Instructional Design in Higher Education as Intersectional Practice


Historically, the instructional designer in higher education was trained to believe that, with advanced understanding of cognitive science and learning technologies, she was the expert in the development of learning environments. Thus, she would bring pedagogical strategies while a subject matter expert brought content to the learning development process. Learners, however, were rarely included as participants in this model. As a consequence, course design served to foreground a prescribed curriculum and the needs of a “typical” undergraduate or graduate learner. By contrast, long before COVID-19 compelled most faculty to pivot to online learning and consider design process, designers in departments of continuing and professional education (CPE) interacted with diverse instructors and learners to develop learning opportunities for “atypical” learners, including those living in northern and remote areas, Indigenous learners, early school leavers, immigrants, and equity deserving groups in general. As a result, these departments and designers often serve as agents of social change in internal and external communities. Furthermore, designers in CPE units are frequently aware of their privilege and, therefore, choose to be critical and reflexive in their practice and design choices. In this paper, we propose framing instructional design as an intersectional practice in which designers, instructors and learners engage in multivocal dialogue to build inclusive learning experiences. In essence, they work as equal partners committed to co-creative principles. To authenticate our study, we share design narratives from Canadian CPE departments that work with marginalized communities and consider design issues of power.


Katy Campbell
Professor and Dean Emeriti, Women's and Gender Studies, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada

Diane Janes
Coordinator, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), Thompson Rivers University, British Columbia, Canada

Lorraine Carter
Director, Continuing Education, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design in Society



Digital Media

This presenter hasn’t added media.
Request media and follow this presentation.