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Are You Working With a Learning Designer?
November 6, 2013 - 9:00pm

Are you working with a learning designer?

Have you consulted a learning design professional on your campus to help you think about:

  • Leveraging learning technologies to assist you in meeting your teaching goals?
  • Evolving your face-to-face course to a more blended teaching methodology, one in which some of year teaching is done on your campus learning management system (LMS)?
  • Creating a fully (or mostly) online course?

My hypothesis is that the ability to collaborate with a learning designer is the single most important determinant of faculty successfully integrating technology into their teaching.

Let me be clear that I’m talking about trained (and credentialed) learning designers. Professionals who have a strong theoretical grasp on how people learn, and a background in partnering with faculty to leverage technology for effective course design.  

It may be that people not formally trained in learning design (such as myself) can pick up enough knowledge and experience to play this role. The key, I think, is the development of expertise in learning theory and best practices - with expertise in technology important but only within the context of knowledge effective course design methods and pedagogical practices.

A learning designer, unlike an educational technologist, focuses almost all of her time on collaborating directly with instructors on course design, development and teaching. She does not spend a large amount of time on technical support or testing.

What I’m wondering about is how scarce (or abundant) learning designer resources are on campus?

What is the instructor-to-learning-designer ratio on campus?  

How does this ratio differ between public and private institutions? Small and large campuses. Undergraduate and professional schools?

What impact does have online programs on campus have on the ratio of instructors-to-learning-designers?

Do MOOC schools have more learning designers relative to similarly sized non-MOOC schools, and if so are these extra learning designers available for other courses?

What is the ratio of learning designers to their colleagues in academic IT departments? (If indeed learning designers work in academic IT - maybe they are being hired in other divisions such as teaching and learning centers).     

How are learning designers distributed on campus? Central IT units or in individual schools or departments?

Beyond levels (the number of learning designers), what are the trends in hiring? How quickly are learning designers being recruited to campus? Where is the rate of learning design hiring the fastest? Is there an adequate supply of trained learning designers to meet demand? Are we seeing salaries go up for learning designers based on a growth in demand (and the fact that learning designers can work in academia or industry?)

How is this new platoon (or trickle - I don’t know) of learning designers being paid for? Are campuses shifting resources from system admins (as more platforms are rented from the cloud rather than provisioned locally), or does the hiring of learning designers require new resources?    

Are elements of the existing campus workforce being re-trained to accomplish tasks that we would recognize as those that a learning designer would specialize in?  

Are we seeing people with PhD's migrate into learning design type positions (such as myself)?   If this is ocuring, should coursework in learning theory, project management, and educational technologies be included in the training of PhD students?

Are other professionals on campus acting in the role of learning designers, but perhaps under different titles and job categories?

Lot of questions.

Are these data on campus employment trends for learning designers being collected and shared?   

Where would one go to get some statistics on current levels and changes in campus learning designer employment?

What other questions should we be asking about the growing importance of learning designers in the instructional and technology strategies of higher ed?

How would you answer (at least some) of these questions for your own campus?


 

 

 

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