Google Analytics

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Not to Cause Trouble But...

An alumni of our program in Instructional Technology recently sent me this rant and I just had to post it....

I believe the alumni (let's call her J) is refering to the following post in her rant:
We Need a Degree in Instructional Design

I recently stumbled upon an exchange on your blog where you were rebutting someone's suggestion that formal or professional credentials aren't necessary in order to be an effective ISDer. I agreed with your retort 100%. It's unfortunate that people reduce the art and science of education to something that can be picked up simply by reading a few books and reviewing someone else's instructional materials (i.e. participating in a course).

Honestly, I find the assertion that the field is "easy" or "simple" (i.e. you can pick it up from a book) to be irresponsible and somewhat arrogant. It conveys to me that you don't have much respect for the industry, for the science on which it's based, or for the art required to make it come to life. I don't deny that someone may have the ability to design and develop great instructional events, but let's not manage to the exception....there are prodigies in all fields.....I would caution that person to be cognizant that just because they didn't need formal training, doesn't mean that most don't. Also, I might suggest that some humility be applied as well......I have a knack for interior design - lots of compliments, people seeking me out for assistance with remodeling, requests to provide home staging services, etc......but I'll be the first to tell you that just because I have a knack for it does not mean that I would consider myself on par with professionals....I would NOT be looking to become a contestant on The Next Design Star.

From day one on the job in this field I have battled with clients and HR departments to get them to appreciate the complexity of this field and the rigor that should go into education and training. People often wonder why training is the first to get cut from a budget...or why those working in training departments tend to be made up of eh hem....the island of the misfit toys....well, when you have people in the industry touting this sort of tripe, it shouldn't be a surprise!

I can't tell you how many times I've had to go into organizations and completely revamp entire programs - new hire orientation, security certification, career development programs - because in all the organization's wisdom...they put a subject matter expert and an HR generalist in charge. Someone who read a few books, someone who knows the subject...forget whether either of them can translate all of what they know into something meaningful.

If we don't bring some semblance of professionalism, rigor, and credential to bear, how can we expect to be taken seriously? Training funds gets cut because often times training events fail......they fail because the problem was misdiagnosed, they fail because no one knew how to gain strategic buy-in for the program, they fail because those in charge didn't understand how to communicate the event's value to the organization, they fail because the programs were often ill-conceived, improperly designed, and poorly executed.....all of which an educated, seasoned, instructional designer can/should have the ability to address, mitigate, and anticipate.

In reading the exchange, I realize that the conversation centered more around the tactical aspects of ISD - design, strategies, methods - I wanted to lend a more strategic view.


Catalog of Recommended Books, Games and Gadgets
Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide


Anonymous said...

Tongue firmly in cheek here...

Professionals built the Titanic.

Amateurs built the Ark.


In all seriousness, show me some research that people with degrees actually do better work than those without and maybe I'll get off my butt and do my masters. It's a nice theory, but it doesn't seem to match what I see in the real world, where maybe 25% of people working have the degree.

ID is more like IT, where you're judged by what you can do on the job more than formal credentials. It works in IT, and it works for us--at least most of the time.

There's exceptions on both sides of the argument, but neither side has any data to back our arguments up.

Roni said...

Oh, now, Dr. Kapp, you definitely WANTED to start trouble. Just admit it. ;~)

The old academic vs. trade argument. You might find this funny as I have my Masters but I don't necessarily think it's required. considering I'm using tools, techniques and technologies that were never taught to me in any classroom or program.

I don't think anyone will argue that some people are just natural learners and might not necessarily need formal education to learn a craft and learn it well.

However you may also argue that a Masters Program gives you the foundation to learn that well on your own. Something that is desperately needed in our field.

So I'm on the fence and take the middle ground. I think there are always exceptions to the rules and not everyone needs a degree to be an affective ID.

PS. I included your feed on the alum comm. Hope you don't mind...

Karl Kapp said...


You are absolutely right, I don't know of any research that supports having or not having a degree. That would make a great thesis project for someone...

Thanks for the comment.