What do instructional designers do in higher education?

Sandra sitting at her computer in her office

The work and the placement of instructional designers vary from institution to institution. For instance, my current position is with the Library and Instructional Resources Services. My new position will be within the Information Technology department. As for job tasks, if you’re the only designer on campus, you wear many hats. Conversely, you could be a part of a team with several designers. Most of the designers I know are mostly focused on designing and developing online courses, but this is not always the case.

TASKS

To illustrate specifically the work of an instructional designer, here are the activities listed from my resume:

  • Collaborated with faculty to develop 25 new hybrid and online courses for Theology and MBA graduate programs;
  • Conducted quality assurance reviews of all (80) online courses;
  • Wrote the Online Course Design Guide for faculty that addresses accessibility and copyright requirements, research-based practices for teaching and learning, and the collaboration process with the instructional designer;
  • Managed knowledge via Instructional Design LibGuide for faculty and students;
  • Trained faculty on educational technologies, andragogy, and how to make their online courses accessible;
  • Supported the Schoology learning management system (LMS) administrator with troubleshooting issues, developing supporting documentation and video tutorials, and LMS adoption (Previously served as LMS administrator for eCollege);
  • Participated in the development of the College’s Quality Enhancement Plan;
  • Wrote documentation for the College’s accreditation process for distance education, conducted quality assurance checks of reports in Compliance Assist, and served on the Strategic Planning Software Support Team with IT to develop methods and identify platforms for the interchange of input from all stakeholders; and
  • Served on the Educational Technology Committee and co-wrote the draft Educational Technology Framework and Distance Education Policy.

SERVICE

Sometimes instructional designers also teach, mentor, and provide service to the community even though it is not required for staff. Here’s a list of my activities:

  • Co-taught undergraduate interdisciplinary course (IDS394) on digital citizenship and fact-checking online data at my college;
  • Co-coordinator of the New Day Experience reentry project to reduce recidivism in Mobile County for which I supervised three undergraduate students for sociology internship course (SOC299) in 2018-2019 and mentored six student volunteers from 2015-2017;
  • Educause Games and Learning Steering Committee;
  • Board Member of Emerald Coast TESOL & professional development officer;
  • Mentor for Foley Center- Mentored 40  student volunteer English language teachers for the College’s migrant education night program; and
  • Board Member of college’s Friends of the Library.

RESEARCH

Last, some instructional designers are also involved in research.  Read my Research Statement to learn about my research activities.

What about you? If you’re an instructional designer, share how this differs and relates to your work.

Join me at AERA 2019 in Toronto

Sandra Rogers standing near AERA conference sign celebrating 100 years

I’ll be attending my second conference of the American Educational Research Association (#AERA19) this year. The theme is ‘Leveraging Education Research in a Post-Truth Era: Multimodal Narratives to Democratize Evidence.’  It will be held in Toronto, Canada from April 5-9th at the Metro Toronto Conference Centre. I was impressed with last year’s conference but a bit overwhelmed. Hopefully, with the help of their conference app, I’ll find the sessions I need.

View this link to see the poster for Dr. Khoury and my session: Rubric to Analyze Online Course Syllabi Plan for Engendering a Community of Inquiry: Round II. Come join me on Saturday morning, April 6, from 8:00 to 9:30am in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 300 Level, Hall C. It’s hosted by the Division C – Section 3b: Technology-Based Environments in the subunit for Distance and Online Education. I’ll be sharing copies of my Online Community of Inquiry Syllabus Rubric.

I’ve shared our research paper on the AERA online Repository.  Read this blog page to learn more about our study. My hope is that it will be replicated to validate the rubric and improve not only instructors’ syllabi but teaching and learning in distance education. Let me know if you’re interested in replicating our study.

Are you going to AERA? Let’s connect in Toronto!

Sandra Annette Rogers, PhD

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Instructional Design Graduate Assistantship Provided Apprenticeship

Dr. Rogers shows participants the various learning activities provided in StudyMate program
Sandra trained faculty at the University of South Alabama on various software programs such as Respondus’ StudyMate shown here.

This year, I’m celebrating my 5th anniversary as an instructional designer (ID). Prior to this career path, I was an educator for 18 years, so the transition was not difficult. As I reflect on the success I’m enjoying at Spring Hill College (SHC) now, I want to acknowledge the invaluable practical experience gained as an instructional designer during my doctoral program at the University of South Alabama (USA). I had a graduate assistantship with the Innovation in Learning Center (ILC) at the USA for 2 years.

