The Center for Distance Education (CDE) serves teaching faculty at UT Arlington in the development and delivery of online courses and degrees. Selection of degrees for online authoring and availability is overseen by the Provost and the Office of Academic Affairs, in consultation with academic deans and department chairs. Faculty members undertaking course creation with the Center can expect a process of course design that will challenge their thinking about teaching and learning, offering an opportunity to expand on classroom teaching experience with new tools, approaches, and audiences.
What is an Instructional Designer?
An instructional designer is trained in instructional pedagogy and theory. Instructional designers study current research and emerging trends to ensure that the instructional experience is best suited for the goals and objectives of the course as set out by the instructor. An instructional designer can help focus on student achievement by combining active learning, the correct use of online tools, and engaging interaction with the instructor and fellow students.
Instructional Designers can assist faculty with all stages of online course design by taking on many different roles – from assisting instructors as they work on their own classes to completely designing a course from the ground up based on faculty content. Instructional Designers at the CDE combine knowledge gained from earning graduate degrees in instructional design with years of experience working with a wide variety of courses and instructors. If you need ideas for how to translate your classroom activities into an online course, the UTA CDE Instructional Designers can help. If you have questions or want ideas for how to use new or existing online tools and websites in education, the CDE Instructional Designers can help. If you need tips for how to engage your students from a distance, the CDE Instructional Designers can help. Our designers can assist with a wide range of online design needs and issues.
An Instructional Designer Can Help You:
- Identify and distinguish the difference between lower order and higher order thinking skills that are specific to your subject area and your course content
- Develop learning outcomes that are not only measurable but also facilitate the development of higher order thinking skills
- Identify the skills learners need to master measurable learning outcomes and then create an assessment strategy that will measure student performance
- Identify measurable learning outcomes that learners need to master complex academic content
- Align assessments with the measurable learning outcomes
- Navigate the intricate tool set provided with the Blackboard Learn learning management system (LMS) and show you which tools to use for specific practices you want to employ in your online course
- Identify the strengths and weaknesses in the LMS and show you how Blackboard tools can be used effectively in your course
- Demonstrate the cognitive value of various types of media that you may want to use in your online course
- Show you how to shift the instructor’s role from lecturer to expert guidance
- Show you how to employ best practices in distance learning using “Quality Matters” standards.
What to Expect During the Instructional Design Process
- Before your first meeting with instructional developer:
- Send a syllabus of an existing face-to-face version of the course.
- At your first meeting:
- Explain your course, including its history, strengths/weaknesses, and especially student response to the course (what has helped students the most; what has helped them the least).
- Review the course objectives and learning outcomes identified in the course syllabus.
- Describe your expectations and goals for a fully online version of the course.
- During this meeting you and the instructional
designer will discuss these items:
- Your role and the role of the instructional designer in this specific course
- Expectations for submission of content and the importance of staying on track in order to provide time for design and development of materials
- Possible use of images and multimedia in the course
- Potential role of CDE Technical Media staff for the development of multimedia content (e.g. screen recordings)
- Best practices for distance education courses, including accessibility and usability
- Difference between instructor-led approaches that often emphasize lectures and objective tests versus a student-centered “active learning” approach that emphasizes problem-solving tasks and peer-to-peer interactions with the goal of strengthening students’ higher order thinking skills (Note: active learning is the centerpiece of UTA’s continual improvement plan developed during the last accreditation process)
- Review the range of tools available in Blackboard and point out their strengths and weaknesses.
- If you need or would you like training in using Blackboard, the instructional designer will refer you to the CDE Training staff as necessary, or schedule one-to-one training in the our office if practical (e.g. find out how to use Bb’s “virtual editor” so you can edit your own content if you choose).
- Submit content and outline for a sample lesson that can be used to create a lesson prototype.
- Create a timeline for submission of materials and content to the instructional designer.
- The designer will review the sample lesson.
- If necessary, the designer will contact you to discuss various strategies for prototyping the lesson.
- Review the prototype sample lesson within Blackboard.
- Schedule a follow-up meeting with the developer to review the prototype.
- Discuss the prototype and changes that the you may want to make
- The designer will make changes based on your meeting
- If necessary, the schedule for submission of material based on the your schedule and the “go live” date for online implementation may be revised.
- The designer will design content, tests, assignments, media, and supporting material using the materials you’ve submitted
- The designer will upload content, tests, media, and supporting material (if at all possible, within 48 hours after submission for most content) to the Blackboard course shell (usually a “temporary” shell used for developing content).
- Review the course in Blackboard after the material is uploaded, and discuss your comments with the designer.
- Revisions will be made based on your feedback after reviewing the course
- Throughout the process, content will be tested and problems fixed as presented.
- After all content, tests, assignments etc. have been designed and uploaded to Blackboard, you’ll be asked to review and test the course and request any changes.
- Again, changes will be made based on your feedback.
- Final review and approval of designer’s revisions
- When the course goes live on Blackboard, the designer will monitor the course closely during the first two weeks and during important points (e.g. student submission of assignments) in the course. Revisions will be applied or elements fixed as needed.