Instructional design has become a growing field with lots of rewarding opportunities. The concepts involved in creating educational or training materials can be applied to a wide range of settings. This includes corporate, military, higher education, and K-12 contexts. As such, Saint Leo University is proud to have offered an online Master of Science in Instructional Design (MSID) program for over a decade.
We recently caught up with Dr. Keya Mukherjee, the coordinator of and a faculty member in Saint Leo's online MSID program. Dr. Mukherjee offered up some valuable insight into this online MSID program and how it can enhance opportunities for graduates seeking careers in instructional design or learning design in a variety of contexts
Q: When and why was Saint Leo's online MSID program started?
A: The master's in instructional design program was initially launched around 2008 as a way to address the rapid growth of e-learning and a growing need for instructional designers. It was envisioned to provide a curriculum that would appeal to potential instructional designers who are trying to receive academic credentials in this critical field as employment opportunities were seen to exist both within education and training venues in different contexts.
What makes this program unique is that it applies to many professionals, in corporate, military, and education. Professional development trainers are currently in high demand across all sectors of the workforce. The goal of our program is to teach students how to use instructional design processes, models, and theories to design effective training and learning to improve performance. Providing this program via a distance learning format makes it accessible to a large global consumer population.
Q: What types of students have you had enroll in this program?
A: A high awareness and interest in this field has professionals from a variety of industries wanting to pursue this degree. Along with corporate and military trainers, we have educators from higher education contexts and faculty, as well as many information technology (IT) professionals and content developers, some of whom have a graphic design background. These students are seeking the educational background to make instructional decisions based on learning theory of "how people learn" and instructional design processes. For many, these are career changers because they know that they need to know more about these areas to understand learning processes.
Q: How is Saint Leo's master's in instructional design program delivered?
A: This program is delivered entirely online. It is considered to be an asynchronous degree program to facilitate student access across geographic boundaries. However, the asynchronous model of learning is supplemented with live, weekly sessions using videoconferencing applications where sessions are recorded for offline access.
The program has a strong experiential learning focus where learners work with real-life instructional design problems from the very onset to the end of the program. Their growing knowledge base is supported with immediate application to projects that cement learning.
Throughout the program, the online learner is engaged with active learning and with opportunities that provide a good balance between individual and collaborative work to remove silo experiences that online learners often face. This keeps them connected with their peers and instructors so they work through the program as a community of learners.
Q: Who are the faculty members who teach in this program?
A: The program has a combination of full-time faculty and adjunct faculty who are subject matter experts. All faculty have been in the program for several years, and they all hold terminal degrees and bring many years' worth of real-world experience from their professional contexts to the table. This provides students with a well-connected and balanced curriculum.
Q: What are some of the topics covered in the curriculum?
A: The curriculum is structured on a building-block approach.
We start out the curriculum with four courses on the foundational knowledge of instructional design. Students are exposed to technology, learning theories, and instructional methods. These courses serve as a nice introduction to the program.
The next four courses dive into design framework, learning and performance, and the mapping of instructional processes from concept to developing a full-blown model.
The final four courses require more advanced competencies. They focus on project management, theory, and other higher-level concepts.
All of the coursework is based on standards derived from the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction (IBSTPI), the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), and Teacher Leader Model standards. Using multiple standards allows us to have program goals and a curriculum that match the needs of students from different backgrounds.
Q: What are the main takeaways from this online MSID program?
A: Graduates of our program are highly desired in the workplace, as they have Instructional Design skill competencies that are applicable to practitioners in many field. When students tell me about how they've implemented positive changes within their organizations, it really shows how valuable this program is.
Q: What separates this program from other master's in instructional design programs out there?
A: There are several factors that separate our program from others. Our program is created to meet national standards that are applicable for practitioners in many professional fields. Through ongoing feedback and evaluation, our program is on the cutting edge and gives the MSID graduate knowledge and skills that prepare them to be immediately effective in instructional design positions or areas related to instructional design in their existing positions.
As part of our academic review process, we had an external reviewer from a respected research I university complete an in-depth review of this program. Not only was he very impressed with the content and the format of the courses, but he also commented on the genuinely caring, supportive, and intelligent community of the online MSID program. In his words, "I found many impressive strengths within the Saint Leo Master of Science in Instructional Design program relative to quality, centrality, and demand."
The core values of Saint Leo University are prevalent and made known to the students and adjunct faculty throughout this online MSID program. They are integrated into course assignments throughout the program because I believe that the Saint Leo way of teaching is not just to produce graduates who have top-notch instructional design skills, but those who will remain cognizant of community, respect, personal development, responsible stewardship, and integrity to build their instructional design professional philosophies.
Q: What career opportunities can students attain with this degree?
A: Because designing instruction or training programs can be a part of virtually every industry, there are countless potential opportunities graduates may pursue with Saint Leo's online MSID degree.
Specific roles include:
- Instructional specialist
- Instructional coordinator
- Corporate trainer
- Learning strategies director
- Project manager
- Educational consultant
- K-12 teacher
- College professor
Q: How can prospective students learn more about this online MSID program?