As online course offerings grow, IDs are prepared to support instructors
Traditionally, Instructional Designers (IDs) focused on creating online courses for a university. This role is expanding. Now, IDs serve as a link between faculty, IT, and administration. They are being asked to consult faculty on course design and in turn, are consulted for new pedagogy tactics to meet educational aims. They are also being turned to for recommendations on how to fit new tech across the curriculum. As their role changes, IDs continue partnering with course instructors to transform the classroom experience.
IDs wear many different hats, depending on the department they work in. They may:
- adapt or revise existing courses, lessons, assignments, or learning resources
- partner with faculty to plan, design, and implement new courses
- research emerging trends in new technology
- train and support faculty on new technology use or learning management systems
- team up with course instructors to identify learning needs and course objectives
- create or obtain media to support a course such as video and multimedia
- manage course development timelines and budgets
- design assessments and metrics
IDs must be tech-savvy. Their technical tool know-how enables instructors to engage today’s students. In 2018, incoming freshmen were less equipped than ever before for success in higher ed. Course instructors struggle with today’s tech-dependent learner. Students rely on mobile devices such as smartphones, laptops, and online platforms for course resources.
While Instructional Designers are more likely to push for tech integration than instructors, both agree that tech which helps learning is best. Tensions may exist between faculty and IDs. Some course instructors may begrudge working with an ID. IDs are more likely to have a wider variety of tech tools that meet pedagogy aims than course instructors, who are likely not to know what IDs can do. However, IDs are able to relieve some of this tension. IDs are able to:
- Facilitate course development. IDs link course instructors, administration, and IT. Often, IDs work across departments. In development, IDs can inform IT of system limits and glitches, and educate other departments on best practices.
- Mitigate barriers. IDs as program or project managers allow course instructors time to focus on being content experts. Designing or adapting a course takes time away from research and publishing. When IDs step into the project manager role, they support course instructors by creating time for them to pursue academic career goals.
- Be tech experts. IDs are asked to train and support faculty on new technology. IDs who know the learning management system deliver metrics. IDs fluent in course-design software make cost-effective courses.
Instructional Designers and course instructors agree that student learning is the purpose for a course. IDs know new tech is one of many tools for hitting course targets. IDs know which pedagogy approach helps student learning. Course instructors are supported when IDs know which hat to wear in a variety of situations.