A lady in the graduate program I graduated from at James Madison University sent me a questionnaire to help her in a class.  I thought it would be fun to read for anyone that is curious about what I do for 40+ hours a week.  If you’re not curious, don’t read it will bore you 😉


What organization do you work for?

C2 Technologies, Inc.

What is your Job Title?

Instructional Systems Designer I

What is your job description?

Well here are things I do right now…

  • Develop CBT(computer based training) in MANSCEN and C2 Build(different software)
  • Prepare  ITARS
  • Create storyboards to blueprint all aspects of a level 1-3 CBT (script, graphics, interaction, navigation, etc)
  • Participate with quality assurance
  • Coordinate with managers, programmers, and graphic artists to develop training,
  • Develop sound objectives, content, solutions and testing materials to match desired competencies
  • Apply adult instructional themes and principles (ADDIE) in all work
  • Organize work according to deadlines and productivity

 Here is my “real” job description…

  • 3+ years’ experience in Instructional Systems Design.
  • Perform front-end and media analysis for major new development initiatives
  • Develop instructionally sound objectives, content, and testing materials that are mapped to competencies
  • Design training in a variety of media, which may include classroom, online synchronous electronic support systems (EPSS or WBSS), asynchronous reusable learning objects using design tools, video, and html
  • Design storyboards for multimedia programs that serve as blueprints for programmers/web developers, including the conceptualization of graphics, development of audio scripts, program metaphors, user interaction, navigation, and other related elements
  • Apply creative instructional themes and strategies to the delivery medium


What skills and knowledge are needed to perform your job on a day to day basis?

  • Critical Thinking (this certainly depends on your project subject matter, mine is Engineering…it is ideal to have a SME help you think critically about your topics.)  
  • Basic Computer Knowledge (formatting in Word, Excel, etc you want to know all the “tricks”, it will save you a lot of time.)
  • Specific software (we don’t really use Adobe; C2 has its own developing tool.  The client I am working for also has their own.)
  • Creativity (it depends on the scope of the project, but those GA s have talent, use it!)
  • Collaboration (a team usually has a manager, a task lead, a couple ISDs, and a couple graphic artists)
  • Flexibility (oh my do things change, leading to the next one…)
  • Patience (it’s an iterative process… haha remember Dr. Thall’s words!)
  • Confidence but also Humbleness (especially right out of school.  You know things and that is great, but other people have been here longer and have more experience- it’s much wiser to collaborate and work together than be competitive, especially on the same team.  For example, you may be convinced that you have the best way to present something, and a graphic artist may have a different way of creating your screen that will actually be better.  Take advice you like!)
  • Friendliness (sitting at a cubicle, it is easy to get “sucked in” to being antisocial- do things to make sure that doesn’t happen.  For example, I joined the breakfast team here.  People will come to talk to me after they eat say thank you, ask for the recipe, etc.  Since I’m the new girl it gives them a reason to come talk to me, making it easier on everyone! lol) 
  • File Managememt (oh my word, there are so many files!  Make shortcuts to your path.)

Can you give an example of a recent project you have worked on, specifically what the design process looked like for that project?

My project is with the Army Corp of Engineers.  We are taking an old course they have on engineering and essentially updating it by taking training at level 1 to a level 2 and 3 training depending on the content.  We are also putting it in a different presentable format. 

Here is an example of level 1-3 for our course.

  • Level 1 includes minimal user control, rudimentary I/O devices, no simulation, and simple graphics, audio on introductory and transitional screens. 
  • Level 2 includes increased user control, simple graphics/animations, voiceover narration, and may include shot video clips.
  • Level 3 includes increased user control, complex graphics/animation, narration, and scenario/simple simulations.

My current project is 18 months.  So far the process has looked like this: 

  • Proposal
  • Contract writing
  • Schedule creation
  • Individual task analysis report (ITAR)
  • Instructional Media Design Package (IMDP)
  • Storyboards
  • Prototypes
  • Project Development
  • Quality Assurance
  • Quality Review
  • Client Review
  • Deliverables

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an instructional designer?

My subject matter has been exceptionally difficult.  I don’t think this will always be the case.  We didn’t have a SME for a long time, so it took me a while to understand even a little about Engineering.  Fortunately, we were provided with a lot of the content material.  However, we write the practical exercises (scenario based activities with level 3 training the learners practice before they take the post-test) and check on learning questions (every 5-8 screens, or after a lesson topic).   

Did you have to learn any new skills in order to perform your job?

Acronyms- everyone talks using them around here!  Haha seriously I have learned so many and I used to have no idea what people were talking about.  No seriously though, I wouldn’t say new skills, absolutely new processes though.  Except if I am learning new software or something that our client has requested, and then obviously we all learn that.

Can you give an example of something specific that you learned in the AHRD program, that you have directly applied to your work?

  1. It is an iterative process.
  2. What is in the scope document or contract is crucial to project negotiation (I remember Dr. Estes saying about a project “well that is outside the scope of what we agreed on”.  Happens all the time in the real world, you want to please your client, but at the same time those two words “time” & “money” are the determining factors).
  3. Research.  Thankfully not in APA format 😉  In some way, shape, or form it happens all the time. 
  4. Writing objectives (“Terminal” and “Enabling” learning objectives because you have to be able to measure whether or not your training was effective enough to teach and have learner’s pass tests from the instruction).

Posted on March 14, 2011, in Instructional Systems Designer, Newport News. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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