We Never Stop Learning and Growing

April 19, 2024

I pride myself on my growth mindset and identity as a lifelong learner. So, imagine my surprise when after nine years as an instructional designer, I realized I had become lackadaisical with my strategies and techniques.

I am part of an Award-Winning instructional design team and have nine years of experience. Somewhere in those nine years, I started a routine and never really strayed from it. My colleagues would often inspire me to try new design strategies in my course build, but my strategy for the design and thinking phase was always the same. It relied on the SME providing me with all of the information and the mindset that we had to start the course from scratch. And if they didn’t, well then I guess they don’t get the best course. I truly believe some of this hard mindset came from being burned in the past by being so proactive and being told “no” or the course not coming to fruition, that i took on the mindset of “that isn’t my problem.”

This semester I realized there can be a happy medium. In fact, isn’t that the true role of an instructional designer? To take content the SME may already have or draft new ideas in collaboration with the SME to create better courses that are truly built for the online modality and with student success in mind. Seems like common sense, doesn’t it? But, somewhere over the years, I lost my spark.

Through this new process and epiphanies, one of my SMEs and I produced a course that I am the most proud of in my entire career.

Using my colleagues for inspiration, I decided to do things differently. Before any meetings with my SMEs, I did an analysis on all of their courses including the alignment between assignments in the class and the overall objectives, the types of assignments they had in their course, the variety of instructional materials, and even pulled data analytics to determine where students were engaging the most and which pages they may not be viewing. Using all of this information, I accomplished two things. I was able to have a better understanding of where the course already was and have deeper conversations with the SME about their own goals for the course, their course philosophy and approach to teaching. The best part of all of this? I finally realized that we didn’t have to start over with every course build. We can use resources already in the course and make them better. Through this new process and epiphanies, one of my SMEs and I produced a course that I am the most proud of in my entire career.

My greatest lesson this semester has been that there is always room for change and growth. You just have to look at things with new perspectives.

More to come, I’m sure.

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