Instructional designer shaped by early online experience

May 26, 2020

profile on Miranda Martin

The experience Miranda Martin, MS '20, had as an instructional designer has been shaped from the early 2000s when Martin was homeschooled as a high school student. Online learning was an emerging learning modality. As a result, she worked with a variety of platforms, instructors and education systems. This early experience afforded Martin the unique opportunity to use her past education to shape her future.

A few months before she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in international business, she saw an education program that piqued her interest. As Martin researched different options, she found Quinnipiac’s online MS in Instructional Design degree.

Although she had been close to the industry as a student, she wasn’t quite sure what instructional designers actually did. Martin spoke with students enrolled in the ID program as well as Dr. Schwartz, Quinnipiac's instructional design program director. Because of these relationships, Martin understood the impact this profession has on learners, and she was convinced this was the right path for her.

Once Martin was in the program, she began to critique her past online experiences. As she learned the theories behind each design decision, she began to apply her practice in real time.

Martin states that the program primarily focuses on learning theories and the reasons behind the way people learn. Certain audiences like corporate training, online education or k-12 classroom students, call for different design principals.

Martin appreciated the instructional design elective courses because they helped her develop industry-specific skills. For example, Martin took a course in learning management systems (LMS) and learned how to apply foundational theories to design classes in Blackboard.

Martin said, “Even if your job doesn’t use Blackboard, the design principals are the same and the skills you learn are easily transferrable to a different LMS.”

Martin’s connection to her early years in online education influenced her from a user standpoint and proved to be invaluable to her.

Quinnipiac taught her how to incorporate her past experiences with learning theory and technology from an instructional design point of view. Although her pathway was not what she expected, she loves her work and the benefits that come with her job. Martin can travel, create her own schedule and be part of a dynamic field.

Martin is excited to be part of the growing digital transformation in instructional design, and is proud that she can make a difference in people’s learning experience. Upon graduating with her MS in Instructional Design from Quinnipiac, she has opened a successful freelance business and looks forward to what the future holds.

Q & A

You are in your last semester of your master’s program. Where do you see yourself working?

I plan to freelance for corporate training, with some higher education projects on the side. I just formed an LLC to begin the freelancing career path and plan to stick with that until it makes sense to change to a 9-5!

Since technology is always changing, how did this program prepare you to jump into different platforms?

Various software programs are used throughout the IDN program. This is out of necessity since you’re working on a fully online degree and as a way to build your skills with new technology – a crucial skillset to have in the instructional design field.

Throughout the instructional design program, your coursework builds on one another. How did this prepare you to build your portfolio?

There were reminders from professors early on that we should plan our projects to have the potential to be added to our ePortfolios. You won’t want to use them all and you may want to do some external projects to give more variety. But at least one project from each class can be included to provide you with a strong portfolio foundation. It gives you a good starting point. I have added new projects to my eportfolio.

How does your eportfolio help prepare for a job interview?

This program provides you with an excellent foundation in theory and key tools for the instructional design field. However, you need to familiarize yourself with the real-world instructional design process (employers want to hear different things for educational courses vs. corporate training!). So, I suggest you prepare by talking to those currently in similar positions to what you want. In interviews, you often need to explain portfolio projects and be prepared to problem solve ID scenarios.

Would you like to share with us a major academic and/or professional achievement? A story of success?

I took a less-traveled path towards my higher-education degrees than many. I went from a community college to an online state university and then an online master's program. All while working regularly. This was done to remain debt free – which I accomplished! For me, not going into excessive debt was a goal I am proud to have accomplished.

Which professor stood out to you as an influence throughout the program? Why?

Kristen Bourgault is everyone’s cheerleader! She teaches many classes in the program, makes a point to know you quickly and offers great mentorship. She is an excellent instructional designer, which is evident through her intentional course design, content and assignments/exercises.

Why did you choose Quinnipiac?

After doing a lot of research on 18-month master’s programs in instructional design, I was leaning heavily towards Purdue University’s program. Then I came across Quinnipiac, which I hadn’t heard of previously.

The curriculum was incredibly similar, and the cost was more affordable. On top of that, Professor Ruth Schwartz, the program director, was so accessible to discuss the program. Because of the quality of the curriculum and her taking the time to talk with me on multiple occasions, I felt QU would provide me with the best education and networking opportunities in alignment with my goals.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in a career in instructional design?

Regularly discuss what your career goals are with your professors so that they can assist you in choosing electives that will get you there. Additionally, join ID Facebook groups early on for supporting ID information!

Like Martin, not all people take a traditional path to their graduate work. Quinnipiac is here to help guide you no matter of the stage in your career. Learn more about Quinnipiac’s online MS in Instructional Design program.

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