One of the cool things about instructional design work is that you can find it in a lot of different places. We tend to look to education and workplace training offices first, but related work is found in universities, private organizations, government agencies, and non-profits. You can work online or in an office, and sometimes there is the opportunity to travel. Joining a community or network made up of other instructional design professionals can help reveal some of these opportunities. This kind of group can also assist with exploration of the field and provide specific advice on work related questions. As a member of these groups you can also be the one to provide advice and answer questions based on your experiences. At its best, this networking involves sharing across the board.
There are a number of professional organizations that focus on instructional design and instructional technology in education and training. Membership usually comes with a fee (but there are a few that offer free options with limited services and/or discounts for full-time students). Previous posts have listed some of these organizations and conferences – check out Professional Conferences – ID, IT, Distance Ed and Jobs in Instructional Design and Technology.
Online communities can be good sources of networking. LinkedIn offers a Group feature. You can join groups that focus on your areas of interest. Since this is primarily a professional networking site, you’ll see job listings as well as information, resources, and advice. A few groups you might consider:
- Instructional Systems Design Professionals – this group requires that you “be an instructional systems designer (ISD) or training specialist with at least 1 year experience; or have a degree in Instructional Design or a similar field.” Recent discussion topics include communities of practice, job leads, and conference updates.
- Instructional Design and eLearning Professionals – focuses on online education and training. Recent discussions include a debate about the importance of instructional design certificates and degrees, storyboarding templates, and research and multimedia.
- eLearning Guild – other associations have LinkedIn presence as well. This group uses the space to advertise upcoming events and foster discussion and exchange of ideas. Recent discussions also include the future of the LMS and “must have” development tools.
Don’t limit yourself to groups or organizations with instructional design in the title. These are a great place to start, but then consider branching out – there are also groups focused on Project Management, Social Media… where is your niche? What do you want to learn more about? Where could you offer your expertise to others? A recent post on Twitter suggested that the future of education will come from outside traditional education circles, suggesting the need to look beyond our own groups, conferences, etc.
[If you are already active in LinkedIn – I’m interested in connecting with you out there! http://www.linkedin.com/in/melissavenable – use linkedin at design-doc dot com]
A lot of education and training professionals are active on Twitter! They provide information, links to resources, and general observations about their experiences in instructional design and technology and the realities of getting the work done. Add these folks to your Twitter feed and join in the conversations. A few to get you started:
Share Your Networks
What networks are your favorites? Where are the good discussions and connections taking place? Who are your favorites on Twitter? Please consider sharing those places and people you recommend.
Image credit: ciro@tokyo, Flickr