Partnering with faculty for online instructional design

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Photo by Teo Romera via Flickr

This week I found a helpful article by Laura Lea on the Moodlerooms blog…

Best Practices: Sharing the Lanes of Design and Facilitation in Online Courses

I’ll get back to this article in a minute, but first let me set some context for how it factors into my work…

In my role as Distance Learning Technology Analyst for EMU, I’ve been primarily focused for the past five months on assessing,  acquiring, and rolling out new online ed-tech platforms for educational delivery. My first project over the summer resulted in the acquisition and deployment of WebEx for synchronous online class sessions, and lately I’ve started to focus on an online video platform to capture, store, and deliver video educational video content.

In terms of academic stakeholders, I’ve worked primarily with academic directors whose programs 1) already have established online courses and want to do more with newer forms of ed-tech, or 2) are just now moving into online delivery. With these directors, I’ve started articulating what I’ve been calling the “Ed-Tech Ecosystem” (PDF), which lays out my sense for how various pieces of technology fit together to help facilitate online educational delivery. The diagram doesn’t show you how to do it, it just shows you what you have at your disposal – because even that seems to be a mystery at times.

But I’ve also worked directly with a few faculty who are doing online delivery this semester, using some of the newer tech, such as WebEx Meeting Center integrated into Moodle (via Groopex) for synchronous online class sessions (in our Master’s in Nursing program), or WebEx Event Center for webinars that are intended to serve both as free educational opportunities as well as a marketing and recruitment tool for further education or training (in our Center for Justice and Peacebuilding). In some instances, I’ve worked with faculty from the very early stages of course design, while for others I’ve mostly come in after the course was already designed and simply showed faculty how to plug something like WebEx into the mix. Which brings me back (finally!) to the article…

Partnership for innovation

EMU faculty are busy, busy people and many have limited experience teaching online but will be increasingly encouraged by their directors to do so, as more programs venture into these new waters. Online ed-tech has even begun playing an increasing role in the traditional on-campus/classroom mode of delivery. The necessary pedagogical shifts are a stretch, which makes the task seem daunting. [Cue inspirational music] But there is help. Your friendly neighborhood (even though I’ve recently relocated to Iowa) Distance Learning Technology Analyst.

In the article, Lea lays out a framework she uses, called the ADDIE Model, based on its phases of course design and facilitation: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. She identifies two roles in this process: The Designer and the Facilitator. In our organizational scheme, these could map roughly out to my role and the faculty member, respectively. Using the road analogies of traffic lanes and passing zones, Lea lays out the following scheme:

  • Safe Merge Areas
    • Analysis
    • Evaluation
  • No Passing Zones
    • Design (Designer Only)
    • Development (Designer Only)
    • Implementation (Facilitator Only)

The rigidity of role separation during the process doesn’t really make sense in our context, since I’m not a formally trained instructional designer, and I don’t think it should be so rigid here. But it’s helpful to think of how something like this might be more formally and explicitly thought of and practiced here, because it’s my sense that someone in a role like mine, doing some instructional design-like work in close partnership with faculty, will be crucial to the viability of online courses and programs as they continue to develop at EMU.