Kate Miffitt, Instructional Designer

Kate Miffitt, Instructional Designer

Kate Miffitt recently recently joined Teaching and Learning with Technology as an instructional designer.

What will you do in your new position?

Part of my role is to meet with faculty on design consultations and engagements. Our design consultations are often focused on active learning in large enrollment courses and sound pedagogical uses of centrally-supported tools like blogs at Penn State, clickers, and VoiceThread.

I also help with the planning of some TLT events, such as the Game Day coming up in a few weeks, Learning Design Summer Camp, and the TLT Symposium. And I’ll be joining a team for one of our faculty fellows this summer, as well as a hot team to investigate new technologies for teaching and learning.

How has instructional design changed since you started in the field?

I can most comfortably speak to the difference between the theory of instructional design learned in school, and the practice of instructional design in the field. Instructional design methodology is highly systematic and rigid. It’s an approach that’s designed to work at levels of complexity and scale—it was initially created for the development of military training. In practice, the design process is much more fluid and iterative. We begin with an instructional goal or problem and employ a design process that fits the needs and constraints of the project.

What are some trends that you think will influence what you and others do in TLT?

One of the trends I’m interested is gamification. There are a lot of good pedagogical strategies embedded in game design that can be applied in different contexts. Some other broader trends that I think TLT will explore include learning analytics and massive open online courses (MOOCs).

What’s the best part about being an instructional designer?

As a former classroom teacher, my favorite part about instructional design is brainstorming about engaging, active learning activities. I really enjoy the creative problem-solving that instructional design requires.

If there was one thing you could change about instructional design to enhance it, what would that be?

We’d get hoverboards to ride to meetings. More seriously, it’s a hard question to answer. The frustrations and challenges in instructional design are also part of the fun. Designing with constraints makes it more interesting, and elicits the most creative solutions.

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