"well" I say; "I am an instructional designer"...
Blank stares, uncomfortable shifting and then one of two usual responses;
"What does that mean?"
"Oh! so you design buildings?"... "No" I reply, "that would be industrial design"...
There are many people that have to explain and provide additional context for exactly what it is that they "do". This causes me to wonder. How many learning activities take place on any given day, in any given organization where the learner has no clue about the time, care and design that has been placed in their particular learning experience?
After several years of working on my "elevator speech" explaining exactly what I think it is that I do, I feel no further ahead. I certainly don't want to patronize or intimidate anyone, my intent is to share. Not to alienate.
So, my current elevator speech involves the following:
"I research and develop experiences that allow learning to happen in order to meet an established knowledge goal" and sometimes I expand with, "I collaborate with stakeholders and leaders and provide coaching services in order to surface and create a strategy for the learning needs of their team/department/organization".
After I have stated the above, I almost always land on:
"I am a teacher"
To which large wide smiles and the look of "oh thank god!, he is done explaining all of that".
What I have recognized is that I should stick with the simplest answer "I teach". This is not a bad thing, everyone instantly has a connection to some level of education and everyone seems to relate to the scholastic glue that holds us all together.
On that serious note, what exactly "is" instructional design? If you want the wiki explanation here is it;
If I could rewrite the wiki and explain what we (Instructional Designers) do, I would say; We research the learning needs of a project and then develop creative ways of helping learning to happen, with the end goal of the learner demonstrating what we expected based on the learning outcomes agreed to by the designer and the organization.
I suppose, we are the "method to the madness"...