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How Instructional Designers Can Save The School Year

Instructional Designers can help your school or institution create online and hybrid learning models that work for students without overburdening faculty.


A subpar academic experience may be the new normal for the 2020-2021 academic year. It doesn’t have to be. With the right support, institutions can give students an online or hybrid learning experience that is equal to, or even more robust than, in-person instruction. The right people can make it possible. In this case, the right people are Instructional Designers. These digital learning experts partner with teachers, faculty, and schools to move curriculum to a digital format or hybrid model. They remove the burden from an already stretched workforce and provide expert guidance. Most importantly, they help deliver a robust and student-centered learning environment online and in the classroom.

What Schools Are Doing On Their Summer Vacation

The end of the 2019-2020 academic year did not go as planned. Now, schools, colleges, and universities are scrambling to create new models of instruction to continue supporting students. All the while, reopening plans have continued to shift along with developments in COVID-19.

Take the example of the Fairfax County Public School District in Virginia. Amid growing health and safety concerns and just weeks before schools were set to resume they have quickly pivoted. Their original, announced plan, offering students two options; 1) hybrid instruction or 2) “full-time” online instruction. This has been put on hold and students are left with one option – online learning.

The problem is that most school districts, colleges, and universities are not experts in online course design. They may excel at curriculum development for in-person instruction, but these plans may not easily translate to the online space. And certainly, online learning and robust hybrid models are an enormous feat for any institution to execute effectively- even when there are adequate planning and preparation time. The solution may lie with a new type of expert – Instructional Designers.

What do Instructional Designers do?

Instructional Designers partner with faculty or institutions to create and implement pedagogically sound digital and hybrid learning. They assess the learning outcomes, content, activities, and assessments and outline a plan for creating an engaging digitally-enabled learning experience. They build interactive learning modules, integrate technology, develop new content and directional text and resources for students and faculty, build and set up the online course, and provide real-time training and tech support. Throughout, they share best practices and provide recommendations based on their expertise. They may also be called Learning Designers or Instructional Technologists.

For the 2020-2021 academic year, they can help schools more efficiently translate their existing curriculums into robust online learning courses that support students. In addition, they can help schools continue to plan and build learning frameworks for all stages of this challenge, including post-pandemic. We know learning will never quite be the same. This takes the burden of course design and technology off of teachers and professors, so they can continue doing what they do best, teaching. At the same time, it provides students with a fully functional learning environment.

If you’re thinking that you can’t possibly afford to hire someone like that, think again. Hiring an instructional designer is no more expensive than bringing on an academic specialist. A single instructional designer can support between five and ten teachers depending on the complexity of their courses. If you have many classes to convert, as most schools do now, you can hire several instructional designers to help with the big push of initial conversion. Then, when the design work is mostly complete, you can keep just one or two on staff to provide ongoing technical and teacher support.

Other Digital Learning Staff You May Need

Several other digital learning experts can help you provide the best experience possible for students, without overwhelming teachers. Consider how these experts could support your students and teachers:

Learning Project Manager

Similar to project managers in the business world, these experts manage digital learning initiatives. They monitor all aspects of the process to ensure that your digital learning plan is fully resourced, with all dependencies considered. Not only do they facilitate effective communication with all stakeholders, they also track progress and make adjustments where needed to achieve project goals.

• Digital Learning Strategists

These experts help you see the big picture. They work with you and your teachers to understand your current teaching and learning approach. Then they assess unique student needs, gauge faculty strengths, and create a digital or hybrid learning framework. By answering the big questions up front, you save time and avoid tackling the same challenge over and over for each course.

• Technology Infrastructure Consultants

Like business IT consultants, these experts provide guidance on technological system infrastructure to support the administration of learning, data collection and analysis, and other essential administrative tasks.

Many schools would prefer to offer one-hundred percent in-person instruction. That simply isn’t possible right now. To give today’s students the learning experience they need and deserve, schools must respond to the reality of the situation. They must bring in digital learning experts who can create robust, student-centered online programs.

For help finding the right Instructional Designer at the right time, turn to Teamed. Whether you need to quickly migrate learning online, develop a comprehensive digital learning plan, or train staff in digital learning best practices—we can help. Easily hire exceptional new employees, contractors, or contract teams to accomplish your digital learning goals. Contact Teamed today.

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