For years, Penn State’s instructional designers often worked in relative isolation, with limited networking among learning design colleagues at other campuses, departments, and colleges. But in 2013, that changed with the introduction of the ID2ID Program that has given more than 130 instructional designers a platform to share expertise with one another.

The program’s success led to two expansions, the most recent with EDUCAUSE, the higher education technology association. The new national ID2ID Peer Mentoring Program has accepted applicants from colleges and universities across the United States and will begin in mid-June.

Brett Bixler, lead instructional designer with ITS Training Services and program committee co-chair, said the first expansion of the program came last year, between Penn State and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, offering pairings between the two Big Ten schools. “It worked really well and it was interesting because of the inter-institutional differences that you can get between institutions,” he said.

Penn State’s ID2ID program offers two versions to participants – the traditional mentor/mentee version and the buddy version. In the mentor/mentee version, a more experienced person works with a more novice designer who wants to grow personally and professionally. The “buddy” version pairs two instructional designers with similar experience who provide mutual support and encouragement to grow a skill, work on a project, or find a different perspective.

“We’ve heard from participants that our programs have made a difference — in their professional lives and their professional development,” said Ryan Klinger, educational technology, design, and support specialist with Harrell Health Sciences Library at Penn State Hershey and fellow co-chair of the program committee. “They get to see what other people are doing and how their role differs.”

Klinger said that there are plenty of program success stories, including a pair of instructional designers from World Campus who extended their partnership to a second year.

“Their everyday work today was built on the ID2ID partnership,” Klinger said. “Before that, even though they were in the same department, they never worked together on any individual project. But now they’re meeting every week. They co-presented together at two conferences already on a project and are working to publish a research paper.”

Bixler said the interactions have been beneficial for designers to learn new ways of approaching their work as well as helping them form professional friendships.

“We’re building community as well as offering professional development,” he said.

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