresses his thoughts and ideas to the stakeholders. He frames appropriate questions to extract the intended information from them. He listens actively and gets clarifications on various issues to understand the content right. 

Have good written skills

An instructional designer writes clearly, concisely, and accurately for the intended audience. He writes different elements such as onscreen text, audio scripts, formative and summative questions, and instructions, appropriately. 

Have good visualization skills

An instructional designer does the same job as a movie director. He visualizes the look and feel of thoughts, ideas, scripts, and user experiences. Visualization ranges at the course, module, and topic level. He also visualizes animations and other dynamic content, both concrete and abstract.

Be technology savvy

An instructional designer is always passionate about electronic devices, delivery mechanisms, technologies and development tools, etc. He has a general awareness of where to look for information and who to ask the right questions, to get the right answers that help him design effective learning solutions.

Be open-minded

Instructional designers keep their minds open during conversations, accepting suggestions, changing their perspective of viewing design trends, and thinking differently about their own work, to come up with new ideas.

So, these are some of the key qualities a good instructional designer should ideally possess. Instructional designers hone their skills through years of experience, which makes them creative and exceptional. This list, however, goes beyond the qualities mentioned here, based on the subject and field of instruction.

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