Friday, January 6, 2012

Skills for Success in the Knowledge Society

The work of the instructional designer is crucial in the emerging knowledge society. We are knowledge workers- processing information and sharing knowledge in the form of instruction. But how can we anticipate the best way to prepare for work as instructional designers in the future? What general skills and abilities will be relevant and meaningful to instructional designers in the future? (For more field-specific competencies, there are many lists of competencies described by different professional organizations and societies, and these lists are crucial. I now refer to general skills pertinent to successful work in the knowledge society.)

The Institute for the Future recently published a list of 10 skills for the future, which is reviewed nicely here. I list below the few (in my own words) that I find most interesting:
  • Gain competency in many disciplines - in the knowledge society, people must see how things connect and work together. I have found that as an instructional designer, I design instruction more efficiently when I am competent in (or at least understand) the subject matter. In addition, being able to see the connection between what I am doing and the rest of the organization increases my value, purpose, and ability to act effectively.
  • Be able to process and make sense of information - there is so much information, we must learn how to draw coherent conclusions from the deluge of information. This includes understanding and coping with information from multiple sources and media. As an instructional designer, making sense of a topic or a field is crucial, and those fields grow and change, being able to make sense of and design around that field becomes crucial.
  • Be able to communicate effectively - this includes communication across cultures and using many different media. It also includes a sense of social intelligence. Instructional designers communicate endlessly with peers, students, subject-matter-experts, management, and many others. Having social intelligence and the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently is vital, and cultural competence in our global economy is also crucial.
  • Be able to design and create - as knowledge workers, we must be able to create knowledge and tools that are useful and help others to succeed and find meaning in the future. Clearly this relates directly to instructional design- we translate information into instruction so that our learners can use that knowledge- and we must learn to do it as efficiently and effectively as possible.
What do you think? Will these competencies be important to instructional designers of the future? Or have they always been important to instructional design? Does this partial list give us guidance on how we might develop ourselves as designers and plan for the future?
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