During my years as a secondary school teacher of English, I was constantly designing my classes. Teachers always create “lesson plans,” but instructional design is the systematic organization of curriculum (instructional blocks) within a class or course. In other words, it is a way for teachers to plan instruction over a semester or year. When teachers design curriculum, they identify what will be done, who will do it, when it will be done, by what methodologies, and how it will be assessed.
In K-12 school districts, curriculum designers, or instructional coordinators, develop educational programs and instructional materials for schools. They can also assist the teachers, principals and supervisors in the implementation of the curriculum and evaluate how well it’s working after a period of use.
Instructional designers work not only in school settings but also in organizations and companies. The principles of instructional design consider how learning and instructional tools and technology should be designed, created and delivered to learners.
The end products of instructional design can be an academic course, a training program, or professional development, and can be offered face-to-face or online.
Starting in 2000 at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) as the Manager of Instructional Technology, I worked with my instructional designers and with professors on designing courses and programs. At that time, much of our time was spent in adapting learning to online platforms.
My department also worked at designing learning environments online for companies and government organizations.
During 2014-2015, I worked with the NJ Dept. of Education and the New Jersey Principals & Supervisors Association to build online resources for training teachers, principals and supervisors in the state using professional learning communities.
In 2017, as an independent contractor, I helped faculty at Passaic County Community College (PCCC) build courses using free and Open Educational Resources. As of the fall 2017 semester, this OER Initiative 48 distinct courses were developed using OER materials, including 15 honors-level courses. PCCC now offers a Z-degree (the “Z” for zero textbook costs) in liberal arts ( an A.A. in liberal arts, generalist-humanities option).
In 2018, I began working as a Virtual Instructional Designer for County College of Morris (CCM) in collaborative course development with faculty for the launch of CCM’s new Virtual Campus initiative. These courses will will adhere to the Federal Regulation definition, ADA and Section 508 and Quality Matters standards and will follow the principles of Universal Design of Learning (UDL). The Virtual College is set to launch in fall 2019.