Investigating the design approach of designers-by-assignment: A learner analysis of workshop facilitators




Pic, Jennifer Nicole

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Over the past decade organizations have increasingly relied on designers-by-assignment to develop instructional materials and facilitate learning experiences, largely in part due to the rise in self-service technologies and the perception that professional instructional designers are not needed. Merrill (2007) estimated that up to 95% of all instructional design products may be created by these individuals who generally participate in instructional design activities as only a small part of their job and lack formal training in the instructional design profession. Despite this reliance on designers-by-assignment, organizations generally do not provide adequate support or professional development opportunities. The present study investigated the learning needs of a specific population of designers-by-assignment – workshop facilitators for a national environmental education nonprofit – for the purpose of collecting data to support the design of a future online professional development program for this network. The learner analysis consisted of three instruments in addition to demographic questions: Design Approach Self-Assessment (based on Gibbons, 2003); Learning Design Skills Questionnaire (based on MacLean & Scott, 2011); and Online Learner Self-Assessment (modified from Watkins, Leigh, & Triner, 2004). The data were analyzed from the perspective of four position types (formal educators, natural resource professionals, nonformal educators, and university faculty) in order to assist in the development of persona profiles. Findings suggested that workshop facilitators across position types prefer a message-centric design approach, have distinct interests in developing their instructional design skills, and are ready to learn in an online environment. Recommendations focused on the practice of instructional design, specific design features to be included in a professional development program, and implementation of this program.



Education, Educational technology, Instructional design, Design approach, Designer-by-assignment, Instructional design, Learner analysis, Online learner readiness