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Instructional Designer Job Description Assignment

This assignment required me to examine several instructional designer job postings and create a fictitious instructional designer job description / posting. Also included is a reflection that compares and contrasts the roles of teachers and instructional designers.

Nona Lynn Barker
EDTECH 503 ID Job Posting

PART 1: Synthesis

Posting: Instructional Designer, Center for Teaching and Educational Technology
Closing Date: Wed, 04/09/2013 – 5 pm
Permanence: Permanent Full-Time

As an Instructional Designer, you will use your expertise in instructional design and technology to assist faculty in the creation of high quality curricula (both web-based and face-to-face). Working with a team of developers and faculty you will design and develop post-secondary courses, from concept to implementation. You will also provide training on the effective use of technology for instruction and learning.

Key Responsibilities or Duties

The candidate will:

  • Design and develop web-based and face-to-face curricula in a wide variety of subject areas
  • Work closely with subject matter experts in order to develop curricula, learning objectives and assessments
  • Apply instructional systems design for the development of course content, instructional materials (and possibly instructional strategies), learning activities, and assessments
  • Collect and review materials for content that support both instruction and learning
  • Create storyboards and scripts for multimedia presentations (for either web-based and face-to-face instruction)
  • Research and present on the latest trends in eLearning, pedagogy, and technology
  • Provide training to instructors on effective use of technology for both instruction and learning
  • Assist with implementation, review and revision of curricula

Required Qualifications

  • Master’s degree with specialization in either Instructional Design or Educational Technology, or equivalent experience
  • Minimum two (2) years experience in designing web-based and face-to-face curricula in a post-secondary environment
  • In-depth knowledge of instructional design principles and practices
  • Strong computer skills (web applications, other educational technologies, MS Office)
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Excellent instructional and presentation skills (web-based and face-to-face)
  • Superior organizational skills, self-direction, and motivation

Preferred Qualifications

  • Specific experience in designing authentic assessments and engaging course content
  • Proficiency in designing and facilitating web conferences (eg. Adobe Acrobat Connect, Cisco WebEx, Citrix Online: GoToMeeting)
  • Proficiency in developing and implementing digital audio, video and animation for instructional purposes
  • Experience using a Learning Management System (eg. Moodle, Blackboard)
  • Experience in html and css

PART 2: Reflection

Both teachers and instructional designers share the word instruction, but that is where, for the most part, the similarity ends. Although teachers might think of themselves as “designers” and instructional designers might think of themselves as “teachers”, our differences are quite astounding. Think of it this way: the teacher is the lead singer; and the instructional designer is the rest of the band (guitarist, pianist, drummer, back up singer, or songwriter). Sure some duties might overlap; sometimes the lead singer plays an instrument or writes the songs but the lead singer’s sole purpose is to build a connection with the audience. The instructional designer is the music and the words, but the teacher is one who gives meaning to it all when both are translated into a performance.

What are teachers expected to do that instructional designers are not?

The most obvious difference between teachers and instructional designers is that teachers are expected to be a content specific expert, especially if they teach in secondary or post-secondary schools. For example I teach high school English-Language Arts. My instruction is devoted to two key areas: literature and composition. My love for stories is central to who I am and what I do. Authors and poets, are in a way, my instructional designers. They have given me incredibly amazing themes, ideas, emotions, storylines and characters — and I in turn have made this “content” come to life for my students. Instructional designers, on the other hand. are expected to be experts in several fields. They may work with educators in a school setting or trainers in a corporate setting. In many ways they have to be a “jack or jane-of-all-trades”. I wear the ELA teacher hat, while they wear several hats. Because instructional designers have to wear so many hats, they do not have to establish the same kind of rapport teachers have to with their students. We see our students on a daily basis; in fact, if you teach in a small school, you might work with your students throughout their school career, from grade 9 to 12. Because of this, rapport is a must! Often, if you have a good relationship with your students, it easier to motivate them and get them to “progress” if you have established rapport with them. Quite a few instructional designers work with their colleagues or teams for only as long as their contract lasts. In fact, some contracts can last for 2 or 3 months, or possibly a year; especially for those who work in the business industry or corporate world. Furthermore, teachers have to adapt while on the fly. If students aren’t processing something, teachers have to stop, reflect, revamp, and present again — but all of this must be done “A.S.A.P.”! This can occur right in the middle of a lesson or presentation. Sometimes the information isn’t being processed so you have to figure out another way to present it. Instructional designers receive feedback too but the turnaround time is a lot longer!

