4 Points to Know for Provosts When Leading Instructional Designers

Dorothy S. Bass


Leaders such as provosts set the tone for clear communications for their higher-ed institutions. Most importantly, they must develop staff and departments, ensuring they fit and follow the school’s vision. Significantly, leaders can build and support their instructional design (IDs) staff for their colleges. Often, ID staff faces many obstacles to being fully incorporated within the college environment. Some college leaders may not fully understand their role when developing the curriculum process. Higher education leaders can consider these 5 points when directing instructional designers.


1.) Provosts Build and Support Clear Communications When Leading Instructional Designers

Firstly, a provost needs to communicate clearly, when leading instructional design staff at their schools. When communications break down, leadership and IDs can move in the wrong direction. Expectations fail. Thus, college leaders ensure the vision will succeed. Leaders can vary their communication tools when communicating to IDs. They should not rely solely on email because different generations exist within the staff. Provosts can use text or other communication apps like video and whiteboards to communicate. Moreover, leaders show empathy and build personal connections. These elements will help to develop communications—build bridges between college leaders and their instructional design staff.


2.) Provosts and Other Leadership Have Not Addresssed ID’s Integration

Besides that, when forming the college staff, some leaders may not have addressed how instructional design staff is integrated. They may understand their job responsibilities like redoing courses, facilitating training, building rubrics, or addressing a Blackboard issue. Even with demographic and situational changes, college leaders like provosts did not adjust how they would need instructional staff. They did not understand the responsibilities that IDs face or should do. However, some colleges did develop and devote the time and monies to build an instructional design staff. With other schools, a few IDs may serve a large college. An instructional design staff may lack the tools and technology to do their jobs. Leaders have organized IDs under technical services, so they are not seen as educators. Effective leaders review these situations and improve the staff structure, clearly integrating ID professionals.


3.) Leaders Like Provosts May Not Understand How Instructional Design Works

While a provost may not understand every aspect of instructional design, they should know how it works. Thus, as discussed, leaders communicate with their instructional design staff. Just because AR sparkles as the latest “cool tech,” it might not be a great fit for “your campus.” IDs may lack the tools to implement a technology consistently through all classes. Furthermore, they may lack ownership to implement certain technologies. A new element or technology could take more time to implement than planned. The costs may outweigh the potential profits. Overall, leaders consider these implications when asking their ID staff to integrate a new element into courses, not considering ID principles. Additionally, leaders will need to understand project management principles because they will work with the ID staff, overseeing the curriculum process.


4.) Provosts Can Create Leadership Opportunities for Instructional Designers

Thus, creating leadership openings for instructional staff help develop the instructional design for courses and integrate ID staff. Many colleges have senior instructional staff. With the growth of online learning, an online provost or director can lead a department of online learning. These positions provide opportunities for IDs, connecting them to the campus environment as leaders. Using transformative leadership, they can collaborate with college work staff. They understand research and know other knowledge areas like ethical and legal issues. Therefore, college leaders can help develop ID staff by providing leadership opportunities.


Overall, college leadership help blend their instructional design staff within the campus system. Clear communications help to establish how ID staff will be viewed. Leaders like provosts vary their communication tools while establishing personal connections. While an in-depth understanding of ID principles may not be necessary, knowing it will aid decision-makers. Lastly, create opportunities for ID staff to become leaders to support college values and vision. 



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