Rupa Rajagopalan has been instrumental in running the Instructional Designers Community of India for the last few years along with some other enthusiastic members of the profession. As part of IDCI, Rupa edits a newsletter IDConnect. Rupa interviewed me for the second issue of the newsletter. You can view the complete newsletter on the IDCI community site. I am reproducing my interview here.
You have been conducting salary surveys for the past 2 years. Have salary levels for Instructional Designers in India improved? What are the current trends in salary?
It’s hard to find industry trends. I get inputs not just from the salary survey but also the many interviews I conduct, the people I recruit and the teams I manage. Perception plays an important role in people’s minds when trying to understand whether the salary levels of instructional designers have improved. The salary levels in absolute terms have improved but not necessarily the perception. I notice that the younger people continue to be less satisfied.
Do you think Technical Writing is a better known profession in India when compared to Instructional Design? Why?
Technical Writing has a wider job market. Instructional Designer are primarily hired by elearning vendors and some training departments. Tech Writers are also hired by software companies, product companies, website content companies etc. In that sense, Technical Writing is better a known profession.
Which of the following dominates the Indian e-learning market / business today – Template based e-learning or Creative e-learning?
I think it really depends on what the customers want. Most customers don’t want to pay too much and are constantly driving the prices and the timelines down. There are advantages of template based elearning. And template based elearning is not necessarily “not-creative”, if I may use the double negative in this case. Rapid elearning is also something that’s being looked at as a solution to crunch timelines and costs.
You had written an interesting blog post on innovation in the Indian Learning Industry. There were some interesting responses to your post too. What prompted you to write this blog post and what did you learn from the responses?
My post on innovation in Indian Learning industry was actually prompted by another post by Will Thalheimer on the same subject, which was prompted by a NY Times report on innovation in India. I was fascinated by the responses this post received. I have come to believe that innovation is a very relative term. When it comes to identifying innovation at a company, industry or country level, the scale of impact defines the level of innovation in people’s minds. My next post on what is innovation explored these perceptions about innovation.
A lot of companies in India ban use of social media in the workplace. In your opinion, social media is a tool, a medium. What you do with it constitutes the value you extract from it. Can you give some examples of how professionals in India can use social media effectively and responsibly in the workplace?
Many ways really. For one, start subscribing to blogs via your RSS reader. Start conversations with blog writers by commenting on their posts, building the ideas and sharing your ideas. It is very important to start meaningful conversations if you want o build on your knowledge. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes, or by shy of sharing your thoughts. You learn most by exchanging ideas. If you are using Twitter, follow like minded people and industry leaders. On LinkedIn join the groups of your field and engage in conversation. Share the information, links that you come across on various sources with your colleagues at work. Filter out the information and share the relevant bits. This way your colleagues will appreciate your inputs. Remember not to flood them with everything you find. Be selective. If there are questions your colleagues have, try to find answers by tapping into your social network. You will gain respect of your colleagues and your bosses and they will soon realize how social media can help.
Effective collaboration in organizations – What are the challenges and how do you overcome these challenges?
Technology and culture are two big challenged. Most companies are not beginning to solve technological challenges by providing more means of allowing employees to communicate. The bigger challenge is cultural. Organizations should work at building the culture of sharing information freely and encourage collaboration. Collaboration will start bottom up within organizations and top executives need to be careful of not doing anything to discourage it. I recently wrote a post on this subject.
What do you think is the future of learning technology?
It is always hard to predict the future. I believe that learning technology will become more collaborative in the future. How learning content is defined is likely to change and content creation will become easier in that context.
What is your advice to budding learning professionals?
My advice to budding learning professionals: Keep Learning! You have to be able to learn faster than your learners. There is a great responsibility that learning professionals have when they create the learning programs. Keep pace with what’s happening in the field. Understand what business problems your learning program is attempting to solve and ensure that the design and development of the program is in line with the business objectives.
How do you think a platform like Instructional Designers Community of India (IDCI) can help learning professionals in India?
Absolutely. Platforms like these play a crucial role in developing a community of professionals. Instructional Design as a profession has been in India for last 15-20 years and yet is still nascent in a manner of speaking. Platforms like IDCI can help bring professionals in this field together to share their common knowledge and learn from each other. It can provide people in the field a window to what’s happening elsewhere in India and across the world. I have been very encouraged with the progress of IDCI and look forward to seeing it grow in the future.
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