The field of education constantly evolves, driven by advancements in technology and changing educational needs. In the digital age, educational technology leaders play a pivotal role in shaping the learning experiences of students. One critical aspect of their responsibility is instructional design, a process that, according to Faruk Erdogan from Adobe E-Learning, “consists of determining the needs of the learners, defining the end goals and objectives of instruction, designing and planning assessment tasks, and designing teaching and learning activities to ensure the quality of instruction.”
Many teachers already utilize instructional design without knowing, which is why so many choose to officially transition to a role in this space. Programs such as the online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Educational Technology Leadership from the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) can aid professionals moving into this path.
Students in ULM’s program learn to apply instructional design principles to solve performance and instructional issues in diverse environments, focusing on program development, curriculum design, technology standard compliance analysis, staff development planning, implementation and evaluation.
Understanding the Basics of Instructional Design
Instructional design is a systematic and creative process that involves designing, developing and delivering instructional materials and experiences. The discipline draws upon principles of learning theory, cognitive psychology and best practices in pedagogy.
Educational technology leaders, in particular, bring their expertise in technological integration to ensure that instructional materials and experiences align with the institution’s goals. Here are some key ways in which educational technology leaders contribute to instructional design:
- Technology integration: By selecting and implementing digital tools, platforms and resources, these professionals incorporate various educational technologies into instructional materials to enhance engagement and learning outcomes.
- Alignment with standards: Educational technology leaders ensure that instructional materials align with state and national school technology standards, helping students experience the latest technology trends and best practices.
- Accessibility and inclusivity: They are responsible for making sure instructional materials are accessible to all learners, including those with disabilities. This commitment to inclusivity is vital for creating equitable learning opportunities.
- Designing for different learning styles: They consider the diverse learning styles and needs of students and design materials that cater to these differences. This might involve offering various formats or interactive elements in instructional materials.
All of this comes together in the “Magic Triangle of Learning” — the three main items to consider when evaluating the effectiveness of learning — per one Cognota article: learning objectives, learning activities and assessments.
“[T]here must be a learning objective which explicitly states what a learner should be able to do once they have completed the course/lesson. This learning objective will then inform the types of activities chosen to be included on the course,” write the authors from Cognota. “Once these three elements are aligned, effective learning can take place.”
Challenges of Effective Instructional Design
Instructional design, while crucial, is not without its challenges. Educational technology leaders are constantly bombarded with technological advancements, and part of their job is to stay up to date with the latest educational technologies. Keeping students engaged and motivated in digital learning environments can be a struggle since many kids and teenagers are hyper-connected with social media and easily distracted.
Educational institutions also often have limited resources, which can impact the development and implementation of instructional materials. A good instructional designer is able to be creative and work around these restrictions to develop the most effective curriculum.
ULM’s online M.Ed. in Educational Technology Leadership program equips students to address these challenges and excel as educational technology leaders. By providing a comprehensive curriculum that emphasizes instructional design and program development, students gain the knowledge and practical experience they need to make a positive impact in various educational settings.