The field of instructional design has gotten a lot of attention lately, especially in the world of higher education. But even some experienced instructional designers have a hard time explaining exactly what it is they do. In this part of our Instructional Design 101 series, we’ll take a look at how instructional designers work with other members of the higher education community.

IDs come to complement faculty, not to replace them

Anyone who’s worked in higher education knows it can get a bit territorial sometimes. Faculty members and administrators can occasionally get a little protective of their areas of hard-earned expertise, and understandably so. How, then, does the role of instructional designer fit into the landscape of higher education? In other words, just whose turf are they on?

The answer is, ideally, no one’s. Instructional design is a field unto itself – many instructional designers hold master’s degrees or graduate certificates in instructional design, and that’s where their expertise lies. When Cengage’s ID team partners with your school, their goal is to use their training in learning theory to complement your faculty’s subject matter expertise and experience.

The course development team

In a typical course development project, Cengage’s ID team works not only with your school’s faculty and administration, but also with a subject matter expert consultant. Often, these SMEs have been involved with the development of Cengage’s industry-standard educational resources. The instructional designer then uses his or her training in learning theory to develop course elements that are educationally sound, engaging, and focused on helping students achieve the course’s learning objectives. Your school’s faculty provides the overall vision for the course, reviews each element as it’s produced, and has final approval over all course deliverables.

In one recent project, the customer wanted Cengage’s ID team to design elements of a cybersecurity course that was to be structured around a set of online labs developed by a third party. After carefully reviewing the course materials and talking in depth with the school’s faculty about what they wanted to include in the course, the ID team collaborated with an independent SME to develop sound learning objectives and create discussion questions and assignments that supported those objectives both in content covered and Bloom’s level.

The combination of the ID team’s expertise in instructional design and the subject matter expert’s knowledge of cybersecurity created a solid final result that the school’s faculty members were extremely happy with.

Check back for additional posts in the Instructional Design 101 series, where we’ll delve deeper into topics including the ID process, how instructional design can improve a course, and how a typical ID project unfolds.

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