Instructional Design – much more than fixing the LMS!

Inside Higher Ed recently wrote an article titled “Instructional Design Teams: Beyond the Numbers”. The article focuses on the structure of instructional design teams across different universities and colleges. As you can imagine, the teams come in all shapes and sizes.

One-Stop Shops

At some institutions, the instructional design “team” is usually one full-time instructional designer with a few temporary, part-time workers to assist. That one person is tasked with doing it all; from meeting with faculty to design courses, graphic design, producing media, troubleshooting the LMS and beyond.

As online courses offerings start to increase, faculty are usually left waiting for that small team to become available to assist.

Midsize Shops

Other institutions have expanded their instructional design teams beyond just a few folks and have even positioned the team under the ‘academic affairs’ umbrella that more accurately reflects the role they play in student’s education.

Even midsize teams, however, are quickly finding that their group may not have enough personnel to go around to assist all faculty that want to tap into their services. At Metropolitan State University of Denver, the instructional design team has implemented a system which provides faculty a limited amount of “tokens” they can use for one-on-one consultations with instructional designers.

“As institutions expand their commitment to online education, many now recognize the value of dedicated staffers who assist faculty members in translating old courses to a new format and creating new courses out of whole cloth”

Large Shops

Finally, the article discusses institutions with more centralized distance education units. This is where FIU’s “FIU Online” would fall under.

These units offer a full-range of services including, but not limited to, consultations with faculty and administrative staff for launching online courses and full programs, providing accessibility services (like captioning), multimedia services, technical support, managing the learning management system and related applications.

What does it all mean?

The article concludes with Penn State’s Penny Ralston-Berg (by the way, Penny spoke at our 2016 FIU Online Conference) questioning how instructional designers are utilized at institutions, regardless of the size and shape of their shop.

“What do designers do? What can they contribute?”, said Ralston-Berg.

Well, we can start by listing what FIU Online instructional designers do and how they can contribute to better learning experiences for students.

What can FIU Online ID’s do for you?

What FIU Online ID’s do:

  • Collaborate with faculty to design, develop and maintain online courses and programs using quality standards
  • Provide best practices and recommendations for making courses accessible
  • Connect faculty with other university resources (FIU Libraries, Center for Advancement of Teaching, etc.)

What FIU Online IDs contribute:

  • Knowledge of pedagogical strategies
  • Expertise on assessment strategies
  • Knowledge of online course quality rubrics and standards
  • Insight on academic integrity
  • Knowledge of making courses more affordable
  • Expertise in educational technology

Let’s Work Together!

Due to the extensive experience of working with and supporting learning management systems, instructional designers can sometimes be viewed as ‘technical gurus’ or even simply as ‘LMS people’. However, instructional designers are capable of going beyond the technical aspects of distance education.

At FIU Online, the instructional design team has had the privilege of collaborating with faculty since 1998 to build engaging learning experiences for students. Our primary role is to help faculty navigate the digital learning landscape and make teaching with technology a joy and not a burden.

We’re excited about the opportunities for collaboration that lie ahead!  

Honors College Faculty and former FIU Online Educational Technology Manager.