By Lina Souid | IDD&E doctoral candidate (United States)
I am studying how to train novices to respond to difficult and unexpected events. My dissertation investigates how engaging learners in dynamic case studies may support the development of flexible thought and expert-like judgement. After completing my M.S. in Instructional Technology (’14) from the IDD&E Department, I worked at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, as an Assistant Director of an Executive Education program for four years.
In April 2019, I started a new role as a Senior Learning and Development Specialist at Jack Henry & Associates, a Fortune 500 company that develops software for banks. While higher education and corporate instructional design jobs are different, I found that the best practices and theories I learned during both master’s and doctoral IDD&E programs apply across contexts.
Here are three things I learned from IDD&E faculty that have added the most value to my employers and differentiated me from other instructional designers. These are things that will make you a shining star wherever you go!
1. Data are king. Everyone agrees that data are important. Employers want data; however, very few people know how to collect and analyze data. IDD&E is a pretty unique instructional design program. Many people do not get the training we do! IDD&E taught me how to conduct needs analysis, evaluation, and research activities in a data-driven way. In my experience, employers need people who can conduct surveys, interviews, and focus groups; analyze data; and tell a story around the data to influence decision-makers.
2. So what, who cares? Speaking of decision-makers, I make sure to communicate what’s in it for them. Will this help students? Employees? Customers? The bottom line? I support my claims with best practices, theories, and data.
3. Higher-order thinking can be taught. Instruction that is purposefully designed can engage learners deeply in the content. We can teach higher-order thinking skills—like critical thinking, flexible thought, and expert-like judgement. Actually, we should and must do this to prepare people to tackle messy real-world problems.
I remember Dr. Tiffany A. Koszalka told me: “Employers don’t know they need us until we arrive.” In my experience, this is very true. This is why I try to evangelize the good instructional design I learned from IDD&E faculty everywhere I go.
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