I remember starting this program in the summer of 2011. I was very excited and optimistic about gaining a master’s degree in my own career specialty. When I look back on my accomplishments, I am very proud of the effort that I put in and of the results that I achieved. I really wanted to learn how to be a better trainer, because that was what I loved to do. I learned some things that will help me do that, but I also learned so much more about creating effective instruction. Performance technology was a field that I had not thought about, so the entire concept was brand new to me. Learning about it has helped me become a better business person, as I can use several different tools beyond training in order to address performance problems.
Each course that I took introduced me to new concepts that I could apply almost immediately to real-world projects. The early instructional design course outlined a repeatable process for creating good instruction. I also learned about the critical importance of using good learning objectives. The courses in performance technology opened up the world of non-training interventions, which was a revelation for me. As a trainer, I was always focused solely on training people. Using models such as Gilbert’s BEM helped me understand that training is not always the best solution for performance issues. I gained a great deal of insight from the e-learning course, and from the evaluation course. As the program progressed, I could see improvements in my work that stemmed from the additional knowledge and skills that I had gained.
The most meaningful work in my portfolio is the capstone project, because it was a real-world project and it touched on the entire scope of the program. This demonstrates the successful use of an instructional design process that includes analysis, design, development, and evaluation. It also shows the effective use of project management skills. When I presented my deliverables to my customers—managers that work alongside every day—their positive reaction was completely satisfying. I knew at that point that my investment in the project, and in the IDPT program in general, had paid off.
I cannot help but wince when I think of how long I worked in the training field without knowing the things that I do now! I started out in training because I learned technical subjects quickly and became the informal “answer man” in the sales office. At that point in 2004, my bosses thought that I might best be used as a dedicated trainer. From that point until the start of the program, I had only one formal learning event that gave me any guidance on how to instruct others—and that was focused solely on e-learning. I picked up models and tools and best practices along the way, but nothing that was based on research or that really gave me an opportunity to practice, get feedback, and grow.