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It’s No Accident


Sun May 21 2023

It’s No Accident

Lifelong learning is a choice.

“My best advice for those in this field: Pay attention, experiment, and be prepared for things to KEEP changing,” explains Cammy Bean in a Crystal Balling With Learnnovators interview. “AI is getting built into all the tools we already use and our workflows will continue to evolve. So don’t resist it—resistance is futile, after all.”


Bean is well known within the L&D community for her books The Accidental Instructional Designer, 1st and 2nd editions. She’s also the author of several TD magazine articles and is a digital learning professional and senior solutions consultant at Kineo.

Like other individuals, L&D professionals can get too focused on the bells and whistles and cool capabilities of technology. Bean cautions, “Someone getting into ID who is starting as a course builder using a tool like Storyline may make the mistake of trying to build courses that have all the functionality and all the animation and all the clicking. Don’t over-architect the learner experiences you design.”

She adds: “Just because a tool has an interactive type or cool feature doesn’t mean you should make use of it. I call it ‘avoiding the trap of clicky-clicky bling-bling.’ Instead, focus on designing a learning experience that supports the learner to be able to do what you need on the job and avoid all the ‘jazz hands’ distractions that can actually depress learning outcomes.”

Bean is helping guide attendees at ATD23 and facilitated two sessions on Sunday, May 21. During “Best Practices for the Accidental Instructional Designer,” she shared core tips on how attendees can quickly improve their skills in writing better experiences and designing more effective digital learning interactions.

Also on Sunday, Bean was in the ATD Career Center leading “Charting Your Career Path in L&D: From Instructional Designer to Where?” Many of those in L&D joined the profession quite by accident. Is there something else in the future for you, a somewhat divergent road within the field you’d like to explore?


Bean’s session discussed the Talent Development Capability Model to inspire attendees to think about how they may grow and where their skills may shine, and she spoke about her theory, the four pieces of the “learning pie.”

“For those of you getting into the training and instructional design field, think about the big picture that makes up this field. I talk about it in terms of gaining proficiency in the four pieces of pie that make up our practice: learning, creativity, technology, and business. Within each of these pieces of pie, there’s a lot to drill down into.”

A well-rounded practitioner typically develops a deep “sweet spot” where they focus their skill development, states Bean. “When I got started, my focus was on writing and experience design (creative), and I started understanding learning objectives and Bloom’s taxonomy (learning). We were a high-end custom shop, and \[although\] I left the technology pieces to others, I did have to take on project management and client communication (business).”

Bean suggests that L&D practitioners know their own strengths within the learning pie. “In the 27 years I’ve been in the industry,” she shares, “I’ve grown into all of these pieces a little bit at a time, and I continue to find new areas to learn more about. Lately, I’ve been reading and learning about data and analytics, which is definitely not my sweet spot and not something I would have thought I’d ever be all that interested in. Don’t feel you have to take it all on all at once. You’ve got time—especially if you stick around in this field. The opportunities for growth and development are practically endless.”

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