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Student Combines Passion for Helping Others with Instructional Design and Technology
By: Leah Pentecost
The University of Cincinnati has opened its doors to a fascinating new Master’s program, one that combines the interest of helping others learn with a passion for technology. This newly offered program is Instructional Design and Technology (IDT). IDT focuses on the design, creation, use, and evaluation of multimedia learning experiences in a variety of rewarding professional contexts. It is a rapidly growing field with an increasing need for highly trained graduates who have skills to design, implement, and evaluate learning materials. Students in the IDT graduate program at Cincinnati receive state-of-the art training necessary to enter this exciting field.
Specifically, Cincinnati’s IDT program offers two distinct Master of Education specializations. One focuses on design and development, and the other focuses on teaching. The university also offers a Graduate Certificate in Blended and Online Learning and Teaching (BOLT), as well as a PhD program to meet the learning needs and career goals of its students.
Mark Lim, a full-time student at Cincinnati, is working towards earning his Masters in IDT. Immediately after he graduated with a double major in political science and economics, Mark left his home in Long Island and began working in Cincinnati as a college advisor through AmeriCorps.
While there, he held responsibilities in helping students become college savvy, often researching and designing handouts and other resources to simply explain crucial topics. Following that position, he fundraised to spend a volunteer year in South Africa with a small youth development nonprofit, designing and leading creative academic and enrichment opportunities for high school students. Mark says that these experiences led him to realize his passions for both learning, and helping others to grow and develop. However, it was not a straight path from there to graduate school. After several years of trying positions from financial analyst, to managing a canvassing team for the 2016 election, to managing volunteers at a food bank, he realized that the constant joy he found was in researching and creating customized learning resources and experiences.
Mark was most recently motivated to pursue this career path while he visited the Philippines, the country where his parents lived before coming to the United States. During his venture to the Philippines, Mark spent time learning about the impressive impact of educational technology companies in the country’s school system. It was by networking with and talking to instructional designers and other professionals working in a similar field, that Mark became fully convinced to pursue a degree in IDT and work as an instructional designer.
Mark researched in-depth for a school and program where he could marry his love for helping others with his knowledge of education and technology. Eventually, after a thorough research process, he discovered that Cincinnati could help him seamlessly achieve this wish through a career in instructional design. The University of Cincinnati is one of the few schools to offer IDT with two delivery formats: fully online or as a combination of in-person and online courses, an aspect, which was especially attractive to Mark. Because he had always gravitated toward creating resources and adjusting a topic to make it more accessible for students in education, IDT was a perfect fit. Mark’s fascination with human connection drives him to study different methods to assist students.
Soon after embarking on his program in Fall 2017, Mark began to utilize his time working on research with Dr. Matt Schmidt on a project called Virtuoso. The purpose of Virtuoso is to aid young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to become more independent on campus by improving their social, vocational, and life skills through virtual reality (VR) applications. Through this project, his eyes were opened to how cutting-edge technologies like VR can be used for educational purposes for underserved populations.
With a mindset always thinking about how he can assist others, Mark sees technology, such as VR, as a platform to connect those with different perspectives and give others empathetic experiences. He appreciates how IDT helped him to grasp how the world is much larger than he initially perceived when he was younger. As he explained this concept to me, I felt that I had a better understanding of why Mark is so passionate about what he does. It is rare to find someone who is more devoted towards helping others in the world, and sees the bigger picture, so much more than the number on his paycheck.
IDT has opened Mark’s eyes to see new sides of education that stretch beyond the average classroom. Since he has worked more in the nonprofit aspect of education, Mark is grateful about how the program has given him greater insight about the broader instructional design field, through exposure to diverse opportunities with universities, businesses, and other organizations.
This program has enhanced Mark’s ability to grasp how everyone learns, and has expanded his understanding more than he expected or knew it would. IDT has given him the education and tools necessary to take his first steps toward increasing his knowledge and improving the world around him. Mark is a key piece to the puzzle of improving the learning needs of society’s future.