Prachi Ballal : Instructional Designer
If you come across a professional who is well-versed in software such as Adobe Captivate, Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe Dreamweaver, Photoshop, InDesign, Snagit etc. and possesess great analysis, design, development, implementation & evaluation skills, chances are that he/ she is a veteran instructional designer! Also known as e-learning developers/ designers, they focus on the learners and are quite creative & detail oriented. We get talking with one such instructional designer, Prachi Ballal who is currently working with Peak Pacific Group:
I am Prachi Ballal and I work as an instructional designer in the e-learning field. I’ve been in this field for over 10 years now and it has been quite a ride till now. As the e-learning field involves learners from all backgrounds, an instructional designer’s focus is not only on the language and content development part of it, but also on the design, the way the learning is conducted and the retention time span of the learner.
The fact that you have to be very good in your communication and language skills and apply your creativity to use these skills to the maximum is the biggest motivating factor. To begin with, I started out as a content writer, but slowly moved on to become an instructional designer.
The instructional design field is a very creative one where you have to consider:
• The types of learners (visual, auditory and kinesthetic)
• The types of learning
• The modes of learning (online, offline, desktop/laptop, iPad, smart phones)
• Learning design
Along with these, good communication as well as language skills are absolutely essential. As an instructional designer, you have to understand what is absolutely necessary as against what is good-to-know information. Understanding the content from the learner's and learning perspective is another important aspect for an instructional designer. Transforming the content into a learning program, taking into account the visual and technical aspects needed while developing the learning program is essential for the success of the program overall.
Analyzing learners and the requirement of learning, understanding the content at hand, developing the content using visual and technical assistance and ensuring that the client requirements are met by delivering high quality learning programs encompasses a day in the life of an instructional designer.
When I started out as an instructional designer, I had no clue about this field. I learnt most of the tasks on the job. From that day till date, it has been a great learning journey. At every stage, there has been something new that I’ve learned and that has helped me grow. Today, I am involved in all stages of a project's life cycle, right from analysis phase to the evaluation phase.
The field is extremely creative, volatile and involves a lot of multi-tasking efforts. During the time that I decided to be an instructional designer, we did not have any formal training courses for this. All we learnt was on the job. Currently, there are quite a few organizations that provide training in instructional design and they are good too. People now make an informed choice of selecting this field and that gives this field an edge over others.
• Communication and language skills
• Ability to provide the right learning solutions for the content sourced
• Ability to talk to people through your work (via storyboards to the visual and tech teams)
• Ability to assist people in learning and retaining content
On the job learning is the best experience and there is no better teacher than experience. There have been instances where I’ve had to put my own self on the edge, so that I could learn more and deliver better. There are a lot of challenges. Sometimes, the content is too technical or legal for you to understand and interpret correctly. That can be a hindrance as you will then have to come up with different ways to “teach” the content through your learning program.
It is a great field as long as you are willing to learn. Having an open mind towards the content and understanding the pulse of the learner is the key here. You should be flexible enough to delve into various types of content and easily carry it through in your learning program. I would recommend considering online courses from Udemy or any university which will give you detailed understanding of instructional design.
Instructional design is a field that lets you “teach”. While keeping in mind that you are teaching, you will also have to think about how the learner will learn. With both these perspectives in mind, you will have to come up with a learning program. This is something that comes if you are flexible enough, open to learn and absorb. So, be flexible, keep your eyes and minds open and communicate clearly, to your internal and external clients as well as your learners.
Prachi can also reached at her LinkedIn profile - https://www.linkedin.com/in/prachiballal