The Interview with Dr. Luke Hobson: From Hating School to Becoming a Senior Instructional Designer

Dr. Luke Hobson is a senior instructional designer and program manager at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Ironically, his way to success started from hating education and even flunking out of high school. Back then, he didn’t understand why he should study math or physics because nobody showed him the goal. This experience gave Dr. Luke Hobson a valuable perspective on how to teach people, how to motivate them, and succeed even with such difficult students as himself.

We talked to Dr. Hobson about his new book What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming An Instructional Designer, discussed how to become an instructional designer, the pros and cons of this profession, the difference between the academic and corporate ID, and much more – including the most important tips that might help you achieve success. Read the main takeaways below.

What does an instructional designer do?

When people ask me what I do for a career, I usually say: I understand how people learn online. I work in partnership with SMEs and extract knowledge from them. And then, taking what I know about learning sciences, I develop an online learning experience that’s going to become meaningful, but also transparent to my students. I make sure they understand why they’re learning how they’re going to go through this process. So that, to me, is instructional design in a nutshell.

Can anyone become an instructional designer?

Yes and no. Because, yes, anyone can, in theory, become an instructional designer, in the same way that you can be anything you want to be when you grow up. But there are a few important things that it takes:

  • Passion. This field of education requires lots of it.
  • Understanding your role. You’re not a teacher. You’re not an administrator. You’re kind of behind the scenes and, at the same time, you’re not.
  • Experience. You need a considerable amount of experience to design engaging learning. Read more.