From Course Developer to People Developer: Navigating Your Promotion to Manager of an Instructional Design Team

Streamed Session

Brief Abstract

Congratulations! You have been promoted! You’ve gone from ID to ID manager.  You are excited! You are nervous! And you may be wondering, Now What!?! We invite you to share your journey from ID to manager with us in an engaging session.


With over 15 years in higher education and online course development, I provide instructional design support to faculty in the development and improvement of online/hybrid/F2F courses to improve student success outcomes. My journey into issues of equity, inclusion, and diversity was kick-started several years ago and I began reading books and articles, attending programs and workshops, and getting involved with equity initiatives on my campus. My journey continues to push me to think about how systems impact my work as an instructional designer and those that encounter my designs. I love connecting around topics of design justice, co-design, ethics, and instructional design decision-making. When I'm not thinking about all of these engaging topics, you can find me with my family, either on the soccer field with my son or the funky art shops with my daughter. My husband and I love to hike and be outside and our two dogs, Mojo and Pepper, would agree that this is a good way to spend every day (if they could!). Food, books, and good (decaf) coffee all rank high on my 'ways to be more hygge' list, as well. Hope to connect with you around shared interests online or in conference spaces!
Laura leads the team of instructional design consultants that work primarily with the College of Business & Economics, the College of Engineering, and the College of Innovation & Design at Boise State University. She provides assistance with the design, development, and revision of online courses while advocating for effective and innovative delivery of courses to online students. She facilitates formal faculty development opportunities related to online teaching and learning. Prior to becoming an instructional designer, Laura acquired several years of teaching experience in Idaho and held a variety of administrative positions in student life. Laura holds a Master's degree in Elementary Education, which she received through a hybrid online and on-campus program from University of Phoenix, Boise. She holds two certificates from the Online Learning Consortium in online teaching and instructional design and the Lamar University Advanced Graduate Certificate in Online Education.

Extended Abstract

Being promoted to managing a team of instructional designers can be an amazing next step in your career journey. You may have great ideas and plans for your team but you may also be wondering what new skillsets you need to develop or what your daily routine will look like. Maybe you’ve been working most of your career as a course developer but what does it mean to be a “people developer”? We’ve discovered that there is no “best” road map for the instructional design professional when moving from their current role to one of a manager. One of the most cited articles when it comes to professional development paths for instructional designers focuses only on the move to an instructional design project manager within a corporate setting, completely ignoring higher education. Even if we were to look at competencies set by industry experts such as ISTBI, ISPI, or ASTD*, there is a lack of knowledge on how to acquire specific skill sets and what’s valued by the specific industry and employer. (Williams van Rooij, 2012) While some of us are in corporate settings, many of us are in higher education, and the competencies, job roles, and job duties will look different given the professional setting. During our session, we hope to have an engaged discussion about career paths in our field of instructional design, what our roles look like in both small, medium, and large institutions, ‘what-you-wish-you-knew-before-you-took-your-role’, and ways to connect as we navigate all the other new challenges of supporting a team post-pandemic (can we even really say that, yet!??!).

Our goals are to:

  • Share our journeys
  • Listen to the lived experiences of others navigating promotion opportunities
  • Collect information on helpful resources about becoming an instructional design manager
  • Share information with the community attending our session, as well as the larger OLC community

We plan to engage our audience with polls, small group activities, and specific question prompt, aiming to gather information about the transition benefits and challenges. This session will be seeking active participation from attendees as the presenters are experts in their own lived experiences. They feel that everyone can contribute and share to support a growing community of instructional designers moving into management roles.

*IBSTPI = International Board of Standards for Training and Performance Improvement; ISPI = International Society for Performance Improvement; ASTD = American Society for Training and Development.

Williams van Rooij, S. (2012). The career path to instructional design project management: An expert perspective from the US professional services sector. International Journal of Training and Development, 17(1), 33–53.