ATD Blog

A Little Backyard Gymnastics

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

When I was a child growing up in rural Indiana, I spent many afternoons in the backyard twirling and tumbling and throwing myself around to teach myself flips and tricks. I didn’t know the terminology for what I was doing. I didn’t know the proper techniques required to execute anything well (or with grace I might add). What I did know was how to roll up my sleeves and dive right in.   Years later, my parents enrolled me in a gymnastics class where I learned that I had been cartwheeling and back-hand-springing around the edges of our lawn. I suddenly understood what I was doing from an alternative point of view.  

This childhood experience mirrors my relationship with instructional design. A lot of what we do as trainers and facilitators is instinctual, but having the technical understanding of the choices we make in our design process gives us more opportunities to enhance our designs and gain buy-in from key stakeholders. It allows us to create effective training programs that are high quality and outcome driven. 

A Proper Introduction to Instructional Design 

Design—v. to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan. 


The Introduction to Instructional Design Certificate at ATD is a crash course in designing a training program from start to finish. Whether you’re a facilitator wanting to understand the ins and outs of designing a learner-centered course or you’re serving both roles as facilitator and designer, this course is quite simply a game changer. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I wish I could see a project come together from start to finish,” then this course is a perfect fit. 

My first foray into instructional design left me hungry for more. I gained the ability to assign language to how I was creating and modifying my courses, and I was able to experience things such as needs assessment (which I love) and creating learning objectives (which I love to hate). I was able to walk in the shoes of the instructional designer, which not only built my skill set but allowed me to enter into future facilitation events with an appreciation and understanding of how the content arrived at the place that it did. 


Just as my backyard gymnastics turned into a championship-winning cheerleading career by the time I went to college, I learned that with a little effort you can make big things happen—even if you’re a little clueless about what’s what at the start. 

The tools and templates gathered from this course give structure and will assist you in future instructional design projects. My favorite aspect of this course is the focus is on outcome, as opposed to content, which supports learner-centered design. And when we design with the learner in mind, engagement happens naturally.

About the Author

Carrie Addington is the senior manager of learning experience and facilitator development at ATD and facilitates a variety of ATD Education programs. She is a talent development leader, facilitator, and people development coach with more than 12 years of experience in facilitating large-scale training and developing outcome-based learning experiences that aim to inform, involve, inspire, and impact. Carrie is passionate about using her love of language and the arts to work with individuals on establishing deeper connections with their daily work. Carrie has worked with a wide variety of business segments, including retail, beauty, education, and nonprofits, and has worked with C-level executives, directors, managers, and high potentials.

Carrie has delivered on topics ranging from energetic accountability, leadership, and great feedback to cross-generational communication, resolving conflict, and facilitation skills. She is a part of the coaching network with the prominent, global executive leadership and management company, the Mind Gym, and is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. As a certified ATD Master Trainer and ATD Master Instructional Designer, Carrie is knowledgeable about both the development and delivery of outcome-based learning programs.

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