CHLOE 7: The Present and Future of Instructional Design Capability

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I’m starting to dig into the brand new CHLOE 7: Online Learning Tracker, from General Acceptance to Universal Adoption.

The findings that emerge relate to staffing for instructional designers. The key quote from the report:

Only 10% of online leaders said fall 2021 identification capacity was “completely sufficient” for current needs, and only 3% felt it met anticipated needs (Figure 9). Given COO projections of significant additional growth in online enrollment, the lack of instructional design staff may be one of online learning’s most serious long-term vulnerabilities.

What might this mean for just 3% of online leaders who think instructional designer capacity is “completely sufficient” to meet anticipated needs? Five thoughts:

1 – Current IDs must be incredibly busy.

The results of CHLOE 7 indicate a significant mismatch between the institutional demand for instructional design services and the supply available. Moreover, this imbalance will likely only get worse.

I can only imagine what this looks like for fellow instructional designers in our higher education ecosystem. These people must be incredibly busy.

Should we be worried about identity burnout? Instructional designers were essential academic workers to continue to enable academic resilience at the height of the pandemic. The question is, have these colleagues ever had a chance to catch their breath?

2 – We will see many more remote and hybrid university identification roles.

One of the results of the growing demand for instructional designers is likely to be a reorganization of the ID labor market. Schools will likely need to offer flexible, remote work options to get the best ID talent.

In many ways, the job of an instructional designer is well suited to hybrid and remote working. As teaching and learning are increasingly digitally mediated, course and curriculum development can also work well online.

If a professor is comfortable teaching online, they will also be comfortable collaborating with an instructional designer on digital platforms.

The challenge will be how to embed remote credentials into campus culture. I’m sure an instructional designer could reverse engineer an optimal remote work environment, but they’re too busy working on courses and programs to do so.

3 – Teachers and instructional designers are increasingly collaborating on residential courses.

As CHLOE 7 indicates, the pace of development of e-learning programs has accelerated in the wake of Covid. Logins are essential for online learning. Turns out IDs are also key team members in designing larger enrollment courses (Basic, Intro, and Bridge).

If you want a larger lecture to feel like a seminar, you need to work with an instructional designer. If you’re determined to move from high-stakes summative assessments to formative assessments that encourage learning, you want to work with an instructional designer.

If your course needs to be accessible to all learners, you want to work with an instructional designer. If you anticipate that your students will need to transition from in-person to online participation in your course, you want to work with an instructional designer.

The internal competition for identification time will only intensify as we seek to inject their knowledge, skills and talents into our online and residential offerings.

4 – White glove identification services will evolve to emphasize coaching and consulting.

There are a few models of how instructional designers work with teachers in the world of online learning. A model is white glove, – which means that the faculty provide the identification material (platforms, documents, syllabi, etc.) and have many conversations. Instructional designers then build the courses in the learning management system (LMS).

The other model is a coaching and training system, where IDs create examples and offer one-on-one advice and support, but instructors are expected to create and modify their courses.

With a shortage of credentials in our institutions, it’s hard to imagine a shop credential setup being scalable or sustainable.

5 – Treating instructional design professionals as valued educators will be increasingly critical to recruitment and retention.

Instructional designers occupy this strange institutional place. They are staff members, but they are educators. Credentials are critical to the educational enterprise, but university leaders often don’t understand their roles.

Online education has always been a team sport, with instructors working closely with instructional designers. The future of residential education is hybrid, which means that instructional designers will be essential to the core teaching and learning operations of our institutions.

And yet IDs often lack recognition, status, and visible career paths from fellow faculty. For instructional designers, there is no opportunity for tenure, academic freedom, or recharging with sabbaticals.

Forward-thinking universities may find that they need to begin offering non-academic star educators the same recognition and incentives that have long been needed to recruit and retain tenured star professors.

Academic leaders who wisely decide to invest time in reading the CHLOE 7 report can be persuaded that they need to think about campus instructional design professionals through an institutional and strategic lens.

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