The Need for Instructional Design

As online education continues to grow, so does the demand for Instructional Designers. Online education is a new realm for many educators and Instructional Designers help bridge the gap on best practices and the abilities of the online classroom. Dan Berrett of The Chronicle of Higher Education recently highlighted Rolando R. Garza, an Instructional Designer from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. The article highlights the growth of online education and subsequently the growth of Instructional Designers.

  • Percentage of colleges that say online courses are crucial to long-term strategy
    • 2002: 49%
    • 2015: 63%
  • Percentage of college students taking at least one online course
    • 2002: 9.6%
    • 2014: 28%
  • Members of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (Instructional Designers)
    • 2006: 1646 members
    • 2016: 2490 members

Instructional Designers are often seen as a method to help faculty “…translate their in-person courses to be offered online” however more is required of Instructional designers then the conversion of face-to-face materials to an online environment. Instructional Designer require “…technical ability, design skills, pedagogical knowledge, and a deft interpersonal touch.” The Instructional Designer must highlight best practices and strategies, while understanding that the educator is the subject matter expert. The Instructional Designer must blend the vast expertise of the educator with current best practice trends.

One crucial aspect that is highlighted in the article is that Instructional Designer knowledge does not only cover online education, “Colleges are increasingly using instructional designers to improve the quality of teaching, whether in online, in-person, or hybrid courses.” An Instructional Designer can provide the technical knowhow to move face-to-face materials online, however they can also help with envisioning new methods of engagement and assessment in any educational medium.

Read the full article The Chronicle of Higher Education

Berrett, Dan (2016, February). ‘Instructional Design: Demand grows for a new breed of academic’. Retrieved from

DE Student Services and Benefits

The slogan for distance education at Ohio State is “Same courses. Same Faculty. Same degree. Doing things the same makes us different.” Not only do distance students receive the same excellent education offered on-campus, they are eligible to receive many of the same student services and benefits of those students who reside in Columbus. Distance students can receive everything from academic support and coaching, full access to library resources and student health insurance to athletic tickets.

Distance students at Ohio State are fully a part of the campus community and entitled to all of the services and benefits that entails. For a more comprehensive listing of distance student services and benefits, please select the links below.

To view all of the programs that Ohio State offers online, please visit the Office of Distance Education and eLearning Online Programs page.

What Motivates You?

As I have mentioned before in my earlier blog posts, ODEE is planning to offer various opportunities for online faculty development.  We will be launching a webinar series to address daily issues related to teaching online and will be eventually offering full, online courses designed to dive deeper into various aspects of teaching online ranging from web accessibility to engaging students in the discussion board.

Picture of man at laptopContinued professional development is important in growing the knowledge and skill sets faculty.  But, what actually motivates you to register and complete such courses?  Some people are intrinsically motivated to learn all they can about the newest innovations.  That’s great!  However, with your busy schedules, many of you need more motivation to devote extra time to professional development.

So, what would motivate you to register and complete online faculty development courses? Would it be…

  • Digital badges?
  • Credit toward tenure?
  • College recognition?
  • Decreased teaching load while taking the courses?
  • Monetary incentives?

Or would it something else?  We would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Reply to this post or email me directly at

Faculty Development Webinar Series

girl working on laptop

Clever Girl by Alessandro Valli

Beginning this autumn, we in ODEE’s Distance Education department, will be providing webinars pertaining to teaching online.  In order to most effectively address the concerns and needs of online faculty, we would like to hear from you, as current or potential online faculty, what you are most interested in learning about during such webinars.

There are several key topics of which online faculty would like to learn more about that have already been brought to our attention.  Such topics include:

  • Doing group work online
  • How to facilitate alternative assignments such as case studies
  • Providing feedback and holding office hours online
  • Exam proctoring for online students
  • How to effectively engage students in class discussions

Now we want to hear from you!  What other topics would you like to learn more about concerning teaching online?  Let us know by replying to this blog.  Your feedback will help us develop webinars that meet your training needs.

Continuous Improvement: Part 2

Last week I shared with you the questions we are asking instructors that we work with related to our course development process. In this blog post, I am going to share with you the questions that we are asking students who are enrolled in the courses that an ODEE instructional designer helped develop.

Students will be rating the following questions on a scale of 1 to 4 (strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree):

  1. Overall, I am satisfied with the course.
  2. Overall, the course was fair.
  3. Instructions about how to start the course were clear.
  4. The course learning outcomes were clear.
  5. I could find the learning materials easily.
  6. I understood every week/module learning objective.
  7. The weekly activities reflected the weekly learning objectives.
  8. The way the content was presented was not engaging.
  9. I felt connected to my classmates and instructor.
  10. Assessments reflected the content.
  11. Grading criteria for assignments were clear.
  12. I was aware of my current grade in the course at all times.
  13. I was satisfied with the instructor responsiveness.
  14. I was satisfied with the availability of the instructor (ex. office hours).
  15. The instructor clarified things I did not understand.
  16. Course technology requirements were readily available.
  17. I felt confident using the required course technology.
  18. Course media did not work properly.
  19. Course technology worked on the devices I used to access the course.
  20. Course content was provided in alternative formats when requested.

