GRADUCon 2021 - Instructional Design Careers


Many graduate students and postdocs develop strong teaching skills while at the University of Chicago both in front and behind the lectern. They use their critical thinking skills to consider how to present complex information to different audiences; they understand how to develop curricula, assess learning, and lead discussions; they identify educational challenges and pursue innovative solutions. These skills can translate well into both corporate and higher ed settings that seek to create engaging and creative learning experiences. Join us for this panel to explore “Instructional Design,” which is the practice of developing products and frameworks to assist both teachers and learners online and in person.


Erin Stapleton-Corcoran, Instructional Designer, University of Illinois at Chicago (Current PhD student, Music, University of Chicago; MM, Music, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Erin is an Instructional Designer with a background in university-level instruction, curriculum design, editing, and writing. She is currently an instructional designer at University of Illinois Chicago, where she works within its new Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence. Prior to UIC she worked as an instructional designer at Triton College, where she led the college in its rapid all-campus pivot to online learning, and before that as music and dance editor at Encyclopaedia Britannica. Erin earned a BA from Northern Illinois University, a MM from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is currently completing her dissertation in music at the University of Chicago. Her academic research projects focus on music revivals and contemporary Irish-language music. She also completed a certificate in eLearning instructional design from University of California-Irvine.

Olivia Liddell, Technical Curriculum Developer, Amazon Web Services (MA in Teaching, National Louis University, 2012; MA, Middle Eastern Studies, University of Chicago, 2008)

Olivia Liddell is a Technical Curriculum Developer at Amazon Web Services, where she creates training courses for AWS Cloud fundamentals. Previously, Olivia worked as a middle school teacher in Chicago Public Schools and as an educational technology consultant to support various colleges and universities. She frequently speaks at conferences on topics such as mentoring, team building, and social engineering.

Michele Ferris, Instructional Technologist, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (PhD, Divinity School, University of Chicago, 2020)

Dr. Ferris graduated from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2020. She has degrees in Electrical Engineering (BS) and Religious Studies (PhD). Her six years’ experience in the technology sector, 3 years’ teaching experience at Lake Forest College, and two teaching certificates from uChicago positioned her uniquely for the position at Garrett.

Dong Liang, Lead Instructional Designer, Stanford University (PhD, Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago, 2015)

Dr. Liang is currently the lead instructional designer for the Stanford University Technology Training Team. Trained both science, engineering and humanities, he holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and a doctoral degree in media studies from the University of Chicago. He has over ten years of higher education teaching experience and has taught a number of courses at University of Chicago, San Jose State University and De Anza College on topics ranging from film aesthetics, computational media, UX design and project management. In recently years Dr. Liang has been working mainly in the professional training and elearning development area and has designed and developed multiple self-paced courses for a number of Stanford schools and departments.Dr. Liang is also an accomplished translator and has published three books on literary and technological topics.


William Rando, Associate Dean in the College and Executive Director, Chicago Center for Teaching, University of Chicago (PhD, Educational Psychology, Northwestern University, 1992)

William Rando is Associate Dean in the College and Director of the Chicago Center for Teaching at the University of Chicago. For the past 30 years, he has taught undergraduate courses, developed centers for teaching and learning, and served in leadership positions in higher education and in organizations that advance teaching. He was the first full-time director of the Academy for Art of Teaching at Florida International University in Miami, FL, and he was the Founding Director of the Yale Teaching Center at Yale University, where he worked and taught for fifteen years prior to coming to Chicago. His research and writing covers a wide range of areas, including: medical education, qualitative research methods, lecturing, group dynamics, teaching with images, and institutional strategies for faculty and TA development. His publications include: “How Practice is Shaped by Implicit Theories”; “Recommendations for Teaching Psychology”; “Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of an Innovative Anatomy Course”; and “Learning from Students: Case Studies in Mid-Semester Feedback”. He holds a BA in English from Boston College and an MA and PhD from Northwestern University.