People in the learning field regularly get tasked with things we aren’t too thrilled about. We’re told to implement a solution to a problem when we’re pretty sure that the stakeholder doesn’t have enough information about the problem to know what the solution is. We get told to build courses that have little chance of making a difference because they don’t address the real underlying problems. We’re asked to make amazing instruction out of horrible PowerPoint slides. And when we’re finally asked our opinion, our answer s are often ignored. Wait, maybe this is just my experience… or maybe not. That’s the topic of this Chat2lrn.

Cathy Moore, an eLearning thought-leader, posed the question, “Are instructional designers doormats? and wondered aloud how much of a spine instructional designers should have when working with stakeholders.

Until we started talking about the topic of this Chat2lrn, we didn’t realize that two of the Chat2lrn facilitators had independently blogged on this subject within a short while of each other. Patti Shank originally responded to Moore’s blog post with a posting of her own, “On being a doormat and having stakeholders (not) value our work,” and wondered why this seemed to be a universal experience in our field.

From Patti’s blog post: 

Imagine telling your lawyer how to practice law or your child’s orthodontist how to put together a treatment plan. But our stakeholders have no problem telling us how to do our work. That’s because (I think) our stakeholders think they only sort of need us. They know they can’t do it themselves but I think they don’t get what we bring to the table beyond the tools we use.

Judith Christian-Carter, another Chat2lrn facilitator, wrote a similar post, “I’m an Instructional Designer so respect me!,” and penned that many in her field

… feel unvalued, frustrated, demotivated, usurped and fed up. By nature, instructional designers are very good, if somewhat unassuming, team players, however for many a feeling of exclusion has become the norm.

Judith suggested that there are numerous reasons why we end up feeling undervalued, including project managers who don’t understand our jobs or who are too anxious to please clients at any cost, tools that dominate what can be accomplished, and situations where we are at the “bottom of the eLearning pecking order.”

The rationale for this R-E-S-P-E-C-T chat is to gather insights into the nature of and solutions to this problem. Reuben Tozman’s post, “Going Mainstream,” starts with the obvious:

… the only people that really care about our deeply talented pool of professionals and the wonderful things we can do for an organization is ourselves.

I encourage you to read what he has to say because I think it’s one core part of the solution. But there are obviously other parts of the solution… and that’s what we’ll be discussing on Thurs, 4/12/12 at 16.00BST/ 11.00EDT