In Instructional Design, the “Tech” is Easy, Right?

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When will people learn?

There’s a discussion going on one of my LinkedIn lists again (ELearning 2.0) about whether or not instructional designers need to know tech. To be fair, there are quite a few people who have chimed in to say YES. Of course, these are all people who actually HAVE some real tech background. Those who don’t are the ones saying it isn’t needed.

One commenter came right out and said they thought it was easy to hire the tech, but, of course, the ID is HARD (emphasis mine).


No wonder tech guys have no respect for the education types.

I’ll admit that it is difficult to get the pedagogy right. BUT, it’s ALSO difficult to get the tech right. That’s partly why there is so much mediocre elearning out there.

There is a tendency among educationists to dismiss the “tech” as something that’s easy to hire done. After all, the medium is simply the vehicle for the instruction, no? This approach implies a lack of respect for (and understanding of) the technical part of the design and ultimately restricts the overall design to only that which is permitted/easy based on the currently available applications. Describing the tech as “easy” reinforces the lack of respect most tech folks have for people in education.

As someone who has decades of experience in BOTH, dismissing either one as “easy to hire” is a mistake.

Truly sound design requires a proper synergy of both, and that requires a thorough understanding of the technology (and not just how to use apps*) AND of the pedagogy. It also requires respect for the body of knowledge that exists on BOTH sides.

I’m primarily an instructional designer these days, but I know enough tech to command the respect of the tech people who work for me, and I KNOW what’s easy, what’s hard, and what’s possible. In return, my tech people respect me for what I know about pedagogy.

*It’s no coincidence that the majority of the world’s greatest race car drivers are also mechanics. Without a thorough understanding of how the engine, suspension, etc. works and behaves, it is impossible to take advantage of what that machine has to offer. The same idea applies to technology.

I would recommend reading  Douglas Rushkoff’s book: Program or be Programmed

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