Instructional design in higher education: identifying the connection between theory and practice
There is a great need for quality online courses at institutions of higher education. To fulfill this need, institutions are desiring to employ qualified instructional designers who can help faculty members design pedagogically sound courses that follow best practices and standards of online learning. Achieving this requires instructional designers who are knowledgeable and skilled at examining content, applying theory, incorporating instructional design principles, and implementing technologies to achieve the desired learning outcomes. This explanatory sequential mixed-methods research study sought to identify the knowledge and skills required of instructional designers employed at higher education institutions in the United States and examined their actual lived experiences. A survey was administered in phase I of the study to identify the relationship between preparation and the instructional designers’ knowledge and skills. The findings from this phase indicated a significant relationship between education and the following three ibstpi® standards: applying theory, evaluating instructions and instructional materials, and revising instructions and instructional materials. In phase II, interviews were conducted to gain a better understanding of the participants’ lived experiences. Phase II findings indicated that instructional designers apply theory and use ADDIE and other instructional design models to design instructions as they guide faculty through the development process or as they design and develop content. It was also determined that instructional designers spend a great deal of time managing projects, people, and time; participating in professional development; collaborating with others; using various software; and engaging in on-the-job training. When the findings from phases I and II were integrated, it was discovered that applying theory; engaging in professional development opportunities; and managing projects, people, and time were very significant and important to the careers of instructional designers.