Cammy Bean - Learning Visions (not necessary) and Karl Kapp – Kapp Notes (should have it).
Reading their arguments caused me to reflect on my own career path and choices. I have held a variety of positions in learning & development over the years. On my blog, I identify myself as a “Learning Generalist” but at heart I am an Instructional Designer.
Early in my career I began writing training programs using instincts and intuition. I made instructional design choices that made sense to me about how one would learn and internalize new information or skills. For the most part, I made good choices and my learners were successful. Publications such as Training magazine, T&D (as it is now called) and the InfoLine provided me with an informal “101” education. Later on I supplemented those readings with books on instructional design and courses from Darryl Sink & Associates, Langevin Learning and Bob Pike’s Creative Training Techniques. Through these vehicles and a lot of trial and error I sharpened my skills.
When e-learning appeared on the horizon and I was scared to death. I never was much of a technical person and I was sure my career was over. Eventually, some user-friendly tools came on the market and I was able to avert this crisis by learning how to use Lectora and Articulate Presenter software. It was a new medium but still required sound instructional design.
As my career progressed, I found myself wanting to know more about my chosen field. I decided to pursue a graduate degree in Instructional Systems at Florida State University. Participating in the program had its pros and cons. On the pro side, it opened doors to new resources, sharpened my course development skills, and deepened my understanding of how people learn. I gained a better understanding of what motivates learners and how I could attend to their needs and motivations through instructional design. On the con side, I was a victim of the learning trends. I had to endure every new learning trick, tool and pet project my professors threw at me. But in the end, I am better off for this experience.
The bottom line is that the program has made me a more competent and confident learning professional. What I once did on intuition I now do deliberately and my results are consistently better. My company (which is paying for my education) has benefited greatly. I have success stories to tell about learning projects that I don’t think I would have even attempted prior to participating in the program. I am sought after as a learning strategist inside my company and my career satisfaction is much higher now.
But here’s the thing: Would I have had this success if I jumped right into graduate school early on? I don’t think so. Years of self-development and practical experience helped me to get the most out of the program. So I don’t believe it is necessary to have an advanced degree to be successful in this field… but it sure helps.