I came in through the back door of my career because I was schooled in compositing, fine art, graphic design, and animation, and sitting outside the lobby doors at Pixar hoping for my big break wasn’t getting me anywhere anytime soon. So, if I wanted to pay my bills I had to figure out a new way to use these skills that I had acquired, and I found it the way many artists do — by tripping on a rock and stumbling into an answer. In my case, it was instructional design.
In a very short period of time, technology and social media has changed the way we want to learn. If a video is over 5 minutes, we tend to look for another that can get us our information faster. If it’s boring, we scrub through it to get to the main points. If we have to travel to a classroom, we look for other classes that offer virtual options.
If we can’t learn it NOW, and be entertained while doing it, then we give up learning it at all.
This concept of the fast the fun and the now puts a lot of pressure on the instructional design field. Gone are the days of simply organizing content into an easy to understand format with measurable objectives. Now it’s essential to build material that is not only informative, measurable, and easy to understand, but also captivating, entertaining, and immediately relevant. All within about 2 minutes flat.
With the majority of people being lured into this quick paced learning, instructional designers now need to wield skills in video editing, character animation, gaming, and even audio engineering! And all this is on top of sorting through and streamlining copious amounts of information day in and day out on subject matter they know nothing about. I have to tell you, the typical instructional designer did not sign up for all of that!
So if not an instructional designer, then who?
Coming from a background that had absolutely 110% nothing to do with instructional design, and making what is so far a fulfilling, rewarding, and even progressive career out of it, I feel I can confidently offer up a suggestion.
As IDs know, one of the best ways to learn complex concepts is to relate things we don’t understand to things we do. Learning instructional design was no different. There were endless similarities between instructional design and my background in computer animation. Outlining, story-boarding, pitching, script writing, developing, presenting, evaluating feedback… The list really went on and on.
The main thing that didn’t really fit was the glamour of it all. Special effects, sound effects, music editing, hooks, surprises — the stuff that really makes you want to watch a flick.
While I tried to incorporate some of these fancies into my work, most of the time the industry really didn’t call for it.
Until… it did.
All of a sudden, “just-in-time” and “flipped learning” solutions came onto the playing field, and then the need for video emerged. Not just any video, video that was polished, informative, to the point, humorous, could capture someone’s attention quickly and hold it there, all the things that I had LONGED to incorporate but couldn’t (previously) justify in a classroom.
I began exploring the world of podcasts, video channels, software tutorials, explainers, cartoons, info-graphics, gaming in the classroom; Before I knew it, I was churning out funny little informative videos full of sound effects left and right. The more I made, the more my organization craved.
“So what?”, you say. I was lucky? Nice job stumbling into a sweet gig?
Only, why aren’t more people like me getting this same gig?
Because we aren’t instructional designers. We’re multimedia artists. We’re video editors. We’re digital artists. We’re app builders, web designers, animators, and journalists. And as I discovered, we all follow the exact same process that an ID would when designing and developing the final product.
So my observation then?
Multimedia artists make tomorrow’s perfect instructional designers!
If your organization is struggling to train your instructional designers as multimedia artists, why not train some multimedia artists as instructional designers? The foundation is already laid!
Also, if you’re a multimedia artist who may or may not be currently camped outside of Pixar’s lobby hoping for a big break, perhaps you’ll enjoy creating your own version of Pixar inside the instructional design field instead.
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