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.