During course development, technologists and content experts spend months together to meet, brainstorm, and exchange ideas in order to build or edit course material. In order to make this collaboration work, faculty need to be willing to let their guard down and trust that the technologist is there to assist them and not tell them what to put into their course.
With regard to the technologist and faculty collaboration, one faculty member said, "As an instructor, you feel like you own that classroom and the classroom interaction, but if you're willing to let your guard down a bit, reassess and have someone challenge you, I really do think it helps" (Tate, 2017).
There are many methods for creating successful collaboration teams. A few of these methods are described below.
- Create a Perfect Match: Establish a relationship and rapport with one of the instructional technologists and work with them through the entire project so that there is consistency. If you do not like a particular approach or you feel conflict, ask to work with another technologist.
- Let Your Guard Down: Many instructors still have never taught an online course, but now are required to teach one. That situation may make the instructor feel pressured and could lead to a shaky start with the technologist/faculty collaboration. Rest assured that the instructional technologists in the ITRC will patiently acclimate you to the online teaching environment. They can provide examples of successful online courses and assist with the building of a new course without taking over the class and materials. Instructional technologists are there to make the faculty member's job easier and to take the stress out of developing a new course.
- Clarify Roles: The most common cause of strife between instructional technologists and subject matter experts comes from a misunderstanding about what each person's role is and what is expected (Tate, 2017). In order to eliminate this strife, keep in mind that both people are professionals with complementary skills and expertise. Instructional technologists will offer suggestions and ideas, but they know that ultimately, the instructor gets the final say.
- Communicate: The instructor needs to familiarize the technologist with their teaching approach, goals, concerns, and priorities. This will enable the technologist to make recommendations that will work best. There may be some initial tension when the technologist suggests changes to a faculty member's teaching methods or course structure but keep in mind that the technologist wants what the faculty member wants--the best learning experience possible. When the subject matter expert is responsive to a technologist's feedback, it can be a constructive experience for everyone involved (Tate, 2017).
- Account for Time: Development of an online course can take months and sometimes multiple semesters. The technologist and instructor should set a goal for the amount of time that they are willing to invest in the course. This will reduce tension by being clear about the expectations of both parties.
Tate, E. (May 3, 2017). Easing Instructional Designer-Faculty Conflicts. Inside Higher Ed.