This is my first assignment for Ed Tech 503, Instructional Design.  Right away, it appears that my professor wants to either challenge or measure my current ideas of instructional design.  As a teacher with more than 10 years of experience, I was surprised by how diverse the concept of instruction can be.

We were asked to research and evaluate three job postings that specifically focus on instructional design with an emphasis in technology.  I discovered that many of the listings were for companies rather than educational facilities.  The fields of specialty were also very diverse among the companies.  This shows that almost every facet of society requires instruction and an efficient method for delivering that instruction.  Listed below are the three job postings that I selected.

After reading through these job descriptions, I was asked to put together my own pseudo job description for an instructional designer.  Probably the most difficult aspect of this was imagining a company with a service or a product at its core.  In order to complete this assignment I had to push aside some of the business notions that would ideally be established already.  Therefore, I set out with the idea of circulating instruction and design in general educational apps, always keeping in mind the necessary skills of the applicant. Below is my job description.

Lastly, I was asked to give a complete response to the  three reflection questions listed below.

1. What are teachers expected to do that instructional designers are not?

Throughout my teaching years, I have developed many survivor skills to help me juggle all the tasks that are expected of me at one time or another.  Lesson planning is probably one of the most time consuming tasks because it requires so much purposeful thought.  It is a skill that I continue to develop, but in a nut shell it is determining what the students need to know, how am I going to transfer that knowledge, and how am I going to check for understanding.  My current concept of instructional design is very similar to this layout.  However, when it comes to the lesson plan delivery, I have faced many challenges .  The most eminent challenge is what teachers and administrators refer to as “classroom management”.  I must admit that it was an underestimated necessity when I first started teaching, but in time I have sought a number of ways of managing my class with organizational skills and imposing general expectations on the students.  Based on my experiences, classroom management is probably one of the biggest measurements of a teacher’s effectiveness.  None of the job descriptions for instructional design mentioned anything about classroom management.

2. What are instructional designers expected to do that teachers are not?

Facetiously, I could say that teachers are expected to do everything, therefore nullifying the question.  But seriously, it almost seems like a trick question because the teachers’ role is so diverse and they are measured by so many variables, including designing and implementing instruction.  Admittedly,  I have yet to deepen my understanding of instructional design, but it appears that this type of role is more focused on the analysis of the instruction across many different professional fields and with a variety of ages to consider.  Though instruction is at the heart of both instructional design and teaching, ideally the instructional designer would be more of an advocate of the instruction, where as the teacher would be more of an advocate of the student.  Perhaps this view is short sighted, but based on what I have experienced in schools, when a student does poorly, there is more attention given to the teacher’s intervention rather than the instruction.  We are asked question like, “What have you done  for this student to help him/her succeed?  The instructional designer probably won’t have spoken with the family about the student’s struggles, they will focus more on how they can make the instruction more effective.

3. What are the three major differences between a teacher and an instructional designer?

Answering this question feels a bit like skeet shooting at night, but yet I will still attempt to hit the target with my answers.

The word “training” probably does not do justice to describe instructional design nor teaching.  However, from a layman’s perspective, that word seems like the best synonym for instructional design, whereas teachers are rarely called trainers.  Just to clarify, I know there is much more to instructional design than just training.  I hesitated even mentioning the word because I knew it probably sounded just as bad as when Jo Smo says that all teachers are just glorified babysitters.  So as a teacher, I know how important an instructional design is, even though I haven’t seen the whole picture yet.

It seems like an instructional designer may impact a broader audience and cover material more intensely than a teacher.  Teachers have the same students every day for several months and the flow of information is continuous, so many times teachers will teach general concepts.  Even though I am expected to transfer both knowledge and skill, many times my instruction is regarded as something the student may or may not be able to use in life.  I always try to make it as relevant as possible, especially since I teach based in literature and tie it into life experiences.  So as a teacher I know how my lessons are just one step in the learning process, but the students usually don’t think that way.  To them, my instruction is either interesting or boring.  On the other hand, the role of instructional design in many cases is to make instruction the most practical possible and for the recipients to apply it immediately.  With technology this type of instruction can be distributed over great distances and at indistinct starting times.

In case my first two responses seem superficial, I will make an attempt to go deeper with my third response.  After reviewing the job descriptions, I noticed that the qualifications for instructional design require more specialized knowledge and skill.  Administrators are always looking for a complete package when choosing to hire someone, including other school administrators.  Generally speaking, the minimum requirements for a teacher are less than that of and instructional developer.  Take for example the skill with technology; even though state and federal capacity standards are continuously rising for teachers, the basic level knowledge is still much lower than what is required of most people working with instructional technology.  In considering this factor only, you could say that all instructional designers could be teachers, but not all teachers can be instructional designers.

With this assignment I believe I meet the following AECT Standards:
  • 1.1.3.b Demonstrate personal skill development with at least one: computer authoring application, video tool, or electronic communication application.
  • 1.4.c Describe and/or document specific learner characteristics which influence the implementation of instructional strategies.
  • 2.3.4* Incorporate the use of the Internet, online catalogs and electronic databases to meet the reference and learning needs of students and teachers.