Instructional Design Summit - Part 1: When One Hour of Work Feels Like Ten: Instructional Designer Cognitive Load in Online Course Development

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Join us for a conversation on cognitive load in online course development, how it impacts instructional designers, and what we can do to ensure we’re balancing workload to protect time and avoid burnout. 



Lynn leads the Course Production Team in UNC Charlotte's Center for Teaching and Learning in the School of Professional studies in their work with faculty in the redesign and development of blended and online courses, the development and implementation of media and interactive learning objects, and quality assurance efforts and initiatives. Lynn is passionate about creating successful faculty and student learning experiences in online and blended learning and growing as a leader. Lynn received her M.Ed. in Instructional Technology from Idaho State University and M.A. and B.A. in English Literature from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. With over 15 years of experience in higher education, Lynn is a two time OLC Best in Track award winner, frequent volunteer with OLC Accelerate, Innovate, and IELOL, a thought leader in instructional design, and is a graduate of the Online Learning Consortium's Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning.
J. Garvey Pyke, Ed.D., is the Executive Director of the the Center for Teaching at UNC Charlotte. As part of the leadership team for the School of Professional Studies, his work involves fueling the enrollment growth at the university through online course development, creating high impact student success programs using personalized and adaptive learning, promoting faculty success and scholarly teaching through innovative faculty development programs, and overseeing the provision and support of enterprise academic technologies. Garvey is also an alumnus of OLC's IELOL program (2010) and has remained an active member of this professional community of practice and served as co-director of IELOL 2018 and as a faculty member of IELOL from 2019 - 2022. He has served on various conference committees for OLC Accelerate and has served on the Steering Committee for OLC Innovate.

Extended Abstract

We’ll start by providing a brief overview and sharing resources around our data gathering and interpretation around instructional designer capacity in online course development over the past five semesters. We’ll discuss: 

  1. Creating an intake rubric for course development projects
  2. Assigning projects and balancing load
  3. Tracking instructional designers project hours
  4. Interpreting results and refining the process

More details around the process, how to implement one for your own institution, and how to interpret results will be covered in the workshop titled “Guess Again: How to Get Better at Estimating Online Course Development ID Capacity and Workload” delivered earlier in the week. 

After the brief overview of our process for balancing instructional designer load, we’ll begin a guided conversation covering the following topics: 

  1. What is the effect of cognitive load on instructional designers? 
  2. What changes can we make in course development processes to reduce cognitive load?
  3. How do we help instructional designers be more resilient in course development projects? 
  4. How do different institutions, staffing levels, and course development processes impact processes around determining capacity? 

The session will wrap up with an explanation of a research collaborative and invitation to join. 

By the end of the session, participants will: 

  • Leave with a set of resources for designing a capacity project at their own institution
  • Begin to define their institutional profile and how that might impact their projects
  • Discuss the effect of cognitive load on instructional designers in course development projects
  • Discuss strategies to mitigate the negative effects of cognitive load on ID time and resiliency
  • Receive an invitation to join a research collaborative around instructional designer capacity, cognitive load, and online course development