Why Use Both an Instructional Designer and a Course Developer: Won’t One Person Suffice?
Continuing our discussion about roles in a training team, this month we’re looking at the advantages of separating the roles of instructional designer and course developer.
It’s pretty common for an elearning development team to have a single person who is responsible for building elearning. They analyze the need for a course, design the course, build the course in the development tool, and deploy the course.
There are also shops that separate the roles of instructional designer and course developer. In this situation, an instructional designer might start with analyzing the need for a course and stop with developing a storyboard. A course developer might take the storyboard and create the finished course.
Benefits and Drawbacks of a “One Person, Two Roles” Approach
From a program standpoint, it’s easier and less expensive to hire just one person. And from a course creation standpoint, it’s a lot easier to build a storyboard when that person’s also developing the course. And yet there are advantages to separating the two roles.
Instructional design and course development really are two different skill sets. One is focused on making the most effective learning experience. It’s about getting a subject matter expert to share their expertise and focus on what the novice learner needs. It’s about knowing which kinds of instructional techniques make learning most likely to stick.
Course development, on the other hand, is about tools, programming, and how to make visions come to life. It’s about knowing how variables work and putting them to use. It’s about the best way to make navigation accessible for those with mobility, hearing, vision, or cognitive disabilities. It’s about making sure that no matter how many inconvenient things a learner does, when they pass the assessment, they are recorded as passing the assessment.
You can find people who have mastered both sets of skills. But they are exceedingly rare (and, quite likely, still ever so slightly better at one aspect than the other).
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Separating Instructional Designer and Course Developer Roles
Getting people who excel in their own specialties will create superior learning.
Having multiple people work on a project does create challenges. When an instructional designer hands the document off to a developer, communication has to be crystal clear. Otherwise, the developer creates what they think the instructional designer wants, and that might be something very different indeed.
What about cost? One person may seem less expensive than two; however, one instructional designer can often keep two developers busy full time. Programming a course often takes much longer than building a storyboard. The savings in development time (and increase in work product) is substantial. An initial investment can result in increased savings.
So, why use both an instructional designer and a course developer? Better quality, quicker course development. Roles do have an impact.
Until next time,
Microassist Senior Learning Architect
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