There are instructional designers in every field! But their population may be growing the most quickly in higher education. Traditionally, academic culture has valued subject matter knowledge over teaching expertise, so that even at teaching universities, professors are hired for their subject expertise and it matters little whether they make for good instructors.
Enter instructional designers. In an era of student-centered education and growing assessment efforts, academia is starting to value effective teaching practices, but expert instructional designers are needed to help bridge the gap!
If you’re considering pursuing an instructional design career in higher education, there’s a really interesting white paper out from the Online Learning Consortium that covers what’s behind the growth of instructional design in higher ed, who works as instructional designers in higher ed, what their responsibilities are, and what challenges they experience.
Additionally, there is a growing push in higher education to replace traditional expensive textbooks with Open Educational Resources (OER). At our university, campus instructional designers are incredibly instrumental in facilitating this transition. They work closely with faculty to identify and adapt OER for their courses.
Fortunately there is now a course available on Open Licensing (licensing being the key to making Open Educational Resources, well, Open). The course materials themselves are even open!
I think that this is a skillset that is growing in demand for instructional designers in academia, so I highly recommend checking out the course:
What skills do you see as essential to being successful as an instructional designer in higher ed?