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The ID: Master Chef Edition

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chef delicately plates a dinner
The ID - Master Chef Edition

I've been an instructional designer, or ID, for some years now, and one of the most predictable things about my work is that I know to a high degree of certainty how someone new will react when I tell them I'm an ID after they ask me what I do for a living.

A deer stares forward
What's that?

They'll start with an initial look of interest when they ask. But that will quickly devolve to some "deer in headlights, what should I say next" glance of confusion when I reply. It's the same with everyone. If they don't work directly in education or in corporate training with IDs, they have no concept of my work.

I can't blame them. A decade ago, I'd never heard of an ID either. I thought the whole system of education was formed by teachers who decided what to teach and how to teach it, and students who decided what to learn.

But then I learned there were more people involved in the process, and the one in the back of the house doing all the prep work and plating the delicious learning experiences is the ID. Just as a Master Chef artfully combines ingredients to create a dish that delights the taste buds, the ID skillfully blends educational content, learning strategies, and design theories to make learning palatable and digestible.

A gourmet plated dinner
The design of ID

In this metaphor, the teacher is the waiter presenting the prepared dish to the diner. But they may also play other roles. The teacher may supply some of the ingredients, or learning content. The task of an ID is to understand the unique properties of each ingredient and discern which educational theories will best suit the learning objectives and which instructional strategies will enhance learner engagement.

Just as a chef curates a menu to offer a balanced, nutritious, and flavorful meal, the ID designs a balanced approach, aesthetically, structurally, and temporally. The ID tests and tweaks, ensuring that the final product isn't too bland, boring, or oversimplified or too rich, intense, or complex. The goal is to cater to the diverse palates of learners to ensure each one finds the learning experience enjoyable and enriching.

The secret sauce in the educational kitchen is learner engagement. It's the spice that transforms a mundane dish into a culinary masterpiece. Whether it's through interactive elements, storytelling, gamification, or real-world applications, the ID strives to create a learning experience that is as engaging as it is informative.

A plate of various condiments
It's the flavor we devour

And just like in the world of fine dining, presentation is key. The way content is presented can make a significant difference in learner digestion. A beautifully plated dish can entice the eater and make the experience more satisfying. Likewise, well-organized and visually appealing educational content can draw the learner in, making the learning process more rewarding and effective.

A chef must also consider dietary restrictions and preferences. In a similar way, the ID tailors the content to meet the varied learning styles and accommodation needs of students. This might mean creating multiple paths through material for different learning preferences or ensuring content is accessible to all learners, regardless of their background or abilities.

The work of a master chef is never done. After service, they refine their recipes based on feedback, advancements or trends in the field, and availability of fresh ingredients. Likewise, IDs continuously evaluate the effectiveness of instructional strategies and make adjustments as needed. This process of reflection and adaptation ensures that educational 'dishes' serve the learners' needs, utilize new discoveries in educational and complimentary research including psychology and neurology, and that they remain at the forefront of educational excellence.

elegantly plated avocado bruschetta
Push for extraordinary

In essence, the ID is a chef, orchestrating a symphony of flavors to create a memorable and fulfilling experience. It's a harmonious blend of content, strategy, and technology to foster an enriching learning journey.

So, the next time you partake in a well-crafted educational experience, remember the ID who, like a master chef, has meticulously prepared this feast of knowledge for your intellectual nourishment.

Bon Appétit!


All images contained within this post are courtesy of Media from Wix, unless otherwise noted.

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