By: Ingah Davis-Crawford, Student in the M.S. in Instructional Design & Technology program
The fall semester 2014, was my first semester at Brandeis GPS. The last time I had attended grad school was in 2009, when working on my Master’s in Distance Education from the University of Maryland University College.
Believe me when I say that I had no plans to return to school. But, in the five intervening years I began to think that maybe I should advance my knowledge of instructional design. At the same time I did very much enjoy not having to spend time studying. I had gotten back into the swing of having a social life and just being able to watch television or read when I wanted was great and let’s not even mention sleep. Still, every now and again I would surf the net looking for an online grad instructional design program.
That’s what I was doing when I found the Online Instructional Design and Technology program at Brandeis. I saw it was a new program and that the first cohort would begin studies in the fall. It was one of those “now you don’t have any excuses” moments for me. If I didn’t apply who could I blame? My friends and family would understand. I could dvr my favorite TV shows. And sleep, well I have gone without it before and survived.
I enrolled in two courses, Principles of Online Instructional Design and Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. I was beginning to get the hang of things when real life intervened. During the third and fourth weeks of the semester , our father, who had been sick for quite some time, was taken into hospice care and began his journey home. Needless to say that meant I had to put my classes on the back burner, Dad was the priority. Of course, I messaged my professors to inform them of my circumstances and they were both very understanding. However professor Salerno was particularly kind and encouraging. In the end after returning my attention to studying, I made the decision to drop Negotiation and Conflict Resolution in favor of concentrating on Principles of Online Instructional Design (ID).
I really enjoyed the ID course, and it was no walk in the park either. The course offered an education on two levels – first, it was a thorough overview of the methodology behind instructional design. Second, it was very enlightening to be able to observe and experience professor Salerno’s teaching method and how he structured the course, respectively. For instance with respect to teaching method, I noticed that he would use the discussion forum topics to get us to think about or practice a specific instructional design technique prior to the assigning a task that would incorporate that technique on a broader scale. This I found to be quite useful for my own development throughout the course and I also view it as a practical example of best practices. The course layout within the classroom was very easy to follow. Course materials for the weekly modules were clearly placed. Instructions for discussion forum topics and course assignments were clear and concise. And, professor Salerno was always available to answer questions or offer feedback on a timely basis. So, there again he was teaching by example.
In closing, I found the course to be challenging, but I know that I learned a lot and I’m glad to have had the experience. Overall, I’m very satisfied with the learning experience I have had so far at Brandeis GPS, and I’m looking forward to next semester.