If someone made a sitcom about curriculum planning with the classic “odd couple,” those would be an instructional designer and a content writer.
Though both have the same goal, to maximize learning, they have different approaches to the task. It is possible for one person to act as both. However, it is a hefty job for just one person to check all of the boxes for two jobs.
Like the name suggests, an instructional designer focuses on how best to instruct. This includes learning theories, models, and flow charts. It also includes creativity. There may be a limitation to the course delivery system that the ID must work around. A time restraint, either for creating the course or the length of the course itself, may require creative problem solving, too. Either way, an instructional designer takes a procedural approach to designing courses.
Similarly, a content writer is also creative. However, instead of focusing on how to design a course, a content writer focuses on writing the text that goes into the course. At times, this can be tricky. For example, if the subject matter has multiple steps the content writer must present the information clearly. Also challenging can be writing for less experienced learners. Regardless of the learner or subject, a content writer finds an engaging approach that encourages the learner to interact with the text.
One final common point between an instructional designer and a content writer is the subject matter expert. It is unlikely that an instructional designer will be an expert in every subject matter she works with. This is true for the content writer, as well. For that reason, both the instructional designer and the content writer work with subject matter experts, or professionals in the subject. A subject matter expert can fill in any information gaps for the content writer. She may also describe a logical way to proceed through information to the instructional designer.
Just like most couples, an instructional designer and a content writer complement each other. Where one has weaknesses, the other has strengths. But asking one person to do both jobs is overwhelming. Services, like A Pass Education, have the professionals to fulfill both roles. The success of any course relies on how well the instructional designer and content writer balance the other’s work.