Who would have made a GREAT Instructional Designer, and why?

May 26, 2011

OK, just a fun thread here, to try and knock the braincells together, and introduce some other perspectives to classic "learning" and instructional design.

Who, from history, or outside our particular field of creativity would have made a great Instructional Designer, and why?

I will start the ball rolling with Walt Disney. My explanation can be seen explained in more depth in blogland (http://wp.me/p13NYZ-2p) , but basically, he was a master of the techniques needed to communicate in-depth content with minimal, but beautifully-crafted words and maximum visual "punch".

He dreamed "how it should look and feel", and made it happen. A lesson for us all perhaps.



38 Replies
Phil Mayor

I would go with Gar reynolds, from presentation zen fame for the same reasons you have stated above

Also say Steve Jobs I have used his presentations recently in a conference to highlight what makes a good presentation.  The key things I like about Steves style are

He sets the scene well at the beginning, and definitely has a beginning middle and end followed by a what have you learnt today.  His slides are simple yet never difficult to understand


Steve Flowers

Great points on the children's book authors. Anyone that can consistently hold the attention and channel the imagination of a child surely possesses magical powers.

I wonder, however, how this might translate to adult attention and engagement. Surely the forces are defined differently. I know of no studies, but suspect there would be benefits and risks to having an author tuned to the waveforms of children produce messages for adults (I can't imagine someone tuned that way enjoying working for the adult audience).

Steve Flowers

I LOVE Christopher Nolan's work. Each of the films you listed are classics in my book.  

Another suggestion, despite the pejorative implications, if we are allowed to consider those no longer living is Niccolò Machiavelli. If the measure of an ID's strength is their ability to communicate and persuade (which I believe is one of many factors that contribute to a strong ID) then I believe Machiavelli would have made a superb ISD.

Why would anyone dare suggest such a tangential figure? What does political science / philosophy have to do with instruction? It is the propensity of that question and the void of philosophy that I believe has turned our industry into a guild of cookie bakers. Without a rational base for critical problem solving all we are left with are recipes for cookies that all look, taste, and feel the same (with sprinkles and sweets for variety). Some of the outcomes are good but we lack variety and a real focus on outcomes that optimally connect with the original problem. We may be unknowingly killing our learners... slowly.

Bob S

I would have to say the humorists of bygone days such as Mark Twain and Will Rogers


  1. They took KISS to a new level
  2. They had a gift for insight most of us can only dream about
  3. They used humor to help us connect to the messages and REMEMBER them!

"Don't let schooling interfere with your education."

Mark Twain

"Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don't have for something they don't need."

Will Rogers

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