Instructional Design Graduate Program

Year-end Report 2006

Dennis Maxey, Coordinator

This past year has been good to the Instructional Design Graduate Program. Increased numbers of students, new course offerings, and vibrant projects are the distinctive characteristics of the 2006 academic year.


It’s difficult to get an accurate count of students actively in the program. Our records show that we currently have 65 matriculated students who have taken at least one course this past year. The program has grown from approximately 35 active students in 2004 to its current size.

We recently graduated 11 students and project 25 new applicants to our program for fall 2006.


Our core faculty, especially Dianne Nerbosso and Canice McGarry, provide a rich learning environment for our students and continue to contribute to the program through involvement in program planning and decision-making as well as performing a variety of administrative tasks. Our adjuncts have also provided excellent teaching as attested to by their strong student evaluations.

This coming summer/fall we will be using three new adjuncts: Brenda Myers, Harriet Wilt, and Kevin O’Rourke. All three come highly recommended and have been observed teaching by our faculty.


This past summer we offered two courses on Nantucket specifically for our online students. Both courses saw substantial enrollment and a similar set of courses is scheduled for this summer.

Two new courses are scheduled to be added to our online offerings this fall. Each is currently in development. One is a Special Topics course on Online Design and Teaching; the other is one of our core courses, INSDSG 618: Assessment in the Instructional Design Process.

We hope to bring another two new courses online in 1997-98. A preliminary training needs analysis suggests that we also may have to develop a basic course in technology.

Needs Assessment

This past fall, several students undertook a project to determine the areas of need within our ID program. Sampling over half of the current students, the analysis focused on both strengths and weaknesses. Although lauding the teaching and the strong peer network found in the program, the report argues that efforts must be undertaken to keep student connections to the program alive after graduation. A suggestion was made to make a substantial commitment to an alumni website which incorporates a variety of peer-to-peer communication tools as well as a job-posting board.

Web Presence

Partly in response to the recommendations of the Needs Assessment, the following projects were undertaken:

∑ The faculty, with input from students, crafted a mission statement that is part of our website. We were surprised how effective the mission statement was in conveying the Program’s core philosophy to potential applicants as well as providing a central focus for faculty on a central mission.

∑ A student created the IDWIKI (soon to go live) to provide a job postings board, a showcase/sharing of student work, and a forum for new ideas and interconnectivity.

∑ Another student has been working with the CCDE webmaster to enrich the alumni experience. Besides our twice yearly Graduate Instructional Design Association Newsletter, we are also incorporating a host of faculty/student/and alumni stories on our website.

Connection to GCE

We are that strange graduate program that no one really understands and must, therefore, exist in the nether land between colleges. Academically we are housed in the Graduate College of Education; administratively we are within the Division of Corporate, Continuing, and Distance Education. We strive to be a contributing entity within both.

Special efforts within the GCE have been increased faculty involvement on search committees, a potpourri of miscellaneous projects involved with NCATE assessment, portfolios, technology initiatives, and the crafting and grading of comprehensive examination questions. Additionally, much effort went into work on the CITI/BATEC grant project, an online tool for our teacher educators used to improve the use of educational technology within the K-12 environment.

Connection to University/UMass system

The ID program has a voice on the faculty technology advisory group and within the UMass System’s technology strategic advisement team. The program also worked closely with the PeopleSoft implementation on the UMB campus contributing several students to the project as graduate assistants as well as developing a Web-Based Training prototype for the Admissions Office.

The Center for Excellence and Innovation in eLearning

With guidance from the Dean of CCDE and encouragement from the Dean of GCE, an initiative to create a research center for the development of eLearning solutions was drafted in 2004-5. The Center was to have been housed within the ID Program. Unfortunately, funding has stalled and the initiative needs to be revitalized and re-conceptualized. A new proposal is currently being drafted and should be complete by July 1.

What ID needs to do

Through a series of formal and non-formal interactions with students and faculty, we’ve composed the following list of action items for the coming year:

∑ Improve retention
o Better advisement—we have developed a formal advisement plan with assigned students and scheduled contacts. It must be implemented and evaluated this fall.

∑ Improve recruiting
o Dedicated staff to facilitate process—Please read the section on “Additional resources needed.”
o We need 90-100 active students in the program in order for it to sustain itself.

∑ Improve quality of offerings
o It is time to have our steering committee meet again! Last convened in fall of 2004, the committee’s input enabled the ID program to respond to industry needs.

∑ Improve infrastructure
o Fully update our student and alumni database-- We’ve made three attempts over the past three years, each has been unsuccessful. We must commit time and resources to this project!
o Formalize processes--Many of our processes are ad hoc. Two years ago we formalized an admission process. The process broke down due to lack of staffing.

∑ Find additional funding source(s)
o Our academic assistant will research grant opportunities this next fall.

∑ Reconnect with an academic unit –Rather than existing as a “tweener” program it is important that we find a home in one academic unit.

o GCE—Education is the natural home of a program that focuses on adult education.
o CCDE as academic unit—If CCDE becomes its own college with the capacity to grant degrees, then ID could find a comfortable home therein.
o Other

Additional resources needed

We formally request the following resources necessary for us to continue to successfully function.
∑ 1/4 time administrative assistant—Must have a physical presence in our ID office two hours a day.
o Should improve recruiting efforts and help retention
o Assist with pursuit of grant opportunities

∑ Tenure track position
o We need to think about this position 1-2 years out. GCE not ready to take us back yet, but for viability as an academic program, we need at least one, if not two, tenure-track faculty.

∑ Continuity of coordinator’s position
o Early in the fall, the Dean needs to ascertain the plan of the coordinator for the next year. Continuity of program leadership must be ensured so, if the coordinator is not continuing, a search for replacement should begin in time for an orderly handover.