In our work as instructional designers, we are focused on meeting—and exceeding—the expectations of our clients, by developing engaging, interactive elearning that helps the end user develop and enhance their on-the-job skills. In that work, we are so focused on the day-to-day details, we sometimes end up neglecting an important part of ourselves—our creativity.

Think of creativity as a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets. To give our creative muscles a workout, our team uses Instructional Design (ID) Challenges. Here’s how they work: Someone on our teams picks a specific feature of the software we use to build our courses (Articulate Storyline 2), and challenges the team to learn the feature and put it into use. Ideally, we take what we learn in the ID Challenges and use it to build better courses for our customers!

Here’s an example. I spend most of my time creating new hire orientation courses developed for users to take on a desktop or laptop computer. While there was a good deal of creative effort expended when we first developed the design, now a lot of my work consists of updating those pre-designed templates.

For a recent ID Challenge, we were asked to think about mobile learning (using smartphones and tablets) and how we might develop content that is effective and engaging for a mobile user. This was completely different from my day to day work, and required me to use my creative muscles in ways I hadn’t before. Click here to see what I came up with.

In my client work, this is generally a type of development I wouldn’t have the opportunity to try. And while what I learned may not be immediately applicable to my current projects, the chance to spend a few hours flexing my creative muscle has made me a stronger instructional designer.

How do you keep your creative muscles strong?

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