Lately I passed the question back to others - what is it they think I do? And what do they think the term ‘instructional (or learning) design’ means - without Googling it? The response was mixed - from designing instructional manuals for IKEA and the like, writing 'how to' guides, to creating dot-to-dot images (I wish! I now feel I need to add this to my repertoire), to ‘telling people how to do something’. The latter being the closest guess - if we exclude the dude that clearly just googled the term and used good old copy and paste.
So depending on the audience I often give different answers, which can now range anywhere from these starting points:
- "I work for myself" - a vague enough response if I am hoping that satisfies them enough to move on
- "I’m a designer" - again, keep it vague (used recently for the Tesco delivery man who seemed to think all designers are architects, and that all architects design new build houses as that's what his friend does - I let him run with it)
- "I write and develop elearning" (to people I think may have a vague understanding of what that is), though it appears that it is actually a very unfamiliar term to most
- My fall back “I’m a graphic designer” - when either I can’t be bothered explaining further or when I think that is the only bit of my title that may be understood. But most often prompts the auto response of ‘So you design websites?’ - the one thing I don’t do.
- "I develop content for websites, services and promotional materials, including both the writing and the visual design". If I throw this one at you, my brain must be working well that day and you are most likely to be in a designey/marketingish area yourself.
Really, the message here is that I must come up with a better auto response myself.
I originally started in graphic design and do still work in that area, but I have since evolved from that being my sole purpose to now include writing and content development. So with all this confusion I figure now is time to explain what on earth it is I do.