What's Next for Instructional Designers? A Mid-Career Instructional Designer Roundtable

Concurrent Session 4
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Are you an instructional designer who has been working in higher education for close to 10 years or even longer? Then this session is for you. Let’s bring together like-minded professionals to remind ourselves of the passion for this work and provide a place to discuss emerging opportunities and the future of the field.


As an instructional designer with over ten years experience working in higher education, I have run several faculty professional development courses focused on elearning, blended learning, and technology integration in face-to-face classrooms and develop eLearning courses across the higher education academic disciplines. In my current position at University of Wisconsin Madison - within the organization WIDA in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research - I design and develop eLearning training materials for a mass audience of K-12 educators. Previously, I had worked at University of Wisconsin Colleges Online in Madison as part of the state-wide team coordinating the design, development, and delivery of eLearning courses throughout the 2-year colleges across the state. My prior projects also involved coordinating instructional design and instructional technology integration of grant-funded programs, which included education evaluation, classroom technology implementation (iPads and laptops), outcomes assessment, workforce development, project management, and program-level instructional support.

Extended Abstract

Professionals who identify themselves as instructional designers, learning designers, learning engineers, or whatever nomenclature they use to describe the design and support of learning experiences at higher education institutions, will inevitably face a plateau in their career. Maybe this is 5, 10, or 15 years engaging in this work. In any case, an experienced instructional design professional brings a wealth of knowledge to their institution and guides the new generation through their expertise.

The plan of this session is to bring a like-minded group of mid-career instructional designers together to discuss opportunities and options for the next phase in their career. The main consideration is: Does the profession plateau and if so, what strategies can instructional designers adopt to keep their careers engaging?

The session will be facilitated with a set of pre-arranged discussion questions to prompt discussions around topics such as the profession’s future, professional development strategies, and how to mentor new instructional designers. The discussion will be informal, while giving the participants a chance to share their thoughts within a dynamic conversational environment. If needed, think-pair-share topics will be provided to accommodate a larger group. Through the session, participants will be encouraged to create a support network of like-minded professionals to continue the conversation past the conference.

The ideas in this discussion topic are an extension of research the facilitator conducted with University of Wisconsin instructional designers employed throughout the state. A conclution of this research indicated and supported the need for instructional designers to be a part of strategic teaching and learning initiatives on their campuses. It also continues a presentation area the facilitator has been involved with, that resulted in facilitating a prior panel discussion at OLC Accelerate in 2017, “Instructional Design in Higher Education: The University of Wisconsin Perspective”, as well as at other conferences over the years.