Supporting Faculty through Instructional Technology

Adequate Instructional Technology support is a necessary condition for assisting faculty in the development of both technology-enhanced course materials and technological sophistication. A faculty member must have access to high quality, comprehensive, and timely instructional technology support. Otherwise, they are not going to want to take advantage of using technology in their teachings. Part of this would be because they do not possess adequate resources, in this case in the form of instructional technology support. It is this type of support that helps to create an interaction between the technology and faculty members so they may present their ideas and knowledge in a previously underused delivery style. At Marshall University, we have six full-time and one part-time instructional technologist. Each individual has varying knowledge and backgrounds and all have different job descriptions.

Is there a global job description?

It is easy to develop a job description for an Instructional Technologist, but the difficult duty is ensuring that the description is appropriate for the needs of your University. It is not a particularly easy task to develop a description that will encompass all areas of need for the present and future without input from your faculty. Also needed to create a strong job description is a knowledge of not only future technological possibilities, but trends in the future of higher education in general. A positive, common bond between job descriptions for all instructional technologists would be one that has the following elements:

In addition to these elements, I believe the typical adjectives, adverbs, and phrases hold true for any person that will be interacting with individuals on a daily basis. Some of those being:

I believe that it is up to the area that will be taking advantage of the Instructional Technologist to include any other elements they wish to encompass. After all, the hiring unit will know exactly what they are looking for because of their instructional needs. Some Universities will want their person to teach classes, while others will only want them as a support person. Some may want the person to coordinate and plan training, and still others will plan the training curriculum for the Instructional Technologist to deliver. I do not think that there can be one concrete job description for an Instructional Technologist.

What is the key skill that every Instructional Technologist should possess?

Good customer service skills are a must for an Instructional Technologist. One must be patient and understanding of faculty since many times, a faculty member will know what they want, but simply cannot express it in technical terms. Faculty often will not possess the skills necessary to create an instructional technology product or application themselves, and again, patience is necessary. Without good people skills, you are going to discourage people from becoming interested in and using various technologies.

Is there a single important product/technology to know?

Instructional Technologists should not concentrate on learning a specific product or technology in preparation for a job. I believe that specific applications or technologies are University dependent. For example, on our campus, we use Macromedia Director, Microsoft Visual Basic, Microsoft Office, and WebCT for online course development and deployment. On other campuses, technologists use Astound or Authorware instead of Director and may not require a programming language as part of the qualifications for the position. I believe that general knowledge of how software development or multimedia development takes place will aid you in the long-run and allow you to learn a specific application once you have settled into a position and determine the mission of the instructional technology unit.

What five adjectives effectively describe an Instructional Technologist?

I was once asked this question, and it was one of the hardest questions I have ever been asked in my life: I had to ponder it for the longest time, and even then did not know if what I was going to reply was correct. After much thought and debate, I came up with the following: dedicated, persistent, willing, assistive, and responsible.


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