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Career Story: Learning Designer And Software Application Specialist For A University

Learning Designer And Software Application Specialist For A University

Job Title: Project Lead

Type of Company: library and technology services for a leading liberal arts and research university

Education: MEd in Educational Technology

Previous Experience: Worked as a classroom educator in K-12 (early childhood, then technology integration specialist) before returning for MEd in Educational Technology. Then I worked as a educational software prototype manager for academic research organization then became an eLearning or online course developer and instructional designer at higher education institution in their distance education office. Then worked as instructional technology and learning design specialist at higher ed institution, followed by application administrator for open source learning management system.

Job Tasks: I am an experienced educator who loves digital tools and new technologies. I bring knowledge of classroom teaching to my roles as a learning designer and as a software applications specialist. I help educators who want to make use of technology. I act as a liaison between people who are knowledgeable about teaching (including scholarly research) and people who are systems developers (systems administrators and software programmers).

I combine what I have learned about cognitive psychology and my own work as a classroom teacher into explanations that help subject matter experts (professors and graduate-level students who teach at the university) describe their learning goals to people who are technically expert in creating software. I translate technical information explained to me by programmers into concepts that non-technical people can understand. I help the conversations make sense on both sides. In the process I reduce the amount of time needed to succeed.

As an application administrator, I need to know all the features and bugs in our software and describe the right way for it to work to satisfy our faculty and students. I am always looking at the best way to help people understand and learn from the presentation of new information. I edit documents and web sites for clarity of text, images, layout, audio, and video. I listen to technical and non-technical professionals, learn technical subjects quickly, and alter my communications to fit my audience.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Best part - finding out that people love to use the educational software I help produce or maintain OR that they loved the learning process in courses that I helped design. Worst part - When users don't try to learn how to use the tool before they complain about how it works. And when other educators ignore my experience and ask me to implement poor learning designs.

Job Tips: Learn about how people learn. Persist in finding answers. Listen actively to people that want to create great learning experiences.

Additional Thoughts: Manage your own classroom, succeed and fail in teaching responsibilities so that you can earn the respect of fellow educators that you help later. Continue to be a learner so that you don't forget the challenges that students face in learning new things. These experiences will make you a better learning designer.

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