What is an instructional designer?

I have been lucky to always have some aspect of art in my professional career.

After earning my BA in Fine Arts from the University of Maryland, I spent the first ten years working as an exhibit designer for the national parks service. Not only did I get to use my fine art skills, but also expanded my skillset with graphic design experience and programming.

After I married and moved to Savannah, my career turned to more towards the technology-side of art, designing classroom and online courseware for corporate aviation. Shortly after founding my own courseware development company, I returned to school and earned my Masters in Instructional Technology from Virginia Tech.

Instructional Design and Technology is defined as:


The systematic process of designing and developing instruction, and evaluating how the use of technology can benefit that instruction.

To translate that, it means I know how to create training courseware that assures actual learning takes place.  In the past ten years, corporations moved a lot of their employee training online, to save time and money.  Which in turn, led me to knowing how to best adapt content previously taught in person, to content presented over the internet.

So why does this mean to you, as a student of mine?  

Being a great artist does not necessarily mean being a great teacher; those are two entirely different skillsets.  Developing a program that ensures a successful transfer of knowledge is very different from “Watch me, then go and try to do what I do.”

When I create a course for artists, I keep in mind the personalities of my students.  I reinforce all my learning in multiple ways, because each learner is different.   I break down each step so that learning occurs in a series of smaller achievements. And most important, I make it fun, because that’s when the best retention occurs.