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Curriculum Corner: OEI's Instructional Design Services

Student feedback is a cornerstone to continuous curriculum improvement. But what should faculty do when they receive feedback that prompts a desire to change? Contact OEI’s Instructional Design team, of course!

Instructional design is simply the creation of instructional materials. However, the process can become very complex, involving evidence-based pedagogy and a variety of tools to accomplish desired results. That’s where our dedicated instructional designers, Johnathon (Johnny) Neist, MLIS, and Amy Beierle, MEd, come in. As Master’s trained professionals with years of education and instructional design experience, Johnny and Amy can support faculty in designing high quality, educationally sound instructional materials.

As you know, the last year provided several new and unique challenges for faculty and students alike. Those challenges continue as we work to define the “new normal” for our education mission. For example, our instructional designers have seen an increase in delivering content asynchronously and reserving face-to-face time for more case-based activities and when the presence of an expert to guide learning is needed. This “flipped classroom” approach is not new to education – but it may be very new to our faculty and students. Instructional design can aid in the transition process and work with our faculty to maximize success.

MCW has access to many toolsets of which our faculty may not be aware. Our instructional designers are happy to work with you to develop your ideas and identify resources that can support you in implementing them. Johnny and Amy love when faculty come to them with a basic idea and they can help identify ways to bring them into the classroom. As educational professionals, Johnny and Amy continuously research best practices and use a variety of products and tools to develop materials for our faculty.

“Johnny and Amy (and Kelly Horton) surprised me last spring with two new virtual microscope Storyline modules for the GI Nutrition course. The Storyline modules link the virtual microscope handout, slides, and histology atlas figures into a single unit that is much more interactive and easier to use than the virtual microscope exercises we were doing before. The students and I were extremely grateful for all of the hard work they put into creating these for us! Johnny and Amy are helping me convert the virtual microscope exercises for the remaining M2 units into Storyline modules.”
– Lisa Cirillo, PhD, Assistant Dean for the Basic Science Curriculum

Kern’s Human Centered Design Lab, with which Johnny and Amy are involved, is seeing a drive to create new educational tools for our students and getting people excited about creating content and delivering it in different ways. The great news is that we have solid content, it may just need to be tweaked and delivered in new and innovative ways. That’s where instructional designers can step in to help.

Change doesn’t always mean using new tools, it can mean using existing tools in new and exciting ways. For example, in last year’s Foundations of Human Behavior course the director chose to use discussion threads in Brightspace for students to role play and practice their skills. The instructional design team assisted with being creative and stretching how our tools can be used to advance educational objectives.

In a world where Zoom has become a new way of life, our instructional design team has worked with courses to maximize student experiences on the platform. For example, they helped design and support a fuel metabolism session for medical students where a panel of five faculty members shared their expertise on the topic in a collaborative forum. They encouraged faculty to collect student questions using the Chat feature. When time ran out for the session, they were able to pull the list of questions out of Zoom and post the responses in Brightspace. Zoom usage also aids in the facilitation of small group discussions, as breakout rooms can be far more accommodating than physical spaces. These and many other ideas can come from a simple collaborative consultation with our instructional design team.

“Amy and Johnny have been instrumental in helping us create an online learning resource library in Rise. They partnered with us to create an experience that learners will find easy to navigate and asked good questions to make sure we understood all the capabilities of the software. We could not have don’t this without them!”
– Julia Schmitt, Kern Institute Human Centered Design Lab

Why do our instructional designers love what they do? Quite simply, they enjoy collaborating with our expert faculty to ensure our students have the best learning experiences possible. Johnny says, “Our faculty have amazing ideas and I get to figure out the practical application from an educational standpoint using research and best practices infused with creativity.” What excites Amy about her role is getting to think about the educational approach to make content delivery and engagement what we want it to be. If faculty have the time to have a conversation, our instructional designers can find ways to support them. In fact, they have found that a 30-minute conversation with the team can often save faculty hours of work on their own.

Interested in learning more about what our instructional design team can do for you? Contact them at educational_improvement@mcw.edu. They look forward to working with you!