Insights from the Field: A Deeper Dive into Research Methods for the Instructional Designer Community


Elisabeth Stucklen

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Research & Instructional DesignThe Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is reaching out to our global community of thought leaders, faculty, innovators and practitioners to bring you insights from the field of online, blended and digital learning. This week, Lori Kupczynski, OLC Institute faculty for the four-week workshop on Research Methods for the Instructional Designer Community, joins us to discuss how research knowledge and experience are important competencies for instructional designers, in both their career and professional development.

OLC: There are many opportunities to teach online. Why did you choose OLC and which Institute course(s) do you teach for OLC?

My relationship with OLC began over 10 years ago when I attended my first conference and was amazed to spend time with others who were so passionate about online learning. The opportunity to contribute to OLC and share my passion for online education and research is an absolute treat for me.

OLC: What do you believe are the top 3 ways in which professionals in our field can stay current and move ahead?

I believe that the top three ways that professionals in our field can stay current are:

1. Follow the research and be aware of the newest contributions in research.
2. Follow practice and be aware of new contributions in practice.
3. Most importantly, be ready to take chances, try new ideas, fail, succeed, adjust, ask for help, and give help. It is when we are stagnant that we are often left behind.

OLC: What advice would you give to instructional designers who would like to be more involved in research?

I believe that the best thing you can do if you want to be more involved is to get involved. Often, people are interested in research but not sure how to go about completing it. As well, research is sometimes considered an arena for certain professions, but not all…I don’t believe that at all! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to take your ideas to colleagues! Rarely is research conducted by an individual. If you are new to research, reach out to others who have more experience and share your ideas. Work together and share the work and know that your first research project may be stressful, but it is a start. We were all there at one time. One day, you could be the person that another ID is reaching out to for help.

OLC: What are the 3 most important things prospective participants should know about the Research Methods for the Instructional Designer Community workshop?

As a prospective participant, I want you to know that I understand where you are coming from, because I have been there as well. Our goal is to work together to inspire you to connect amazing research opportunities that you may have with your practice that are so vital to online learning. As well, I’d like you to know that I’m a little OCD about my teaching, so I really do want you to reach out to me with questions, ideas, concerns or just some general great conversation about the many possibilities we have!

OLC: Why do you teach and research?

I love answering this question. I wake up each day and I feel like I am truly blessed. I get to do what I love and work on my own schedule. Fortunately for me and my kiddos, I’m obsessive, so I work a lot, but is it really work when we love it? I meet new people, form new partnerships, help people understand and conduct research, and always apply what we do as researchers to our own practice. I have great opportunities to consult for quality assurance in online classes with many institutions and to work with OLC, an organization I have true respect for. If you had asked me 15 years ago about research, I would have said NEVER!! I joke with people that I don’t really like research; I just like answers. I have so many questions!! Research gives us insight, and I enjoy teaching research because I know that other people have the same questions I have had. It is complicated, but it is not unconquerable. I want to help other people who may shy away from research to see that there is so much we can do if we just jump in. I dare say…it is fun!!

OLC: How do you define innovation?

I believe that there are two types of people in our society today – those who like change, and those who don’t. When I define innovation, it is with the understanding that I adore change. I don’t like to remain the same, as the world around me does not. When we innovate, we consider new ideas that may not have even been ideas just a few years ago. We look at our purpose in education and our students and our stakeholders and these are always shifting. We innovate when we think about how best to reach these people and how to make all areas of education exciting and valuable. Innovation is moving forward and being ready to learn as we are all lifelong learners.

OLC: Tell us about research or a work project in which you are currently engaged.

I am currently completing a fascinating project that focuses on counseling through online mediums. The utilization of online formats extends beyond our amazing work in higher education and allows us to reach so many who otherwise would not have access to services and education. Consideration of online training for counselors and online counseling is met with mixed reviews. My current research will add to the knowledge in the area as this area continues expanding.

OLC: What was the last book, journal, or article you read that relates to the field?

Okay, now I’m going to sound like a geek! I have recently been reviewing research books for classes. I am an absolute huge Creswell fan, but I have found another that I am definitely falling for. The book is Introduction to Educational Research, 2nd Ed., by Craig Mertler. It is written in such a way that it blends research with practice and allows people who are not familiar with research to really understand so much about methodology and design. I’m halfway through with my highlights, underlines, and notes, and I can’t wait to share it with my students.

OLC: How can people connect with you?

Please feel free to connect with me! I use Voxer (a walkie-talkie app) that really works great with today’s colleagues and students and our busy lives when we need to have a conversation but don’t have time to sit down and talk. My Voxer is lgmail828.

You can also find me through LinkedIn at and ResearchGate at

Lori KupczynskiAbout Lori Kupczynski

Lori Kupczynski, Ed.D. has served over 20 years in higher education in the areas of English, Communication, Adult Education, Higher Education and Educational Leadership. She currently serves as an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Graduate Coordinator of both the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership program and the doctoral level transcripted certificate program in Higher Education Administration and Leadership (HEAL). She was the Recipient of the 2012 United States Distance Learning Association’s Outstanding Leadership by an Individual in the field of Distance Learning Award and the 2012 Distinguished Researcher Award from Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

She recently received the Senior Faculty Award in the College of Education and Human Performance at TAMUK for the year 2016. Lori Kupczynski received her Master of Arts in English Literature and Language with a concentration in Communication from St. Mary’s University and her Doctor of Education with a concentration in Adult Education and Higher Education from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. She has served as faculty at the community college level, guest instructor at the K-12 level, instructional designer and faculty and administrator at the university level.

Her research agenda focuses on developing a deeper understanding of interactions among adult learners in online learning environments through the development of grounded theory to explain the interactions within the Community of Inquiry Framework (CoI). A secondary track of research is on new and emerging technologies complementary to research with adult learners online. Lori has published over 70 peer reviewed articles in the field and has presented at numerous prestigious conferences. When she is not spending her time glued to the computer either teaching or researching, she can be found playing with her two daughters and their beloved (and very costly!) horse, Trio.

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