in his post corporate elearning strategies and development: the february big question! brent schlenker raises some soul searching questions. but upon further reflection it's not as strong an argument as at first read. before i go further, i do agree that his questions are good ones to ask. it's his assumed answers that I find objection to.
karl defends the value of isd work and i totally agree. isd is not automatic. yes, some of the specifics may not be unique to isd, but no one ever claimed isd was a separate academic research field. learning professionals have long been alchemists of sorts. we take concepts from where ever we can find them and meld them together to lessons and materials that advance human knowledge. simply throwing pieces of content together with no concern for design ultimately doesn't work for the majority of learners. the rapid elearning folks who advocate this "eliminate design" approach will soon realize this.
related to this is the concept of trans-disciplinary practitioners that mindy brings to the conversation. the aspect of this concept that mindy doesn't stress is that what type of practitioner you end up being is determined by the mix of disciplines your bring to your practice. the uniqueness then comes from the different aspects, not the similar. because scott mccloud uses the concept of text-near-graphics in comics, I may use it in a job aid, a web designer uses it in a catalog, and a street sign maker uses it for traffic control doesn't mean we are all text-near-graphics practitioners.
so to answer brent's ultimate question, what do we bring to the party? my response is that we bring the same thing every professional brings to the table - a unique set of knowledge, skills and abilities that enable us to bring unique value to our interactions with others.
now let us back up to his first question, why us? simple because we are those unique individuals who seek out the answers to the mysteries of human learning. now, if we don't do a good job of letting people know what it is that makes us unique that makes us bad communicators and marketers.