Demystifying Instructional Design

S2E3: Lance Eaton Part 3 - Thinking Beyond

February 04, 2022 Rebecca J. Hogue Season 2 Episode 3
Demystifying Instructional Design
S2E3: Lance Eaton Part 3 - Thinking Beyond
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Lance Eaton is the Director of Digital Pedagogy at College Unbound, a part-time instructor at North Shore Community College and Southern New Hampshire University, and a PhD student at the University of Massachusetts, Boston with a dissertation that focuses on how scholars engage in academic piracy. He has given talks, written about, and presented at conferences on open access, academic piracy, open pedagogy, hybrid flexible learning, and digital service-learning. His musings, reflections, and ramblings can be found on his blog: http://www.ByAnyOtherNerd.com

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REBECCA::

Welcome back to Demystifying Instructional Design podcast, where I interview various instructional designers to figure out what instructional designers do. I'm Rebecca Hogue, your podcast host. This episode contains the final part of my interview with Lance Eaton, where he talks about what he's looking for when hiring instructional designers. And I'm going to pivot our conversation a little bit, because you mentioned you've had experience as a hiring manager for instructional designers and so what do you look for when you're hiring an instructional designer?

LANCE::

It depends on the job. So going back to that earlier conversation of Am I looking for a course designer? Somebody who is a course developer? Am I looking for a project manager or am I looking for a faculty coach? It will vary on that because I think there's slightly different skills within each of those with the course creator I'm looking for, either in the interview or in the work, like somebody who is either comfortable or enjoys or finds value in repetitive tasks. They're not mindless by any means, but there is a repetition. There is a 'this is how this process is going to go', even though it doesn't always go like that. This is how this process is going to go. You're going to continually be plugging these things in, and there may be other opportunities to expand beyond that. But I will be looking for somebody that is comfortable with that and isn't going to be bored by that or find that to be less than interesting. And that may pop up in a variety of ways on their resume from I think sometimes we see some of that with people who are in multimedia or people who do film. These aren't the only examples, but these are the examples I'm calling to mind. If you are producing film like there's production, post-production and there's a very similar dynamic to course design. And so look for those type of signals of they do this and they're comfortable with doing this kind of repetitive work. If it's a project manager, I'm interested in hearing from What are the types of projects that they have done and really looking for? And again, depending on the institution and knowing that there are different types of courses looking for somebody who has some kind of project development experience, it doesn't have to be formal project manager or anything like that, but has worked with certain things from beginning to end, but has also been able to do it in different modalities because depending on the institution, they are going to end up working on several different types of projects at a given time. And the faculty coach type person, I'm often looking for somebody who is really thinking about that relationship based dynamic, is demonstrating that when they're coming to do their presentation, are they just showing the actual or are they really trying to think about who is the person, who are the people in the room? And how do I make them feel comfortable about whatever it is that whatever it is that they're covering. On the project manager, I was also going to mention. And actually, t's true, even with the faculty coaches, how evidence of working with people who may be resistant and how they work with them, how they bring them along and not push them along. It's harder to demonstrate, but I think you can still get at it in conversation of asking for experiences of how they are by the person and not in front of or dragging the person.

REBECCA::

What can a new instructional designer do to stand out?

LANCE::

That is a good question, I think. So one of your first questions is what's your origin story? And I think having a strong, clear narrative because we all fall into this again, nobody sets out to be an instructional designer. So can you identify a very clear line between your work history, your passions and why you want to do this particular role at this particular institute around instructional design? I think really giving time to think about that narrative, one story and how their work contributes to it. I think a lot about it, as I wrote on my blog a while back, called the castle in the tapestry. And the way that I talk about it is we are very much in our society driven towards the hustle. Do whatever you can as much as you can, because late stage capitalism, everything feels like it's, we're losing everything and that's the pandemic. And all of that has just made it feel like everything that we have is so elusive. So we've got to accumulate everything, experiences, background, et cetera, all of that. But I think about these things as a tapestry and really being able to look at everything I've done and how do I weave it into what my story is? How does it all makes sense? How does the fact that I am in a doctoral program I am teaching and I am an instructional designer? How does that all work together? How does that work together with the fact that I am on a board of directors for a small theater in Brooklyn? Like, how do I make sense of these things? So I often look for being able to communicate a strong narrative. The attunement to what the role really is. Again, looking at that job description, doing one's networking as one can to figure out, like, what is this actual role?

LANCE:: Is it:

I am making courses reproducing just that repetitive

LANCE::

or rote dynamic? Am I really like managing all the moving pieces? Or am I working with a faculty member one to one to really encourage or move them forward? How can I demonstrate my understanding of that in that I'm really interested in doing that? Those stand out. And within that, I think a diverse experience or a range of experiences, this goes with a narrative because I come from this idea of all learning is relevant. Having that resume or CV that shows like I'm a dynamic being and it's OK, like, I think those do make strong instructional designers. I have friends who went into college to be an accountant. Twenty years later, they are still an accountant. They've moved up a little, but that is their straight trajectory. I appreciate a bit more variation because I think that breeds some of the lateral thinking that breeds some of the ability to cross connect, to be that deejay and really draw upon these different things for for the kind of work that we do.

REBECCA::

Mm-Hmm. If you were to look at an IDs portfolio, what are the things you're looking for.

