What qualifications do you need to be an expert in online education?

If a quick survey of Canadian Instructional Designers is to be any indication, it is experience that is the deciding factor. There appears to be a gap between directly related certification programs and the practice of developing blended, hybrid and online courses. Although institutions such as Athabasca, Royal Roads and many others have developed programs for professional development and certification related to Educational Technology and Instructional Design, the fact remains that many people working in this field have come in through the backdoor, the side door and maybe even left field if I am to apply the relevant clichés in an attempt to describe the diversity of ID career pathways found among a sample of IDs. Institutions such as the Canadian Association for Instructional Designers (CAID) and the International Board for Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (IBSTPI) have developed professional designations and a set of competency standards for instructional design, to meet the growing demand for ID based competencies. This goes a long way to increase credibility for those that would label themselves as dedicated Instructional Designers, wanting to distinguish themselves from Educational Technologists, Multimedia Specialists, E-Learning Facilitators and a host of other titles institutions have developed to describe their process of re-visioning education through technological advancements. However it also explains, from a student perspective why online courses can be so diverse. I’m not suggesting diversity is a bad thing, nor that you need specific named qualifications to be a great designer of online experiences for students, however if you are familiar with a few of these labels you will note, they represent two distinct organizational approaches to technology enhanced learning, at least in post secondary institutions.  In some cases these titles come with faculty rank, and expectations, and in others staff. And here I think there are huge tacit implications  about what qualifies you to be an expert in online education, that don’t necessarily consider experience and qualifications, but rather institutional  funding models.

Posted in Uncategorized