As the educational leader decides what curriculum and classroom materials are designed and how they are delivered, instructional design is one of the most important roles in the education system. It is a framework for creating meaningful lessons that result in skill development and meet student needs.

According to Dr. Mickey Blackwell, coordinator of the Master of Education in Instructional Leadership program at West Virginia State University (WVSU), “Curriculum development and instructional leadership are the essential components to creating a road map to student success. As the old saying goes, ‘If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?’”

Using an analysis of learning needs and a systematic process of development, instructional designers ensure quality of instruction. However, instructional design goes beyond creating learning rubrics. It improves existing educational standards and gives teachers ownership of the process.

Instructional Design Job Description

Instructional designers, also known as curriculum specialists or instructional coordinators, help to “design adjustments and new initiatives to constantly improve the way an educational institution serves its students,” according to PayScale. This can mean prioritizing learning objectives, creating professional development for instructors, choosing textbooks and working with teachers on classroom teaching strategies.

By measuring the success of student learning tracks and administrative initiatives, instructional designers play an important part in the decision-making process. One example of instructional development at work is the West Virginia Department of Education’s Teacher Resources for Educational Excellence (TREE) initiative. It focuses on the state’s college- and career-readiness standards and provides valuable resources to help classroom teachers create an aligning curriculum.

Instructional designers also use a variety of data sources such as test scores, student grades, attendance records and student feedback surveys to develop their strategies. Another important responsibility is keeping up to date on new and developing trends. According to PayScale, the following are additional job duties for professional educators in this role:

  • Develop and refine tests, scoring guides and curriculum
  • Deliver courses and educational content to meet gaps and known needs
  • Analyze, interpret and disseminate statistics about tests and curriculum

The median annual salary for instructional coordinators is $62,270, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job outlook for this role is strong, with a growth rate as fast as the national average at 7 percent. For most positions, a master’s degree in education is expected. Especially in the case of public schools, an advanced degree such as a Master of Education in Instructional Leadership may be required. Programs in these areas help educators develop skill sets related to curriculum design, instructional theory and data analysis, the BLS says.

Ideal candidates for instructional design roles are passionate about student success and creating positive change in the classroom. In addition, having teaching experience is helpful because it gives educators firsthand knowledge of student needs and the daily challenges of instruction.

Create Positive Change in the Classroom

If you're a teacher and you want to move into a leadership role, WVSU offers an online Master of Education in Instructional Leadership that prepares you to improve education.

Start Today

6 Steps of Curriculum Development

Instructional designers utilize the following programmatic steps to develop effective curriculum:

1. Finding the problem. This provides a foundation for the curriculum, as well as identifying the goals and objectives to address.

2. Identifying student needs and characteristics. Instructional designers next determine who the targeted learners are, along with student requirements and learning preferences.

3. Projecting the curriculum. This step helps instructional designers and educators prioritize course content and the overall direction of the curriculum.

4. Selecting the educational content. In this step, instructional designers finalize content. Determining what technology tools and materials are necessary is another important element.

5. Establishing teaching methods. Instructional designers often work with educators to incorporate multiple teaching methods into curriculum. Options include group discussion, cooperative learning and brainstorming, among others. Teaching methods should align closely with overall curriculum objectives.

6. Creating evaluation strategies. Deciding how best to evaluate the curriculum ensures that there is a benchmark for goals and objectives. It also helps to assess individual achievement and provides data that can aid further improvement down the line.

Instructional Leadership at West Virginia State University

If you are interested in pursuing a career in instructional design, finding the educational program to outline these concepts is key. “As an aspiring school leader, one must be able to recognize and understand the complexities of curriculum standards. It is the truly effective school leader who can weave together the needs of the students, the actions of the teachers and the requirements of local and state boards for student achievement,” Dr. Blackwell explains.

WVSU offers a fully online Master of Education in Instructional Leadership degree that prepares classroom teachers to expand their skills and advance to administrative roles. Through a curriculum focused on the latest techniques and concepts, this program is designed to help educators create pathways to success for both students and staff.