Forget Dad, we are in the era of instructional designers

Profession, learning designer. What are we talking about? Who designed digital training, online teaching. Hence a key figure in the e-learning sector, as the instructional designer is the architect of the training courses that allow you to effectively go from the classroom to online.

And efficiency is the key word for training, not just in school but also in business.

If, due to the pandemic, distance education has been at the heart of the education of students of all ages, then it should be clarified that when we talk about e-learning, we are not talking about DAD: an emergency learning enabled, between delays and difficulties of the institutions, enthusiasm and commitment of some teachers above all, to do school in spite of the closure of the schools.

In fact, online learning is not comparable to distance learning, nor is it integrated with integrated digital teaching staff (now we are talking about DDI). Because the goal of technology communication and enhanced learning is not far to reach students: it is not to convey content to those who do not physically share the same space. At least not just that. Because with e-learning it is of course possible to train a large number of people at the same time and not necessarily present in the same classroom. But above all, thanks to digital education, it is possible to train with different approaches, play ways for example, and to promote learning, whether formal or informal, with a focus on the students. Break the dynamics of the transfer of content that relegates the student to a passive role. And through the creation of communities and interactive learning environments.

While Covid19 underscores the importance of embracing technology to sustain emergencies, however, in fact, a more pervasive use of digital technologies alone is not enough to develop and grasp their full potential. And this is especially true when it comes to innovation in training. Because technology alone is not enough to innovate training contexts.

“There is a need for adequate training to design high-quality online training. There is a need for specialized professionals to design high-quality e-learning services and products,” said Beatrice Ligorio, a professor at the University of Bari. Sector growth and the need for specialized professionals. This was also confirmed by Patrizia Ghislandi, an expert in educational technologies and a lecturer in the Department of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Trento (where she is responsible for, among other things, an eLearning Design course). “Emergency education has fortunately made it possible to keep school and students in touch, but it does not have the characteristics that good e-learning should have: planning and design.”

In short, the DAD is a didactic transferred to the screen and not enhanced by the use of technology. “A bit like having a Ferrari on hand and not knowing how to drive it.” In fact, design – explains Ghislandi – enables you to give content its best form: it enables you to propose digital experiences that facilitate learning and acquisition of skills. And it is precisely the teacher designer who is the expert who constructs the content: “Think about communication methods, choose technology, the didactic strategies”.

Therefore, it is not a job for computer scientists. “Even though this is still a widespread stereotype: even among those who study psychology, there is no awareness that a psychologist can work in this sector,” comments Ligorio, who teaches psychology from e-learning. But a so-called Steam profession – Steam stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics – because multidisciplinary is the toolbox that the e-learning designer has to equip himself with. Indeed, methodological knowledge and skills, of a humanities and pedagogical nature, as well as technological, are needed to identify the best learning model, to pursue the training goal in that particular learning context. “To design online teaching staff, you need to know what it means to learn, what it means to be online, what mediated communication is, what it means to learn and learn through the use of technology,” Ligorio points out.

This is why Ghislandi and Ligorio welcomed the Instructional Designer Academy, the result of the collaboration between the Pragma Group and DidaelKTS, companies involved in digital learning, which contribute to the development of the sector, training with this initiative . Professionals who are able to develop products, and e-learning projects for companies, institutions, schools. A free course, because it is co-financed by the European Social Fund and is intended for residents of Friuli Venezia Giulia.

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