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22st Annual OLC International Conference
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Matchmaking for Instructional Designers: Creating a Successful Mentoring/Buddy Program

Amy Roche (Penn State University & Northampton Community College, USA)
Angela Dick (The Pennsylvania State University, USA)
April Millet (The Pennsylvania State University, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 11:45am
Institutional Strategies & Innovations
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Southern Hemisphere V
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 1
Virtual Session

A grassroots mentoring/buddy program across a large and distributed professional community will be introduced including challenges and successes, discussion of expanding the program, and more!

Extended Abstract

This session is for conference participants who are interested in developing a networking and/or mentoring program within their professional community at their institution. The ID-2-ID program began as a grassroots effort on the part of Instructional Designers (ID) who had a desire to connect and learn from other members of this professional community (150+ members strong) at Penn State University.

Penn State has 24 campuses that stretch across Pennsylvania; many have instructional designers who support numerous roles within the University. Some of the roles specialize in different aspects of instructional design, such as Hybrid Course Design, Online Course Design, Faculty Development, Program Assessment / Assessment for Accreditation, etc.

While Penn State has a large community of instructional designers who have a wealth of knowledge and experience, prior to the mentoring/buddy program there was not an easy way to share this expertise with each other. Previous opportunities included online discussion channels and yearly events; however, there were no formalized channels. There were a few times that some instructional designers / instructional design units met with each other outside of the yearly events and discussion channels; however, this did not happen for a large portion of the instructional design community. Due to this, silos of information existed which provided an opportunity for improvement.

The volunteer committee put together a program that supports the professional growth and networking for the ID community, and is currently in its third year running.

The focus of those applying to the program included an opportunity for instructional designers to:
- Learn what other Instructional Designer roles are within a different area.
- Have a peer Instructional Designer to brainstorm or bounce ideas off of in relation to his/her projects / daily work.
- Have a peer Instructional Designer to gain a different perspective of his/her workflow, projects, etc.
- Have a peer Instructional Designer to share areas of expertise and to focus on improving areas where I am less knowledgeable.
- Grow their professional network by meeting / have more frequent communication with an Instructional Designer that is not part of their professional network.

The ID-2-ID program participants had the option of being a mentor, mentee, or a buddy in the program. A definition of each role is as follows:
- MENTOR: Advisor, monitor, counselor, tutor. A mentor is a person or friend who guides a less experienced person by building trust and modeling positive behaviors. An effective mentor understands that his or her role is to be dependable, engaged, authentic, and tuned into the needs of the mentee.
- MENTEE: A mentee is someone who wants to learn from someone who knows and seeks their valuable advice in order to grow personally and/or professionally.
- BUDDY: A buddy is someone who informally partners with another person to grow a skill, work on a project, or to help in professional growth. Buddies use their unique perspectives, stories, and strategies to provide mutual support and encouragement as they move forward in their careers. A buddy is there to offer support and encouragement. His or her role is not to give advice or to take on problems and try to fix them. Instead, the buddy is there to help you look to the future and think about the tools you need to get the results you want.

The focus of this session will be to share our experiences in developing the structure, pairing methodology and activities of the program, its successes and challenges and invite session participants to share their feedback on our program, as well as help them to develop ideas for their own mentoring/buddy program at their institution.

Program Results:
The program concluded its second year in Spring 2015. Seventy-two Instructional Designers participated in the program, making up thirty-six pairs with sixteen Instructional Designers repeating the program from the first to the second year. During each cohort year, formative and summative assessments were conducted in addition to an end of year debrief with the program participants.

As reported in these assessments, the participants mentoring/buddying experiences were positive. Their participation in the program contributed to:
- the growth their professional network,
- attending professional development opportunities that they would not have attended otherwise
- learning something valuable from interacting with Learning Designers whose experiences/roles were different from their own
- gaining different workflows/project perspective
- a positive attitude change towards work due to their experiences with the program
- a large collection of artifacts and collaboration including research projects

Outcomes of the Session:
During this session, participants will gain perspectives on how to:
- develop a similar program at their institution.
- operationalize a program, including communication strategy, activity planning and issue mitigation.
- compare program benchmarks set at other institutions.

As an engaged participant of this session, you will be:
- provided an opportunity to hear scenarios and help us problem solve those situations.
- providing feedback on how a program such as this can be implemented at your institution.
- brainstorm how a program like this can be implemented across multiple institutions.

Lead Presenter

Amy Roche is an Instructional Designer in the Center for Learning & Teaching at Penn State Berks and has worked in higher education for over 10 years. Her work focuses on the design and development of hybrid / online courses, application of course pedagogy, and the creation and integration of open educational resources. She received a Master of Science in Instructional Technology from Bloomsburg University. Her professional interests include emerging instructional design models, pedagogical research, and quality assurance in online education.