PSU Tech Comm Meetup Learns the Importance of Instructional Design

By Marta Yousif

“I like inviting the idea of experience.”

On Monday, January 28th, Susan Adams, an instructional designer working in higher education for over 25 years, gave a talk about her experience working in instructional design, along with providing the best advice she could offer any aspiring instructional designer.

Dr. Sarah Read (left) and Susan Adams engaging in deep conversation

Adams walked us through her efforts in designing online workspaces that allowed students to have the same engagement level as an in-person course. Adams said she liked to ensure that a student will gain the same amount of knowledge and engagement in an online course as they would in an in-person course, and by having carefully thought out online coursework and materials, she has found the basis of success when creating a useful online course.

She emphasized the importance of flexibility (considering what the student will experience from the moment they log on to the moment the class has been completed), communication skills (as they translate differently when written than when spoken) and how important it is to understand where a student’s mind may be in order to communicate in those circumstances.

Finally, Adams stated that one of the biggest pieces of advice she would have given her younger self starting out in the field of technical/instructional communication would be: “Start a portfolio of all your works and accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem, to have later as proof of made efforts and growth. By starting a webpage solely to show your accomplishments and efforts in the field, you now have a digital footprint of proof of your work that you can take to any future job prospects.” 

An example of her webpage can be found at

The Tech Comm meetup with Susan Adams gave very feasible ideas for how to create user-design-friendly workspaces and courses, as well as first-hand advice from someone who has been in the field and experienced it all.

For more information on the next PSU Technical Communication meetup, please click here. 

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