An instructional designer today requires far higher knowledge and skill sets than before. They need to be proficient with Conceptual Tools on one hand and Technological/Software Tools on the other.
Conceptual skills refer to learning design theories and instructional design principles that IDs need to apply when designing course material. Software skills, on the other hand, help them to create the final product, that is, the eLearning courseware. So, it really helps if an ID understands technology and is comfortable using rapid authoring tools.
What are the typical software programs or tools that can help IDs?
PowerPoint is of course the basic software program that is essential for any instructional designing. It helps consolidate thoughts and present it visually – the way one would like to see on the screen. So even if rapid authoring tools are used, many IDs prefer to create their storyboards using PowerPoint.
Articulate is perhaps the most popular software as it basically operates out of PowerPoint presentation. However, knowledge of the more standalone software such as Articulate Storyline enables developers to be more creative with their presentations.
Captivate have come up with a more powerful version in its latest version Captivate 7, which is another tool that is popular with IDs. It is generally preferred for software demonstrations, software simulations, scenarios, etc.
Lectora is another software program that provides a multitude of options to developers who would like to create customized templates. It was one of the first authoring tools that allowed output to HTML5 making it compatible to iPads and other mobile devices. Of course, other authoring tools followed suit.
Camtasia is more popular for screen recording and video editing. Although users advice that one needs to have a good understanding about audio in terms of connections and using the correct mic.
Knowledge of HTML/CSS/Java Script editor really puts an ID in command as they don’t have to depend on the programmers to tweak outputs according to their specifications.
IDs need to know how a Learning Management System works – Functions such as user activity management, tracking and integration.
Supplementary tools such as Snagit, Adobe Photoshop and Audio editing software such as Audacity or Sound forge are additional assets that IDs could do with.
The key for any developer is to experiment with a variety of tools and not depend on a single software program. After all, the course needs to be built according to the content and not according to the tools or software. An experienced ID never lets the tool limit effective instruction or creativity but goes on to use the tool that delivers the required output. Therefore, instructional designers need to be comfortable, experimenting with technology and authoring tools, to provide the best possible learning experience. Don’t you agree?