Let's take a look at an instructional designer specialist from a slightly different angle
An Instructional Designer as a Coach
Now I'm writing a course about employees learning and development within a company and one of the topics there is "coaching". It makes me think that often an instructional designer acts as a coach as well, not for a person but for a company (for a team, department or any unit that needs an educational program). Why? Let's see. Maybe some of you are familiar with the GROW method in coaching. If not, I'll briefly introduce it.
Coaching: In this step, you together with your client need to set a goal. Specifically, a coach helps to identify where the client wants to go and what the desired outcomes should look like.

ID: An instructional designer has to find out what the client's goal is before they start writing an educational program. Sometimes an ID helps the client to formulate a goal or to make it more concrete and measurable (for example, a SMART-goal).

Coaching: A coach helps the client to understand where they are now (the starting point) and how far the client is from reaching the goal.

ID: To create a learning journey, an ID should understand the starting point as well. Usually, it also includes problems and/or challenges that have to be solved or overcome.

O–Options and Obstacles
Coaching: A coach helps the client to find possible options to reach the goal. Also, possible obstacles and ways to deal with them have to be identified in this step.

ID: An ID has to figure out possible obstacles and think in advance about potential solutions. Like in coaching, an ID has to find potential options to reach the goal.

W–Willingness, or Way Forward
Coaching: A coach helps the client to create a plan with concrete steps to reach the goal.

ID: Similarly, an ID together with the client makes an action plan for reaching the goal.


Even though coaching and instructional design seem to be quite similar, I realised that coaches and IDs have different responsibilities. While a coach HELPS the client to go through the GROW-steps, an ID WORKS with the client TOGETHER. While a coach should forget about their own experience and shouldn't give advice to the client (if I understand the idea of coaching correctly), an ID should bring their expertise, experience and background. Conversely, an ID should be able to give advice and offer solutions.

Do you think it's possible to use the GROW model in ID? Why? I'd love to know your opinion.

Victoria Bolotina

Co-founder of LLLab
MSc in Educational Science and Technology,
PhD Candidate (University of Twente, The Netherlands)
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