Is Instructional Design Dying? Final Thoughts…

I got some great feedback from my recent post on the demise of instructional design. One of the comments really got me thinking. The comment was

However, instructional designers are partly to blame for this situation. We haven’t been able to explain why we are important to the training process. We haven’t explained our value and the benefits we provide to the company as a whole.

I completely agree with this statement and the more I think about it, the more I reflected on my own career path. I started out as in instructional designer, creating instructor led classes and writing facilitation manuals. However, about two years into my ID tenure I was forced to make a serious career decision. I was working in the transportation industry when 9/11 happened. Needless to say, my particular company was hit hard and travel dropped off sharply. Because of this, they were forced to start cutting from the budget; and of course, training was the first to suffer. My company deemed classroom training (mainly the cost of travel and boarding for trainers) too expensive and the decision was made to convert our current classes to elearning.

At the time, I had dabbled in elearning but was far from a guru. I was given the option to stay and become an elearning developer or transfer to another department and become a technical writer. Well, I am fairly computer savvy and pick up new software quickly, so I stayed on as an elearning developer. The rest is history.

My point is that I did not explain my value or benefit because I was not given the opportunity. The decision was made for me. All the pleading and reasoning in the world could not have kept my position from being eliminated. I fear this is true for many people in our industry. There will always be classroom training but it has become limited. And when it is needed, trainers will create it.

The shift is now towards elearning and mobile learning. I believe this is where we need to focus our attention and efforts. We need to prove why we are important in the creation of these modes of training. The transition might be tough for some but my belief is that a good ID can create any kind of training; no matter what the delivery method

All this being said, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe classroom training will make a comeback and IDs will once again become valuable members of their training organizations. But it couldn’t hurt to have a backup plan. I had one and it turned out okay for me.

I would love to hear from others regarding your career path. How did you get there and was it by choice?

For more information about adult learning, instructional design or elearning, visit


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