Thursday, February 10, 2011

Could you imagine Architects or Accountants having this discussion?

Do you need an instructional design degree? This is an argument that comes up about every 3-4 months in the instructional design field. This time it's on Tom Kuhlmann's Rapid eLearning Blog. Tom does a good job of indicating how you can do it without a degree and the benefits of getting a degree.

I'm not doubting the skills of the many that have commented about how they have succeeded without a degree, but also have some thoughts about why a degree is necessary.

For those that have been working in the field for a while, the need for a degree is most likely not as important, especially if you're someone who's not "afraid" of technology or experimenting with new ideas. But, if you're looking to move positions in the company or move to a new company, that degree may be handy.

If you are a career changer or careet starter, YOU NEED A DEGREE! You will not get the breadth of knowledge that you will receive in a graduate degree program from books, tutorials and social networks. You may be able to develop a specific expertise, but what happens when the next project isn't exactly like the project before it?

Degree or not, you need to keep learning in this field. So, even if you don't feel the degree is required, it would benefit you to get it . . . or at least take some classes. Formal, credit classes can be another tool in your personal learning. If you're not participating in some sort of professional development on at least a yearly basis, you are not going to advance your practice in the field.

Finally, whether you agree with any of my previous statements or not, I suggest we think of our profession as a whole when having this debate.

The instructional design field will not advance nor will the ID position indicate any expertise, specific skillset or explicit value to those outside the discipline until those doing the work are properly and similarly credentialed.

Could you imagine Architects or Accountants having this discussion?

Yes, there is "Trainer." But, that's outdated. Otherwise, an instructional designer in one organization is most likely not doing the same tasks, nor requires the same skillset as an instructional design in another organization in the current environment.

Maybe a degree isn't the ultimate indicator, but at least a recognized national certification is needed so that others know what we do and that "you" have undergone some type of preparation to do it.

Unfortunately, this national standard does not currently exist.