Learning Design and Technology is crafting the future of education

The pandemic taught many what educators already knew—emerging technologies and instructional strategies are rapidly changing how we teach and learn. No one knew better than the instructors and students of the Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology program (LDT) in the Wayne State University College of Education.

LDT is an emerging specialization within education that aims to equip teaching professionals with the tools to create modern educational content and learning experiences that are both engaging and intuitive to use.

“In the WSU LDT program, students learn how to use empathy, creativity, problem-based learning, and technology to generate organizational learning solutions for real-world challenges as upskilling and reskilling the workforce is in demand,” said Linda Jiménez, Ph.D., associate professor of teaching and program coordinator of LDT.

“Similar programs at other Michigan universities are focused on PK-12 teachers,” she said, “while we focus on preparing our students to work with adult learners in corporate, government, and nonprofit settings,” in addition to PK-12. “Students design learning interventions by way of employee trainings and courses.”

It is one of two master’s programs in the U.S. with an endorsement from the Association for Educational Technology and Communications (ACET), demonstrating quality assurance.

The program is entirely online and permits working professionals flexibility when it comes to earning their degree.

Equitable instruction

One such professional—Hassan Ozeir thought he wanted to be a K-12 teacher before ultimately taking a position as a student support coordinator with the nonprofit Communities in Schools of Michigan (CIS).

“I decided not to become a classroom teacher because I felt as though the training and competencies are not aligned with student success,” he said.

Teachers are often taught to put the subject matter first, Hassan said, and this one-size-fits-all approach does not take into account the culture and climate of the community at the expense of the students.

CIS provides K-12 students with the emotional, financial and community resources they need to stay and thrive in school, according to their website.

“My job is to bring in resources to the school to help create equitable learning for all students,” he said. “I also use restorative practices to build community within the school and increase social and emotional learning strategies.”

Techniques that he said would benefit all teachers, and in turn their students, greatly.

“The LDT program has given me a chance to gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities to go back in to the world of education and train staff in these areas. I hope to leverage these KSAs to teach educators about the power of relationships and putting the learners at the center of their approach.”

Online learning

LDT master’s student, Lauren Lucas, too, knows something about designing instruction around learners. 

She began working as a program assistant at the Forest Carbon and Climate Program (FCCP) at Michigan State University where she earned her bachelor’s right out of college. She worked with a team creating courses for adult learners and later transitioned into an academic specialist role focused on online learning curriculum development.

It was in this shift toward more virtual learning that Lucas said she felt she was missing some of the critical skills needed to continue advancing in her field, skills that the LDT at WSU teach, so she enrolled in 2019.

“I specifically chose WSU's LDT program because of the program's reputation,” Lucas said. “Within my first semester in the program, I was able to transition my skillset to a new workplace where I focused exclusively on virtual learning design and delivery.”

She became an eLearning specialist at Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union (MSGCU) in March 2020, right before the stay-at-home order.

“We experienced a rapid shift in working arrangements to accommodate remote work and training, so I'm looking forward to continuing to design new virtual experiences to enhance our organization's learning strategy and performance objectives.”

Her designing expertise not limited to MSGCU, Lucas spent the winter of 2021 helping faculty in the LDT master’s program revamp their six tech courses, more than any other LDT program in the U.S., Jiménez said.

“The target of the redesign is to increase learners' opportunities to engage more meaningfully with emerging digital technologies for learning—such as AI, VR/AR, and mLearning—and expand their skillset by introducing more project- and problem-based learning activities within the online learning environment,” Lucas said.

The new courses launched in fall 2021.  

“The LDT graduate courses train you to strengthen your instructional design, communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and leadership skills as you prepare for lucrative careers in a growing industry with an excellent work-life balance,” Jiménez said.

To learn more about the M.Ed. LDT program, curriculum, and career insights, visit the College of Education website.

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