LANCE::

I look at not just can they do the thing, right? Oh, they can make, they can make something, they can make an interactive. Are they going the extra mile of somehow extending? What are they thinking about? What is the pedagogy involved in there? Or extending thinking a little bit more about what they're also trying to communicate with? So I'll give a good example. In my work right now, I will make instructional videos so I can do the actual task. But I'm also often mindful about what are the materials that I'm using within. So it isn't just I was demonstrating how to use annotations and Google Docs, and so I'm making a video about how to use Google Docs. But then I'm also thinking about what am I annotating and trying to think about what is interesting, useful, relevant information for our students to know or for our faculty to know. And in this case, there was a resource that I knew a lot of faculty members are using that I think is a little problematic. And so I was using that resource and then I was using the common feature to say, Oh, maybe the student was saying this comment. So it was layering the learning there. Maybe nobody ever picked up on it. But I was also recognizing they may be paying attention to the piece that we're looking at. And therefore this might give them not just how did you do annotation, but also, oh, maybe I should rethink using this particular resource. So similarly, I'm looking at is there embedded wisdom beyond just look, I made this video or I made this interactive? Is there any additional pedagogical ideas going on behind it because the tools can be learned? But are you thinking about how they interface with the type of teaching, the type of learning, the type of students? And so that's what I am typically looking for. Is there anything else that shows me that there's an awareness besides just creating this to show that you can use it? So that's more around, like the technology pieces that I might see in a portfolio. Otherwise, I'm looking for language and ideas that reflect strong advocating and connection with the students and strong advocating, and connection with the faculty and not necessarily seeing that as at odds with one another. Because I think in some ways, our relationship to the faculty is very similar to the faculty relationship to the students. So if I can be on both of their sides, then they can be on both of each other's sides as well and advocates for one another. So those are things that I'm looking for, but I think there's a good amount of instructional designers out there who have become very interested in things like universal design for learning and open pedagogy and critical digital pedagogy. And these other things that are making us really think about and be mindful of as we introduce tools, as we introduce practices, are we introducing harms? And I'm looking for somebody who is thinking about and aware of the benefits of technology, the challenges and the potential harms? And how do we think about that for our students and our faculty?

REBECCA::

Thinking beyond just looking at the ability to use the tech right? I have one last question that I'd like to ask everybody. And that's what's your prediction for the future of instructional design?

LANCE::

I prediction for instructional design, which I'm listening to Adam Grant's. Think again, so I know I will be entirely wrong at whatever my predictions are. But I'm OK with that. I see. And again, I will focus largely in higher ED because it's more of my realm. I see a few things happening. I see it becoming and I feel like I've seen this happen already a little bit in different pockets, especially with the large major universities out there. There's an element of skilling, of becoming very much just, you put the content in the course. And with that, of course, becomes less money, less professional development and stuff. So I see there is this one avenue and maybe those become the future stepping stones. Or you work that and then you move into something that pays more. But I see very much a cookie cutter automatic approach that limits the dynamism that any instructional designer will bring. Very much like those institutions limit the dynamism that any instructor brings to those courses because they make, the courses is very strongly defined, Tthe instructor has no real say over the curriculum, over the assignments. They're there to give feedback in discussion. I think there will be pockets where that also happens with instructional designers. I think there'll be some ways that as that happens, we will see, like with other industries and especially because of COVID. People from other parts of the world being able to acquire those jobs and do those jobs because much of this is being done virtually. And so if you don't even have to pay an instructional designer, 40000, but you can pay them 20000 because it's in a country where that is much more money, I think we'll see that happen. And on one hand, I think that's amazing because that brings in these really interesting global perspectives. On the other hand, I don't know that they're going to be done in a way that is as beneficially inclusive for everybody involved. I see within other parts of higher ED, much more so than previously, your instructional design team and your center for Teaching and Learning Teams become one. There's places where this already exists. There's places where they're just coming to it or they came to it in the last two or three years. So I think we'll see a continued trend of that, especially as whatever comes after COVID, because there will be something else that sends us back into our homes or because that's the instability of at least the climate for a foreseeable future. I think you'll see that happen. I think I think in the near future, we will continue to see some level of exodus of instructional designers from higher ED just trying to recover from what happened because I certainly have seen that within my circle of contacts. There's probably throughout this past, since about February, at least once a month hearing from somebody who's just, I'm done here. I actually literally had that. Have an email from a colleague about that today. I can't do this type of work in traditional higher ed anymore. That's part of why I ended up at College Unbound, which is a nontraditional, higher ed institution and it's a fairly new one, is because they are really looking at and thinking about this differently and thinking through the lens of equity and care, not just for students, but for faculty and for staff. And then I sadly feel much of what has been learned will be forgotten in this pandemic. And so will the recognition that instructional designers gained during this will be pulled back a bit and they won't be recognized or brought in many of the ways that they should be, that they should be considered part of the teaching teams throughout any institution.

REBECCA::

I hope you're wrong on that one.

LANCE::

Me too. I yes, I 100 percent hope I am wrong. I get worried because as we look at different types of signs, just make me leery of institutions are, they always are, but they will continue to be like, This is the worst time we've ever been cash-strapped. And the ways that plays out around different policies and supports in the assumptions that just because people survived pandemic survived teaching in COVID in this pandemic and these different formats, they now know online learning and I think people did amazing things. I also think many of them were just were just trying to survive. And so those aren't the same things. I'm glad they survived. I'm glad they did all the amazing things that they did. And yet at the same time, there's still so much more for us to think about and figure out with teaching and learning that it should never just be on the shoulders of the faculty member. There should be teams there to support their teaching and learning. And I just worry about institutions also believing and uplifting that. But yes, I hope that I am. I hope I am horribly wrong on that.

REBECCA::

Thank you very much, Lance, for your time and for all of your insights.

LANCE::

Thank you. This is a pleasure.

REBECCA::

You've been listening to Demystifying Instructional Design, a podcast where I interview instructional designers about what they do. I'm Rebecca Hogue, your podcast host. If you or someone you know might like to be a guest on demystifying instructional design, please complete the Be My Guest form. Available on demystifying instructional design dot com. Show notes are posted as a blog post on demystifying instructional design dot com. If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe or leave a comment in the show notes blog post.

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