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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

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Other Duties as Assigned: Defining the Role of the Instructional Designer in Higher Education

Amy Hilbelink (Laureate Education, USA)
Melissa A. Venable (OnlineColleges.net, USA)
Session Information
October 29, 2014 - 12:00pm
Faculty and Professional Development & Support
Areas of Special Interest: 
Online Learning and Community Colleges
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Northern Hemisphere A3
Session Duration: 
35 Minutes
Concurrent Session 1

What do instructional designers do in higher education; Ideas about preparation for the workplace and continued professional development.

Extended Abstract

What do instructional designers do in higher education? From working as independent learning professionals to members of faculty support offices, the role is increasingly complex and varied to meet the needs of different faculty, courses, programs, institutions and administrators. Entry into the field can be just as complex. Some find that their positions in other parts of the institution evolve to include instructional design and eLearning tasks, while others prepare specifically for an eLearning career through academic coursework and training. Some instructional designers focus on learning the latest technologies in order to advance in their careers, some focus on teaching these skills to others, while others develop skills in managing teams involved in these endeavors. The session will address setting realistic expectations for the work of instructional designers through the following questions:

  • How are instructional designers prepared for work in higher education?
  • What skills are sought out in instructional design work in higher education?
  • What are the existing gaps between formal learning environments and current job skill requirements?
  • What are the emerging needs of the instructional design field?

A review of the stated goals and objectives from top graduate-level degree programs will be provided with a summary of common components/outcomes. A review of current higher education instructional design job postings will be presented with a summary of common components. A gap analysis that was conducted in order to compare formal learning goals with current expectations in the market will be presented. From the gap analysis, it is clear that, as with most jobs, instructional design jobs include a host of responsibilities that are not necessarily aligned with technical competencies. The nature of this kind of work is that it is ever changing, with new technologies, tools, and applications continually emerging and expected from hiring institutions and employers. We'll take a look at some of the areas in which future instructional designers may want to focus.

The presenters will also engage attendees in a discussion of the skills they view as the most critical for new instructional designers, and their recommendations for providing professional development opportunities.
Examples of questions for the audience include:

  • For audience members that are IDs, did your formal ID training fully prepare you for your current position?
  • What have you found are the "other duties as assigned" of an instructional designer in your institutions?
  • Where do instructional designers in higher education need/seek professional development in order to fill job skill gaps?
Lead Presenter

Amy Hilbelink, PhD is the Executive Director of Program Design – Health Sciences, Human Services, and Public Policy & Administration at Laureate Education in the Product Strategy, Innovation, and Development (PSID) Group. Amy was the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Online Academic Operations at Education Management Corporation (EDMC), one of the largest providers of private post-secondary education in North America. She also held leadership roles in the areas of academic strategies and development as well as curriculum development at Kaplan University. She earned her PhD from the University of South Florida, in Tampa Florida. Her degree is in Curriculum and Instruction, with an emphasis in Instructional Technology in healthcare education. Research interests include online academic quality initiatives, change management and project development and management.