Moving from Web Dev to Instructional Design

I'm considering moving from web development to Instructional Design.  I know I have a lot to catch up on regarding the theoretical side of ID - Dick and Carey, the ADDIE model, etc.

Just curious if anyone else has made a similar leap?

I have lots of experience with html5, css3, css frameworks like Twitter Bootstrap.  Also, Javascript and frameworks like AngularJS and DOM manipulators like JQuery.

Is there a lot of crossover for these types of skills?  What other types of skills should I be developing?

Thanks in advance!

8 Replies
Nick n/a

Hi Philip,

A warm welcome to the E-Learning Heroes Forum.

This blog post by Cathy Moore will help with some basics:

I'll check for further details as this forum is mainly covering development aspects IMHO. (With creative ideas, business support and helpful people.)

I'm also learning so I look forward to others contributing as well.


Nick n/a

I'll throw this in should it help Philip or others.

Look at this thread for everything about working as a freelancer or running your own company as several people do here. Then read it again and again. (Daniel started it)

Look here for ideas about the skillset and experience an ID/elearning Developer would need:

This is a useful company to look at and they offer training for Articulate Storyline (if you like that sort of thing)

Cathy Moore is one of the big names in the industry and her blog is very, very useful:

Her other website is also useful:

Connie Malamed also offers great advice and a fun blog to learn about ID:

Get hold of this free book from Tom Kulhman

Look here for good books on ID/eLearning development:

Look here for advice on how to get experience in ID:

I'm still learning though so others like Bruce can offer more insight.


Nicole Legault

Hey Phillip!

Welcome to the community and thanks for posting! You've definitely come to the right place with your question (as you can probably tell by the awesome responses provided already by Nicholas and Bruce). I can kind of relate with you because I also came to e-learning and ID from a different background. I was doing web and graphic design before I kind of fell into an e-learning career, and then from there I honed my ID skills.

I think there definitely is a lot of crossover. Web design and e-learning in particular have a lot in common...layouts, navigation, links, organizing content, media, etc.  I'm sure there is also some ID crossover, but on the e-learning side of things Definitely!

On the ID side of things, the most important skills I've learned about Instructional Design is what I learned in the 3-day Langevin Learning Services workshop I took called Instructional Design for New Designers. Honestly, this workshop changed my life, my career, and most importantly, how I view and design training. The Langevin approach is completely hands on and task-based. They have this philosophy "if you're not learning a new skill, it's not really training." The ADDIE model, Kirkpatrick's Levels of Evaluation, Bloom's Taxonomy, etc. are all great cocncepts to know about and reference, but the IDND workshop shows you hands on skills for how to complete a training needs analysis, how to do a task analysis, how to select learning methods and activities, how to write tests, etc. To me it was totally worthwhile and worth every penny.

Another great way to work on your Instructional Design skills is to take some raw content (some type of informational government PDF document, or some informational sites you find online) and then re-work it and turn it into a course. This is a great way to get some hands on ID practice. 

You also asked what other type of skills you should be developing.... I think the writing skills, organizing and editing content, and graphic design/visual appeal are other key areas of developing courses. So perhaps doing some online research or reading in those areas might help too! 

Hope these ideas help, Phillip! The really exciting part about this type of journey from one industry to another is how much stuff there is to learn!! =)

Bruce Graham

Just a word of warning - and I have no idea whether this is true or not.

Please note - this is just my experience from a few rounds of debate and vitriolic LinkedIn PMs.

There seems to be a certain community of IDs, who inhabit LinkedIn and have US University (teaching) backgrounds, who believe that being an ID is impossible without a degree and a Masters in ID.

They seem to dismiss us mere "rapid developers". They seem to think we cause more harm than good. They seem (many of them) to believe that the way things are done in the US is the only, and best way. I would count, (it seems...) as one of those pesky outsiders, who is doing more harm than good, however, I continue to delight my clients, and win a lot of business (ironically - so it happens...) from US companies and organisations, (many of whom, again ironically...have existing ID departments).

The fact that we do not really have ASTD over here, or Degrees/Masters degrees in ID over here (yet) seems to be irrelevant, and make us people who do not value education. Protestations that "education" comes from many sources seem to fall on deaf ears.

So - do not believe that "ID" means the same to everyone. To some people you can design, or build, but not both, and it seems you will never convince them otherwise.

My view? Let them sit in their ivory towers getting PhDs - I'll continue doing what I do, very well, until I realise the error of my ways and that they are the sole custodians of the "better and only way".