The University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) conducted a research study in the spring of 2017 to learn more about the professional development needs and work experiences of instructional designers, instructional technologists, multimedia designers, and their team leaders. The goal was to determine how similar the team leaders and the team members felt about their careers, the future of instructional design, professional development and continuing education options, and how to best equip team members to further their careers.

Team members and team leaders were asked a series of questions about various ways to gain work experience and develop valuable skills to find key points of interest between the two groups on what improvements could be made for higher quality work performance in the future. This paper is a compilation of survey results.


UPCEA eDesign Collaborative Members: Click here to log into CORe to download the complete PDF of the report.

Not an UPCEA eDesign Collaborative Member? Click here for more information.

Though non-traditional students have morphed into the new majority students on college and university campuses across the United States, public and institutional policy has largely remained focused on the “traditional” 18-22-year-old demographic. Unfortunately, this has created an environment that leaves the majority of students underserved on their own campuses, but a group of associations focused on the non-traditional student population is working to change that. The University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and the Presidents Forum, backed by a grant from the Lumina Foundation, have formed the National Adult Learner Coalition to affect state and national policy and to create a larger voice for non-traditional higher education. In this interview, Robert Hansen reflects on the aims of the National Adult Learner Coalition and shares his thoughts on taking a collaborative approach to this work.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 7, 2017 – A study released today by the UPCEA eDesign Collaborative maps the expertise and roles in instructional design teams throughout North America. The study, Instructional Design and Technology Teams: Work Experiences and Professional Development, establishes benchmarks for experience and salaries among members of instructional design team members, and also reveals the professional development priorities shared by instructional design team members and team leaders.

The work of instructional design and technology teams is critical to the online enterprise and professional learning at many postsecondary institutions. The UPCEA eDesign Collaborative (eDC) serves higher education instructional design teams (instructional designers, multimedia developers and team administrators), and was launched in 2016 to provide this growing profession with networking and professional development. These teams are increasingly important to the future of higher education because of the continued growth of online education, as well as the increased sophistication of their work.

Despite the strategic importance of these teams, prior to this study there has been scant benchmarking of the instructional design profession itself. The goals of this study – the inaugural research effort by the eDesign Collaborative – were to learn more about the demographics, work experiences, and professional development needs of instructional design teams, and how to best equip team members to further their careers.

“There is no sector of higher education that is more dynamic, and more sophisticated, than online learning,” said Robert Hansen, CEO of UPCEA.  “So it’s not surprising that the profession of instructional design is evolving rapidly. This study helps us get a handle on that evolution and on how the eDC can mobilize to support these professionals.”

Among the study’s key findings:

  • Team leaders have been in their current roles slightly longer than team members, as 19% of leaders have been in their role longer than eight years, compared with only 7% for team members.
  • Salary ranges differed between team leaders ($59,000-$88,000) and team members ($20,000-76,000). The averages for team leaders and team members were $79,000 and $60,000, respectively.
  • When looking at future professional development opportunities, free webinars and in-person conferences were the most sought-after development opportunities for both team leaders and team members. Team members were much more likely to seek paid webinars and courses associated with a degree program than leaders.
  • Almost two-thirds of respondents (both team leaders and team members) indicated that the frequency of professional development within their organization is determined more by the cost than the number of opportunities.

Julie Uranis, Vice President for Online and Strategic Initiatives for UPCEA said, “This study is a primer for any leader that needs to understand the nature of instructional design teams. Instructional design teams are critical to the success of the online enterprise at most institutions, and this study presents both operational and aspirational opportunities for leaders looking to enhance their support around online teaching and learning.”

The study was conducted by Jim Fong, director of UPCEA’s Center for Research and Strategy; Julie Uranis, Vice President for Online and Strategic Initiatives for UPCEA; Camille Funk, Academic Director for Bovard College at the University of Southern California and Director of the UPCEA eDesign Collaborative; and numerous members of the eDesign Collaborative.

The full results of the study, Instructional Design and Technology Teams: Work Experiences and Professional Development, are available here.

The results of the study will also be discussed on an upcoming eDesign Collaborative Webinar on Wednesday, April 12 at 3pm Eastern. Learn more and register here.




