Getting the most from your Instructional Designers

Do you know who these cute faces belong to?

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We’re your friendly neighbourhood Instructional Designers! We work in the E-Learning Office and spend our days working with faculty, supporting the use of Moodle, developing resources, and (obviously) writing awesome blog posts.

We get really excited about helping you find new and exciting ways to deliver content, engage with your classes, and assess student learning. In the E-Learning Office, we get most excited about teaching with technology and spend most of our time supporting online courses. But we also work with faculty doing innovative things in face to face, blended, and hybrid courses.

But what, exactly, do we do? Good question. Every person we work with has different needs, but we can help with things including:

  • reviewing your course outline and offering feedback and suggestions;
  • discussing teaching methods and offering ideas for approaches to meet outcomes;
  • brainstorming and offering new ideas;
  • helping you sort through all those great ideas (see previous point) to find things that will work for you;
  • developing (or co-developing) assessments and instruments (e.g. rubrics, marking guides, grading schemes) for implementing assessment;
  • managing the course design (or re-design) process;
  • creating resources;
  • training on the use of Moodle, Blackboard Collaborate, Google Apps, and other tools;
  • supporting the use of Moodle in your courses (including content, activities, grading, reporting, etc.);
  • ensuring accessibility in your course content, activities, and assessments;
  • offering in-class (face to face or online) presentations, workshops, activities;
  • facilitating post-course debrief, self-assessment, and goal setting.

And much more!

As you can see, we are prepared to assist with any stage of course design or delivery. If you’re not quite sure what role we can play – get in touch with us! If nothing else, we can have a coffee and chat about your teaching. We’re very friendly.

So what can you expect when you start working with an instructional designer? And how can you make sure you are getting the most from us? Here are our top five tips for getting the most from your Instructional Designer.

Be honest.
It’s okay if you’ve never used Moodle before, but it’s important that we know that. It’s also okay if you are totally committed to a particular type of assessment or instructional method, but if we don’t know that we can’t help you find strategies that align with your philosophy and style. Every course will not look the same (nor should it!); it’s our job to learn about you and your students and find ways to meet your goals. You’re not going to like all of our ideas, and it’s okay to tell us that. We’re here to help you create something that you are proud of – honesty really is the best policy to get us there.

Stay in touch.
The people that have had the most success are those that book regular meetings, e-mail updates and questions, and attempt to touch base often. One of our favourite strategies is a standing meeting (every month, every other week, every week) to keep on track. This ensures that the project keeps moving forward with regular deadlines. As you get more comfortable with the tools and strategies you are using, your meetings will become more infrequent… but we still want to hear from you!

Do your homework.
Okay, maybe it’s not homework. But after a meeting or conversation, we will both leave with a list of things to do for your course. Maybe it’s research, reflecting, developing something, or writing questions for quiz banks. It’s really easy to push these things off, but please don’t! We want to alleviate some of the stress of designing your course, and regular communication and staying on top of the project will prevent us from falling behind.

Let us help you.
Often we will say that we can teach you to do something or do it for you (e.g. setting up your gradebook, importing quizzes). We mean it. There are a lot of things to learn. You don’t have to learn them all at once. We will share the work, and as you get comfortable and gain new skills you will discover you need us less. Which brings us to our next point…

Stay realistic!
You want to be the best, most amazing teacher ever. We get that. We’re also overachievers who don’t do anything halfway. But it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t have to completely re-design your course in one semester, but a few intentional changes every year will shape your courses into something you (and your students) will enjoy.

We are very excited to work with you and help you discover some new teaching strategies. Please get in touch with our office to discuss how we can support you! There are lots of different ways to get in touch with us: e-mail, twitter, or visit us in the Office of Skills Development and Learning. You can also check us out on our new Pinterest page, where we pin things that we think are cool and interesting – check back often for new resources.

Stay tuned to this blog, where we post new content every Thursday! If you have ideas for future blog posts, let us know!