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Translating Teacher Tech Skills to ID Tools

Apr 29, 2021

Transferring Teacher Tech Skills to ID Tools

Changing careers is intimidating; there are new tools, new terms, and new technology. As an experienced educator transitioning into instructional design, I felt confident about my experience and transferable skills. Learning objectives? No problem! Presentations/ILT? No big deal! Technology? I love it!

Then I started researching the tools commonly used in the industry and looked at examples of impressive products created by professional instructional designers. Imposter syndrome set in and I wasn’t sure where to start! Fortunately, my experience with IDOL courses Academy’s #DoItMessy challenge helped me to shift my own mindset. In this 14-day challenge, Academy members are encouraged to create a series of portfolio assets including an instructional design document, job aid, and an eLearning course. I learned to “take imperfect action” by creating first and improving or perfecting later. This allowed me to make connections between the tools I needed to use as an instructional designer and the tools I was already familiar with as a teacher.

As teachers, instructional designers use a variety of applications to reach their learners, but we will focus on the following three types:

  • Graphic design
  • eLearning authoring tools
  • Screencasting/Video editing

Teachers: have you ever created a slide presentation, signs for your classroom, or a visually appealing graphic organizer? Of course, you have! While there are many presentation tools out there, Powerpoint and Google Slides are tried and true tools for both teachers and instructional designers. You may have even used them to edit images. Photoshop is also an industry standard for resizing images, removing background, and more advanced layering and image design. However, if you don’t have access through your job, this can be an expensive tool.

Enter Canva. Canva is a robust tool with built-in templates for nearly everything you could think of, including visually appealing presentations, graphics, social media posts, infographics, and so much more. You can upload your own images or animations, or pull from their extensive photo and element library. Layering, resizing, and designing are easy with very little learning curve. This tool has a free option, with additional templates and designs for educators with a free Canva for Education account. Those looking to upskill their graphic designs can access their design school courses, palette generator, and font combination tools.


Most K-12 educators have at least dipped their toes into the water with eLearning due to the ongoing pandemic, and many have taken a full plunge. Chances are, you have created many screencasts using free screencasting tools such as Screencast-O-Matic, Screencastify, or Loom (or maybe even shelled out for a premium version if your district didn’t provide it). This is an excellent starting point! You already know about sharing your screen, demonstrating where to click and what to do. Instructional designers take this a step further by recording audio and video separately for better sound quality, the ability to silence your breath sounds (once you do this, you’ll never stop noticing them!), and edit out mistakes rather than having to start the recording again. 

Audacity is a perfect (and free) tool to record your voiceover and edit it until you are satisfied. You can then import it into a video editing tool, such as Camtasia. You can record your screencast right in Camtasia, add and sync up your audio, and add finishing touches such as mouse effects, transitions, and music. Similar to other video editing tools, Camtasia uses a multi-track timeline to facilitate polished productions. Because it is so dynamic, however, you may need to watch some tutorials to get started. 


Last but not least, teachers have become extremely skilled and creative when it comes to integrating multiple educational technologies tools-most likely into a learning management system, or LMS-such as Instructure Canvas or Google Classroom. You may have leveraged slide decks in creative ways by embedding videos, creating drag and drop activities with images, or emulating hotspots by hyperlinking images or text. Professional eLearning authoring tools such as Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate were designed to include these interactions, with self-checking drag and drops, lightboxes, embedded quizzes, and many additional features designed to enable learner interaction. Because these tools are so inclusive, it can be intimidating to get started. You can join the E-Learning Heroes community for blog posts, tutorials, and challenges to help you get started producing content you can add to your portfolio. In addition, IDOL Courses Academy® offers a Storyline® for IDOLs®

course to guide you step-by-step through learning Articulate.


If you are a teacher transitioning to instructional design, you have the curriculum expertise and first-hand experience designing instruction for learners in an online environment. Now it’s time to pick up those new tools, terms, and technology and use them to build your dream career as an instructional designer!


Written by: Cassie Janda


Cassie is a teacher-librarian turned instructional designer with over 12 years of experience designing meaningful learning experiences. She is passionate about utilizing technology to build the capacity of others. Cassie is an avid reader and lifelong learner with an ever-growing “TBR” list of instructional design and eLearning titles stacking up on her nightstand. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or check out her portfolio.