Helen Kosmopoulos, Instructional Designer
Helen Kosmopoulos is an Instructional Designer at DeakinPrime who specialises in providing program analysis, design, development, evaluation and maintenance services to ensure innovative and effective learning programs. She uses her extensive experience in education to design and develop materials which has included work in the sales, marketing, leadership and business acumen areas.
At what point in a project should an Instructional Designer be involved?
I’d like to see an Instructional Designer engaged early on in the process at the analysis stage, side by side with Business Development. I think it’s a good opportunity for the Instructional Designer to develop relationships with key stakeholders and to help define the boundaries of a project.
What has been a client project that you have particularly enjoyed?
I was recently observing a group of managers in a three-day workshop where they were developing their strategic and visionary thinking. Watching them share and grow their ideas in that room was really wonderful and the activities that were set up were to prompt them to do that growing and that sharing. They were passionate, they had energy and they had a lot to offer their leadership team.
What are some of the challenges?
Being in the design and development phase of the project is like being in the hub of the project: you expect information to come to you from lots of different places, and then with that information you design and develop the materials, the program and the activities, and then you prepare it all so that Desktop Publishing can prepare it for printing. It’s when those sources of information don’t come to you in a timely way that the job can become very challenging, because the timelines don’t necessarily change and you have to find ways to be very quick at design and development and also alert the right people when things are not happening as they should, especially when there’s the pressure of that end deadline.
What are the skills that you have developed as an Instructional Designer?
There are a lot of skills, but one of the most important is being able to developing a relationship with subject matter experts because we work so closely with them. Subject matter experts have a wealth of knowledge and some of them know no boundaries [sic: with their subjects]. So it is important to be able to hone in on questions quickly and get the information that you need, that is one of the skills that I have developed. And also, being a team player. I love being a team player!
Is there a creative element in the Instructional Design process?
Absolutely there’s creativity, and there needs to be. There are so many places that we can source our ideas from, and sharing them with other Instructional Designers too and making them work for the program that you’re writing is really important. So taking an idea that’s worked really well for another program, but saying that ‘this is a bit different and I need to get a little more creative with the way I’m going to use this activity’ to help them achieve their outcomes.
How do you demonstrate outcomes of a program?
The outcomes need to be determined from the start of the project with the client, so we have boundaries for the program that we are designing. All of the content and the activities are then written to achieve those outcomes and stay within those boundaries, and along the way as learners are going through the program or during their assessment stages. That is, when you are testing those outcomes and making sure that they have achieved those.
What are your favourite qualities in a leader?
My favourites would have to be openness, honesty and communication of forward thinking. I really think that these traits build trust and respect in the workplace. This was really evident at a recent workshop I attended where the leadership team for this group of managers joined them for a dinner and for one day of the three-day program. During this time, they shared with much openness their strategic and visionary thinking for the company and invited this group of managers to help support them and suggest their ideas for the company. The leadership team were open, honest and inspiring and the group of managers respected them and therefore felt inspired and put expectations on themselves to be role models for their teams when they got back to the workplace; it was really inspiring to watch.