In addition, students will be asked:

  1. Which services offered to online students did they using during the course:
    1. Academic Advising
    2. Library
    3. Military & Veterans Services
    4. Office for Disability Services/Web Accessibility Center
    5. Bookstore
    6. Student Support Center
    7. The Writing Center
    8. Technical Support
    9. Wired Out
    10. Testing Center
  2. What devices they used to access the course:
    1. Windows desktop
    2. Windows laptop
    3. Mac desktop
    4. Mac laptop
    5. iPad
    6. Android tablet
    7. Windows surface tablet
    8. iPhone/iPod
    9. Android phone
    10. Windows phone
    11. Other
  3. Where they accessed the course the majority of the time:
    1. Home
    2. School
    3. Work
    4. Other
  4. To share any comments, suggestion, and opinions.

The survey will be distributed at the end of each course offering (after grades are posted) and the data collected will be used to improve the course.

Continuous Improvement: Part 1

Whether you are an instructor in a course, a program director, or an instructional designer you should always be striving to make each iteration of your course(s) better than the last. ODEE has created two Institutional Research Board (IRB) approved surveys to address course development from both the faculty perspective and the student perspective. In this blog post, I am going to share with you the questions that we are asking instructors who work with our instructional designers on their experience with our course development process and working with an ODEE instructional designer.

Instructors will be rating the following questions on a scale of 1 to 4 (strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree):

  1. The instructional designer enhanced my course development experience.
  2. The instructional designer embodied OSU values.
  3. The instructional designer kept my best interests in mind.
  4. The instructional designer made satisfactory progress throughout our collaboration.
  5. The instructional designer responded to me in a timely manner.
  6. The instructional designer met my expectations.
  7. The instructional designer provided me with enough resources to confidently teach my online course.
  8. Together, the instructional designer and I verified the course was working before the course start date.
  9. I knew what was expected of me during the course development process.
  10. The distance education course development process timeline provided clarity to our collaboration.
  11. I was satisfied with the development process for this course.
  12. Overall, I felt prepared to teach my online course.

In addition, instructors will be asked:

  1. To identify their instructional designer.
  2. To share any comments, suggestions, and opinions.

The survey will be distributed at the end of each course development cycle and the data collected will be used to improve the instructor course development experience and process.

Centralizing Distance Education at a Large Public Institution

The following paper was presented in the Distance Learning Administrators conference proceedings, June 8-11, 2014.

Centralizing Distance Education at a Large Public Institution
Jennifer L. Simmons
The Ohio State University 

Distance education opportunities have increased drastically during the past few years. Large public institutions such as the Ohio State University (OSU) have had small grass-roots efforts led by individual colleges, but no centralized coordinated effort or direction for distance education. In December 2012, OSU created the Office of Distance Education and eLearning (ODEE) to coordinate all of its distance education programs, set specific goals to create 15 new distance education programs, and generate new revenue for the university by recruiting distance education students. This paper highlights the first year of progress toward centralizing distance education at OSU.


In December 2012, the Ohio State University (OSU) formed the Office of Distance Education and eLearning (ODEE) to coordinate distance education programs; create 15 new distance education programs, generate new revenue; align all distance education programs with university, state, and federal laws and policies; develop transparent policies and processes; and set baseline success measures such as student satisfaction rates, graduation rates, and US News and World Report rankings over the course of the next five years. In order to achieve these goals, we needed to develop a solid foundation and build trusting relationships.

Distance Education Definition

To start, OSU did not have a consistent definition for distance, and our two reporting bodies, the Ohio Board of Regents and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), differed on their definitions for distance education. OSU adopted the HLC’s definitions, which define a distance education course as a course where 75% or more of course instruction is offered at a distance and a distance education program as a program where 50% or more of the courses within the program meet the definition of a distance education course. Although we adopted the HLC’s definitions as minimum standards for reporting purposes, our goal has been to develop 100% distance education courses and programs so we can achieve our goal to bring in new students and generate new revenue for the university by summer 2018.

State Authorization

Another role for ODEE is to obtain state authorizations, which essentially means we must obtain approval from every state in which our distance education students reside while receiving their instruction. For example, if a student is living in California and is receiving their instruction in that state, we have to obtain authorization from the state of California to provide that student with instruction. Our office developed a comprehensive plan and hired a team to obtain and maintain authorization in all 50 states and all territories in the United States.

Development Process

Additionally, we created a distance education program-development process that aligns itself with the university’s program-approval process. The graphic below depicts the path a distance education program proposal takes to get buy-in and commitment from university leadership and with ODEE.

What’s important to note in this graphic is when a distance education program should contact our office. We recommend that distance education programs consult with ODEE before their proposal goes to their college curricular committee for approval to ensure that considerations for distance education have been discussed. After college approval, the proposal goes through the normal university program-approval process and the work with ODEE begins. Because the university has asked ODEE to verify compliance of all distance education programs, the first task is a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the program’s college and ODEE. The university’s curricular approval committee, the Council on Academic Affairs (CAA), requires an assurance letter from ODEE indicating an MOU has been developed and signed before they will consider the program proposal. After CAA approval, our office creates a development schedule for the courses within the program, assigns instructional designers, and begins course development. Our course development process is a 14-week backward-design process that adheres to Quality Matters, a research-centered approach to quality assurance and continuous improvement for online learning.

