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Getting Into Instructional Design: Where Do I Start?

#becomeanidol #careerchange #elearning #instructionaldesign #instructionaldesigners #motivation #teachers May 06, 2020

Are you at a point in your career where you are looking for a change?  Are you looking for something new, but you can’t transfer your current skills? Or your school went remote, and in your research about working from home and creating online courses, you learned about instructional design as a career option. Then I am speaking to you!

IDOL courses is the sponsor of the Become an Instructional Designer and Online Learning (IDOL) Developer Facebook group.  When a person joins, there are 3 questions you need to answer, so owner Robin Sargent can provide content and help those who have the goal of becoming an IDOL or advance their career. 

  1. Are you looking for a career change, or are you an instructional design expert looking to help and mentor new instructional designers?
  2. What is your instructional design experience? 
  3. What are your challenges? What keeps you stuck from becoming an IDOL? Or what would you like to learn from this group?

Today, I want to focus on the third question: What are your challenges, and What keeps you stuck from becoming an IDOL? The most common answer is, "I don't know where to start." 

The idea of researching and learning about other career options usually causes two different emotions:

  1. Excitement 
  2. Nervousness 

So, somehow in your process, you learned about Instructional Design (ID) as a career option. You have checked out YouTube and have done some research online to get an idea of what an ID actually does, and it sure sounds interesting. The concept of a career change is exciting and ….. oh the possibilities! You have taken in the information, absorbed it, and then reality sets in…… and you wonder:

  1. Should I really change careers? 
  2. Am I too old to change careers?
  3. Do I really want to start over in a new career and be the new kid on the block?
  4. Can I handle learning new technologies and software?
  5. Do I have the time to invest in learning new skills to make the change?

Self-doubt and those adult thoughts that usually dissuade us from change start entering your mind. I know several people who decided to kick self-doubt to the curb and took the leap into ID …… guess what? All of them are happy; they took that leap, and all of them are making more money than they did in their previous career. 

Here are a few things you can do to learn more about ID and decide if you want to jump headfirst into a new career. 

Take the IDOL courses Overview: The Instructional Design Process. There are over 3 hours of videos and additional information on the ID process, ID methods, how to design a course, and you will have access to the Insider's Facebook Study Group. This Masterclass gives you more information on what an ID does day-to-day.  

Another way to learn about instructional design is to talk with instructional designers. I am always willing to talk to people interested in the field.  So connect with me on LinkedIn or some of my ID friends who are willing to chat:

Molly Parsons

Gretchen Johanson

Tandi Vaughn

Read blogs,  books, and listen to podcasts on instructional design. If you are considering a career change, you best do the groundwork to learn as much as you can. Here are some of my favorite resources:


1. The IDOL courses blog (but, you found this already) 

2. Christy Tucker’s Blog 

3. Cathy Moore’s Blog


  1. Cathy Moore: Map It
  2. Julie Dirksen: Design For How People Learn


  1. Become an IDOL
  2. Dear Instructional Designer
  3. Instructional Redesign Podcast

I hope you find some useful information that can help you figure out if an instructional design career is really for you.  You have to put the work into making a career change, but in the end,  it is up to you to figure out what is best for you. 


Written by: Tabatha Dragonberry


Tabatha is an EdTech entrepreneur, instructional designer, content writer, and educator dedicated to developing interactive and engaging learning ecosystems. She has a passion for gamification, learning experience design, and the integration of social learning to improve learner engagement and knowledge retention. Also, she is a respiratory therapist who hosts The Vent Room podcast providing a little inspiration to respiratory therapists.