As full-time question-wrestlers, we enjoy drawing back the curtains on spaces rarely seen. At the beginning of this year, we were presented with the task of telling a story taking place nationwide. The setting: higher education institutions in the US. The main characters: Instructional Designers. If you’re unfamiliar with that title, don’t fret, we once were too.
As digital tools evolve and become more prominent in higher education, instructional designers, learning designers, instructional technologists, and folks with a dozen other related titles are assuming a more integral role in the learning process. But who are these mysterious designers of instruction, and what do they do? We also asked:
- What is the typical background and training of instructional designers in Higher Ed?
- What are their biggest barriers, and what skills are most important for success?
- What tools do they use and what does their workflow look like?
- How are instructional designers distributed across institutions, and how do their teams operate?
Under the funding and encouragement of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we began an investigation into the role, workflow, and experience of instructional designers in higher education. The result was a 15-page report which became our first publicly published research document.