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"Instructional Designer" vs. "Learning Designer"
May 22, 2014 - 9:00pm

We are having a debate on my campus about job titles and I’m losing.

My institution is in the process of strengthening our educational technology team. We are recruiting for someone to:  "Provide leadership and support for the development of innovative and effective teaching and learning practices using information technology."

The title for this position is “Instructional Designer”.

I’ve been arguing that “Learning Designer” is a better title, but I’d like your opinion.

The reason that I like “Learning” rather than “Instructional” is that “learning” feels like a more inclusive term. We strive to be a learning organization, and we understand that learning occurs for everyone involved in the teaching process and can happen during non-teaching times.   

What do you think?  What would you rather be called, and why?

What you call the profession, be it instructional designer or learning designer (or some other title), what is inarguable it that these are some of the most amazing gigs in higher ed.  Working at the intersection of learning and technology is fascinating because both fields are changing so rapidly.  

The demands on institutions to address issues of quality, cost and access are relentless.  

Increasingly, the mechanism that school’s look to improve productivity run through learning technology. 

The growth of blended and online learning has greatly accelerated the demand for instructional / learning designers.

I don’t know of any institution that is not looking at ways to improve the efficacy of traditional courses, particularly those larger introductory classes that have traditionally relied on lectures and high-stakes testing.  

The transformation of the traditional large enrollment lecture class to a more blended, flexible, and personalized learning experience is one of the most under-appreciated and under-reported trends in higher ed. 

And of course, if any school wishes to introduce fully online or low-residency courses or programs then instructional / learning designers are a key asset to have in place.

The growth of blended and online learning has meant that it has gotten more difficult to find qualified instructional / learning designers, professionals with strong academic backgrounds in pedagogy and learning theory.  

The number of people with formal training in how people learn, and who can demonstrate both expertise in translating learning goals to digital platforms or physical classroom settings, is actually pretty small.  

Add that demand into a desire to find folks with strong presentation, collaborative, and planning skills and you can see why the best instructional / learning designers are hot commodities.

Do you see the demand for instructional / learning designers growing on your campus?

Are the people who are moving into these roles folks with degrees in these disciplines?  

Or do they more closely follow my path to the profession, coming from an academic discipline and then embracing learning theory with the passion of the converted?

And who is right in this debate we are having on campus?  

Instructional Designer or Learning Designer (or something else entirely)?

 

 

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