The Lonely Elearning designer

The Lonely E-Learning Designer

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

From time to time, all instructional designers have considered their job to be an “austere and lonely office,” to borrow the words of poet Robert Hayden. Even if we are lucky enough to be part of an instructional design and development team, when the brainstorming and collaboration are done, it is each of us alone facing the fear of the blank screen and trying to do our best for our learners.

What keeps us going? How do we keep ourselves motivated? 

Everyone’s answer is different, but I can tell you one thing that motivates me when all else fails: ATD’s e-learning instructional design certificate programs. I have the privilege of teaching these courses every couple of months, and I always leave them feeling energized, hopeful for our industry, and recommitted to my job as an instructional designer. 

First of all, it is wonderful to be in a room full of instructional designers! It’s especially wonderful when those instructional designers are talented and committed and seek to do great work for their learners. Picture yourself at a table with three other people who do exactly what you do. And there are five other tables in the room with people who do exactly what the people at your table do. Imagine what it would be like to share and problem solve with all of them. Sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? 

Well, that’s exactly what you get to do in this program. Under the guidance of an experienced facilitator, you’ll learn the principles of good instructional design for e-learning. Then you’ll get to work together to use those principles to solve real-life instructional problems. 


The programs are a safe place to raise issues and get ideas from facilitators and participants. In every class, there is someone who is struggling with: 

  • making compliance training more than check-off-the-box
  • creating engaging interfaces and media
  • finding key motivators to get your audience’s attention
  • moving from the dreaded “text/next/test” construction of e-learning courses
  • designing courses that are learner centered rather than content centered
  • starting the instructional design process with a sketch and iterating from there
  • following better processes for instructional design, such as SAM. 

In the spirit of full disclosure, yes, this is an “advertisement” for a course I feel passionate about. I don’t make any more money if the course is a success. But I do get recharged and reinvigorated every time I teach it. And for a time, my role is neither lonely nor austere, but full of learning, laughter, and the camaraderie that comes from shared experiences. 

If you don’t want to take my word for it, read some testimonials from past participants of E-Learning Instructional Design. As you will see on the website, the class is rated 4.5 out of 5, with 1,439 people responding. 

Please take a moment to check out the E-Learning Instructional Design Certificate and Advanced E-Learning Instructional Design Certificate programs, and encourage your colleagues to do the same. If you have any questions about the programs we teach, I would be happy to answer them or find someone who can answer them for you. My colleagues and I hope to see you in one of the upcoming 2016 programs in Orlando, Denver, Raleigh-Durham, Chicago, Alexandria, Minneapolis, Morristown, Dallas, Atlanta, New York, or Washington, D.C. We also can schedule a class on-site just for you and your organization. 

Even if you’re the only instructional designer in your organization, you’re not alone. Supportive colleagues are as close to you as the next ATD Education program.


About the Author
Linda Rening is the Studio Executive for Studio K at Allen Interactions. She has more than 25 years of experience in learning and education, both in the public and private sectors. As part of her work she has designed e-learning courses, conducted training seminars, developed multiple curricula, facilitated meetings and conferences, and consulted to a variety of national and international clients..... Linda has been providing learning solutions to customers, across multiple industries, since 1995.  Before coming to Allen Interactions, Linda was Learning Strategy Director at BI where she created high-level learning strategies and helped design learning solutions.  Prior to that, Linda was the Senior Learning Designer for BI’s Learning Group and worked closely with clients to design and deliver training solutions. Her previous work was with Carlson Learning Company as the Manager of New Product Development. She also has experience in publishing and was Editorial Director of CompCare Publishers. Linda holds a Bachelors degree in English Education, a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and a PhD in Educational Administration from the University of Minnesota. She has wide experience designing both e-learning and Instructor-led training.
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