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Early Exposure to Educational Technology Leads to Career in Instructional Design [Alumni Case Study]


Interest in educational technology led to IDT degree

I started my career as a lab manager while I was an undergraduate at Southern Polytechnic State University (now known as Kennesaw State University’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology), providing faculty with technology and development training. As the dot-com boom surged in the early 2000’s, there was a big rush to use technology to enhance teaching and education, so I began building websites to support these activities. After receiving my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, I started working at the university’s Center for Instructional Technology; that’s when I realized I needed to earn an Instructional Design & Technology (IDT) master’s degree. I had a good grasp of technology, so my main goal was to understand the theory and research based practices regarding the use of technology to facilitate education.

Diverse student body and experiences were invaluable

Since I was clear on my goals, I worked with faculty to choose courses that made sense for me. My classmates worked in the corporate, technology, and education fields, so that provided a neat mix of people, experiences, industries, and education. I continued working while in the program – which was extremely beneficial because I applied what I learned in class to my job. In addition, I conducted international research with the University of China regarding Second Life, virtual worlds, and second language instruction. All these experiences diversified my graduate student experience and provided ample research opportunities as well.

Excellent leadership and research opportunities

After completing my doctoral degree, I joined Penn State University as the director of Collaborative Programs. In this role, I’m responsible for building academic programs across 20 campuses and collaborating with faculty and administrators to determine how to improve multicampus degree programs. My dissertation topic looked at organizational change factors and online learning, so it directly helped inform the kind of work I do, specifically being able to pull people together to work through transition.

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