“Everybody in this country should learn to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think”
— Steve Jobs
I’ve had the opportunity to work with other instructional designers who have been assigned the task of developing eLearning after years of only designing instructor led training. I don’t envy these folks. Not only do you need to build off the foundation of all that you have learned as instructional designers, but there is a technical aspect to the job that isn’t easy to come by.
I was reminded of the process that I go through, while listening to an early interview with Steve Jobs who was talking about how everyone in the country (United States) should learn to program a computer. He felt that this would teach people how to think. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to review another eLearning designer’s work who rather than just working the problem and breaking it down into smaller chunks, they spend great effort coming up with complex solutions. These complex solutions become overly complex on their own that they often create all new problems for the designer to have to solve.
Here is my advice to designers who may find themselves in this situation in the near future; take an introductory course in computer programming. It’s not that you need to learn to code to design eLearning but it teaches you to look at a problem a certain way. I’ve learned this skill and when you think this way, simple code like solutions come to you that are easy to implement. You learn to look at a problem and break it down into easy to understand chunks. From there you can apply what you already know about creating solutions to problems. You soon discover that these problems broken down into smaller steps are not so different than the solutions you have created before.
Don’t have the resources for this? Sign up for a trial of Lynda.com and enroll in one of the many programming courses they offer. If you spend a few hours a day for the seven days that you get for a free trial, I think you have enough under your belt to begin to think the way Steve Jobs described.
By the way, the interview I watched is here if you want to watch it: