Educational technology


COVID-19 disrupted face-to-face instruction across university campuses world-wide. As universities struggled, instructional design teams stepped in to assist. At one southeastern university in the US, an instructional design team, with support from instructional systems analysts, responded by creating online instruction for faculty and facilitating training during the summer months in 2020. Literature outlining multiple perspectives and best practices for online instruction prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is robust; however, provides little to no guidance for implementing empirically based practice during a time of worldwide crisis. Many educational institutions recognised the need to provide a timely response to ensure continuity and quality of education yet lacked a framework or model from which to follow. This mixed methods study reviews best practices for designing and implementing virtual training for faculty and determines to what extent best practices were followed for this shift during a time of crisis. The use of a survey and semi-structured interviews with the instructional design team and instructional systems analysts resulted in four themes: prioritising faculty needs, responsiveness to faculty, lack of time, and difficulties collaborating across departments. Alignment to pre-pandemic best practice literature is provided to demonstrate the response of one university to the pandemic. Implications for instructional design teams and future research directions are presented.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Instructional design teams are well-equipped to assist academics with creating and implementing online and hybrid delivery modalities; however, they are less likely to be prepared to assist on a large scale and with a short timeframe.
  2. Prior to the pandemic, instructional design teams worked to adhere to evidence-based best practices in order to meet the needs of their universities but lacked time during the worldwide crisis.
  3. Instructional design teams may benefit from having an instructional continuity plan in place, that is revisited and updated frequently, in preparation for emergency remote teaching situations.
  4. Higher Education Institutes would benefit from investigating their own instructional design practices in emergency remote teaching.