UPCEA is the association for leaders in professional, continuing, and online education. Founded in 1915, UPCEA membership includes most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America. For more than 100 years, the association has served its members with innovative conferences and specialty seminars, research and benchmarking information, professional networking opportunities and timely publications. Based in Washington, D.C., UPCEA also builds greater awareness of the vital link between contemporary learners and public policy issues. Learn more at


Phillip E. Frandson Award for Literature Recipients

Free Range Learning in the Digital Age, Peter Smith

Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, Joseph E. Aoun

The Future of University Credentials: New Developments at the Intersection of Higher Education and Hiring, Sean R. Gallagher

Higher Education and Employability: New Models for Integrating Study and Work, Peter J. Stokes

Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice, Laura Bierema and Sharan Merriam

Powerful Techniques for Teaching Adults, Stephen Brookfield

College: What it Was, Is and Should Be, Andrew Delbanco

Unlocking the Gates: How and Why Leading Universities are Opening up their Courses, Taylor Walsh

The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World, Ben Wildavsky

The Gates Unbarred: A History of University Extension at Harvard 1910-2009, Michael Shinagel
Challenging the Professionalism of Adult Education: John Ohiger and Contradictions in Modern Practice, Andre P. Grace and Tonette S. Rocco

Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching All Adults, Raymond Wlodkowski

Blended Learning in Higher Education, D. Randy Garrison and Norman D. Vaughan

Harnessing Innovative Technology in Higher Education, Kathleen P. King and Joan K. Griggs

Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education, William Bowen, Martin Kurzweil and Eugene Tobin

The Quiet Crisis: How Higher Education is Failing America, Peter Smith

The University in a Corporate Culture, Eric Gould

Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing, Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher

Sistahs in College: Making a Way Out of No Way, Juanita Johnson-Bailey

Developing Adult Learners: Strategies for Teachers and Trainers, Kathleen Taylor, Catherine Marienau, Morris Fiddler

Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace, Rena Pallof and Keith Pratt