Besides benefitting from tuition remission and a stipend, the apprenticeship provided me with the opportunity to work beside skilled IDs,  collaborate with a dozen of my classmates, and interact with faculty and students to address their needs. The assistantship purposefully had us cycle through various project teams, train-the-trainer sessions, and production tasks. Specifically, I was able to add these experiences to my resume:

  • Assisted the director of online learning with designing, developing, and delivering professional development and teaching tips for faculty to support student online learning via Sakai learning management system (LMS);
  • Moderated and maintained the online competency-based certificate course for faculty (Sakai 101: The Basics Online) and the orientation course for students (USAonline Student Course);
  • Supported the LMS administrator by answering technical calls from faculty and students; and
  • Served on the accessibility, resources, and USAonline teams to produce corresponding questionnaires, job aids, video tutorials, and reports (to include photography).

This apprenticeship grounded my doctoral studies, as I was able to think of developing trainer scripts based on Gagne’s 9 events of learning. See my previous post on a Pixlr workshop training plan.  Additionally, the formal and informal interactions with my peers provided opportunities to learn from each other, as the ID program is an interdisciplinary one. For example, my peers had advanced degrees in engineering, English, math, sociology, and IT. Many of my peers and co-workers from the ILC continue to shape my understanding of ID today through networking, professional development, and subject matter expertise on research interests.

If I didn’t have this well-rounded training and hands-on experience along with my doctoral coursework, I probably wouldn’t have had such as good start at my current workplace. For example, I was the first ID hired with a degree in the field at SHC. The previous person serving in the capacity of ID was actually the learning management system administrator and instructional technologist. All of the framework for collaborating with instructors as the ID (e.g., Online Course Design Guide, benchmarks, needs assessments, knowledge management, training), needed to be created from scratch. These documents initially relied on my ILC work experience but have since shifted to include the mission and identify of SHC. Nevertheless, I’m forever indebted to the ILC and my cohort of peers during my graduate assistantship!

Magis Instructional Design Model for Ignatian Pedagogy

Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Engraving by C. Klauber. Wellcome M0005653

The Magis Instructional Design (ID) Model for online courses was developed by Sandra Rogers (2015) with input from the Jesuits at Spring Hill College, as subject matter experts, and her professor in instructional design, Dr. Davidson-Shivers. It’s unique in that it addresses religion, spirituality, and social justice in addition to intellectual growth.

Jesuit school educators include techniques for reflection within their units of study in order to challenge students to serve others (Korth, 1993). According to one theology professor, Jesuit educators focus instructional activities on experiential learning to engender the cycle of experience leading to reflection and further action. This is based on the dynamics of Saint Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises from which Ignatian pedagogy is derived.

The principles of Ignatian pedagogy include context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation (Korth, 1993). Further action and service to others are for the greater glory of God. Magis means doing more for God’s Kingdom (Ad majorem Dei gloriam). The Magis ID Model is an alternative to existing ones in that it embeds the following Ignatian pedagogical layers into the systematic design of instruction to develop learners into caring leaders by addressing the whole person:

  1. Analyze human learning experience online/offline
  2. Establish relationships of mutual respect online/offline
  3. Tap into learner’s prior knowledge & experience
  4. Design optimal learning experience for the whole person
  5. Assimilate new information
  6. Transfer learning into lifeworld
  7. Encourage lifelong learning & reflections beyond self-interest
  8. Learners become contemplatives in action

Online Community of Inquiry

Designing for a community of inquiry (COI) loop will address the Ignatian principles of teaching to the whole person. A  COI exists when you have social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence. These are essential elements to the communication loop for an online COI (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). This means that learners in an online environment are involved in activities that are cognitively challenging, are able to interact with their classmates, and that teaching is present in some way through words (e.g., text-based discussion), voice (e.g., podcasts), or person (e.g., webcast). The teaching can be delivered by student moderators or the instructor.

Bernard et al. (2009) conducted a meta-analysis of 74 online course interactions and found substantive research outcomes indicating the positive effect on learning when online educators build these types of interactions into their courses: student-student, student-teacher, and student-content. These interaction treatments (ITs) were defined as the environments and not the actual behaviors that occur within them. Through ID processes, one can design and develop these types of environments for distance education. Table 1 displays the main components of a Jesuit education, COI, and ITs, and their interrelationships.

