Sunday, October 19, 2008

3.1.1: Is instructional design teaching?

A good question. To what extent is participating in the instructional development of a distance or blended course actually an extension of teaching? As I prepare the fourth E-Primer, I have re-read an article by Bill Pelz (2004), (My) three principles of effective online pedagogy, found in the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 8(3), 33-46.

Pelz (2004, p.33) asks:

If I create an environment in which a majority of students gladly learn that which they and I deem relevant and salient, then have I succeeded as a teacher or as a designer? - and does it matter?

The questions are challenging, yet falsely dichotomous. Teaching always has an aspect of instructional design to it; instructional design is always an expression of teaching. The best tertiary courses always reflect the complementary power of both. Together, they make great education. The relationship between teaching and instructional design is a useful thing to consider. Instructional design for distance or blended delivery might receive a new energy from faculty if they see it as an extension of their academic reach and their tenured role.

So, I wonder if tertiary faculty - often known by the title of lecturer, a most unhelpful one when it comes to formal instructional design activity - might instead be better known as 'education facilitators', or 'teaching and academic design specialists', or more realistically perhaps, as we once tried to name them in an institution I was previously with, 'subject matter experts'. Currently, we term those faculty responsible for developing and overseeing blended delivery courses in our institution 'lead academics' (note that 'lead' rhymes with 'feed', and not 'fed'!) This, at least, usefully contrasts with their formal job titles as 'senior lecturers'.

No matter whether actual titles are adapted, tertiary faculty must appreciate that their academic expertise can reach beyond the bounds of the campus, that they have the potential to transform lives through their subject expertise beyond that small group able to eyeball them.

Pelz, you have succeeded as both a teacher and a designer. And may more follow your example!

No comments: