The Instructional Designer in Time of COVID-19 Lockdown

THE INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGNER IN TIME OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

 

Chibueze, Ozioma Ogbonna is Administrator at TotalCare International School, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.

 

The debut of the coronavirus was announced in China in late 2019. Since then, it has become a global pandemic, ravaging all walks of life including health, education, business, production industry and the service sector. The education sector is one of the hardest hit, as instructors all over the world were not prepared for the unanticipated appearance of the COVID-19. The physical method of teaching has become unattainable in our tertiary institutions, due to social distancing and physical lockdown measure instituted to combat the pandemic. Thus, distance learning has become the only available solution to schooling in the lockdown. This has resulted in an unavoidable paradigm shift in instruction, even though the UNESCO (2018) education plans for the 21st-century geared towards integrating Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into school instruction are yet to be attained by many developing nations including Nigeria.

With the Nigerian educational system not embracing ICT early, COVID-19 has inevitably revealed a situation where there are gaps in the school curriculum as many teachers are unable to restructure their curriculum to accommodate ICT, thus creating difficulties in teaching and learning. This is because in most universities, undergraduate students were only exposed to face to face methods of instruction. Notwithstanding their unpreparedness, the tertiary institutions were left with no other option than to figure out ways to function in spite of COVID19 exigencies. Consequently, the efficacy of ICT infused learning has come to the fore and according to Bria (2020), the most effective means of learning in the COVID-19 lockdown.

The application of ICT in instructional methods and curriculum redevelopment due to COVID-19 makes the work of Instructional Designers an essential service. Their expertise is especially required to first conduct a needs assessment of student capabilities to determine the appropriate approach of infusing ICT into the curriculum. It is also important as students will be expected to learn efficiently using technology tools and devices. Their success is hinged on their ability to handle these tools skillfully. The Instructional Designer has to put all this information and more into consideration, to create a package that will complement each course of study.

According to Dick, Carey, and Carey(2014), in order to develop an effective instructional package, the designer must assess and identify the gaps, that will guide him/her on the formation of the most appropriate package for each course and level of study. The designer has to simplify complex topics in a way that all learners could understand and have an excellent learning experience, even in the absence of a physical classroom. Furthermore, they could create learning opportunities for undergraduate students that will provide portability of skills between the different courses of study.

Creating a package, that will determine who, what, why, how, and where the learning and instruction will take place involve a lot of innovation and originality, while ensuring that consideration is made for various learning styles and contexts. This implies that the Instructional Designers are essential to pre-plan, record, and package teaching and learning materials in the transition to online learning for undergraduate students. Though COVID-19 has expedited the transition, it is important that instructional designers are involved in the development of curriculum packages even after the lockdown has been lifted. An Instructional Design unit is required for  every discipline in the tertiary institution as their activities will in no small measure direct the faculty members, on the proper use of technology for instruction and learning.

While instructional designers do their bit, other gaps to achieving full integration of ICT into the school system remain. For example,  huge funding is required to equip the institutions, teachers and students to perform effectively on online learning platforms. Also, power supply and access to the internet to enable both the instructor and the learner to access the internet can be epileptic and quite expensive. These need to be addressed urgently alongside empowering the instructional designer if COVID19 is going to be an opportunity to effectively transit to online learning.

 

References 

Bria, S. (2020). How Instructional Designer Will Save the World During COVID-19. Retrieved

23, May 2020 at 11.58 pm from https://unsplash.com/photos/V4BS2absRYI.

Dick, L., Carey, L., & Carey, J.O. (2014). The System Design of Instruction.

7th ed. Pearson Ltd. United Kingdom

UNESCO (2018). Information and Communication Technology Competency for Teachers.

A Planning Guide. Division for Higher Education.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development or the University of Lagos, Nigeria.


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