Lessons about Visual Design that I Neglected to Follow

As a freelance artist who has studied and produced art for years, I thought visual design would come naturally to me and yet it was the one thing I neglected in instructional design. In fact, when it came to visual design in the courses I created, I failed, miserably. The reason is simple. I didn’t pay attention to it. I was solely focused on instructional design principles, content, and assessments. I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even realize that I was neglecting something so important until someone pointed it out to me. I mean who neglects CRAP (contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity) and doesn’t even know it?! Surely not me… I joke. 

 

I decided that I was going to have to go back to my roots. As an artist, when I got stuck, I turned to the works of artists I admired such as Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Francisco Clemente and Elizabeth Murray. Their work inspired me and gave me new ideas. This time, I turned to magazines and...

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Full Time Employment vs. Contract Positions

 You’ve worked hard to build your portfolio and optimize your resume and LinkedIn profile to show off your instructional design skills and now you’re ready to land your first ID role. 

As you look through job postings on LinkedIn or other job boards, you begin seeing two types of roles. Many job listings are for full time positions and others are short term contracts. You see contract durations ranging from 3 months to several years. Some others may say contract to hire. You aren’t sure what this means exactly, but you’re beginning to wonder if you should give these jobs a shot or stick to full time positions. 

I’m going to be honest, I was where you are after completing the IDOL courses Academy’s 6th cohort in spring 2021. I made the decision (without any research) to dismiss contracts because I wanted stability, health insurance, and a W2 position. I only applied and networked for full time positions and I was able to secure...

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Event-Specific Self-Reflection

In my current role, I’m developing a solution that’s event-specific. The event happens every year, but every year they may need to leverage the event differently. 

The problem I’ve always run into with annual asks like this is that I tend to forget the process until it comes up again, which wouldn’t be an obstacle if the process were exactly the same year after year. But the hope is our learners will build on their learning each time the event happens and deepen their practice.

So how do you get learners to remember something that happened a year ago? 

My answer: You don’t. 

Like myself, a lot of my family and friends are neurodivergent. Asking many of us to remember learning from a year ago is a big ask, and I assume it’s likely a big ask for neurotypical people too. 

Instead of hoping people will just remember, build self-reflection mechanisms into the workflow.

Since my build is event-specific and the event happens...

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This Playwright Question Informs my ID Practice

 The class workshopped my play first. Professor Hood passed out copies, assigned parts, looked at me, and said, “For the rest of class, just take notes.” And then the class began to perform my piece.

Within the first few minutes, I determined my classmates didn’t know how to read. I clearly meant for this line to be said with anger, another one with relief. The discussion after the reading (me still silent) showed me they had all misread my theme and empathized with the wrong characters. 

Seeing me become increasingly frustrated, the professor brought the discussion to a close: “How well can the Work live without you, Mandy? As a playwright, you create the blueprint. But you can’t follow your work everywhere, making sure everyone interprets it correctly. The Work must live the way you intended without you. If you’re upset by the results of today, you have more work to do.” 

I imagine what Professor Hood put me through...

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Reading the Last Page of the Book First

 Have you ever read the last page of a book first? Or skimmed through a textbook for the main topics and titles and decided which parts to read? Decided to skip parts of a film? If your answer is yes, a nonlinear curriculum is not that new for you.

IDOL courses Academy has a nonlinear curriculum, which means that the steps and speed of learning are up to the learner. The nonlinear curriculum works well with adult learners who usually take responsibility for their learning and like to be involved in their learning process. It also goes deeper than just that. If adults own their own learning, their learning will be more effective. 

Learning from a nonlinear curriculum can be scary for those of us used to learning from a linear one. In a linear curriculum, there are strict steps and timing for each of the learning phases. You can’t skip steps without losing content. You could try, but the chances are high you’d have to go back and complete the missing part...

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Three Things I Learned From the IDOL courses Academy That Have Nothing To Do With Instructional Design

IDOL courses Academy has taught me much more than instructional design--and I’m not talking about anything found in the modules.  

