Pulling Back the Curtains: How the Pandemic Helped Instructional Designers Set the Stage for Today and the Future
Concurrent Session 3
Instructional designers (IDs) will engage in discussion about their experiences with faculty during the pandemic and the transformative changes those experiences inspired. Participants will actively engage in scenario-based activities as they reflect on ID perspectives based on three emerging themes:
Redefining ID roles
Cultivating design thinking mindsets
Sustaining future partnerships
In 2020, the global pandemic forced many institutions to move 100% of their courses fully online overnight. This abrupt shift in the educational landscape generated a reactionary response during the midst of spring breaks with merely a quarter of time left in semesters and terms. Sheepishly, there was an expectation that we would be returning to normal, teaching back in the classroom, and happily gathering together on our campus quads and within our learning spaces. As the initial shock wore off and the reality quickly set in that this would not be temporary, institutions scrambled to make ends meet in an effort to create continuity for student learning.
This change in course delivery was not new; however, it put a spotlight on the integrity of online course design and how to develop quality online courses. These critical conversations did not immediately occur, which created frustration and new challenges for students, faculty, and administrators. On the other hand, as instructional designers, now there were endless opportunities to cultivate rich relationships beyond simply supporting faculty with quick fixes typically related to the learning management systems. The pandemic created the silver lining needed for greater visibility related to the importance of universal design and quality online design. The pandemic also created safe learning spaces for instructional designers to intimately support faculty with how their course design informed their course delivery for their online teaching practice. This discernment invited instructional designers to have more thoughtful and intentional conversations about inclusive course design for all learners.
Reflecting on the consequences of the pandemic this past year and rapidly moving courses online, the landscape of higher education, and education in general, has been forever changed. Although we are all in the business of education, each institution has its own unique brand, culture, norms, and priorities. Nonetheless, the sustainable future of education cannot continue to thrive without the role of instructional designers having intentionally thoughtful conversations and interactions with faculty about their online teaching and learning practice. While the significance of the role of the instructional designer has come into focus with the pandemic, this unprecedented experience has served as a wake up call for all educational institutions and their stakeholders. In the process to sustain teaching and learning, there was little time to focus on high-quality and inclusive practices in all modalities. This is where the vital role of the instructional designer works to help develop positive experiences for students, faculty, and administrators and foster a sustainable future for learning success.
In this session, instructional designers from two institutions will share their realities and takeaways in supporting faculty throughout the pandemic. This session will use engagement tools such as Poll Everywhere and Padlet to invite participants to share stories in a scenario-based conversational format. The session outcomes highlight the key role of instructional designers, how collaborative thought partnerships between IDs and faculty help to cultivate design thinking mindsets, and how to sustain the pivotal role of instructional designers for the future of education.