I keep saying that I don’t have a background in education, but that’s not true. I’ve been an accidental instructional designer for a few years. I owned a company that taught marketing basics to small creative businesses. Without even realizing it, I’d been developing courses. I was self-taught. I scoured examples and took the best from each to build my courses and teaching materials.
There were some courses in the program that were painful for me. I struggled with the accessibility course. The material was well-presented but didn’t feel relevant to my goals. My mother pointed out (because mothers are always right) that I don’t have any idea what kind of job I will get. She told me to “cowboy up and get through it” because the one thing I don’t want to learn might be the very thing that gets me a job.
What this degree program has done for me is to help me understand the “why” of what I’d been doing all this time. Before, I skipped things like progress tracking and quizzes because I thought they were a waste of time. I thought that adults who were paying for a course, would be motivated to perform and learn well. What I’ve come to realize is that everyone struggles with motivation from time to time. Adults have busy lives and shifting responsibilities that can compete for their mental energy. Adding engagement triggers is an important part of the instructional designer’s role.
I also feel more confident applying for jobs now. Although my goal is to run my own instructional design firm, I plan to spend some time working for a company to gain valuable experience. I don’t think getting that kind of a job would be possible without an advanced degree.
Coding has been something I’ve wanted to learn for several years. I taught myself HTML and CSS but never took the time to learn Java. The small bit of programming we did in the program introduced me to some learning resources that will make learning Java much easier than I thought.
My research into digital flashcards is the most significant influence on the way I want to use technology in my future career. I’m fascinated that I have thousands of vocabulary words at my fingertips. The digital cards provide correct pronunciation and some even allow images. Everything that can help make vocabulary learning stick is available in one tiny phone application.
As I move forward, I want to use this technology to help adult learners in a variety of contexts. The same tools can help new hires learn company acronyms or art students learn the great works of art.
In addition to technology referenced in the course, I’ve also been learning Articulate 360 and several LMS applications. Employers are looking for knowledge of these tools. I’ve been experimenting with using these tools to design, organize, and present learning modules. I’m still learning, but I’m looking forward to producing samples for my portfolio.