Intake meetings, where I met instructors for the first time, is one of my favorite aspects of being an instructional designer because every meeting is so different. I especially love having first meetings in the instructor’s office and getting a glance at the books adorning their shelves, the art displayed on their walls, their projects, research, and insights on whiteboards, napkins, and notepads. Sometimes faculty come in with little to no online teaching experience and are not sure where to start; other times they have years of experience and crystal clear ideas on how they want to design their course. I really feel fortunate to work with brilliant minds from a variety of backgrounds!
But, what makes for the very best of the best intake meetings? When we really develop a relationship.
It is easy to dive right into the logistics at the intake, because instructors often have burning questions about their courses, particularly if there have been little hang ups that have been irking them. How does grading this type of assignment work in the LMS? When are the deadlines for working on the course development? Do I have to follow the Ecampus syllabus template exactly? These type of questions are important and I enjoy helping faculty get clarity, so I do, of course, make plenty of time to address them. But, the best start comes from getting to know you first!
When I get to know you and your vision for your course, I learn about your teaching style. I learn about the things that make you excited to teach and where your learners sometimes get stuck in your courses. I learn about why you use certain sorts of assessments and not others, what “keeps you awake” when you think about your course and what would make you really proud of your work when we are finished with our development.
I also learn about ways of partnering that energize you and ways that drain you, which helps me to figure out how I can best use my skills to enrich your course design. You are without a doubt the expert in your subject – frankly, intimidatingly so at times. My goal is to find an approach to collaborating that taps deeply into your expertise, while leveraging my knowledge of students, andragogy, design, online tools, accessibility, and the like.
The knowledge I bring to the table sometimes requires me to challenge you, which can be uncomfortable. I sometimes have to ask questions like, “is this an appropriate assessment for the learning outcome? Would you consider structuring this activity in another way?” I do this to advocate for students and their learning – not just to be a nuisance. Having an authentic working relationship helps us to discuss these aspects of your course openly and genuinely. There are times I need you to push back and let me know that the existing structure is important to you and why. And, there are times that I need you to trust my skills as a designer and be open to exploring a new approach.
The sooner we can get comfortable with one another, the deeper we can dive into your course and the more time we can dedicate to the optimizations that makes your course easier and more enjoyable to deploy in the long run. We are fortunate to use a two term development cycle so we have plenty of time to iron out and revisit snags that will lead to a lot less work during the actual facilitation of your course. My strongest courses come from faculty that I have met with multiple times, developed a real partnership with, and now share cohesive and motivating goals. I invite you to really “lean into” your relationship with your instructional designer – ask questions, get curious, be vulnerable, take time – your course design (and your ID) will thank you for it!