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

Concurrent Session 6
Streamed Session

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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 Coochwytewa has a vast background and experience in instructional design, consulting, developing, and delivering innovative and proficient technology-enhanced products and experiences in an education environment. At Arizona State University's, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, she is the Manager of Instructional Design and Learning Experience Innovation, where she works closely with faculty to design and develop engaging, interactive, and effective learning experiences, accessible to students. Additionally, Celia leads the development and coordination of faculty consulting needs around instructional technology and course design, in collaboration with program and team stakeholders. She contributes to multiple University-wide workgroups to discuss and provide guidance on instructional design and technology matters. She also provides insight both as a participant and facilitator on the podcast, Instruction by Design. Before joining the University, she spent several years as a K12 classroom teacher, providing general education, language arts, media literacy, and gifted outreach programming instruction. Her focus has remained in curriculum and instruction, specifically with technology integration. 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.