Insights from the Field: Learning to Master Instructional Design


OLC Institute for Professional Development

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The 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, Dr. Olena Zhadko, OLC Institute faculty for the Instructional Design Mastery Series, joins us to answer our questions about the field of instructional design.

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

I teach with the OLC because it enables me to partake in the process of preparing future leaders in the field of online education. OLC offers professional development on a wide range of topics, from specific use cases of educational technology to instructional design, and other aspects of online education. I currently teach the Instructional Design Mastery Series and have taught the OER workshop in the past. 

OLC: What are the 3 most important things prospective participants should know about the upcoming Mastery Series?

  1. The series offers an opportunity to rethink the understanding of instructional design.
  2. Course design offers a framework and structure for applying instructional design principles. 
  3. Intentional and reflective planning facilitates creation of effective learning experiences.

OLC: Where is the field of instructional design headed in the next 5 years? What new developments should we expect to see?

The field of instructional design is getting a lot more interest and attention on college campuses. Institutions interested in supporting innovative and effective teaching and learning will invest in developing such expertise. Many more opportunities will evolve to support professional development and training for those seeking expertise in instructional design to further advance and develop new skills.

OLC: What current research or projects are you engaged in that relate to instructional design?

I have contributed two chapters to the edited book, The Learner-Centered Instructional Designer: Purpose, Process, and Practicalities of Creating Online Courses in Higher Education (Quinn, J., ed.) with Stylus Publishing, forthcoming in 2020. I am also currently working with Susan Ko on a book titled Best Practices in Designing Courses with Educational Resources (OER) with Routledge, coming in 2020 in the Best Practices in Online Teaching and Learning Series.

OLC: OLC’s Institute offerings help professionals stay current in their fields, and oftentimes assist in the advancement of their profession. What do you believe are the top 3 ways in which professionals in our field can stay current and move ahead?

  1. Read, read, and read. Read journal articles, books, and listen to podcasts. 
  2. Engage with the professional network. Build a mastermind group to bounce ideas off, seek advice, and share your successes. 
  3. Give back. Present at conferences, accept invitations to share your knowledge, trade your skills with colleagues, and write to share your experience with a wider audience. 

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

  1. The Business of Innovating Online: Practical tips and advice from industry by Kathryn E. Linder
  2. Best Practices in Planning Strategically for Online Educational Programs by Elliot King, Neil Alperstein
  3. Teaching online: A practical guide, by Susan Ko, Steve Rossen

OLC: How can people connect with you?

Dr. Olena Zhadko has nearly 15 years of experience in the field of educational technology, a PhD in teaching and learning as well as the drive for educational innovation. She has successfully worked at three academic centers by providing leadership and assistance in articulating and implementing effective teaching, and infusing best practices into curriculum development, delivery, and assessment through the effective use of technology. 

In her current role, she serves as the Director of Online Education at Lehman College, acting as the College’s senior administrator charged with the oversight of all facets of online instruction. Olena highly values interactive pedagogies, faculty partnerships, and data-driven decision making. She brings extensive experience in designing, developing and evaluating new programs and curricula for online, hybrid, and face-to-face delivery.

Olena is a sought-after speaker and workshop facilitator and has presented at conferences such as the Online Learning Consortium, Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network in Higher Education, the World Conference on Online Learning, and the Teaching Professor. She is an invited presenter at the Strategies for Scaling and Growing Online Programs annual conference. Olena also serves on the advisory board of the Distance Teaching & Learning Conference

She received a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Teaching and Learning and Educational Technology from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis. She is an alumna of the OLC’s Institute for the Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL), and the POD Network Institute for New Faculty Developers. She also serves on the advisory board of the Distance Teaching and Learning Conference.

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