What is an instructional technologist or instructional designer?

I was asked to address this question in a recent department meeting. I was feeling somewhat poetic when I composed my answer. For those of you who consider yourself an instructional technologist or instructional designer or one of the many titles that falls along this spectrum, I hope this gives you some beginning-of-the-semester inspiration (P.S., Jim Groom’s take on this is also a good read http://bavatuesdays.com/what-is-an-instructional-technologist/):

An instructional technologist/designer is . . .

adaptable: Everything in this field is always changing, constantly. We need to stay ahead of the curve, and quickly vet new products and concepts to confirm their effectiveness before unleashing them on our faculty. Our priorities constantly shift, we manage multiple things all the time, and we like it.

patient: We work with very smart people and very complex computer programs and processes.  Being impatient would be like playing with unstable explosives.

knowledgeable of educational theory (cognitivism, behaviorism, constructivism; Bloom’s domains, Maslow’s hierarchy, Knowles’ andragogy, Gartner’s multiple intelligences, Kolb’s experientialism, etc.)- We apply this knowledge both in how we train people, but also in describing the strategies and possible uses of the tools we recommend.

knowledgeable of html/web scripting languages (javascript, css, asp, php, etc.) for supporting, troubleshooting, developing, etc. various technologies. Deep down, most of us are nerds.

experienced in audio/video editing techniques , particularly as it applies to digitized content. Some knowledge/experience with A/V hardware, cabling, etc. is also important. And. . .

familiar with graphic design principles and able to manipulate digital or scanned images, and save them in multiple formats. Deep down, we’re creative too.

comfortable in a teaching, mentoring role. With our excellent communication skills, we translate technical information to non-technical audiences, and vice versa. We communicate in person, in writing, and over the phone with faculty, staff, technicians, administrators, and students ensuring that everyone’s needs are met and that projects are moving forward.

devoted to customer service – This is paramount to our positions. It’s what we do.

We learn how to do technical things quickly in a variety of formats and on a variety of platforms. We train, support, design, develop, troubleshoot, evaluate, inspire, counsel, diffuse, evangelize, and imagine. We get our hands dirty under desks and in lines of code. And we perch on ivory towers and wax intellectual with some of the smartest people in the world. We plan, create, and support elaborate virtual environments in which instructors teach and students learn. We like knowing that our services and skills have tremendous value to the quality and efficacy of teaching and learning on our campus and beyond, and we strive to give every person and every problem our full and immediate attention.


Fusion Recap – Part 2: Notes from UW River Falls

D2L Fusion Attendees from UW River Falls

D2L Fusion Attendees from UW River Falls

Dan Semi from UWRF says, “. . .we had a ball. We brought 3 faculty with us. 2 of our faculty presented as did I. I’ve been fortunate to attend all Fusion conferences and present at 8 of them!

Our faculty presentations were from Andrew Koob (Biology) “Strategies for Minimizing Confusion and Maintaining all Tasks on the Desire2Learn Course Site During Online Conversion”, and Kathleen Hunzer (English) “Desire2Learn ePortfolio: Show us What You’ve Got”.

I presented a lightning round for “Desire2Succeed: Training your staff for success” and also a workshop on “Self Registration and Special Courses – A Perfect Harmony”. Also both of these were presented as poster sessions.

Our faculty really enjoyed the conference. It was the second conference for 2 of our faculty and the first for one of them. They all learned something new and were able to network with folks on different ways to implement the tools in D2L with their teaching. From what I’ve observed in the past bringing faculty to the conference is the renewed energy around teaching with technology in our colleges. These folks get fired up and have found ways to use these tools to enhance collaborative efforts in class and develop rich teaching and learning experiences during the semester. These faculty also motivate others in their area with the tools. I get excited when I see this.

Since we’ve returned to work, I’ve received 3 or 4 inquiries from folks at other Universities who attended the workshops or poster sessions and wanted more information. That’s cool and allows the networking and sharing to continue after the conference!”

UW Schools Have Strong Showing in New US News Report

The magazine U.S. News and World Report released a new report ranking the quality of online degree programs. Here’s how some University of Wisconsin schools ranked:

School Category Rank
UW Superior Faculty Credentials and Training 48
UW Superior Student Engagement and Assessment 123
UW Superior Student Services and Technology 15
UW Green Bay Student Engagement and Assessment 41
UW Green Bay Student Services and Technology 158
UW La Crosse Student Engagement and Assessment 157
UW La Crosse Student Services and Technology 168
UW Oshkosh (Graduate Nursing) Student Engagement and Accreditation 80
UW Madison (Graduate Engineering) Faculty Credentials and Training 5
UW Madison (Graduate Engineering) Student Engagement and Accreditation 1
UW Madison (Graduate Engineering) Student Services and Technology 1
UW Milwaukee (Graduate Education) Student Engagement and Accreditation 142
UW Milwaukee (Graduate Education) Student Services and Technology 69

LTDC sponsors regional technology showcases 2011-12

In the spirit of the mission of the LTDC to facilitate the sharing of technology best practices and discovering innovative ways of using technology in teaching and learning, the LTDC is sponsoring four Regional Showcases on Technology in Teaching and Learning for the 2011-2012 academic year. Interested faculty and instructional technologists are strongly encouraged to participate actively in one or more of these sharing opportunities to generate new ideas for collaboration and advancement of the teaching and learning mission through technology.

4 showcases are being planned for 2011-2012.

West Regional Showcase

The West Regional Showcase will be held on this Friday, October 7 at UW-Platteville. on “Authentic Learning with Digital Media”, representing the work of UW-La Crosse, UW-Madison, UW-Platteville, and UW-Colleges. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Lance Ford at Cisco Systems. Read the program for more information.

Southeast Regional Showcase

Wednesday, January 11, 2012. Event details are forthcoming.

Northwest Regional Showcase

“Tools for Teaching”
Friday, February 24, 2012
at UW-Eau Claire

Details will be forthcoming.

Central Regional Showcase

“Solving Problems, Saving Time”
Friday, March 16, 2012
at UW-Green Bay

Details Forthcoming.

Please visit the LTDC website – Events page for updates.


Lorna Wong
Director, Learning Technology Development


True Story: Resources Wiki Helpful in Workshop Planning

I was working on putting together a “Technology in Education” workshop series for our Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning.  I was trying to fill the session slots with practical technologies that I would be able to discuss pedagogical uses, overview how to use the technology (the “click here” information), and then allow the participants enough time to create an instance, walking away with a usable technology product for their classroom – all in 90 minutes. I had several ideas but needed just a few more to fill the whole series with technologies that were at a level appropriate to the instructors with which I work.  So, I decided to check out the “Resources and Best Practices in Online and Blended Teaching and Learning” to see what teaching technologies my colleagues may use.  Luckily, through just a little bit of searching, I found information and templates about WebQuests and how to create in D2L.  The information was perfect for making the handout for my session and the template was easily integrated. I did have a small misunderstanding but since I knew who submitted the template to the wiki I just picked up the phone and call my colleague, Karen Skibba, from UW-Whitewater and within minutes I was right back on track.  The resource wiki truly saved me time and energy in preparing for this workshop!  Now you try :) https://wiki.uww.edu/other/ltdc_resources/index.php/Resources_and_Best_Practices_in_Online_and_Blended_Teaching_and_Learning

Submitted by Kristin Koepke, UW La Crosse