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Other Duties as Assigned: 
Defining the Role of the 
Instructional Designer in 
Higher Education 
Amy J. Hilbelink, PhD 
Melissa A. Venable, PhD 
20th Annual 
Online Learning Consortium 
International Conference 
October 29-31, 2014 - Orlando, FL --- #aln14
WhoWe Are: Why this Topic? 
Instructional Technologist 
Dean of Curriculum and Online Programs 
Director of Academic Strategies and 
Development 
Exec. Dir. Online Design and Development 
Instructional Designer 
Online Course Developer 
Online Instructor 
Curriculum Manager 
Education Writer/Blogger
What is Your Perspective? 
Project Manager
https://teachonline.asu.edu/2013/10/introducing-the-asu-instructional-designers/
ID Roles: 
What did we want to know? 
• How are instructional designers academically 
prepared for work in higher education? 
• What are higher education employers looking for 
in new master’s level graduates? 
• What are the existing gaps between formal 
learning and current job skill requirements? 
• What are the emerging needs in the instructional 
design field?
We gathered information from two sources: 
eLearning Guild: 23 Master’s-level Instructional 
Design Programs (U.S.) 
HigherEdJobs.com: 25 open vacancy 
announcements for “Instructional Designer” 
posted by colleges and universities
How are instructional designers academically 
prepared for work in higher education? 
Master’s Degrees in ID (core courses only) N (23) % 
Foundations/ Fundamentals in Instructional 
Design/ Instructional Technology 
19 83 
Multimedia 14 60 
Designing & Developing Courseware 14 60 
Theories of Learning and Curriculum 10 43 
Assessment and Evaluation of Courseware 8 34 
Project Management 5 22 
Current Trends in ID/ IT 4 17
What are higher ed employers looking for? 
Task/Function N (25) % 
Consult, guide faculty on new course design/dev, selection of instructional 
17 68 
strategies 
Provide faculty development resources such as workshops, training materials, 
tutorials 
16 64 
Collaborate with faculty on course design, development, implementation 15 60 
Work under specific approach or theoretical direction 13 52 
Project management duties 12 48 
Evaluate or test emerging edtech, delivery methods, trends, best practices 12 48 
Implement, oversee quality assurance practices 11 44 
Administer or support course production in LMS, assessment systems in 
collaboration with IT resources 
11 44 
Design and develop learning and support materials for faculty and/or students 11 44 
Revise or assist faculty with revision of existing courses, periodic course reviews 9 36 
Provide first-line tech support to faculty 6 24
What instructional design skills are needed? 
Technology Skills n (20) % 
Learning Management Systems 11 55 
Multimedia design and production 9 45 
“Instructional technologies” 7 35 
Graphic design and editing 6 30 
Web design 6 30 
MS Office (spreadsheets, documents, 
5 25 
presentations) 
HTML – Digital Media – Web-based Communication Tools 
Web 2.0 technologies – Cross-platform – Web Conferencing Social 
Media – Mobile Devices – PHP – Desktop Publishing 
K-12 Technologies – Animation – Cloud-based Tools 
Instant Messaging and Texting – Internet Skills 
Coding and Scripting
What are the expectations for education and 
experience? 
Master’s 12 positions 48% 
Bachelor’s 11 44% 
Master’s or Bachelor’s + 2-3 yrs exp. 2 8% 
Instructional Design 18 positions 72% 
Instructional Technology 13 52% 
Education 6 24% 
Educational Technology 6 24% 
Curriculum Design 4 16% 
3 years 5 positions 
5 2 
3-5 2 
2 2 
1-3 2 
DEGREE 
FIELD OF STUDY 
EXPERIENCE
Is there a gap between formal education and 
soft skills needed on the job? 
Task/Function 
Consult, guide faculty on new course design/dev, selection of instructional strategies 
Provide faculty development resources such as workshops, training materials, tutorials 
Collaborate with faculty on course design, development, implementation 
Project management duties 
Evaluate or test emerging edtech, delivery methods, trends, best practices 
Implement, oversee quality assurance practices 
Administer or support course production in LMS, assessment systems in collaboration with 
IT resources 
Revise or assist faculty with revision of existing courses, periodic course reviews 
Provide first-line tech support to faculty
What are the emerging needs of the 
instructional design field?
What are the emerging needs of the 
instructional design field? 
