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Online Instructional Design Training and Certification Programs

Instructional designers create materials, both printed and computer-based, for instructors and teachers to facilitate courses. Online instructional design training and certificate programs may help a participant advance to higher positions in schools or businesses.

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Essential Information

Instructional designers, also called instructional coordinators, work to develop instructional materials that are later used in the classroom. They can help create and coordinate curricula and teach educators how to best implement those curricula. Instructional designers are typically required to have a master's degree. However, individuals who already have a degree in a related field can complete an online training or certificate program in instructional design. Some schools allow students to complete online certificate programs in instructional design while concurrently working towards a degree in education.

Online Instructional Design Training and Certificate Program Overview

Instructional designers create everything from print materials, to webinars, to self-paced e-learning products. They may focus on improving existing curriculum or starting from scratch with new instructional technologies. Online instructional design training programs focus on instructional strategies, project management, assessment methods and designing computer-based training materials; some such programs focus specifically on adult learning theory.

Certificate programs in instructional design are more common at the graduate level and in many cases may be completed as part of a master's degree program in education. Many such programs are designed for working professionals, and a background in training and development is helpful to prospective students. Programs may be tailored to current school personnel already possessing a license or to training and development professionals desiring credentials in instructional design.

Some programs have no educational prerequisites for non-degree students, while others may require a bachelor's degree. Students pursuing an instructional design certificate as part of a master's degree program may need to fulfill additional admissions requirements, which can include a bachelor's degree in a related field.

Program Information and Requirements

Online graduate certificate programs in instructional design include 12-18 credit hours of courses and, depending on course load, generally take from six months to one year to complete. Many certificate programs in this field can be completed entirely online, with no on-campus requirements. Most online programs utilize a course management system, such as Blackboard, which allows distance-learning students to access course materials, turn in assignments and communicate with classmates and instructors.

Online students need a computer with Internet access, and a high-speed connection is typically recommended. Additionally, most schools require an e-mail account, and, less commonly, access to a fax machine. Students lacking in strong computer skills may need to take a prerequisite course in this area. Other computer-related requirements may include a specific amount of free disk space, word processing program, operating system and processor speed.

List of Common Instructional Design Courses

Curriculum in these certificate programs focuses on enhancing skills in designing efficient and effective instructional materials. Courses vary by school and by specialization, such as technology or multimedia, but some are common to every program.

Instructional Design and Development Course

Participants develop skills for analyzing the teaching and learning process using instructional design principles and practices. Practical application, theory and models are used to teach design team roles, historical development, learning systems and professional terminology.

Web and Distance Delivery Computer Applications Course

The focus of this course is on critical concepts and issues, technologies, practices and theoretical foundations of distance education. Computer systems and software, Web-based language, graphics and movies are also covered.

Instructional System and Technology Research and Management Course

This course concentrates on learning and research in instructional requirements, learning situations, learner characteristics, project management, instructional delivery platforms, knowledge management tools and instructional material production. Participants also study task and needs analysis and design coordination of instructional systems and technology.

Career Information for Graduates

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that instructional coordinators earned a median annual wage of $60,050 in May 2012 (www.bls.gov). Also per the BLS, employment in this field is expected to grow by 13% between 2012 and 2022, due to the emphasis on quality of education and an increased need for workers to meet the demands of a changing society. According to a 2009 Learning Executives Confidence Index released by the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), roughly 60% of professionals in the field of education predict that virtual lesson delivery and online learning is on the rise (www.astd.org).

Continuing Education Information

An advanced degree in instructional design is desirable to most employers. Master's degree programs in instructional design are available, and elective credit hours in certificate programs usually apply to a Master of Science in Instructional Design. In addition, the ASTD offers 16 different training programs in nine instructional design specialties. These training programs require work experience and passing of knowledge-based exams for certification.

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