  1. It’s good to be pushed out of your comfort zone once in a while.
    Gretchen Rubin says a key component of happiness is living in an atmosphere of growth. As a classroom teacher of nine years, I was comfortable and confident in my role. Yes, I learned new things all the time, but it was usually within my control whether I decided to learn a new technology tool or tackle a new-to-me novel study. The IDOL courses Academy has actually given me a new respect for all the students who sat in my classroom over the years. I had forgotten what it means to be totally out of my element, bombarded with new tools, ideas, techniques, and theories. It has been refreshing and eye-opening to experience this type of growth and learning again.

  2. You are never stuck in your career path.
    An English degree was never going to open a lot of doors for me,...
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The Rubric of Salary Negotiations

I find comfort in lists, which is how I managed my anxiety when I knew an offer was coming. I studied the job ad and listed how I met the qualifications (and then some). The list morphed into a rubric, which I am about to share with you.

But before I do, some prep items: 

1. Make a list of what you need and want in your next role.

Salary, hybrid or remote, benefits, time off, etc. Make sure to star your must-haves and note your nice-to-haves. Knowing these things guides your job hunt and the interview process

It also helps you navigate an offer. If they can’t meet the salary, maybe they can offer you more PTO or agree to have more remote days. Maybe they can pay for that professional development certification you’ve been eyeing. If you don’t ask, you won’t know. And having to come up with these compromises on the fly is hard.

 2. Make a list of what you’re walking away from!
The recruiter who made the offer for my current role began...

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When No One Answers Your ID Question

 When I started IDOL courses Academy in 2020, I was a mess. One particularly difficult day, my boss informed me that the Central Office was relocating my assignment. I had the rest of the day to pack up and prepare for the following instructional day (with triple the learners now). With my partner on disability and a child at home distance-learning, I couldn’t quit, so I spent the rest of the day moving and attempting to prep.

On the ride home, I had an epiphany about one of my Storyline assets. I began working as soon as I got there. I don’t even know if I ate or how long I was working. I just remember I eventually hit a roadblock and reached out to my mentor. 

And she didn’t respond. 

Individuals in trauma experience time differently because they’re in constant fight or flight. Additionally, as a neurodivergent individual, I struggle with abrupt stops like this, which explains why I spiraled into a panic attack. My vision narrowed. My...

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Doing it Messy - An IDOL Mentor’s First Portfolio

It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others, especially in new situations like the first week in the IDOL courses Academy. People can discourage it all they want. But when you haven’t found your personal mile markers, it’s far easier to look at someone else’s map.  

Here’s my current portfolio

Two years of polish and I still feel like it needs work. Just the other day someone pointed out a typo in my About section. But even with imperfections (that I see!), I'm proud of it and grateful I worked so hard to build it up.  

 

But if this is your first cohort, you’d be comparing yourself to the wrong map.

And that’s what I told my mentees this week. 

Here is my first portfolio

After eight weeks and one badge, this is what I had to show for it. 

This is how I got my first remote ID job.

It needs so much polish—and a facelift—but I am proud of Mandy 2020. 

 

I was in...

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Volunteering: ID Experience Through Non-profits

Most people trying to break into the field of Instructional Design know that having a portfolio is essential. A portfolio helps you showcase your design skills, how you put together a learning solution and, if you have a good case study, it can help you demonstrate how you solve problems. 

However, building a portfolio without an actual client is challenging. In her blog post, Kristi Oliva talks about how she built a portfolio without an actual client, and members of the IDOL course Academy are urged to get a volunteer client as part of the DoItMessy Challenge. If you don’t know where to start, you can get some ideas from this video on how to get a volunteer client for your portfolio projects.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t get a volunteer client. That’s mainly because I’m from an older cohort where this idea wasn’t pushed yet. Instead, I focused on perfecting my portfolio only to realise that it wasn’t enough for the hiring...

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