Sorry, I Can’t Fix Your Printer: Defining Instructional Design Through Strategic Narrative

Concurrent Session 6
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Are you an instructional designer? Have you ever been misidentified as “the person who fixes tech problems?” How does this confusion impact your ability to be successful in your professional environment? This session explores how instructional designers and related professionals might leverage strategic narratives to define and empower their work.


Experienced instructional designer / technologist who can confidently collaborate with diverse faculty and instructional support team members to promote exceptional learning outcomes in the higher education environment; expert trainer/faculty professional development specialist with years of demonstrated success in implementing adult learning approaches. Trained and certified in application of the Quality Matters rubric for instructional design and peer evaluation of online courses. Adjunct instructor skilled in theoretical and real-world applications of technology into diverse teaching and learning environments.
Celia is an Instructional Designer, Sr. for Academic Innovation within the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University, where she works closely with faculty developing face-to-face, flipped and online courses, supporting faculty and course management in the LMS, providing workshops and collaborating with media specialists on new and evolving projects. She has over 10 years of experience in a variety of roles in education starting with K-12 classroom education and mentoring of educational technology instructors prior to moving into higher education and instructional design. She believes that technology is a tool for learning, prepares students for their future and should not be used for 'technology sake' but in a conscious manner.

Extended Abstract


The field of instructional design has evolved tremendously over the decades, but perhaps never more so than for those working in the higher education environment in recent years. These designers have been immersed in the transformation of digital learning platforms and tools; the rise and fall of major for-profit online education institutions; and the changing social landscape of higher education as a highway for workforce development.

Despite the growing visibility, demand for, and diversification of professional opportunities in this field, confusion abounds. Job titles, professional roles/responsibilities, necessary academic preparation/certification, ongoing skill development, and career planning are a patchwork quilt of variability.

Another significant challenge that instructional designers and related professionals may face is the lack of localized knowledge about these roles within their institutions, which may impact the ability to engage in effective collaborative practices. A common misperception about instructional designers is that they are entirely focused on the design, development, and assessment of quality online, blended, and digital learning experiences; or worse, that they are simply someone from the information technology (IT) department. While many instructional designers are heavily immersed in technology-rich teaching and learning operations, there is great potential to maximize the success of all learners in any environment through collaborative, innovative partnership with instructional designers.

It may well exceed the average instructional designer’s bandwidth to participate in shaping the systemic change necessary for standardizing the professional roles, responsibilities, titles, minimum skills and preparation. However, we all have the capacity to build culture, share core values, and craft a reliable and valid narrative in service of professional and institutional success. 


During this lightning talk, participants will be introduced to a selection of strategies and tools for crafting and communicating a strategic narrative about the role and scope of instructional design within their institutions.

Learning Objectives

  • Reflect on the diverse job titles, roles, and responsibilities across the instructional design and related professional fields.

  • Describe the potential value of crafting a strategic narrative about the role and scope of instructional design within their professional environment.

Audience Engagement/Materials

Participants will be invited to engage in a rapid brainstorming challenge to list as many instructional design-related job titles/role variations as possible. Handouts will include selected presentation slides, professional resources for instructional designers, and a recommended reading list.