Freelance Instructional Designer Handbook/Freelance Instructional Design Defined?

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This page contains the following information about being a freelance instructional designer. Many of these areas are ever-changing due to the technology, current trends and the market demands. Thus, they will be updated regularly by any of the authors participating in the writing of this book. Please contribute to any of the headings provided within this page by clicking EDIT in the upper right of this page.

Definition The official definition is the following:

Working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company

All freelance instructional designers know that the job responsibilities are endless. They not only included securing new clients on a daily basis, but there are the other areas also such as:

  • completing projects for each deadline
  • your web site requires updating, revisions and cutting edge technology implemented
  • your social media campaigns require daily releases
  • professional development of your skills
  • invoices, business finances and record keeping
  • IRS or state quarterly tax reporting

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Skills Needed

Each day bring new demands for more skills that people just associate with an instructional designer. There are times when the job description for an instructional designer is customized and created by the person posting the position. Thus, it is difficult at times to clearly define the skills needed since the job description or career field is being rewritten by everyone. The most important skills needed are the following:

  • training within the learning theories such as ADDIE, cognitive theories and the science of e-learning
  • software experience with the current e-learning tools of the trade which change each year
  • computer science is becoming a 'must have' for this field since ID's are now being asked to manage LMS systems, code HTML/CSS/Javascript and also rewrite the coding within e-learning applications for customization

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Scanning the current job posting most companies are requiring a master's degree within this field along with 5–10 years experience. Which triggers the discussion about 'how to get the experience' when all of the jobs ask for 5–10 years experience. The back door to this career is a course production specialist which is a support person who assists the instructional designer with the development of content, inserting exams in the LMS and other minor tasks. Most course production specialists are moved up to an ID 1 position within a year or two. Thus, that will get you the experience you need.

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Some large professional organizations are offering certifications through their training and testing centers. Research is needed to determine if the monetary investment will provide you with freelance contracts or if a full master's degree is the current requirements.

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The Legal Aspect

An entire book can be written about the legal aspect of freelancing in the 'design' industry with some freelance contracts stipulating that you must have 1,500,000.00 insurance. READ THE CONTRACT CAREFULLY! Some companies put the full responsibility for the 'return on invested instructional dollars' on the freelance ID who must revise the content without pay until the company gets their expected return on their invested training.

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Your Web Site

The web site for your contracting business needs to follow the standard marketing recommendations as found within any business. The web site must catch the visitor within the first 10 seconds of the page loading. Your initial page must demonstrate your mastery of technology, learning theories and innovations. It is the first impression you'll make on a future employer.

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Your Portfolio

The newest trend within this field is a professional portfolio demonstrating each of the leading e-learning software tools used to develop a full training within finance, health education and HR issues. This can be very expensive since some of the software packages sell for 1,000-2,000 each. The demo trial versions have restrictions and contain a popup window explaining this is a demo/trial version which is very unprofessional.

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