I have encountered instructional design in my professional practice as both process and product often as my current role is one of a technology instructional coach. With this role, I deliver ongoing PD to the staff at my site usually on a 4-6 week cycle (30 minutes each 1/week session before school). I begin developing the content topics based on district goals, admin requests, teacher survey results or informal feedback. At times, PD is chosen to fit a larger technology plan but this year often it has focused on teacher needs with respect to a lot of new technology we have in our building this year due to a summer renovation. I both design and implement/facilitate the staff PD sessions.
One six-week series I created and delivered was simply on the basics interactive whiteboards. These were new to our building this summer, and most of the teachers were unaware of the basics from plugging in, to software, to online resources. During each session we focused on a basic topic around SMARTboard 101, topics were modeled by myself and teachers had time to practice and implement with each other. Some weeks were designed as a practice session to create a SMART Notebook file to use within the classroom. Teachers were asked to answer a warm-up question about something they tried in their classroom from the previous week through an online tool such as Padlet as a visual proof of our learning and growth. Following the whole series, teachers are always asked to take a survey and were asked to provide topics for future technology integration topics.
While a share some similarities to an instructional designer, this isn’t the whole of my role. I spend much of my time as an instructional coach at my site. As a coach, I develop a coaching plan with an individual or small group of teachers based on a student growth goal. We plan weekly and I offer classroom instructional support weekly. While I do design PD or lessons with teachers I am coaching, this is just a portion of my job. I also create and maintain my school’s website, social media, blended learning accounts, budget and I lead our hiring committee of all things! While I am not a classroom teacher anymore, my role is not strictly instructional designer in the traditional sense either. My clients are definitely the staff in my building which is true of an instructional designer as well. My role is a hybrid of a few different positions.
An instructional designer has to be an individual who is self-reflective and is willing to evaluate, revise and continually work to improve a product that is never going to be finished. In other words, an instructional designer must love the process of creating and designing instruction to solve educational problems that will continue to need updating.
A second skill that a successful designer needs is the ability to see the big picture. A designer must know what their key questions or end goal from the beginning. I use this in my role and would definitely as an instructional designer.
A third must-have competency of an instructional designer would be their knowledge of learning theories. This knowledge allows the designer to make informed decisions as they include instructional strategies that will be successful for their learners.
In my ideal job, I would love to continue to improve upon PD series that I create. Often times I find once I have teacher survey results, I can improve upon the next topic, but time doesn’t allow me to go back and make my series better surrounding the original product – I am always moving forward, cyclical evaluative practice can be challenging in a school setting.
Evaluation is the backbone of instructional design. Evaluation occurs throughout the process, not strictly at the end. Designers use evaluation to backwards map their product. Just as a classroom teacher uses formative and summative assessment throughout their work, so does an instructional designer. Formative evaluation is used throughout the design process to improve upon the product while it is being constructed or implemented. Whereas summative evaluation benefits the process as it is feedback gathered after the instruction as been delivered to the recipients. This would be reflected in Kirkpatrick’s Four-Levels with the measures: learner reaction, learning, behavior and results. This summative evaluation helps the designer to continually improve their product.