The Instructional Design Files: The Double Messaging App Mystery

Concurrent Session 6

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Brief Abstract

The syllabus states that Slack is to be used for team communications but when the faculty member finds out GroupMe is being used instead it is up to the Instructional Designer to figure out why.  This case study will provide a guide for Instructional Designer situated research projects.


Veronica Armour is an Instructional Designer with the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University.

Extended Abstract

The role of the Instructional Designer has a dual mission of pedagogy and technology as a result of their unique placement at the intersection of academic theory, technology, and teaching practice.  Recent conversations about the role of the instructional designer have identified research as a silent yet growing role for the instructional designer. (Beirne & Romanoski, 2018; Linder & Dello Stritto, 2017)

For the Instructional Designer interested in conducting research as part of their role there are a limited number of case studies that implement current design methods with the instructional designer as the lead researcher.  As research takes on a more prominent role in instructional design it will be necessary for Instructional Designers to have a case book of methods in actions to pull from.

Current trends in instructional design favor a research approach that puts the learner at the forefront; with methods of research culled from action research, design thinking, and UX design further emphasizing the duality of the instructional design role. (Sein et al, 2011) 

It is in this context that the Instructional Design team situated within a school of a large, R1 state university decided to apply design sprint methods in Action Design Research to address a disconnect between desired student engagement in the online messaging app (Slack) and actual student engagement in a different online messaging app (GroupMe) in the capstone course for one of its programs. (Keijzer-Broers & de Reuver, 2016)  This is a work in progress research project with preliminary feedback on the solution created during the design sprint and implementation of the solution the following semester being reported at OLC Innovate 2019.

As part of the Emerging Ideas Session I hope to inspire additional research by instructional designers by doing the following things:

  • Share a working draft of a step-by-step casebook of the process with annotated resources.
  • Explain how limited time constraints were used to guide the design process and meet the course prep/revision needs of the teaching professor.
  • Reflect on the most efficient and effective design methods to ensure the research could be completed within a semester.

Conversation with attendees will emerge from the methods used during Action Design Research process:

  • What is the instructional design challenge you want to solve?
  • What do you want to create during the research process?
  • What has been created already?
  • What are the roadblocks in starting a design sprint?
  • How does the design sprint fit into the typical course revision workflow for faculty?


Beirne, E., & Romanoski, M. P. (2018). Instructional Design in Higher Education: Defining an Evolving Field (OLC Outlook: An Environmental Scan of the Digital Learning Landscape) (p. 9). Online Learning Consortium.

Keijzer-Broers, W. J. W., & de Reuver, G. A. (2016). Applying Agile Design Sprint Methods in Action Design Research: Prototyping a Health and Wellbeing Platform. Lecture Notes in Computer Science9661.

Linder, K. & Dello Stritto, M.E. (2017). Research Preparation and Engagement of Instructional Designers in U.S. Higher Education. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit.

Sein, M. K., Henfridsson, O., Purao, S., Rossi, M., & Lindgren, R. (2011). Action Design Research. MIS Quarterly35(1), 37–56.