Instructional designers + teaching faculty = powerful partnership


Kenyada McLeod, Assistant Professor of Web Design at John Tyler Community College

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Wide view image of male and female hand joining two matching puzzle pieces together in a conceptual image of teamwork and cooperation. Top view with copy space.

The classroom experience as we know it has changed. With the onset of social distancing and sudden transitions to remote instruction, the faculty workload may be quite overwhelming for some teaching faculty. These days it is not uncommon to hear the comforting proclamation, “We’re in this together”.

As employees of higher education systems, we are all committed to high-quality learning experiences for our students. This requires communication, teamwork, and collaboration. At the front lines are teaching faculty who have quickly adapted to the changes that have been required due to the current climate of our world. High-level administrators are making tough decisions and keeping us informed. There is yet another hidden figure embedded in many institutions. That hidden figure is the instructional designer.

Many may view instructional designers as technical support, trainer, professional development coordinators or perhaps even the person they call when they have a question related to the learning management system. Instructional designers may be charged with these responsibilities, but let’s dig a bit deeper. According to the Association for Talent Developer, an instructional designer “…applies this systematic methodology (rooted in instructional theories and models) to design and develop content, experiences, and other solutions to support the acquisition of new knowledge or skills” (Association for Talent Developer, 2020).

For the most part, instructional designers have earned an advanced degree with a focus on education, instructional technology and/or instructional design. What exactly does this mean? Instructional designers spend at least two years focusing on the art and science of teaching and learning, ways to support the teaching and learning process with technology and more. These professionals are preparing themselves to collaborate with and support teaching faculty.

Teaching faculty have spent numerous years studying a discipline in which they possess a passion. They are geniuses when it comes to these subject matters and are well-equipped to share knowledge based on their intense studies and related experiences. These advanced degrees rarely include curriculum related to the art and science of teaching and learning, instructional design or content development.

Are you seeing the opportunity? If there were more collaborations between the genius teaching faculty who are subject matter experts in their discipline and the instructional designers who are subject matter experts in the art and science of teaching and learning, imagine the learning experiences that would result. In an article published by EdSurge, instructional designers are likened to first responders of higher education as many faculty faced the abrupt transition to remote instruction (Koenig, 2020).

Janelle Marshall, communications department chair at John Tyler Community College, shares, “Working with an instructional designer has allowed me to see the ‘big picture’ when it comes to the online design of my courses. It’s helped me to see how each component I decide to include or exclude creates an experience for my students and ultimately, leads to their overall success in my class” (J. Marshall, personal communication, May 18, 2020).

Chelsea Milks, business instructor at John Tyler Community College, describes her experience collaborating with an instructional designer as “…a missing puzzle piece creating a ripple effect, resulting in organized and highly effective courses for students” (C. Milks, personal communication, May 19, 2020).

Let’s leverage this powerful partnership and create memorable and impactful learning experiences for our students. We’re in this together.


Association for Talent Developer. (2020). What is instructional design? Retrieved May 18, 2020, from

Koenig, R. (2020, March 19). Meet the Instructional Design ‘First Responders’ Helping Faculty Teach in an Emergency. Retrieved May 18, 2020, from

Kenyada McLeod, a self-proclaimed online learning enthusiast, currently serving as an assistant professor of web design at John Tyler Community College. She possesses numerous years of experience as an educator and instructional designer in numerous sectors. Her most recent endeavors include homeschooling her children ranging in age from 2 – 17.

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