Rebranding an Instructional Design Unit to Increase Agility

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Come to hear the story of how an instructional design team has shifted from a rigid one-size-fits-all course development process to an agile menu of services, making their department more accessible to the faculty and staff of their college.

Additional Authors

I have been an instructional Designer at the University of South Florida College of Nursing for the past five years. In that time I have help develop over 14 online course and 3 orientations used within the Florida Health system.

Extended Abstract

Developing courses that not only satisfy quality requirements but are also packed with eLearning interactives in each module is a challenge no matter how you slice it.  Planning everything up-front and then having it all turn out as planned and on-time, was a challenge that strained the relationships between faculty and designer while rarely delivering what it promised. To address these concerns the Educational Design and Technology (EDT) team with the USF College of Nursing has shifted to a more agile approach to eLearning development implementing a menu of services.  

The menu of services was developed as a matter of necessity to meet the needs of the 21st century. The one-size-fits-all process that it replaced was a rigorous and document-laden endeavor that exhausted our already over-taxed faculty. Despite faculty having different goals and amounts of time to work with our department, the instructional designers could only provide them with one option, a full-course redesign from course mapping all the way to eLearning presentations for each module.  At the beginning of this year, our college experienced some changes in leadership. Our new Interim Dean listened to our concerns and challenged us to envision a way of operating.  

EDT talked to students, staff, faculty, and the vice deans to better understand what their role should be in the college. The team researched the instructional design departments of the nation’s leading colleges of nursing to learn how they operate to better garner the support of the faculty and leadership. The team reflected on past project management learning experiences, analyzing these experiences to improve current processes. They also attended eLearning industry events focused on project management to better conceive of a new plan of action.  

These efforts led the team to develop a Menu of Services which highlighted 24 services to offer to faculty and staff. This included everything from stylizing an online course in Canvas LMS to consulting with faculty about online assessment solutions. This also included the ability for units to request training on learning technologies or best practices.  This new Menu of Services also took into consideration the underutilized skills of this team, providing opportunities for each team member to specialize in their areas of interest. 

Behind the menu of services was a project management plan aimed to improve project communications and reporting. More formal and laborious emailing were replaced with instant messaging and larger projects were completed in sprints or iterations to keep faculty and staff apprised throughout the process. In addition, they sifted through the technology accessed through the university to find and utilize programs like Microsoft Teams and Planner to assist with costs and accessibility.  

This has been a year of many unexpectable events and difficult lessons. These events challenged the team to resolve in forging a new path and reinforced the importance of what they were doing. Reflecting on their efforts in improving their project management process the team can take pride in knowing they are more agile and resilient, prepared to meet the unexpected challenges of tomorrow.