Agency of the instructional designer: Moral coherence and transformative social practice

  • Katy Campbell University of Alberta
  • Richard A. Schwier University of Saskatchewan
  • Richard F. Kenny Athabasca University


In this paper we propose a view of instructional design practice in which the instructional designer is an agent of social change at the personal, relational, and institutional levels. In this view designers are not journeymen workers directed by management, but act in purposeful, value based ways with ethical knowledge, in social relationships and contexts that have consequences in and for action. The paper is drawn from the data set of a three-year study of the personal meaning that instructional designers make of their work, in a world where identities rely less on institutionally "ascribed status or place" than on the spaces that we make as actors in the social world. Through the voices of two instructional designers in this study, we begin to make the case for instructional design practice as ethical knowledge in action, and for how agency emerges from the designer's validated sense of identity in institutions of higher learning.


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