Deconstruct and Re-imagine: Role and Relationship of Instructional Designer and Faculty

Concurrent Session 7

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Brief Abstract

Instructional designer roles vary across institutions, which can lead to challenges due to different expectations from faculty and leadership. In this workshop, we invite the de-construction of roles to reconstruct ID identity. Participants are guided through developing an action plan, based on a presented framework, to improve faculty-ID collaboration.


Alyssa has been a Knight since 2008 when she started her undergraduate degree at UCF. Upon graduating with her BS in psychology, she became a middle school language arts teacher, which continued to grow her love for education. While teaching, she realized her passion for online learning, which prompted her to pursue her MA in Instructional Design and Technology at UCF with a focus on eLearning. Before completing her MA, she interned with the Center for Distributed Learning during the summer of 2017 and was subsequently offered a position as an instructional designer. Her research interests include quality in online courses, active learning, online engagement, and Faculty/ID collaboration. In her spare time, Alyssa enjoys spending time with her friends and family at Disney, traveling, and reading.

Additional Authors

Anchalee Ngampornchai is an instructional designer at University of Central Florida. She earned her MA and PhD in Intercultural Communication and MS in Instructional Systems. Prior to her current position, Anchalee worked for several higher-education institutions including California State University Fullerton, Florida State University, and University of South Florida. Her experience includes developing more than 100 asynchronous online modules and managing multiple online courses in Moodle, Canvas, and Blackboard. With her cross-disciplinary background, Anchalee’s research interest is often at the intersection between learning design and intercultural communication. This includes the adoption of online education in developing countries and cross-cultural interaction in online courses.

Extended Abstract

The instructional designer-faculty relationship is constantly negotiated in the current growth and ever-changing landscape of online learning. Several reports suggested that while more instructional designers (ID) are present in higher education and more faculty work with IDs for course design, issues arise in terms of unclear role expectations and uneasy working relationships (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016). Since the beginning of 2018, we have conducted two conference roundtable discussions, with more than 45 ID participants and several faculty members from institutions across the nation. The results reveal that the roles and responsibilities of instructional designers vary across institutions, and with this fact, it complicates the faculty-ID relationship as well as role expectations of IDs from IDs themselves and from the institutions.

Recognizing the varied roles and responsibilities of the ID in the higher education setting, in this workshop, we facilitate the deconstruction of the ID role in order to reconstruct the image and identity through the lense of the CISSCO framework that was developed by the authors. The process of de-construction then helps the ID to formulate an action plan that they can use to better communicate their role with faculty and their institutional leadership who may have different understandings about what IDs do. We intend to have instructional designers as participants, but believe faculty and other personnel working with IDs will benefit from the workshop as well. Specifically, we hope that at the end of the workshop, the participants will be able to:

  • Identify the gap between their desired role and their actual role

  • Articulate faculty-ID collaboration patterns and challenges at their institution

  • List environmental factors that affect their role and expectations

  • Create an action plan to foster better collaboration between instructional designers and faculty at their institution

After an introduction to the background and context, we facilitate the participants’ reflection and articulation of their desired role and their actual role. An editable CISSCO matrix will be used to elicit their reflection and analysis of environmental factors such as institutional culture, leadership’s expectation, and institutional needs and limitations. After the participants work individually, they will share their response with a group that will help them further analyze their responses. At the end, we facilitate the formation of the individual's action plan. The action plan should be a list of performable items that the participants can use at their home institution to better communicate their role as well as to better establish and maintain relationships with faculty. The workshop leaders will provide handouts and will bring laptops to the session. The participants are not required to bring anything to the session, except a pen and a notepad.

Workshop Breakdown:

Interactive Debate (15 minutes): An authentic critical incident proposing a scenario that often emerges between an instructional designer and a faculty member during a consultation will be proposed to participants. Questions will be posed regarding this incident to facilitate discussion and debate regarding participants’ experiences with similar incidents, participants’ reactions when faced with this incident, and the perceived cause of this incident. Interactive polling tools will be used to determine patterns and themes within participants’ responses. These patterns and themes are used to drive the discussion forward and make the connection to the relevant literature regarding faculty-ID collaboration.

Framework Discussion (20 minutes): We will introduce the CISSCO framework that was developed from key findings from the a review of literature about faculty/ID relationships. We then discuss key research findings that address (1) ID role in higher education is different from the role expected in corporates for where most ID programs prepare their graduates (Moskal, 2012), (2) the most-cited ID responsibilities are designing, managing, training, and supporting (Intentional Future, 2016), and (3) the rapid change and advancement of online learning demand ID to adapt, learn, and perform new tasks in the environment where uncertainties are most certain (Tracey & Boling, 2014; Paxton, 2016).

Reflection (5 minutes): Workshop facilitators will provide questions to guide the participant’s reflection on their actual role, desired role, and environmental factors that impact their role and relationship with faculty at their institution.

Small Group Debrief (20 minutes): Participants will be prompted to engage in small group discussions using their reflections to guide them through topics such as institutional culture, communication, collaboration, gap identification, and cultural barriers.

Action Plan Development (25 minutes): Participants will be provided with a templated action plan, driven by the workshop leader’s proposed framework, to be customized for their own collaborative efforts and/or those of the instructional designers and faculty at their institution. Participants will be paired and/or placed in small groups with others at same or similar institutions. The development of the action plan will prompt participants to consider:

  • Competencies of their own job role

  • Competencies of the role for those they collaborate with

  • Successful strategies currently used in collaboration

  • Challenges currently faced in collaboration and/or constraints influencing these challenges

  • Strategies from the literature and framework presented to positively impact their areas of need

  • Ideas in the form of a brainstorm to be transformed to a call to action regarding how to implement this change beyond their own work at their institution

Closing (5 minutes)


Intentional Futures (2016). Instructional design in higher education: A report on the role, workflow, and experience of instructional designers. Retrieved from

Moskal, Tami Marie, "Instructional Designers in Higher Education" (2012). Educational Administration: Theses, Dissertations, and Student Research. 121.

Riter, Paxton (2016). The quest for great instructional designers. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

The Chronicle of Higher Education. (2016). Instructional designers in higher ed: Changing the course of next-generation learning. Retrieved from

Tracey, M. W. & Boling, E. (2014). Preparing instructional designers: Traditional and emerging perspectives. In J. M. Spector, M.D. Merrill, J. Elen, & M. J. Bishop (Eds.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (4th ed.), pp. 653-660.