Instructors at all levels of education must always be thinking about the various learning styles of their students. Brad Rogers, who is currently working toward earning a Saint Leo master's degree in instructional design, knows this graduate degree program has significantly improved the way he now approaches the courses he teaches.

Rogers, 50, is a resident of Uniontown, Pa. He and his wife, Shari, have a one-year-old, 160-pound Great Dane who is fittingly named Leo. Rogers refers to Leo as his "study buddy."

Selecting Saint Leo University

Rogers had originally enrolled with Saint Leo University in the early 2000s, starting an online bachelor's in healthcare management program. He later wrapped up this undergraduate degree with the same major from the University of Pittsburgh's Johnstown location. He also earned a respiratory therapy certification from this institution.

When the time came for him to pursue a graduate program to help him advance his career, the Saint Leo master's degree program in instructional design quickly became a frontrunner for him.

"I was looking for a program that would help me with education and teaching," he says. "I've always been somewhat of a techie. The descriptions of the online master's in instructional design classes were right up my alley, and the program seemed like a natural fit. Plus, I didn't have to have a teaching license to enroll, which was a unique selling point for me."

Enrolling in the Online Saint Leo Master's Degree Program

He began the online master's in instructional design program in January 2018 and has just a few classes left to complete. Dr. Jane Adamson was a huge help to him when he first began the coursework.

"I probably couldn't have made it through the program without her," he says. "She was just amazing in her approach and always took lots of time to answer my questions."

He also has enjoyed Dr. Keya Mukherjee and greatly appreciates the guidance she has provided him.

According to Rogers, he has thoroughly enjoyed a class on designing courses through modules and incorporating PowerPoint presentations into a more interactive model of teaching.

"This is something I can apply to my own teaching work," he says.

To communicate with other students and his professors, he uses a variety of methods. He can actually speak with them via the microphone built into his computer or by using a headset with a microphone. He also collaborates on group projects with other students through Microsoft Teams.

"The technology used in the courses is a key aspect of what really makes this program work," he says.

More Than Just an Academic Curriculum

In addition to top-notch, practical courses on relevant subjects, he says integrity is the core value that has been the most meaningful part of the program.

"Dr. Mukherjee always talks about how you have to have integrity in order to be a good instructional designer and teacher. You have to put the learner first and always be a decent individual when working with others."

He adds that all of his instructors have been very understanding and always willing to work with him.

"There are lots of hours required to complete this program, but you can usually coordinate when you spend time working on the assignments. You also have until midnight on the days when things are due to get them turned in. Life happens, and my instructors have always been willing to work with me. The flexibility of this program has been wonderful."

Becoming a More Effective Instructor

Before diving into the world of teaching college, Rogers worked as a certified field trainer in pharmaceutical sales for a company that made ventilation equipment. In this role, he hosted lots of training sessions for other staff members.

For the past two years, he has worked as a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Northpoint campus. He teaches in the school's respiratory care program.

"Taking this Saint Leo master's degree program has taught me about how to look at learning in a different way and how to build courses with different perspectives in mind," he explains. "I've realized that you have to take into consideration all aspects of various learners and personas. Each student is unique and may learn a little differently than others, and you have to always account for the different types of learners."

He has had a mix of demographics come through his classroom, including many who are just out of high school to some in their 30s. He has also taught a number of international students from around the globe.

"I have found that some international students speak English well but aren't as proficient at reading English," he says. "So, in this case, I would make sure they are receiving the same information that all the other students are getting in a particular class based on their strengths."

His long-term goal is to attain a doctoral degree.

When not teaching or studying, he enjoys taking Leo for long walks, hunting and fly-fishing.

Photo credit: The photograph included in this blog article was provided by Brad Rogers and is used with permission.