DEU EdTech Quick Tips – Issue 55

In this Issue: What IS Instructional Design Anyway?

    • The Many Hats of an Instructional Designer
    • Meet your DEU ID: Pt.1
    • In-Kind Instructional Design from DEU
    • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)
    • Bridging the Distance Prize – Call for Submissions
    • Upcoming Webinar: Current Issues in Microcredentials
    • DEU support and contact information

The Many Hats of an Instructional Designer

In 2005, now Emeritus Professor, Richard Schwier, Educational Technology and Design, USask and Dean Emeritus at the Faculty of Extension, U of A, Katy Campbell, along with two other authors, published a literature review of What Instructional Designers Do.Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

In this post we attempt to summarize and demystify some of those findings as they relate to the work of the Instructional Designers (ID) here at the Distance Education Unit. We’ve condensed the multitude of roles that an ID performs into 4 categories:

    1. Change agency
    2. Professional Development Facilitator/Coordinator
    3. Quality Assurance
    4. Project Coordinator

Continue reading on the DEU Blog What IS Instructional Design Anyway?

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Meet your DEU ID

In the first of four DEU Instructional Designer profiles, we’re pleased to introduce you to Julie Maier!

A Short Bio

I am a USask alumna, having earned an M.Ed. (Educational Technology & Design), as well as a B.Ed and B.Sc (Biology). In 2017, at the tail end of my graduate studies, I joined the Distance Education Unit in my current ID role. Previously, I worked in Adult Basic Education as a math and science teacher, and as a Graduate Teaching Fellow and seminar instructor in the College of Education. In my spare time I keep busy as a musician, occasional music writer, and Golden Doodle walker.

My Approach to Instructional Design

My favourite thing about working as an Instructional Designer is the relationships I get to build with faculty and instructors (or “SMEs” – subject matter experts), and collaborating with them to make their best ideas for their online courses come to life. I also really enjoy de-mystifying educational technologies and answering questions related to “what tool to use?” and “how to use it?” Overall, I really like to “grease the wheels” of a course development in whatever way necessary so that the great teachers I work with can more simply do what they do best – teach.

When working on course developments, I often consider myself as a proxy for future students. I’m looking for potential spots of student confusion or frustration in the various elements of the course – the content, learning activities, assessments, and navigational scheme – and can recommend ways to remove those issues or barriers before students ever see them. I consider this an extension of my role as a student advocate – I am always looking to empower learners with more flexible, user-friendly, interactive, and socially-engaging online learning experiences.

Some Cool Stuff I’ve Worked On

I’ve had the opportunity to work on some very interesting and unique projects in my time at DEU. A few that come to mind are:

In-Kind Instructional Design from DEU

There are several common ways that our Instructional Designers work in-kind with faculty and instructors to develop high-quality, engaging, and innovative online classes and materials for diverse learners.

One-on-one Collaborative Course Developments

One dedicated Instructional Designer works with one Instructor to collaboratively design and develop a complete and engaging online course from start to finish. This complete development model ensures the highest level of one-on-one support from our online teaching and learning professionals throughout the project. See full details here.

Cohort Team-based Course Developments

This team-based approach to online course development can support up to 5 course developments with up to 5 members of a College or Department. Scheduled group consultations connect Instructors directly to a dedicated Instructional Designer who can answer technical and pedagogical questions, provide resources, links, how-to’s and samples, discuss online teaching strategies and provide feedback and recommendations throughout the online developments. See full details here.

Instructional Design Consultations and Conversations

Our Instructional Design Team is always happy to share our experiences designing online learning activities and using learning technologies effectively in online or blended classrooms and even across an entire program. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions related to Instructional Design and Educational Technology at any time. Email: to start a conversation.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

Research, presentation, and publishing opportunities exist within the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). SoTL is a growing area of study devoted to conducting educational research across disciplines. As post-secondary educators, we all have a need to create dialogue and peer-reviewed research around how we improve teaching and learning in our specific disciplines.

There are many ways to get started with your own SoTL research. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Visit the Introduction to SoTL LibGuide from the USask Library to being exploring the various SoTL journals, as well as discipline-specific journals researching the educational side of what you do.
  2. Visit the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning webpage to find out about available funding and support for faculty interested in working in this field: GMCTL SoTL webpage.
  3. Consider the upcoming SoTL Graduate Certificate or Master’s programs through the newly established Jane and Ron Graham Centre for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. DEU is currently working with the College of Education to develop many of the online SoTL courses that will be part of these innovative programs looking to launch in September 2022.

In the past, DEU Instructional Designers have co-authored and presented with our collaborators in a variety of publications and conferences, and we would be happy to discuss the possibilities of supporting online and blended educational projects with the potential for extensions into SoTL research. Start a conversation with us at

Bridging the Distance Prize – Call for Submissions

DEU would like to invite you to contribute to the DEU Digest through a contest and call for submissions. We’re looking to share your short articles and stories highlighting your winning moments with educational technology in online teaching and learning. This just-for-fun contest is open to all faculty, teaching staff as well as learning technology support staff across campus.

As an incentive to participate and a reward for being awesome, DEU will select our favourite story at the end of the term and the winner will receive a Blue Yeti Nano USB condenser microphone! Two runner up prizes will also be awarded!

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

    • Awesome online learning activities
    • Unique uses of a learning technology
    • Connecting with students through technology
    • Unique synchronous strategies/activities
    • Asynchronous activities students loved
    • Group work students didn’t hate
    • Course designs that brought it all together

As an additional incentive to get your stories submitted today, the first two stories we receive will receive an early bird prize!

Contest Submissions can be made to

See the website for full contest details.

Upcoming Webinar: Current Issues in Microcredentials

As a member of the Canadian Association for University Continuing Education (CAUCE), the Distance Education Unit (DEU) would like to invite you to attend an upcoming Zoom webinar on November 15 at 1:30 pm EST (12:30 pm CST). Current Issues in Micro-Credentials will bring together panelists with expertise in different aspects of micro-credential development and implementation to discuss current issues in this area. Email Deanna Wolfe ( to register.