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The term ‘Learning Designer’ (LD) isn’t an easy one to define. In fact, a poll by the Association for Talent Development and International Association for Continuing Education and Training actually saw 31% of LDs state that their job title doesn’t accurately describe what they do. Given the expanding demand for online learning solutions, and the various trends which the industry must adapt to, there is an increasing expectation for LDs to be able to ‘do it all’ – but what are the fundamental requirements of a top-tier LD?

Some of the most obvious LD essentials include:

  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Understanding of learning theory and learning models
  • Organisation and time management
  • Attention to detail
  • Learning design experience and knowledge of presentation and development tools

However, there are some additional skills which can set a learning designer apart, taking a project from ‘good’ to ‘great’. Here are our top five overlooked learning designer must-haves:

1. Collaboration

While Learning Designers are expected to use their initiative to research a subject and create the required project documents, ultimately, no LD is an island! In order for a learning solution to stand out, LDs should work collaboratively with the project team to ensure that the development process is smooth and that details set out in storyboarding translate accurately to the real thing! Additionally, LDs should work closely with any project Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to add further value and depth to the content and understand how best to relay the information in an e-learning context.

2. Resourcefulness

Due to the responsibility of drawing up project scripts and storyboards, LDs can be viewed as the middle-men between the expectations set out in the initial stages of a project and the finished solution. During those initial stages, terms are set for the project – ie the development tool, technical specification, mixed media requirements, budget and deadline. Ultimately, LDs have a responsibility to apply the resources of a project creatively and effectively, to ensure that a solution achieves its objectives and stands out, whilst staying within the agreed specification.

3. Diligence

LDs are in charge of the content for a project and that process does not end with the storyboarding stage. Not only should an LD conduct their own research to develop a thorough understanding of the project subject matter prior to storyboarding, they should also keep an eye on changes and requests made throughout the process which may have a knock-on effect for the course content at large.

4. Creative problem-solving

In an ideal world, all projects would be in-scope, on time and within budget – but the best LDs will tell you that the ability to respond creatively and reach compromises as a result of problems in a project is an essential part of the job! The ability to find effective solutions whilst staying true to course objectives and requirements is crucial.

5. Passion for ‘how’ we learn

LDs should be able to approach projects from the target learner’s perspective, and design a solution which will meet that individual’s needs. They should also have the adaptability and intellect to delve into a vast range of subjects and transform any source material into an effective, engaging and accessible learning solution. Ultimately, it is an LD’s passion for learning itself, which enables them to make the learning they produce meaningful to others.

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