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Jennifer Shamsy

Class of 2017

As a self-taught instructional designer/online educator, I started researching degree programs because I wanted to legitimize what I already knew and fill in the many gaps in my knowledge and skill set. After looking at several programs, I came upon Boise State’s Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning program. Looking through the materials online, I immediately knew I had found a curriculum and small community of faculty and students that were the perfect fit!

The challenging coursework helped me broaden my knowledge and gain competency through application. Throughout the program, there was an emphasis on evidence-based and ethical practice joined with systematic and systemic processes. The program armed me with tools and theoretical knowledge to think and practice in new ways allowing me to not only add value but also do what was right for the client/user. This was in parallel with real-world projects and interaction with clients that supported meaningful application and synthesis as opposed to artificial examples and rote memorization. Challenging coursework was followed by the final portfolio defense culminating activity that called on me to synthesize, reflect, and evaluate all that I had done in the program.

Though this program supports instructional design, it situates it in the much more valuable and holistic practice of performance improvement. I incorporated a graduate certificate into my degree program through carefully selected electives that helped me to further refine my area of emphasis.

Just as important as the curriculum is the faculty. The entire program is centered around student success with faculty members that maintain a very active presence in their courses. They don’t just teach concepts; they actively use those concepts in their courses! Instructors are quick to answer questions or address concerns and provide a wealth of timely feedback needed to better understand and use what I was learning. This engagement and feedback is key to any quality online program. I also took advantage of several opportunities that are available within the program and beyond to engage with faculty such as research and assistantship positions.

Finally, curriculum and instructors are important, but support staff is vital to success! Administrators were knowledgeable and supportive providing information that helped me to better align my decisions with my desired educational/career goals and resources available.

I found the OPWL program to be one of the most challenging but also most rewarding academic experiences of my career. I would without hesitation recommend it to anyone seeking to broaden and/or improve their knowledge and skills in instructional design and human performance improvement.