Funding Model

The last foundational component is our distance education funding model, which was approved by the university in early 2013. This funding model applies only to students who are enrolled in distance education programs and in 100% distance education courses during a given semester.

The funding model doesn’t deviate from the existing university structure. As is the case for any new program at the university, the tuition revenue is first taxed 24%, which is used by central administration to fund support units. However, the traditional face-to-face program’s net marginal revenue is assessed various student fees, which could range between 30 and 50%. These student fees are typically used to fund university departments that support the various student services needed while on campus, such as the campus bus system and recreational facilities. Because these services are not applicable for distance students, distance education programs under the distance education funding model are exempt from these fees, which enables the university to split the distance program’s net marginal revenue 70/30 between the college offering the program and ODEE. This model significantly benefits the college and provides our office with sustainable funding.

ODEE utilizes its share of the revenue to hire necessary staff, implement necessary distance education tools and software, support a 24/7 Tier 1 help desk, meet state authorization requirements, cover marketing for the Ohio State Online brand, and provide professional development for distance education faculty and students as well as consultation services. Revenue also supports coordination of student support services such as the library, accessibility services, academic misconduct, and more.

Current State

OSU currently offers eight distance education programs: two undergraduate degrees (Dental Hygiene and a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing) as well as seven graduate degrees (Adult Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Family Nurse Practitioner, Dental Hygiene, Welding Engineering, and Agriculture and Extension Education).

Future State

Distance education is a key component of Ohio State’s future growth. Equally important is that we grow responsibly and with the highest regard to quality, rigor, and value by holding our distance education students, faculty, courses, and programs to the same standards and expectations as on-campus counterparts. During 2014, we will add four new distance education programs and create 10 new distance general-education courses.


By spending the time to build a solid foundation for distance education and by growing responsibly we will be one step closer to meeting our five-year strategic goals of developing more than 15 distance education programs and generating $25 million in new revenue for the university.

Jennifer Simmons is the ODEE Instructional Design Coordinator at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210. Email:

Graduate Program Change of Delivery Process

Do you have a graduate program currently being offered on campus that you would like to offer at a distance? The Graduate School and ODEE recently created a process for colleges that would like to offer both on campus and at a distance versions of their programs.

The Change of Delivery process is a streamlined process for graduate programs already approved for on campus delivery by the Ohio Board of Regents. This streamlined process takes approximately 2-4 months to obtain approval opposed to the 12-18 month timeline to obtain approval for an entirely new degree program.

The following lists outline what documentation should be submitted to the Graduate School for program change of delivery consideration.


  1. Letter of support of the change of delivery from the Dean
  2. Change in Delivery form – page 2 ONLY (Scroll to the bottom of the link>Program Change Forms>Online Delivery)
  3. MOU with ODEE


  1. MOU with ODEE
  2. Change of delivery cover letter addressed to Randy Smith
  3. Change of delivery request letter addressed to the Ohio Board of Regents

If you are interested in changing the delivery of an existing graduate program, please contact me at


Who Moved My Cheese?

Answer:  The online and elearning shift, that’s who/what.

Have you found yourself wondering what happened to traditional college courses?  One day you were perfecting happy and successful as a professor of this, that, or the other thing.  The next day (or so it seemed) you were behind the times, old news, boring, a “fuddy duddy”.  You looked around and saw these young or youngish new professors coming in with their high tech toys and using them not only in their face to face classrooms, but they were teaching online, too!  They were gaining students, and you were loosing students!  What was going on?

A paradigm shift in education was happening.  The shift to online learning.  It started slowly at first, allowing you to ignore it and not be threatened.  Once it caught on, the demand for online courses increased almost exponentially.  This mode of education will not disappear.  Demand for it will only increase.  The technology used to develop and deliver online courses will continuously change.

So you’re caught wondering who moved your cheese.  Now that you know, online and elearning, and know the future of education won’t be the same as the past, how do you move forward?  Begin with baby steps.  Start by looking at the resources available though the Office of Distance Education and eLearning’s website: .  There is a wealth of resources pertaining to elearning and online learning at OSU on this site as well as trainings and courses you can register to attend to learn new skills to help you deliver courses that are fully in the 21st century of online and elearning.

For information on “Who Moved My Cheese?” click here:

To view the 10 minute movie created by the author of “Who Moved My Cheese?” click here:

New Masters in Global Engineering Leadership

The College of Engineering will be launching a new online degree program during the Autumn 2014 semester and recently launched the program website.

The Master of Global Engineering Leadership (MGEL) is a professional degree for practicing engineers who wish to increase their management acumen, leadership skills and technical expertise to succeed in today’s rapidly changing global business environment. The MGEL can be completed in 16-24 months and is delivered completely online to accommodate working professionals.

Applications are currently being accepted for Autumn or Spring enrollment.