instructional design

What Instructional Designing and Education Consulting is NOT

So, what does an instructional designer/education consultant do? Let’s start with what these roles are not in the list below.

1. NOT a graphic designer

It happens a lot. A subject matter expert creates a 100 slide PowerPoint, then hands it off to the instructional designer to make it look pretty, or a request is made for the instructional designer to create a neat cover page for a report or handout. There are people who are gifted and trained in graphics, but instructional design is not about making a PowerPoint slide look good. Having background knowledge in Mayer’s multimedia principles helps, but it does not mean that we will be able to create cool graphics for you. We would be able to tell a client whether a graphic is effective in reinforcing information or if it will be a source of distraction or confusion.

2. NOT a product salesperson

A great salesperson can act as a consultant for a company, however at the end of the day that kind of consultant’s true job is to sell a product and earn a commission. An instructional designer serving as a consultant would see if there are readily available tools that will help achieve learning outcomes, and gather information on whether it would be more efficient and effective to outsource rather than develop instruction in-house.

3. NOT a learning management system administrator

Developing a course would be a role of an instructional designer. However, an organization may see that same person as the guy you go to for password resets, course reassignments, and uploading course records. Some companies may be small enough where the ID guy is also the IT guy running information technology.

4. NOT a “good presenter”

“Oh, yeah, he’s a great presenter!” could be a qualifier added to the introduction of a designer in meetings. Instructional designers come from all walks of life like many other professions. Some started as corporate training facilitators like myself, others came from an IT background, while others gained their experience in the Kindergarden through 12th Grade arena. We could easily rely on those past skills if needed, but that is not the core skill set that an instructional designer brings to the corporate table.

So, what is an instructional designer?

In short, an instructional designer is in a sense an education consultant who uses needs assessment to help an organization identify learning needs, then implement the appropriate learning tasks that will help meet those needs if any are needed in the first place.

When used correctly, an instructional designer can help a company effectively and efficiently utilize its training dollars to improve the bottom line. Correct use includes focusing on identifying gaps in performance, applying the right instruction if needed, and keeping the end in mind at all times. It is about creating the desired outcomes even if that means not using that cool video we saw on YouTube or holding back from creating a PowerPoint to upload into your learning management system to check a box. Many times, your instructional designer will help you recognize that training is not needed at all, and that it requires a change in tools, or process, or simply using what is already available.

When neglected or misused, you wind up with one of the roles listed above and do not truly effect change within the organization’s culture towards excellence. Your company winds up with someone who makes a living by convincing you that you always have to spend money on the next big thing in technology or education. A true education consultant with an instructional design background will work alongside your quality management team when they utilize the PDSA process.


Instructional Design Process That I Use

Instructional Design Process Jerry Dugan - New Page

Having a consistent process helps any instructor, facilitator, or public speaker create a lesson, workshop, or course that meets or exceeds the expectations of the audience.

I am sharing a diagram of the typical process I use when designing instruction or a presentation.

The core of the process is the A.D.D.I.E. Model, which stands for the following:

  • Analyze
  • Design
  • Develop
  • Implement
  • Evaluate

Interwoven in that model are the following pedagogy (learning theory), strategies, and other considerations:

Convert Your PowerPoint Slides into Exciting Visual Aids

We have all been there before. Someone has great information to present to a group, but poor PowerPoint slide design makes the presenter seem unprepared and un-knowledgeable.

It is even worse when the presenter uses those same slides as a crutch, turns his or her back to the audience and reads the slideshow to the audience until we have all fallen asleep.

While I can’t do anything to stop those presenters, this blog post can help you NOT BE one of “those people”.

3 Simple Tips to Remember About PowerPoint Slides:

  1. Slides are VISUAL AIDS, not speaker scripts! Speakers tend to use their PowerPoint slides as speaker scripts rather than as visual aids that support their talks and presentations. More graphics, less text. Visually speaking…THIS SLIDE
    Terrible before slide on money orders

    Terrible before slide on money orders.


    The original slide was broken up into three different, visually engaging slides.  This slide should help the message stick that a course is paid via money orders only.

    The original slide was broken up into three different, visually engaging slides. This slide should help the message stick that a course is paid via money orders only.


    CLICK HERE to see how the above slide was made.

    It’s okay to break up information from one slide into multiple slides. Remember, your slides are visual aids to make your points stick with the audience. Multi-modal presentations will present information verbally, visually, and kinetically as much as possible.

  2. If you have to convey a lot of text, or detailed graphs, use handouts and notes pages. A PowerPoint slideshow should be just one of many tools a presenter uses to convey a message.
    Untitled"Quite Possibly The World’s Worst PowerPoint Presentation Ever: A Demonstration of What NOT to do When Creating and Using PowerPoint Slide Shows" from Elmhurst.

    “Quite Possibly The World’s Worst PowerPoint Presentation Ever: A Demonstration of What NOT to do When Creating and Using PowerPoint Slide Shows” from Elmhurst.

