Corporate or Higher-Ed? Instructional Design Expertise Valued in Both Settings

We information consumers read, listen to, and process information from the time we wake up until when we go to sleep. Deciding what to pay attention to and what we want to ignore is mostly up to us. We can’t take in all the information, and our “explore and ignore” decision-makers fire off without us having to give much thought to the choices we make.

But what if your job is to make sure people consume, learn from and respond to information you create? That would be challenging, given everything competing for people’s attention — but it’s the life’s work of those in the instructional design field.

If this is your focus area or you hope it will be someday, you know instructional design comprises two components — creation and distribution. The creator side of an instructional designer designs, creates and delivers instructional experiences and products (often both physical and digital) to people who need that information. The distribution side focuses on the technology that enables the instructional design pro to deliver what they create.

When the two focus areas are combined, this mix of art and science results in instructional designers producing innovative, impactful and interactive training that powers exceptional learning experiences.

Instructional Designers Work in All Organizations

With training and instruction being the heart of instructional design, it’s no surprise this practice area has deep roots in education. And though the instructional design term has been around for decades, the value of working with a skilled instructional designer is getting new attention.

Today, you can find instructional designers who work with K-12 and university students, as well as people who create training in corporate, small business and nonprofit settings.

When we searched LinkedIn to see where people with the instructional designer title work, we found them at Spotify, the training company Pearson, a university, high school and tech companies Semrush and Twilio. We also noted one designer who’s been her own boss for a year. (We didn’t explore the other 26,693 instructional designers’ employers!)

This diversity of employment demonstrates that businesses of all kinds rely on instructional designers to create and deliver carefully crafted programs and products for their workforce and customers.

Generally a High-Paying Field People Enjoy

Instructional designers’ salaries might be as diverse as the individuals we found on LinkedIn, but they can hit the low six-figures range, especially if the position is outside of education. (We talk more about instructional designer salaries in this article.)

Salary isn’t everything, of course. Job satisfaction and career advancement opportunities matter to people, too. According to Payscale, four out of five instructional designers are highly satisfied with their job. Career path-wise, an instructional designer might move into a senior or manager role, working with or supervising a team of other designers. Or the instructional designer might work in a company’s training and development department. (Training and development is often aligned with the human resources or organizational development areas.)

Master’s Degree in Instructional Design

With instructional designers working both in and outside education and the practice area maturing, having an advanced degree in this field is a distinction employers will make note of.

At University of Cincinnati Online (UC Online), we designed our Master of Education in Instructional Design and Technology (IDT) program for professionals who want to grow their knowledge and expertise in this area. UC Online’s program is taught by professors who are experts in design, evaluation, media and technology.

The master’s of IDT program is a well-rounded, interdisciplinary educational experience, with courses that draw from the fields of cognitive science, education, design, information technology and computer science. Graduates of the IDT program become versatile content creators, which equips them to work in a variety of industries (explore our graduates’ portfolios).

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Interest in the field of instructional design is growing. Here’s why.

Coursework Applicable to Education and Corporate Settings

Students enrolled in the online IDT master’s program come from all walks of life. Some work in education and others come from the corporate world. Their years of experience in instructional design vary, with some students starting the IDT master’s program right after their undergrad degree and others re-starting college after a long break of many years.

Students can complete the 30 credit-hour program in under two years; here are three courses you’ll find there:

  • Fundamentals of Learning Analytics – In this course, you are introduced to learning analytics, the process of collecting and analyzing data to make informed decisions to improve learning. You will use hands-on techniques to collect trace data from online activities and quantitative methods to analyze this data.
  • Design of Blended and Online Learning Environments – This course guides you through the process of designing and developing successful online learning. You explore a variety of learning environments, learn how to incorporate instructional models, instructional strategies and digital media effectively into the design process, and create a complete instructional unit that promotes learner engagement and motivation.
  • Multimedia Studio – In this course, you explore the essential skills and techniques needed to create powerful multimedia products. You learn fundamental design principles, adopting a wide range of innovative technologies to generate new solutions for visual communication and multimedia representation. You actively collaborate with peers, gain valuable hands-on experience and exchange constructive feedback via a dynamic and interactive design space.

What to Know If You’re New to an Online Degree’s Benefits

As you evaluate an instructional design master’s program, you may wonder what it’s like to complete 100% of your studies online if this will be a new experience for you.

Here’s what to know:

  • UC’s focus on comprehensive and complete online degrees dates back more than 20 years. We offer 90 programs today, and the number will grow in the months to come.
  • There’s no requirement to visit the University of Cincinnati campus, which saves you time traveling to and from class. And with the course content being fully online, you study when and wherever you want.
  • Most of our M.Ed IDT students attend full-time, but a part-time schedule is fine to do if it helps you better balance work and family obligations with school.
  • Once you enroll, we introduce you to your Academic Advisor and Student Success Coordinator, who work one-on-one with you throughout your UC journey.

Ready to Get Started?

Exploring UC Online’s master’s program is a great first step in taking your career to the next level. Whether you work in academia or outside of it, you should find the attributes of our online program and its value for instructional designers to be unparalleled.

Now that you know more about what UC Online offers, we welcome you to connect with an advisor or call 833-556-7600. (They’re available Monday–Friday from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. EST.) You can ask them any questions you have and find out your next best step in the process. We look forward to talking with you!

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