What have you done for me lately? Communicating the value of the instructional support team’s activities

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This session will explore parallels between instructional design processes and the process of crafting messages that communicate the value of instructional design to others at an institution. Participants will begin to develop and share ideas about strategies and messages that they can use when they return to their institutions.


Dr. Kurzweil is the Director of the ETI and has worked at USU since 2006. In this capacity, she provides strategic direction for the ETI, instructional and educational technology support for faculty, supervision of ETI personnel, and management of the ETI office. Prior to that, she worked at the National Defense University providing direction and vision of the instructional team supporting the Center for Educational Technology. She also is a faculty member in the Health Professions Education program at USU. She has served on numerous committees and task forces examining a wide range of topics including educational technologies, inter-professional education, professional development for K12 and higher education faculty, learning management systems, program assessment and evaluation, instructional design, and teaching/faculty support paradigms. Dr. Kurzweil has presented at international, national, and regional conferences, including American Educational Research Association (AERA), multiple conferences offered by the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, The Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation & Education Conference (I/ITSEC), the Open Apereo (Sakai) Conference and AAMC.
Dr. Marcellas has more than fifteen years of experience in designing instruction for classroom-based, DL and blended learning environments. Her main role at the ETI is ensuring that the team understands faculty members’ needs, and that the team designs and develops products that meet those needs. Her work at the ETI has included front-end analysis, content design, course evaluation, and conducting research on instructional interventions. She has led professional development sessions at USU on topics including the development of effective learning objectives, the use of Bloom’s Taxonomy to guide assessment, and techniques for creating an effective learning environment. Dr. Marcellas has been involved with many instructional and educational technology initiatives at National Defense University (NDU) as well as USUHS. Dr. Marcellas is the co-author of "Instructional Designers and Learning Engineers", a chapter in the book "Modernizing Learning: Building the Future Learning Ecosystem." She has made presentations at numerous national and international conferences, including the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, the Association of American Medical Colleges Annual Meeting, the Online Learning Consortium Accelerate Conference, the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference, the Open Apereo (Sakai) Conference, Educause, the IC Industry Consortium on Learning Engineering Conference (ICICLE), and the Association for Advancement of Computing in Education's E-Learn and EdMedia Conferences.
Dr. Linda Macaulay is an instructional designer with HJF in support of the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (Bethesda, MD). She has over 15 years of experience teaching in online, blended, and traditional higher education programs. Before coming to the university, she was an Assistant Director of Instructional Technology, she taught graduate and undergraduate educational technology courses and was also an elementary teacher for eleven years. Her background in leadership for change, technology, and learning theory provides a broad base of knowledge to support faculty as they work to enhance their face-to-face, blended, and online courses with innovative teaching strategies and technology. She states that she is a "teacher first, techie second" because it is good teaching and course design that makes all the difference for student success. She lives in Landisville, PA with her son and pets and enjoys listening to Kenny Roger's music and spending time with her family to unplug and recharge. Look for her around the OLC Conference buzzing about in her red mobility scooter!

Extended Abstract

Session Outcomes

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate a message about the value of their instructional support organization to leadership and key stakeholders

  • Identify evidence they have within their own organizations to support that message 

  • Implement strategies for navigating the complex web of professional relationships, organizational structures, group dynamics, and shared goals in order to make sure the message gets out to the right people

Background and Session Plan

The role of the instructional designer has grown and evolved over time, but instructional design teams and instructional support organizations have frequently struggled to make their value known to the wider institution (Intentional Futures, 2016; Lieberman, 2017). While the COVID-19 pandemic has perhaps heightened the profile of instructional designers (Decherney & Levander, 2020; Shattuck, Simunich & Burch, 2020), as institutions settle in to the “new normal,” it will be important for instructional designers and instructional support teams to highlight the work that they can do to enhance distributed learning (DL), classroom-based, and blended courses to provide quality student learning.

In trying to communicate their value to their organizations, instructional support teams benefit from focusing on evidence, much as they would when discussing the value of an instructional intervention with a faculty member. Likewise, just as good instruction tells a clear story, so too does effective communication about the work of instructional support teams. Finally, once the instructional support team’s story is ready, the team must find the appropriate way to navigate the institutional byways to get the message across to the people who need to hear it.

In this highly interactive session, the moderators will open by polling the group to develop a sense of how people feel about communicating value and the importance of teams, and what strategies they have used to do so in the past. The group will discuss the importance of identifying and using an organization's message and conveying that message to leadership and key stakeholders. 

Participants will then get together in small groups, either virtually or face-to-face, to craft strategies to communicate the value of their efforts to leadership and stakeholders. The small groups will share thoughts and provide each other with feedback, using Google docs to provide examples and ideas that the entire group can view and comment on. Small group discussions will focus on the three main elements of the communication process:

  1. Determine the message you need to convey and who needs to hear this message

  2. Identify evidence that makes your case and write your story

  3. Determine how to get your story out

After the participants have developed their, the entire group will come together to discuss the results of their discussions. The speakers will share some of the messaging and evidence they have developed as well as their strategies for sharing it. Other participants will report out on their own messages and receive feedback and comments from the larger group. Participants will then reflect on the experience of creating their own story, and consider how they can communicate that story both internally with their teams and externally with their institutions. Finally, we will revisit the poll questions asked at the beginning of the session to explore how the group now feels about communicating value.