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Instructional Designers are Solutions Architects

In: Dear ID ShowDesign

A couple of weekends ago, I had an amazing sit down with Craig Wiggins, (you’ll hear from him on the very first episode of Dear Instructional Designer, Season 2) ostensibly about xAPI but we veered into all sorts of territory and one of the most important things Craig shared was the importance of seeing ourselves as problem solvers, as the people who get obstacles out of people’s way.

Now you may be thinking, “Duh, Kristin,” but it was, for me, one of those things that really called me back to rethink and remember what it is that I am supposed to be doing. I love online learning/learning object creation (another duh, right?). I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting with that and I don’t really see that stopping. But in seeking to create that, I can see in myself and in others a sort of myopia. We talk about online learning for it’s own sake, we create it because we create it, without talking about it’s larger context of us, as IDs, as architecting solutions to performance issues, helping people do their jobs better or more easily. And that’s really important insight to keep in the forefront of our minds, even as we practice. Online learning objects, even curation (which has become the new hot item), is not the thing. They are tools in our toolkit as solution architects; they are parts (small parts) of a whole. So, I think what that means, at least for me, is that I need to really step back, as I create new things and as I reflect on what I’ve created to position those things in a larger solution.

So, for example, the Adapt course I’m currently working on has value for me as a way to learn Adapt and practice web development. And if it were part of my job, I think I would position it as a piece of organizational onboarding, as a part of the wider solution framework of helping new employees get up to speed on the (in this instance) bike shop. It would not be the solution, just one small piece of it. I know that others talk about this all the time, so this post is probably not ground breaking stuff. But it really hit home to me as Craig and I spoke that I, personally, needed to always keep myself in check and see both my personal learning work and my paid work as being a part of my craft as a solution architect. And now when I introduce myself, instead of saying that I design online courses, I’ll say:

I help design solutions that get obstacles out of people’s way, so they can do their best work.