The Organizational Structures of Instructional Design Teams in Higher Education: A Multiple Case Study
Dallas Campus (Online)
Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Committee Chair or Primary Advisor
Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor
Third Committee Member or Committee Reader
This study investigated how organizational structures influence leadership over online learning initiatives for dedicated instructional designers in higher education. A qualitative research method was used for within-case analyses for 3 individual universities and a comparative case analysis of all 3 studied institutions. Purposive sampling was used to identify each university that participated and operated within 1 of 3 organizational structure profiles. Data were collected through document analysis and semistructured interviews with participants in 3 key roles at each institution: dedicated instructional designer, online faculty member, and online learning administrator. The organizational structure that most positively influenced the ability for dedicated instructional designers to lead online learning initiatives was a centralized instructional design team with academic reporting lines. The results showed that decentralized dedicated instructional designers experienced significant disempowerment, role misperception, and challenges in advocacy and leadership, while dedicated instructional designers with administrative reporting lines experienced a high level of role misperception specifically related to technology support. Positional parity between dedicated instructional designers and faculty, in conjunction with implementation of the recommended organizational structure, was found to be critical to empowering designers to be partners and leaders. Several recommendations were produced: (a) instructional design teams should proportionally match the size of the university to ensure that they have time and opportunity to act as leaders in online learning initiatives, (b) dedicated instructional designers should participate or lead online program design initiatives, and (c) leaders of instructional design teams should have direct knowledge or experience with instructional design and online learning.
Keywords: instructional design, organizational structure, leadership, qualitative methods, higher education, online learning
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Drysdale, Jason, "The Organizational Structures of Instructional Design Teams in Higher Education: A Multiple Case Study" (2018). Digital Commons @ ACU, Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 115.
Educational Leadership Commons, Higher Education Commons, Instructional Media Design Commons, Online and Distance Education Commons