Table 1

Comparison of Jesuit Education and Research-Based Best Practices

Jesuit Education of the Whole Person Mind Body Spirit
Necessary Elements for an Online Community of Inquiry Intellectual Presence Social Presence Teaching Presence
Research-based Best Practices for Interaction Treatments Student-content interactions Student-student interactions Student-teacher interactions

Designing Optimal Learning Experiences for the Whole Person

The Magis ID Model analyzes the type of instructional strategies used in distance education to ensure they address the whole person through cura personalis (mind, body, & spirit). Strategy selection should vary to meet the needs of diverse learners and engender higher-order thinking for cognitive presence. Selection depends on various affordances and constraints such as time and resources. For example, an activity-centered lesson is based on an interactive task and requires collaborative tools and student groupings. Content-centered lessons are passive tasks where the student generally only interacts with the content; the exception being discussions of content. Experience-centered activities require a hands-on approach to developing something or serving/working with others. The learner-centered activity provides the learner with more autonomy over their pursuit of knowledge and includes metacognitive actions for self-regulation of learning; the affordances and constraints for this type of activity are highly dependent on the task. Ideally, online educators should provide active learning activities to enhance cognitive transfer of new information and skills learned to long-term memory.

Contact Dr. Rogers (srogers@shc.edu) at Spring Hill College to learn more about this ID model and how it’s being used to develop distance education courses.

Application of Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction to WDE Gaming

Application of Gagné’s Nine Events of Instruction to Well Designed Educational (WDE) Gaming 

(This chart was published in my dissertation. See references below.)

Gagné’s Nine Events of Instruction (1985) Comparison to WDE Gaming (Adapted from Becker, 2008 and Van Eck, 2006) Mental Processes (Gagné & Driscoll, 1988)
Gain attention Capture attention with movement, scenes, sounds, speech, and health status updates Reception
State the learning objectives Inform learner of quest and related game documentation to include limitations and cutscenes (e.g., set mood) Expectancy
Stimulate recall of prior learning Present stimulus through environmental structures that provide familiarity with obstacles or behaviors of characters Retrieval to working memory
Present content Present content according to the objectives of the game such as storyline embedded within the virtual environment Selective perception
Provide guidance Guide users with storylines, profiles, help section, map, sale of higher-level gear as you level up, hint books, friendly gamers’ verbal and nonverbal input, NPCs’ model language, and partial clues for quests found in gameplay Semantic encoding
Elicit performance Require adequate knowledge to advance to next level Responding
Provide feedback Provide feedback via speech, sounds, visuals, text, or motion directives including no motion Reinforcement
Assess performance Assess users’ performance as they progress to end goal and achieve reward for knowledge and skill Retrieval and reinforcement
Enhance retention Interweave past learning experience with new challenges; otherwise, repeat prior mistakes Retrieval and Generalization

References

Becker, K. (2008). Video game pedagogy: Good games = Good pedagogy. In C. T. Miller (Ed.), Games: Purpose and potential in education (pp. 73-122). New York, NY: Springer.

Gagné, R. M. (1985). The conditions of learning. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Gagné, R. M., & Driscoll, M. P. (1988). Essentials of learning for instruction (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Rogers, S. A. (2017). A MMORPG with language learning strategic activities to improve English grammar, listening, reading, and vocabulary (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 10265484)

Van Eck, R. (2006). Building artificially intelligent learning games. In D. Gibson, C. Aldrich, & M. Prensky (Eds.), Games and simulations in online learning research & development frameworks (pp. 271–307). Hershey, PA: Idea Group.

Cognitive Perspective of Flow Theory and Video Games

Icon of game consul

Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theory (1990) is based on several interrelated psychological constructs: ability, attitude, cognition, emotion, motivation, and personality. When perfectly combined in a task, they catapult a person into a state of flow commonly known as being in the zone. Csikszentmilhalyi refers to this as an optimal experience. He found that people around the world had shared descriptions for flow such as the joy it yields, episodes of unfettered concentration, suspension of time, and the spontaneous automaticity during an experience. Flow occurs differently for different people. For example, individuals who aren’t good at playing games, or find the game uninteresting, wouldn’t experience flow during gameplay.

As an instructional designer, I want to create optimal learning experiences. Flow theory has components similar to those used for effective instruction based on cognitivism. For instance, Sweller’s cognitive load theory (1998) recommends reducing distractions (extraneous elements) and delivering germane and intrinsic elements of instruction in manageable chunks. This correlates to the component of enjoyment in flow theory in that a person can only fully enjoy a task if they’re capable of completing it. Flow theory has eight main components that engender enjoyment: manageable tasks, deep concentration, clear goals, immediate feedback, effortless involvement, learner autonomy, metamorphosis of self, and suspension of time. These components parallel best practices for instruction.

