Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How to go from Teacher to Instructional Designer

Almost two years ago to the date, I quit my job as high school English teacher.  It was October and I did not have a plan other than to leave the teaching profession.  And now I have been blessed with a job as an instructional designer, where I design and facilitate professional development courses for community college faculty.  It took me 14 months to find a permanent job, and here is what I learned along the way:

1. Learn an eLearning software program.  You don't have to be an expert, but at least learn it enough to have a working knowledge.  As far as eLearning software goes, Captivate seems to be the most marketable, but a lot of companies use Articulate as well. You can get a 30-day free trial from the company, but I suggest you eventually purchase your own if you  really want to learn the program.  As a teacher, you can get most software for a third of the price.  The regular price for Captivate is $1099, but the education pricing is only $349.
Visit the Adobe site for more information.

I spent about two weeks learning the basics of Adobe Captivate.  The following books were really helpful:
Adobe Captivate the Essentials
Adobe Captivate Beyond the Essentials

2.  Make sure that you are familiar with an LMS.  If you are a high school teacher, you probably have access to Moodle or Blackboard.  Make sure that you use it!  If you do not have access to an LMS, you can learn Blackboard by creating your own free courses it at Course Sites.

3. Don't wait for a job in your field to begin adding things your portfolio or to create a portfolio.  You can create your own lessons and courses and add them to your online portfolio.  While  I was out of work, I created a Captivate tutorial and added it to my portfolio. When  I later interviewed for a job in training in the human resources department at a state agency,  I didnt get the job, but they were so impressed with my portfolio that they created a temp job for me. That particular state agency actually used Articulate, but they figured if I could use Captivate I could easily learn Articulate.  Eventually, they attempted to create permanent job for me there, but I declined because it involved too much travel.

4. Consider Going Back to School-Look into getting a Master's Degree in Instructional Technology or an eLearning graduate-level certificate. There are many reputable online programs out there.

5. Keep the faith-As a Christian, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the role that my faith and spirituality had in me finding a job.  When I left my job two years ago, my husband asked me "What's your plan?"  My principle said, "I'm just worried that you don't have a plan." I had no idea what I would do; I didn't even know that there was a job out there like mine that even existed.  And they way that things unfolded, and how I ended up at the place that I am now, God clearly had a plan and I am grateful.

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