  • 2014 – Jessica Rafter, University of Virginia
  • 2013 – Guy Felder, University of Houston
  • 2012 – Lori Stania, The Pennsylvania State University
  • 2011 – Jennifer Gigliotti-Labay, Center for College Readiness
  • 2010 – No award recipient
  • 2009 – Jean Marie Redeker, University of Kansas
  • 2008 – Siva Kumari, Rice University
  • 2007 – John F. Beyers, University of Maryland University College
  • 2006 – Belinda Biscoe, University of Oklahoma
  • 2004 – James Fong, Penn State University
  • 2003 – Susan Nesbitt, St. Joseph’s College of Maine
  • 2000 – Linda Butterfield Cupp, University of Missouri-Columbia; William S. McClure, Binghamton University, State University of New York
  • 1998 – James L. Narduzzi, University of Richmond
  • 1997 – Pat B. Brewer, University of Georgia
  • 1995 – D. Lynne Syring, Wichita State University
  • 1994 – Don Olcott, Jr., Oregon State University
  • 1992 – Thomas F. Kowalik, Binghamton University, State University of New York
  • 1991 – Jane D. Bromert, University of South Dakota
  • 1990 – Meta R. Braymer, Mary Washington College
  • 1989 – Robert H. Boyd, University of North Dakota
  • 1988 – Janet L. Hurley, University of Kentucky
  • 2014 – Alice Warren, North Carolina State University
  • 2013 – Pat Butler-Lofman, University of Connecticut
  • 2012 – No award recipient
  • 2011 – John “Jack” Azzaretto, University of West Florida; Wayne Ishikawa, Harvard University
  • 2010 – Michael Shinagel, Harvard University; Donald W. Swoboda, Western Kentucky University
  • 2009 – James Hromas, Oklahoma State University
  • 2008 – Mary S. Grant, University of Wisconsin-Extension
  • 2007 – Dorothy Durkin, New York University; William T. McCaughan, Oregon State University
  • 2006 – Robert L. Dupont, University of New Orleans
  • 2004 – Richard J. Novak, Rutgers University
  • 2003 – Thomas F. Kowalik, Binghamton University
  • 2002 – Theresa Mortimer, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • 2000 – M. Edward Jones, University of Southern Indiana
  • 1999 – James P. Pappas, University of Oklahoma
  • 1997 – John W. Schmidt, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • 1996 – John H. Buskey, West Virginia Graduate College
  • 1995 – Nofflet D. Williams, University of Kentucky
  • 1994 – Norma C. Gribble, Wichita State University; Abbie O. Smith, The George Washington University
  • 1993 – Frank S. Fabris, University of Georgia; Richard B. Fischer, University of Delaware
  • 1992 – Alex Walker Sharpe, University of Kansas
  • 1991 – John L. Christopher, University of Wyoming
  • 1989 – Robert J. Senecal, University of Kansas
  • 1988 – Frank E. Funk, Syracuse University; Charles B. Lord, University of Georgia
  • 1987 – John A. Murray, University of Delaware
  • 1984 – Alfred W. Storey, University of Michigan
  • 1982 – Mary Carmack, The University of Tennessee; Roman J. Verhaalen, The Johns Hopkins University
  • 1980 – Harold Alford, Rochester Institute of Technology; Helen S. Farlow, University of Illinois
  • 1979 – Samuel A. Madden, Virginia State College
  • 1978 – Robert W. Richey, Indiana University
  • 1976 – John L. Davies, University of Iowa; Duane L. Gibson, Michigan State University; Virgil N. Sapp, University of
  • Missouri-St. Louis
  • 1975 – Marvin A. Anderson, Iowa State University; Richard H. Stottler, University of Maryland
  • 1974 – Alexander N. Charters, Syracuse University; Otto G. Hoiberg, University of Nebraska
  • 1973 – Andre C. de Porry, University of Virginia
  • 1972 – Alice Rowbotham, University of California
  • 1971 – C. Brice Ratchford, University of Missouri; Gayle B. Childs, University of Nebraska
  • 1968 – James R. D. Eddy, University of Texas
  • 2018 – Alice Warren, North Carolina State University
  • 2017 – Bethaida “Bea” González, Syracuse University
  • 2016 – Thomas Gibbons, Northwestern University
  • 2015 – James Shaeffer, Old Dominion University
  • 2014 – David Schejbal, University of Wisconsin-Extension
  • 2013 – No award recipient
  • 2012 – Roger Whitaker, The George Washington University
  • 2011 – Sue C. Maes, Kansas State University
  • 2010 – Gary W. Matkin, University of California – Irvine
  • 2009 – Wendell L. Smith, University of Missouri-St. Louis
  • 2006 – James P. Pappas, University of Oklahoma
  • 2005 – Craig D. Weidemann, The Pennsylvania State University
  • 2004 – Michael Shinagel, Harvard University; Alexander N. Charters, Syracuse University
  • 2002 – Gordon H. (Nick) Mueller, University of New Orleans
  • 2001 – Robert Senecal, The University of Kansas
  • 2000 – Edward G. Simpson, Jr., The University of Georgia
  • 1999 – Robert G. Simerly, Florida State University
  • 1998 – Miriam Williford, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • 1997 – Daniel W. Shannon, University of Chicago
  • 1996 – Robert H. Boyd, University of North Dakota
  • 1995 – Grover J. Andrews, University of Georgia
  • 1992 – Quentin H. Gessner, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; James E. Weigand, Indiana University
  • 1990 – Harold A. Miller, University of Minnesota
  • 1988 – Leonard Freedman, University of California-Los Angeles; Harvey Stedman, New York University
  • 1987 – John C. Snider, Colorado State University
  • 1986 – Rosalind K. Loring, University of Southern California; William L. Turner, North Carolina State University
  • 1985 – Jean C. Evans, University of Wisconsin
  • 1984 – Joseph P. Goddard, University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Milton R. Stern, University of California Berkeley
  • 1982 – Thomas W. Mahler, The University of Georgia
  • 1981 – Lowell R. Eklund, Oakland University
  • 1980 – Robert F. Ray, The University of Iowa
  • 1979 – Armand L. Hunter, Michigan State University
  • 1978 – Floyd B. Fischer, The Pennsylvania State University; Paul E. Hadley, University of Southern California; T. Howard Walker, University of Kansas; Thurman J. White, University of Oklahoma
  • 1977 – Stanley C. Robinson, University of Illinois
  • 1976 – Nicholas P. Mitchell, University of South Carolina; Lloyd W. Schram, University of Washington
  • 1975 – Paul H. Sheats, University of California-Los Angeles; Charles F. Milner, University of North Carolina
  • 1974 – Charles H. Lawshe, Purdue University
  • 1973 – Stanley J. Drazek, University of Maryland
  • 1972 – James E. Arnold, University of Tennessee System; Ben F. Gustafson, University of North Dakota
  • 1971 – Harold Glen Clark, Brigham Young University; Ernest E. McMahon, Rutgers University
  • 1970 – John R. Morton, University of Alabama; Everett J. Soop, University of Michigan
  • 1969 – D. Mack Easton, University of Colorado
  • 1968 – Robert E. Tidwell, University of Alabama
  • 1967 – Lorenz H. Adolfson, University of Wisconsin
  • 1966 – Edward L. Keller, The Pennsylvania State University
  • 1965 – Bower Aly, University of Oregon