• Social media management skills: moving into 
marketing and promotion 
• Applied media knowledge 
• Recognition as experts in course and 
curriculum design 
• Project management tasks and roles 
• Collaboration among: key stakeholders!
Career 
Development 
through 
Academic 
Preparation 
Students 
Academic 
Departments 
Employers
Other “duties as assigned”… ?
Other “duties as assigned”… ?! 
• Represent department on campus 
committees 
• Identify and recommend OER 
• Evaluate adjunct faculty 
• Manage contractor deliverables 
• Event planning
Where is the best professional 
development for instructional 
designers? 
In this challenging economy, it's up to 
workers to make sure they learn the 
skills they need. 
– PayScale.com
Thank you for participating! 
Amy J. Hilbelink, PhD 
– Laureate Education 
– ahilbelink@gmail.com 
– www.linkedin.com/in/amyhilbelink/ 
Melissa A. Venable, PhD 
– OnlineColleges.net 
– melissa.a.venable@gmail.com 
– www.linkedin.com/in/melissavenable/ 
Enjoy the conference!
References & Resources 
Job Descriptions are Mostly Fiction and You 
Should Ignore Them – Max Nisen, Quartz 
Instructional Designers and Technologists – 
O*Net Online

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Other Duties as Assigned

  • 1. Other Duties as Assigned: Defining the Role of the Instructional Designer in Higher Education Amy J. Hilbelink, PhD Melissa A. Venable, PhD 20th Annual Online Learning Consortium International Conference October 29-31, 2014 - Orlando, FL --- #aln14
  • 2. WhoWe Are: Why this Topic? Instructional Technologist Dean of Curriculum and Online Programs Director of Academic Strategies and Development Exec. Dir. Online Design and Development Instructional Designer Online Course Developer Online Instructor Curriculum Manager Education Writer/Blogger
  • 3. What is Your Perspective? Project Manager
  • 5. ID Roles: What did we want to know? • How are instructional designers academically prepared for work in higher education? • What are higher education employers looking for in new master’s level graduates? • What are the existing gaps between formal learning and current job skill requirements? • What are the emerging needs in the instructional design field?
  • 6. We gathered information from two sources: eLearning Guild: 23 Master’s-level Instructional Design Programs (U.S.) HigherEdJobs.com: 25 open vacancy announcements for “Instructional Designer” posted by colleges and universities
  • 7. How are instructional designers academically prepared for work in higher education? Master’s Degrees in ID (core courses only) N (23) % Foundations/ Fundamentals in Instructional Design/ Instructional Technology 19 83 Multimedia 14 60 Designing & Developing Courseware 14 60 Theories of Learning and Curriculum 10 43 Assessment and Evaluation of Courseware 8 34 Project Management 5 22 Current Trends in ID/ IT 4 17
  • 8. What are higher ed employers looking for? Task/Function N (25) % Consult, guide faculty on new course design/dev, selection of instructional 17 68 strategies Provide faculty development resources such as workshops, training materials, tutorials 16 64 Collaborate with faculty on course design, development, implementation 15 60 Work under specific approach or theoretical direction 13 52 Project management duties 12 48 Evaluate or test emerging edtech, delivery methods, trends, best practices 12 48 Implement, oversee quality assurance practices 11 44 Administer or support course production in LMS, assessment systems in collaboration with IT resources 11 44 Design and develop learning and support materials for faculty and/or students 11 44 Revise or assist faculty with revision of existing courses, periodic course reviews 9 36 Provide first-line tech support to faculty 6 24
  • 9. What instructional design skills are needed? Technology Skills n (20) % Learning Management Systems 11 55 Multimedia design and production 9 45 “Instructional technologies” 7 35 Graphic design and editing 6 30 Web design 6 30 MS Office (spreadsheets, documents, 5 25 presentations) HTML – Digital Media – Web-based Communication Tools Web 2.0 technologies – Cross-platform – Web Conferencing Social Media – Mobile Devices – PHP – Desktop Publishing K-12 Technologies – Animation – Cloud-based Tools Instant Messaging and Texting – Internet Skills Coding and Scripting
  • 10. What are the expectations for education and experience? Master’s 12 positions 48% Bachelor’s 11 44% Master’s or Bachelor’s + 2-3 yrs exp. 2 8% Instructional Design 18 positions 72% Instructional Technology 13 52% Education 6 24% Educational Technology 6 24% Curriculum Design 4 16% 3 years 5 positions 5 2 3-5 2 2 2 1-3 2 DEGREE FIELD OF STUDY EXPERIENCE
  • 11. Is there a gap between formal education and soft skills needed on the job? Task/Function Consult, guide faculty on new course design/dev, selection of instructional strategies Provide faculty development resources such as workshops, training materials, tutorials Collaborate with faculty on course design, development, implementation Project management duties Evaluate or test emerging edtech, delivery methods, trends, best practices Implement, oversee quality assurance practices Administer or support course production in LMS, assessment systems in collaboration with IT resources Revise or assist faculty with revision of existing courses, periodic course reviews Provide first-line tech support to faculty
  • 12. What are the emerging needs of the instructional design field?
