Dear Corporate L&D: You're Missing Out

Dear Corporate Learning and Development,

You are missing out!

There is a talent pool ripe for the picking you are overlooking and dismissing too quickly.  These talented people are already equipped with the skill-set needed to be successful as an Instructional Designer (ID).

Who are they? They are educators looking to join the corporate world using the experience and knowledge they already possess.

As a former public school teacher, it was difficult for me to break into the corporate world even though I already had the ID skills.

I encountered many companies that seem to lack an understanding of how an educator’s experience, education, and skill-set can easily transfer into the corporate ID world. Therefore, passing on very qualified candidates.

I’ve found flaws in your reasons for rejection. I challenge you to take a look at your reasons to say no and indulge me with my reasons to say yes.

Your Reasons for Rejection:

  1.       “You don’t have any experience as an Instructional Designer.”

While educators don’t have experience designing instruction for a corporation, we do have experience designing instruction. We just call it lesson planning. This is one of the primary responsibilities of an educator: Design engaging instruction. WE DO IT EVERY DAY. We build entire curricula from conception to execution. We know how to build a lesson that will be experienced simultaneously by more than 20 different learners, yet make each learner feel that the lesson was custom made for him/her. Oh, and when we are not building instruction, we are participating in professional development to build better lessons, meet the objectives required by the state, and discuss the data of our assessments.

  1.       “You don’t have a degree in Instructional Design.”

True, our degrees say something else (Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, in my case). However, in order to earn that degree in education, we proved understanding and demonstrated the application of learning theory, various learning styles, instructional strategies, and different instructional design models, just like corporate instructional designers. We have studied, in-depth, the three domains of Bloom’s Taxonomy and the hierarchy of cognitive skills, Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, and the Sociocultural Theory of Vygotsky. There are so many names. I keep dropping them. We are sent to do working internships to prove our aptitude for designing and delivering quality instruction as the last step in earning our degree. So, no, we don’t have an Instructional Design degree, but we have the knowledge and education it takes to be a successful ID.

  1.       “You don’t have experience in our industry.”

I don’t need to be a subject matter expert (SME) in your industry to be an Instructional Designer.  The two are mutually exclusive. Knowing how to design a curriculum to be easily understood by a learner is an entirely different skill-set than being an SME at pouring concrete (or insert any topic).  As educators, we are typically not SMEs in the subject we teach unless we teach at the high school level and beyond. I was not an SME on Ancient Civilizations when I began teaching 6th grade social studies. However, I was an expert in designing instruction. I made a difficult and abstract subject for 11 and 12 year olds fun, engaging, and easy to understand. For example, we turned Hammurabi’s Code into a parody of Soulja Boy. The same is true when given a second and third subject to teach. I was not an SME in any of them, but I understood how to take the state standards and design instruction to meet those standards.

 A former educator will do the same for your company. Give him/her any business goal, and a robust, comprehensive training curriculum will be developed to meet that business goal.

  1.       “You have only worked with kids and have no experience with adult learners.”

This is not entirely true.

While we spend most of our time with our young students, we also spend time teaching our colleagues and other industry professionals at conferences and workshops. Many of us develop training sessions to train our colleagues in best practices for designing curriculum, how to use the new technologies and brush up on changes in applications we use, etc. We are agile when designing instruction because we have a firm grasp on the type of learners we are addressing.

One keen observation I made after being in my new ID role is that adult learners are not that much different than the kids we teach in the classroom.  

There!

I said it.

I may receive flack for generalizing, but it’s true.

Let me explain with more generalizations: The most significant difference between the child learner and the adult learner is the motivation to learn. Children transition from being curious about the world around them to become part of a captive audience in a school setting. They need lots of extrinsic motivation to learn and stay engaged. We reward them with candy, trips to the treasure box, points, extra recess, etc.

The adult learner typically is motivated more intrinsically and is more self-directed. Adult learners want to learn at their own pace, learn more about topics of interest to them, or simply to understand something better. However, I have noticed that despite what Malcolm Knowles says about the adult learner, the child learner comes out in all of us when made to sit through training we don’t want to. We want to know what’s in it for us; we cross our fingers that we may have fun and play a game, ask if we can wear jeans, and hope lunch is served. We also look for more extrinsic motivation when attending training for which we have been voluntold. We hope for an increase in salary or promotion of position. Regardless of those differences, little Johnny, who was a very kinesthetic learner, always had to be moving and enjoyed labs is now John who still prefers to learn by doing. The same is true for the rest of us. As educators, we automatically design instruction using blended learning to maximize the reach of our learners.

One more observation: The other educators looking to break into the ID world know that they will be questioned about their skills as an ID if ever they get the opportunity for an interview. They understand they don’t know everything about the ID world yet. However, they have a solid foundation. They are feverishly filling in their knowledge gaps by enrolling in the IDOL Courses Academy. They are working hard to put together a portfolio to display their skills and get noticed.

Don’t miss out on snagging one of these skilled and qualified educators for your Learning and Development team. The next time you see the titles, Teacher or Educator, on a resume, put that candidate at the top of your list.

You won’t regret it.

 

Sincerely,

Former Educator Turned ID

Written by:  Gretchen Johanson

Connect with Gretchen on LinkedIn

Gretchen is an Instructional Designer and former public educator. Combined, she has over a decade of experience in learning and development. She considers herself a life-long learner and is always looking for opportunities to grow and develop her skills.Work-life balance is important to her. She enjoys kick-boxing, traveling and family time when she is not working.

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