What Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

When you were a child and others asked you this question how many of you answered “I want to be an Instructional/Training Designer”?

I’d lay a reasonable amount of my pension on the answer being none.

Sure, you may have said “I want to be a teacher” or something similar but that’s not the same, so I think my pension is safe! Why is that? Probably because you didn’t know what an Instructional Designer (ID) was and probably still don’t. So let me explain and let you in to the story of how I, at the age of 60, find myself working for Inzpire in this capacity.

In a nutshell, an ID – like a child – is curious to understand a problem and identify whether a training solution is the optimum way of solving it. An ID asks the question why, and they ask it a lot!

Why do they need to memorise the information? They don’t? Use a job aid!”

Why does this information need to be delivered in a classroom? It doesn’t? Give them a book!”. In this response, you’ve made the same information available and students can learn in their own time, thereby solving their problem.

But, a good ID also desires to design and develop learning experiences.

Note the word ‘experiences’. ‘Experience’, and ‘experiences’, are words that are central to an ID’s philosophy.

At the heart of Instructional Design is the notion that learning is all about humans and not content. A Subject Matter Expert can relay information onto a PowerPoint slide or provide text to read. The problem is that it usually results in learners being passive recipients of information, which by some studies results in under 10% of the knowledge being retained. Showing and telling is not proof of learning. They are information dumps, and in these situations learning is a bonus. The driver is usually compliance – we told them, and now it’s up to them to put what they know in to practice.

This is not how it should be. A good ID focuses on behaviour; the difference between knowing and doing. Ideas without action are worthless. Making sure that training is worthwhile and results in measurable change to the benefit of individuals and the business is fundamental.

I served in the Army for almost 30 years. During my career I delivered formal training as a trainer and also commanded a Defence Training Establishment. On leaving the Army I was a regulator who provided formal and informal training to various UK public and law enforcement authorities. It was during that period that I discovered rapid eLearning authoring tools and decided, after 8 years, to venture into the eLearning development space designing eLearning interventions for paying clients.

Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed designing eLearning, I was less successful as a businessman and was attracted by an advertisement on my Corps Association website seeking training designers at the Joint Intelligence Training Group (JITG) where I had served several tours. What could be better than combining my two passions, the business of intelligence and eLearning?

However, the task of an ID is not always easy. We work in a sometimes challenging culture and environment. Dealing with sometimes incumbent IT infrastructures and challenging aspirations is not easy. I, and my training design colleagues at JITG, have the advantage of many years’ military service plus powerful and diverse experience of the learning industry in the commercial world. Whilst cognisant of individual and organisational drivers, we are able to adopt an approach which capitalises upon the skills that we can deliver to our military customers. We have been adroitly guided by our (often more!) commercially aware Inzpire colleagues to ensure that we are meeting all of our customers needs.

I had no IDer I’d be an IDer! Working for Inzpire allows me to utilise both my eLearning, ID and intelligence experience. I’m in a wonderful position to believe that I can still contribute to the education of serving personnel and continue on my own learning path. There are few employers who would have seen the potential in a 60 year old. Though I suffer from ageist jibes from my colleagues I choose to take it a sign of endearment!

I’m testament to the fact that you are never too old to be Inzpired!