  • 13. What are the emerging needs of the instructional design field? • Social media management skills: moving into marketing and promotion • Applied media knowledge • Recognition as experts in course and curriculum design • Project management tasks and roles • Collaboration among: key stakeholders!
  • 14. Career Development through Academic Preparation Students Academic Departments Employers
  • 15. Other “duties as assigned”… ?
  • 16. Other “duties as assigned”… ?! • Represent department on campus committees • Identify and recommend OER • Evaluate adjunct faculty • Manage contractor deliverables • Event planning
  • 17. Where is the best professional development for instructional designers? In this challenging economy, it's up to workers to make sure they learn the skills they need. – PayScale.com
  • 18. Thank you for participating! Amy J. Hilbelink, PhD – Laureate Education – ahilbelink@gmail.com – www.linkedin.com/in/amyhilbelink/ Melissa A. Venable, PhD – OnlineColleges.net – melissa.a.venable@gmail.com – www.linkedin.com/in/melissavenable/ Enjoy the conference!
  • 19. References & Resources Job Descriptions are Mostly Fiction and You Should Ignore Them – Max Nisen, Quartz Instructional Designers and Technologists – O*Net Online

Editor's Notes

  1. Freelance work Hiring f/t, p/t, contract instructional designers Teaching instructional design courses at master’s level
  2. May wear many hats, or go by a job title or role similar to those you see here.
  3. Chances are even if you aren’t an instructional designer – you are working with instructional designers! This graphic from Arizona State University Online attempts to describe the role(s) these professionals play in higher education
  4. 25 vacancy announcements reviewed: All posted between 6/25/2014 and 8/12/2014 on higheredjobs.com All from higher education institutions: including private, public, for-profit All "entry level" not "lead", "senior", "director", Instructional designer II" etc. All include "instructional designer" in job title not "elearning specialist" etc.
  5. 23 Institutions that offer grad degrees in ID. We looked at only Master’s level core courses in programs.
  6. Remember: context we’re focusing on is higher education! 25 postings. We had a few ideas about this – from our own experience working in these positions, but also in hiring for this role. One way to get at this is to review current job vacancy announcements – how are employers describing the work and what they need people to do in these brief narratives? For Presentation purposes – drew a line at ~25%
  7. Only 20 of the 25 schools/ads listed skills in this kind of way. Semantics, some overlap, but a lot more items listed by just one or two of the schools. Sample of these below the table. Includes only the "minimum" requirements, not "preferred" or "desired"
  8. Again … we’re talking about higher education context of the work. What education and experience are those doing the hiring looking for? This Includes only the "minimum" requirements, not "preferred" or "desired” Majors – many others! And many list more than one area 16 of 25 schools asked for some previous, relevant experience. 64%
  9. 24 Institutions that offer grad degrees in ID. We looked at only Master’s level core courses in programs. we see gaps in areas needed on the job but not immediately evident in a core course list. These areas may very well be covered in electives and specializations as well as internships, but students need to be aware of the importance of looking for and choosing these options if they are concerned about the employment side of things. 
  10. Ask the crowd? What do you think? What have you observed?
  11. Some of these from our review of curricula and vacancy announcements, others our observations
  12. Ask the crowd! What do you think? What have you observed?
  13. Some of these were in the vacancy announcements we reviewed, others, our own experiences.
  14. PayScale article references underemployment and the skills gap. Ultimately, the student makes choices about programs and experiences …. What can they do in addition to formal academic coursework?