Instructional Design wannabe....
January 13, 2011 8:51 AM   Subscribe

Instructional Designer HTML filter.......
Are there any Instructional Designers/e-learning folks out there that are using HTML daily for their work? I am a student attending a Bachelor of Science progam in Instructional Design. I have just shy of 2 years before I graduate, but I would like to move into some capacity of working in the field before I graduate. I have some experience in creating websites, but would like to get a feel of some of the daily duties that you have in the field. There's seems to be so many technologes that one needs to know and I just wanted to see how much HTML/CSS knowledge that someone works with in an ID role. I am a desktop support analyst now and have been in IT for 10 years so I have a tech background. I just want to get a feel for how much HTML/CSS I should know or if folks in the field rely on Dreamweaver more, etc. Thanks.
posted by gregjunior to Technology (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I worked as a writer/ID for a couple of years. We had a web development team that I would hand off wireframes to, and they would do all of the development work. I don't think I ever had to do a lick of HTML. We were more responsible for using things like Visio and PowerPoint.

Caveat: this was a horribly broken organization that no longer exists in the form it was when I worked there. It's likely that we were doing things completely the wrong way.
posted by slogger at 9:01 AM on January 13, 2011

Seconding slogger. In the e-learning organization I worked for the ID's handed off wireframes created in PPT to graphic designers who designed the actual interface and graphics who then handed off to developers who wrote the code.

No ID or graphic designer touched code.
posted by pixlboi at 9:32 AM on January 13, 2011

Thirding! I will say, it might depend on who your clients are, but our company does a mix of government and private/commercial sector and I've had to use next to no HTML. What I have had to use was extremely basic (i.e., links, bold, center, etc.) and easily googleable.
posted by Flamingo at 9:39 AM on January 13, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for getting back. Perhaps I should clarify that I am interested in doing development roles, versus analysis, design or implementation.

When I review job postings, I see titles such as Instructional Design specialist/Technologist etc, and these types of job duties are usually in the roles area:

-Designing online modules, incorporating a variety of instructional tools, including HTML pages, graphics, streaming video & audio, and flash animation.

That sounds more like what I would be interested in, but I just wanted to get a feel for what level of HTML knowledge/Flash experience one would need for this, by someone that is in a similar role.

What it boils down is that if I wanted to get a job doing these kinds of duties, how much experience does one need?
posted by gregjunior at 9:41 AM on January 13, 2011

I worked full-time on Web development (and even e-learning) from 1998-2003. In my experience, no developer ever used a WYSIWYG tool like Dreamweaver. I wore many hats, from graphic designer to developer and started writing the HTML myself. I now teach graphic design and can usually get my students up and running with HTML/CSS in a few lessons. Now, obviously knowing all the ins and outs takes longer, but getting started is not bad.
posted by Slothrop at 9:45 AM on January 13, 2011

In my experience (10 years and counting at this point), knowing Flash or third party tools like Captivate or Articulate is more important than knowing HTML and CSS. Some basic knowledge of HTML is useful, but you are probably not going to be using CSS at 4 AM to make a layout pixel perfect. And I haven't used Dreamweaver and Coursebuilder since 2002. They made clumsy, bloated sites which were much less engaging than Flash modules.

I have found that in Canada, at least, I'm doing more ID work and seeing the Flash development outsourced. Clients want more eLearning, but they also want to keep costs down.

If you do want to turn your hand to development, you should know:

- Flash and ActionScript.
- How to work with a Learning Management System (LMS) and the client side coding needed to communicate with the back end. Some type of SCORM-compliant LMSs work pretty well perfectly out of the box, as the HTML/JavaScript wrappers for the finished course can communicate with the back end smoothly, but others may need troubleshooting.
- More and more clients want rapid development, which means learning one or more of Captivate, Articulate, Lectura, and others. These won't be as flexible as Flash, but you can get satisfactory results in less time. And you get to develop instead of leaving it all to someone several time zones away.

Soft skills and useful sites:

- Learn how to really listen to clients and understand their needs. Know what you can and cannot reasonably deliver. Practice your "Oh, you really don't need an avatar" speech. Friends don't let friends (or clients) rappel into the Uncanny Valley.
- The Rapid eLearning Blog (produced by the people who make Articulate, but still a good general resource)
- Cathy Moore has little patience for the usual corporate bumpf. I like her.
posted by maudlin at 10:11 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm currently an ID'er in a training dep't within a large corp. and about 75% of our ID work is developing e-learning (the other 25% being instructor-led training).

On the e-learning front, we do it all, from analyzing the initial request, to developing objectives, outlining the course, storyboarding, and then developing the e-learning course (including recording audio, creating graphics, whatever is needed). (ID is actually a pretty kick-ass field because there are soooo many facets to it, so congrats on your choice of profession : )

FWIW, we use Lectora for our e-learning development, which doesn't require you to know code, but does allow you to use it to some extent for customization. I don't get the impression that many organizations use Dreamweaver for e-learning development.

I was a web developer prior to becoming an ID'er and - - to answer your question - - I find my old HTML and CSS skills valuable almost daily. Most of my fellow ID'ers here aren't so familiar with HTML/CSS, and they often call on me for help. Typically it's simple stuff, too (tweaking margin sizes, implementing custom background colors, etc.).

But it's not just Lectora where it's applicable. We use a different platform for assessments, we also use Adobe Captivate, and the whole company uses SharePoint. In all of these (and other apps), you don't have to know HTML/CSS, but there are instances where it can be utilized, and it often makes the difference between settling for out-of-the-box functionality and getting the interface to behave in just the way you want. Hell, I'd say that it's generally just a good thing for anyone to know if they are regularly developing anything that will appear in a browser!

tl;dr...HTML and CSS knowledge are definitely beneficial in the ID world and you'll find many other uses for them as well.
posted by see_change at 10:12 AM on January 13, 2011

It might totally depend on the establishment you're hired at.

Our Instructional Designers major jobs is HTML. They develop and create the html pages that go into our learning management system
posted by royalsong at 10:46 AM on January 13, 2011

Also chiming in to say I encounter Captivate/ Articulate most ofter for the actual course materials. But, knowing HMTL/CSS will be useful for working within whatever online CMS actually delivers the courses.
posted by Wossname at 10:54 AM on January 13, 2011

I work in a relatively small training department where we do all our own design and development. The tools we use use most are Toolbook, Camtasia, Robohelp, Flash, and yes, PowerPoint. We really don't do anything that requires direct HTML or CSS coding except maybe posting information and links on our intranet site. So while it is useful to know, it's not fundamental.
posted by platinum at 12:02 PM on January 13, 2011

My husband is a learning management system administrator and the IDs where he works use wyswyg tools like captivate and contribute. That said, a working knowledge of html and css area always advisible because it is helpful to be able to at least understand the code and maybe tweak it a little when the wyswyg tool is being a pain (and they all are at some point).
posted by Kimberly at 12:47 PM on January 13, 2011

I'm the husband... we use Contribute (ugh), which is little more than a basic HTML editor. We're moving to Lectora shortly, so we plan on creating more robust content.

I support the content development efforts, so I do rely on my rudimentary HTML skills and my Google-fu for some of the more advanced requests. I'm usually tweaking content at least once per week.

Personally, I would recommend that anyone getting into e-Learning (the ID side or the administration side) have at least a working knowledge of HTML and/or CSS.
posted by Jim T at 2:24 PM on January 13, 2011

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