To make learning more enjoyable, I’d apply Miller’s seven-plus-or-minus-two principle (1956) regarding the limitations surrounding the amount of input that can be remembered at any given time. Adherence to Miller’s principle will make a task more manageable. Additionally, I’d use Gagne’s (1985) nine events of learning to establish the optimal cognitive conditions for effective learning to occur. Three of Gagne’s events (state objective, provide feedback, and provide practice) closely correlate with the enjoyment phenomena of flow theory (task has clear goals, task provides immediate feedback, and sense of control). Furthermore, the aspects of clear goals and feedback also correlate to self-regulation of learning. Self-regulation processes include rehearsal, selection of important information, and metacognitive strategies. The selection of important information aids deep concentration for possible enjoyment of an optimal experience.

A vehicle for cognitive learning experiences with flow potential would be well-designed educational games. Elements of good game design include goal-oriented, stimulating, active learning that is anchored in instruction (Shute, Reiber, & Van Eck, 2012). While playful (fun) learning has similar elements, the key difference is active learning, as many playful activities passively follow the teacher’s directives. Another difference is the challenge aspect of gaming that adapts to the learners’ abilities, whereas playful learning is freeform. A challenge provides learners with intrinsic motivation and the pathway to achieve learner autonomy to make their own way through the world. This is different from traditional learning activities that are teacher directed. Chatti, Jarke, and Specht (2010) described this as a knowledge push, whereas knowledge-pull is akin to gaming where the learner gravitates toward knowledge.

Videogames, in particular, have similar characteristics for creating a context for flow. According to Csikszentmihalyi, clarity, centering, choice, commitment, and challenge are the characteristics necessary for a unified flow experience. In my opinion, these are the flow characteristics that can be found in gameplay: 1) clarity with explicit gaming context, rules, feedback, and goals, 2) centering with narrative providing storyline, 3) choice with multilevels of play, numerous episodes, variety of characters and actions, and guilds, 4) commitment via resets (do-overs) and new virtual identity, and 5) challenge via incremental task difficulty and reward system. The challenge for instructional designers is to determine how to use the potentiality of videogames to engender flow for educational purposes. Based on the aforementioned research on cognitive learning best practices and flow theory, we have the theoretical basis to move forward.

Sandra Rogers

References

Chatti, M. A., Jarke, M., & Specht, M. (2010). The 3P learning model. Educational Technology and Society, 13(4), 74-85.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Gagné, R. M. (1985). The Conditions of Learning. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Miller, G. A. (1956). The magical number seven, plus-or-minus two: Some limits on our capacity
for processing information. Psychological Review, 63, 81-97.

Shute, V. J., Rieber, L. P., & Van Eck, R. (2012).   Games…and…Learning. In R. A. Reiser & J. V. Dempsey   (Eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and   technology (pp. 321-332). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill   Prentice Hall.

Sweller, J., Van Merriënboer, J., & Paas, F. (1998). Cognitive architecture and instructional design. Educational Psychology Review 10(3), 251–296. doi:10.1023/A:1022193728205

Are you interested in selling educational products on TPT?

Cover page of story titled, A Chance To Grow
I sell children’s stories, activities, and other K-12 educational products online.

 

TeachersPayTeachers.com is a great way for educators to sell their own material.  They’re an open marketplace for educators to buy, sell, and share their self-made educational products.   Here’s my store on TPThttp://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Teacherrogers. I currently have 50 educational products for sale.  Examples include a podcast project, learning center signs, language prompts with photos from American life, and literature studies.  The majority of my products are available in English and Spanish editions.

You have to become a member to make a purchase.  Membership is free. Additionally, you will have access to thousands of free downloads from each teacher—that’s the sharing component of TPT.  If you’re interested in selling products on TPT, then please use my referral link.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Signup/referral:Teacherrogers

Read my WordPress page about being a materials writer for TeachersPayTeachers. I’m selling products on TPT to help pay for graduate school and to get hands-on experience as an instructional designer of educational products. This activity is also helping me learn about the Common Core State Standards, as I try to align my products.  For example, check out the fictional story I wrote about the life cycle of various animals and plants a young chick encounters on a walk around the farm.

Also, some teachers (not me) make a substantial income on TPT. Read about TPT’s number one seller, Deanna Jump. Thank you for visiting my store! If you purchase something, please leave feedback.