Alisha Klatt
Training and Instructional Design Specialist
UC Berkeley Office of Environment, Health & Safety

Are you looking for opportunities to level-up your Instructional Design skills? Have you checked out the Association for Talent Development’s (ATD) master-level programs?

Last year, I had the pleasure of attending the ATD Master E-learning Instructional Designer Program facilitated by Diane Elkins. The workshop took place prior to the 2020 ATD TechKnowledge Conference & Expo in San Jose, CA. I’m grateful I was able to attend after receiving one of the discounted registrations that ATD National and the Golden Gate Chapter are occasionally able to offer to active Golden Gate chapter members for sessions that have space available.

My highlights include hearing insights from the instructor’s experience and discussing real-world Instructional Design (ID) challenges with other participants working in different industries. During the program, our class worked through a well-designed, realistic scenario to practice the skills we learned. After the instruction ended, we received valuable feedback on our individual project deliverables.

The course presentations and materials also included many master-level tips. Here are 5 that resonated with me.


  1. Use silence to uncover the business need. ~ During meetings with stakeholders, ask, “So, is there anything else you think I need to know?” Then wait and give them time to think. Don’t be the next person to speak. If you get an answer other than “no”, ask the question again to see if anyone else wants to add something.
  2. Imagine someone saying about your learning objective, “I’m busy right now. I have to help John…” ~ They are not going to help John define or explain something. Finish that statement to uncover what learners need to do to achieve the business goal.
  3. Remind stakeholders about agreements in a positive way before issues arise. ~ For example, “This is the best time for all subject matter experts to review the script, since it’s the last unlimited review cycle.” To encourage punctual feedback, give a deadline to review materials and schedule a meeting to discuss it the day after.
  4. Let go of the need to grade and track everything. ~ Practicing is for the learners, proving (or assessing) is for stakeholders. If you make sections optional, learners will still do it if it’s useful for them. Letting go of the need to score all activities allows us to think outside of the box.
  5. Edit your writing to reduce cognitive load. ~ Choose shorter sentences and simpler words. Use active voice and direct language. Organize your ideas with headings and subheadings, tables, and lists. Consider using diagrams and charts to explain concepts. Master tip: Assess your writing with the word count and readability statistics tools in Microsoft Word.

The practice activities, instructor feedback, and course resources made the course an inspiring and useful learning experience that I would highly recommend to others. For information about upcoming courses, such as the ATD Master Instructional Designer Program, visit the ATD website – and of course be sure to enter the Golden Gate Chapter ChIP code [8003] so that a bit of your fee is re-routed to the chapter.

5 Master Level Instructional Design Tips

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