Reflecting on Instructional Design

The instructional design process can be a very rewarding one, or it can be a total pain. I am fortunate in that I work with members of the academic profession who respect me. Although they do not always understand the why behind what I suggest, many of them are willing to accept me as a professional in my field and at least try the what.

There are those in academia who, for whatever reason, do not accept instructional designers and feel that we are imposing something on them. They are experienced professionals who have been teaching for years, after all. We have no teaching background, no advanced degrees. Who are we to come in and tell them how to run their classes, be it face-to-face or online?

The article by Shrock (1985) we read this week was a perfect example of how easily faculty perceptions about instructional design could be skewed by poor presentation, bad timing, unclear motivations, or simply unwelcome change. Once the faculty hold a false perception of IDT, it is hard to change that perception and convince them that the techniques being taught by instructional designers, while requiring some additional work on their part, can actually help them improve student performance and engagement, increase motivation and persistence, and raise cognition and higher order thinking skills in their classrooms, be they physical or virtual.

In the business world, it’s worse. I recently had the following YouTube video shared with me: It underscores the general problem that occurs when management or SME’s try to design instruction (or control its design) without a basic understanding of good instructional design principles or even a good sense of the purpose of the instruction. While I might at some point have faculty resistant to hearing what I have to say, at least I don’t have them telling me how to design instruction.

All in all, this has been an overwhelmingly positive opportunity for me. I love what I do as an instructional designer. I feel my work has real purpose and, at least for the time being, I think I am mostly respected for my expertise, knowledge and skills. It is a good feeling.

Shrock, S. A. (1985). Faculty perceptions of instructional development and the success/failure of an instructional development program: A naturalistic study. ECTJ 33(1), pp. 16-25.

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