    Something like this should be broken up into multiple slides with graphics if it is truly vital to the presentation, AND it should all be available in a handout that can be referenced in the presentation. Again, presenters should use the “Notes Page” function of PowerPoint if they have to remember a lot of text like this in the first place.

    Side Note: A little extra effort goes a long way. Rather than printing out your PowerPoint as “handouts”, take the time to create a high-quality two- or three-page handout. Includes some of the images from your PowerPoint for more stickiness of your points. Get extra kudos by leaving enough space in one margin for the note-takers in your audience.

  3. Know your stuff! If you appear prepared and can present off very little cues from your slides, you send a clear message that you know your stuff. Getting away from high-text, bullet-pointed slides benefits you as the presenter as much as the audience. You are freed up from having to remember what the next bullet point will say. Your images and graphics will help you tell a story that will stick. To get here, however, you have to take the time to rehearse a little. Close that office door, start the stopwatch, and run through your presentation a time or two.

Check Out These Great Examples

8 Best PowerPoint Presentations by Kasia Mikoluk on Udemy

Top 20 Best PowerPoint Presentation Designs by Cubicle Ninjas

Great Articles on Slideshow Design

Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 Rule for Presentations – Makes sense since learning should be an active process for the learner. Limit the lecture as much as possible and allow time for interaction, reflection, and active learning. TED Talks are less than 20 minutes, and contain few slides for a reason. The format works!

Making Better PowerPoint Presentations from Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching

Helpful Web 2.0 Tools – Where can you share those great slideshows? – Simple, free, and inspiring. I love receiving their e-newsletter with tips and examples of engaging slideshows. While I prefer Brainshark for the voiceover capability, Slideshare is easy-to-use, and easy-to-share. – Add voiceovers, give control to the viewer to skip to desired slides, include survey questions, quizzes, and integrate into your learning management system as a presentation, or embed into your website.

Wikimedia Commons – When I need something I can can’t create in my front yard, I can come to this website for a lot of Creative Commons content. Just be sure to give credit where credit is due.

PicMonkey – I just learned about this website, and I love it. PicMonkey is a free, easy-to-use photo-editing, web-based application. Did I mention it is free?! Here’s a sample of what I was able to create for my personal blog recently. Click here.

Got any questions? Comment Below and I’ll answer you through a future post. Thanks!

8 Characteristics of Effective Teams

“Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.” SEAL Team saying

The Wisdom of TeamsA team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, goals, and approach where there is
mutual accountability according to Katzenbach and Smith in their work titled The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization. Teamwork, therefore, is the process, dynamic, or activity of a team used to achieve a common end-game.


Teamwork is essential for instructors, training specialists and facilitators. Team members in the training and education environment include the organization itself (school, business, or community), the students who will participate in the education experience, and any subject matter experts and technical support.

Here are eight characteristics of effective teams:

  1. The team must have a clear, specific goal. Why have the training or instruction at all?
  2. The team must have a results-driven structure. What are your Bloom’s Taxonomy-driven objectives to achieve the training goal? (ABCD Objectives)
  3. The team must have competent team members.
  4. The team must have unified commitment. This is where having a clear, specific goal is important. It is the glue that holds the team together.
  5. The team must have a collaborative climate.
  6. The team must have high standards that are understood by all.
  7. The team must receive external support and encouragement. External support would include the management or leadership of an organization, but could include technical resources like the IT Department or maintenance or custodial team.
  8. The team must have principled leadership.

It is when teams have competent members with clear and specific direction that they are able to achieve more than what any one individual could have accomplished. Effective teamwork allows for synergy of skills and exponential results of the team’s efforts.

Competent Team Members

In order for teams to experience success, it is important that individual team members have the following characteristics: communication, commitment, and responsible decision-making skills.

Open, honest communication is vital both horizontally among other team members as well as vertically with leadership and subordinates. Communication allows teams to make adjustments as information and situations change, and align the team’s efforts towards the common purpose or goal.

Lack of communication results in a product that is merely a hodge-podge of poorly connected efforts, whereas effective communication creates a finished product that is seamless.

Commitment is required of team members who are willing to set aside individual gain for the sake of the greater good and success of the team. Team members who are committed to the team are able to keep their efforts and the efforts of other team members focused on the task at hand.

A team member’s effect on a team is only as good as that team member’s ability to make sound decisions. Good communication and commitment can be undermined by a member who consistently makes poor decisions and judgments in a project (Thornton, 2009.) One example of a good, sound decision, is to complete assigned tasks as early as possible so that other project components can come together in a timely fashion allowing for any necessary adjustments, or communicating with the rest of the team early when a delay is possible.

Works Cited

“Building Blocks for Teams.” Building Blocks for Teams. Ed. Elizabeth J. Pyatt. Penn State University. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <>.

Larson, Carl E., and Frank M. J. LaFasto. Teamwork: What Must Go Right, What Can Go Wrong. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE Publications, 1989. Print.


Thornton, Shane. “Effective Teamwork Skills.” EHow. Demand Media, 04 Sept. 2009. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <>.