Instructional designers aid e-learning initiative

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | July 30, 2014

Image with caption: From left, Suhasini Kotcherlakota, Ph.D., and Analisa McMillan

From left, Suhasini Kotcherlakota, Ph.D., and Analisa McMillan

When the UNMC Innovators in Education project held its unveiling of 16 new e-learning modules in June, two names appeared frequently among the list of team members who created the works -- Analisa McMillan and Suhasini Kotcherlakota, Ph.D.

New position a campuswide resource

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs secured funding for a new e-Learning Instructional Designer position to be housed in Academic Affairs. A search committee has been formed and the position should be filled within the next month or two. This position will be a campuswide resource to assist faculty working on e-learning projects.

The pair are instructional designers, McMillan for the College of Public Health and Dr. Kotcherlakota for the College of Nursing.

"As an instructional designer, I collaborate with faculty on designing e-learning modules and courses that are interactive, engaging and visually appealing," said McMillan. "The faculty are the subject matter experts, and I can take their content and design the different learning, visual, auditory and hands-on elements in their modules."

E-learning is not new for College of Nursing faculty, Dr. Suhasini said -- she has been collaborating with College of Nursing colleagues on e-learning projects for some time. But the new emphasis is exciting, she added.

"There is now a dedicated resource of support and encouragement," she said. "Up until now, resources might have been a limiting factor for faculty members who wanted to embark on such projects. This new effort provides an opportunity for faculty to explore and innovate."

With the first wave of funded e-learning modules completed and projects chosen for the second series, the collaboration between educators and instructional designers will become increasingly important as UNMC expands and optimizes its e-learning efforts.

The advantage of an instructional designer, with training in both education and technology, is that they can help faculty members build a course from their vision that helps students succeed, McMillan said.

"We can take the course as they want it to be and apply their ideas in ways that are applicable to all different kinds of students and to the online learning environment," she said. "As an instructional designer, you find out what the faculty member wants and build something to help them succeed."

The instructional designer is an integral part of the process right from the beginning, Dr. Kotcherlakota said.

"The subject matter experts, the faculty members, bring us the content and explain what they want to do or explore -- the learning outcomes, the objectives for the project," she said. "After analyzing the content and what the instructor wants to do, we go into more in-depth details about how they want to create the learning process and discuss educational strategies for teaching, assessment and technologies that are best suited for delivering the content."

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Mary L. Weiss
August 19, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Nothing to be scared of...you know your stuff kiddo. Am so proud of you Mom