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Are Instructional Designers Educators?

This question can be deceptively polarizing. In my experience, I found that the answer to this question may be slightly clearer depending on the sector the instructional designer is immersed in. For example, in higher ed, instructional designers may be more aligned with output in a classroom, lending more to a designation as an educator. However, in corporate circles, some can have a very difficult time calling instructional designers “educators”. In the corporate sector, there usually is no physical classroom for the most part. And according to some, only teachers can be educators.

My position that instructional designers are educators. While instructional design is not the same as teaching, IDs definitely play a vital role in delivering education and instruction to learners. IDs are often behind the scenes analyzing instructional problems and designing interventions, whether they be instructional or communication. Because they are usually not front-facing, sometimes there can be a hesitation to deem them educators, despite their credentials.

Why is this important? Especially in the corporate world, it can impact many things. One of these impacts can be the qualifications of resources allowed to be hired. On a larger level, it indicates a break in the understanding of the goal of a corporate instructional design team and training program. This can, and often does, mean the difference between an effective corporate training program and one that is often met with road blocks and misunderstanding of mission.

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