Professionalisation in academic development: learning designer roles

Project Complete Published by on the 27 June 2017


Professionalisation in Academic Development: Exploring learning designer roles in a changing higher education sector

The issue presented here concerns the attraction and retention of suitable learning designers (LD) by university central teaching and learning units to meet diverse roles and employment conditions within a changing higher education sector. While Popovic and associates are developing resources for potential or new educational developers we suggest that in Australia we take a step back and understand more fully the scope, enablers and barriers in current practice around the learning designer cohort. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some learning designer roles offered by central teaching and learning units are overlapping academic or elearning/IT roles, for example in terms of the scope of academic support, input into school/faculty projects, personal attributes and capabilities required and expectations to be involved in research. No longer is a LD role seen as only translating technology into an educational context on an individual academic support basis. Without understanding baseline practices, this situation inherently brings challenges for directors of academic development in conceptualising and designing new roles, attracting suitable LD staff, providing ongoing effective management and securing retention of excellent staff members.

To the knowledge of the applicants no audit of LD practice has been undertaken in Australia to evaluate and enhance current practices and be proactive to address future challenges. In undertaking the audit this project aligns to CADAD’s mission to provide leadership in the investigation of learning and teaching approaches, foster collaboration across central units and support professional and career development for academic development staff.

Given the ongoing blurring of academic development role boundaries, LDs are an integral part of teaching and learning units under the director’s jurisdiction. Directors can also be responsible for visioning the requirements of new LD positions and the development of the appropriate position descriptions and selection processes.  They also have to supervise the teams in which LDs work and be able to retain capable LD staff.


Project Resources

Snapshot of the learning design profession

Project Updates

  • Learning designers research

    Published by on the 29 March 2018

    Christine Slade and Dom McGrath made the final presentation on this project at the CAULLT conference on 23 March 2018.  The presentation is here:  Slade et al presentation

  • Learning designer survey update

    Published by on the 31 October 2017

    Christina Slade and her team has released a schematic of the results of the survey in this project.  She welcomes any feedback to :