What are instructional designers expected to do that teachers are not?

A key difference that caught my attention was the fact that instructional designers start with nothing. Basically they have to create the content. That’s why I think of them as authors or songwriters. They have to come up with the music and the words that we sing. Quite often they are responsible for creating a curriculum, if not the learning outcomes and objectives that go with it; while we teach the curriculum and assist the students in achieving or reaching the outcomes set out by the curriculum. Teachers might contribute to the content (when asked for feedback) but their real job is to take the content and deliver it to the students. In the end, our job is to make sure the students understand and process the content (if not internalize it). Furthermore, instructional designers are expected to work in different mediums as well. They may be designing materials for face-to-face instruction, web-based instruction or a blend of the two. Which means that what works for face-to-face instruction may not work for web-based instruction; therefore, they have to know how to adapt the content and how it is presented. Classroom teachers do not have to worry about web-based instruction. We may use the Web (and its resources) but it’s not the same. Lastly, instructional designers are expected to train someone else to use the materials or content that they themselves have created. We aren’t. This means the material has to be ready to go no matter who uses it. Teachers, on the other hand, develop their own unit plans and present the materials according to their teaching styles and needs, as well as the students’ learning needs. The instructional designer is not building the materials for him or herself. The same can be said of a songwriter. Quite often someone else sings his or her songs. Once the song is written, the songwriter has to let it go, and move onto the next one.

What are the three major differences between a teacher and an instructional designer?

The postings I examined suggest that instructional designers are expected to be very tech savvy. Their job is more technology dependent than ours is. I am not saying that teachers don’t use technology — it’s just different for us. For instance, instructional designers are expected to set up on-line seminars as well as on-line digital presentations for training purposes. More importantly, as designers they have to stay on top of technology trends in two different fields–education and business. We don’t. They also have to research the latest trends and determine what will work the best for their clients. Teachers do not have the time it takes to do this. Frankly, I appreciate the fact that others do this “homework” for us. Because we spend so much time “instructing” or “coaching”, it is a challenge to stay on point with the latest trends. Our school division has someone, usually a technology integration specialist (TIS), who comes out on professional development days to train us. The TIS may train us to either 1) use the technology; or 2) how to incorporate the technology into our lessons and assignments. To me, they are more like a instructional designer than we are.

Another key difference is that instructional designers are expected to work as part of a “design” team on a regular basis so their work seems more collaborative than ours. This doesn’t mean teachers don’t work together. Again, it’s just different for us. Although we are part of a team so to speak, we are isolated in some ways, probably because most of our time is spent working with our students in our classrooms. This means we may not get work with our colleagues as much as we would like.

Lastly, instructional designers have to go where the work is (a lot more often than we do). Because a contract may only last two months or more, they have to line up the next contract and so on. That is why they have to be knowledgeable in so many different fields or areas (or be willing to gain that knowledge). Because of this, they seem to be a lot more flexible than we are. Think of them as the people who “design” different educational textbooks. They have to find the right content, match it to the curriculum, give it form and structure, make it understandable, and so on; but once it is published, it is out of their hands forever. That means they have to line up the next book, and the next book after that.

PART 3: Job Posting URLs

Instructional Designer — Professional Services: Desire2Learn (Newfoundland, Canada)

Instructional Designer — Centre for Teaching and Educational Technology: Royal Roads University (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada)

Instructional Designer — Centre for Instructional Technology & Development: SAIT (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

Instructional Designer — Education Design: Pearson (North York, Ontario, Canada)