Evolution in Design: Innovation and Expansion of Design Teams

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session Blended

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Brief Abstract

As the pandemic accelerated changes to education, the scope of responsibilities for Design teams are expanding to support more faculty, adjust education delivery, and reach learners in new ways. We will ideate around innovation to meet these evolving needs.


Dr. Olysha Magruder is currently the Assistant Director, Center for Learning Design, at the Whiting School of Engineering, Engineering for Professionals, Johns Hopkins University. Prior to this, she worked as an instructional design at Hopkins and other higher education institutions as an instructional designer and adjunct faculty. Olysha started her career in a K-12 classroom, which sparked her love for all things teaching and learning. She is a graduate of the University of Florida's Educational Technology doctoral program. Her research interests include faculty development, blended learning, instructional design, and leadership.

Extended Abstract

The abrupt launch into widespread remote teaching and learning due to the pandemic brought with it an evolution in the role of Design teams, including instructional designers, program managers, production specialists, and technologists. In this “Conversation, Not Presentation” session, the facilitators will explore key questions about these topics: (a) the scope of expansion and innovation to meet new needs, (b) challenges and opportunities this has created, (c) ideation for continuing to evolve and expand into the future, and (d) making the case for stakeholder support of expanded innovation and roles.


Many Design teams went from providing wraparound support services to a select group of faculty members, to being responsible for technology, faculty development, and instructional consultation support across entire colleges and the wider university community. As learner and faculty needs changed, so did the roles of the design teams. Faculty, staff, and administration sought information, expanded support, and direct skill development in online teaching and learning, something often offered but underutilized. For many institutions, the benefits of remote learning were noticed through hands-on experience with it, decreasing the apprehension for online and remote learning.


Rapid development of digital resources and assets allowed for impact at scale, as many institutions created compilations of tutorials and resources for faculty. Program managers provided remote technology support, tutorials, and just-in-time how-tos. Designers met with faculty for consultations to support online course planning and offer personalized feedback. 


The needs of industry partners in the areas of executive and professional education changed as well, which expanded audiences and the types of services designers and program managers stepped in to develop and support. Once apprehensive about online learning, many companies saw the benefits of remote professional development after experiencing it, saving their organizations time and money. 


In this “Conversation, Not Presentation” session, join us for key questions about Evolution of Roles, Challenges and Opportunities, Ideas for the Future, and Garnering Stakeholder Support.


Evolution of Roles

  1. How roles for you and/or your team evolved or expanded due to the pandemic?

  2. Describe the extent to which the expectations for your responsibility have expanded, the areas of impact have entered new areas, and let’s discuss how this impacts us, our teams, and our professional identities.


Challenges and Opportunities

  1. Describe the challenges and opportunities that have emerged from the acceleration and disruption due to the pandemic.

  2. What new partnerships were forged as a result?


Ideas for the Future

  1. How might you continue to tap into the opportunities and mitigate challenges?

  2. How are we using this experience to prepare for the next disruption?


Garnering Stakeholder Support

  1. Considering the current shifts and possible future horizons, how might we make the case for stakeholder support of design teams?

  2. How might you tell the story of your changing role?