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Leaving the Classroom Episode 18: The Many Names of an Instructional Designer

#becomeaninstructionaldesigner #instructionaldesginer #instructionaldesigntitles #jobdescription #leaving the classroom podcast #leavingtheclassroom Jul 05, 2023

Leaving the Classroom: A Transitioning Teacher Podcast

The Many Names of an Instructional Designer

In this episode, I am talking about the different titles there are in the instructional design and online learning space. And there are a LOT of them. It can get confusing when you are looking for a new role in instructional design and online learning, to figure out which role is right for you, and frankly, what the heck is the difference between all these titles? Listen in to hear my take on all the possible roles in the instructional design and online learning field.

Listen to the episode here:

Connect with Kristi on LinkedIn  

Enjoy the podcast transcription:

Hello everyone. Welcome to leaving the classroom. I'm Kristi Oliva, and I'm so glad you are here. Today I'm talking about the different titles there are in the instructional design and online learning space. And there are a lot of them. It can get confusing when you are looking for a new role in instructional design and online learning to figure out which role is right for you. And frankly, what the heck is the difference between all these titles? Let's get into it and start at the top. The chief learning officer, a Chief Learning Officer or CLO is the senior level executive in charge of learning within an organization. The CLO ensures that the people development within an organization aligns with the organization's business goals.

Okay, next is a director of learning and development or a training director. And so this person directs training programs to increase the knowledge and skills of an organization's employees. They typically oversee other managers within the L&D department, the learning and development department.

So then, there's a training manager, which can be called an eLearning manager or learning and development manager, a learning and development project manager. There's a lot of names for this one too. And these managers are people who lead a team of learning and development specialists, which could be trainers, instructional designers, or eLearning, developers or others to and the team may create internal training for the company employees or external training for external clients or customers. They also can be in charge of instructor led training eLearning, or both.

Next is a corporate trainer, which could just be called a trainer. These people provide internal training to employees or external training to clients. So an internal trainer may provide professional development and training to employees about required skills or internal processes or onboarding. An external corporate trainer can develop curriculum about the company's products or services, and then they will go out and train the clients about those tools.

Next is an eLearning developer. So eLearning developers develop the online training courses for the internal or external audiences. And they most commonly use tools like Storyline and Captivate but they can also use video editing screen capturing tools, Camtasia, Adobe, and sometimes using code as well. But eLearning developers, usually if they have this title, take scripts and storyboards from the instructional designers and they transform those into interactive and visually appealing courses. But the tricky part here is that a lot of companies, the role of an eLearning developer is the same as an instructional designer and vice versa. So you have to be really careful about looking at the job description to find out, are you truly an eLearning developer or are you expected to do the whole kit and caboodle. And so with that there is an instructional designer could be called Learning Experience Designer, which can be a little bit different as well. So instructional designers create curriculum and design the outline of the training courses. So they they also create the instructional materials such as participant guides, job aids and other handouts. They consult with the subject matter experts and potential learners to determine the training needs. And they do content analysis, task analyses needs assessments. They create storyboards, scripts and assessments for eLearning courses. But like I said earlier, they may also do the developing as well and be an eLearning developer at the same time. So again, you have to check the job descriptions and see if it says instructional designer, are you only doing the analysis part and the building of the outlines or are you also going to be in charge of developing because they can be very different, but from my experience, most of the roles expect you to do both.

Next is an LMS administrator and these people are in charge of setting up and managing the content and users within a learning management system. LMS administrators implement eLearning courses into the LMS. Inform the learners of new training offerings, assign the learners to the offerings, they make learning paths or curriculums within the LMS and create certifications for completing the courses and learning paths. Again, some roles if they list instructional designer you may also be in charge of this as well. Some larger companies with a larger L&D team may have their own LMS administrator. So again, this can vary of what types of tasks you are expected to do.


Next is a technical writer, technical writers write scripts and develop a written content for the eLearning courses, explainer videos, webinars, user guides, product documentation other training needs, they may also develop lesson plans for instructor led training. And they have an in depth knowledge about a specific industry, usually. Again, depends on the size of your L&D team, whether or not you will have a technical writer or is that going to be part of your job as the instructional designer. Next is a learning and development specialist and this can encompass all of those roles that we just talked about. But that's just another name for learning and development specialists.


Next, there can be a director of online learning. So a director is similar to maybe that L&D manager or maybe right below the CLO, they will think about creating and delivering the strategic plans about the online programs enrollment and growth, and make strategic decisions about the resources and how those are going to be allocated within the team. And they ensure that all of their educational offerings are consistent with the business and what their standards are.

And so let's just go through the whole list here. I have here of all the names that you could be for an instructional designer or manager. So we have instructional design manager, instructional design specialist, learning designer, instructional design consultant, instructional system designer, instructional technologist, training specialist, learning and development consultant, learning specialist, learning and development specialist, learning and development manager, eLearning developer, curriculum developer, learning manager, director of learning, junior instructional designer, educational technologist, instructional designer, learning designer, learning technologist, I think I said that one, curriculum designer, eLearning specialist, training developer, there are so many names, but the truth is, many of them have the same capabilities and the same duties that they're responsible for.

What I learned from my first role at CVS Aetna is once I got promoted to senior instructional designer, when I was on the team that was hiring, they were straight up saying that their job description had way more in there than what the capabilities of that person were that they were looking for to fill the role. They really are just putting it all out there and seeing who will apply. So make sure you keep that in mind too. If you have some of the skills but not all of them that role could still be for you. Now, are you interested in leaving the classroom and learning how to move into one of the roles I talked about today? Well, IDOL Courses Academy is for you. We help you build your professional portfolio, revise your resume, prepare you for interviews and give you value feedback on everything you design. Sign up for IDOL courses Academy using my code CLASSROOM100 and get $100 off enrollment today. It's time to take control and make the career change that will change your life. It changed mine. See you next time.

Send your stories or your questions to [email protected] or share them with me on Instagram  @leavingtheclassroom.