teamwork in education

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:

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. <>.