Student Story: Rebecca Jones
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What was the reason you decided to do the diploma with the digital learning institute?
It was a combination of things really. Before I did the diploma, I was teaching academic English predominately and with the pandemic and the big shift online there was a major need to change the way we were teaching. So that was the seed that got it going and as I was updating my skills and learning new things about digital pedagogies and learning how to deliver and design for an online virtual classroom I got really interested in the design process and I think for me the diploma was a way to formalise very in formalise experiments I did over the pandemic.
Was there one project in particular that really made you want to complete the diploma?
Yes so, the first course I gave over the summer was designed to be in person but then was moved last minute online. They did a fantastic job transforming it and it was an emergency course really because we were all isolating, in lockdown. For me from that moment, I really wanted to be involved in that transformation and wanted to really be able to deliver the materials effectively with digital design in mind.
That course was still great, but it was an emergency response to a global pandemic, so it didn’t go through I suppose all the design process when you know your output is going to be online. So, I think that was the first project I was like wow I really want to know more about this and do more on instructional design and digital development.
Were you predominantly teaching in person?
I was teaching completely in person, I was a teacher in Madrid, Spain and I had a range of students. A lot of them were for academic English but I also prepared students for exams like IL exams/ Cambridge exams, and I had a few clients in business and communications so going to offices, going to schools and colleges so teaching humans in physical locations.
How did you discover the digital learning institute?
I did a very short course with Sheffield university which was English for academic purposes online, so digital skills for academic purposes. So, I think that got the ball rolling because I thought I wonder if there is anything on instructional design that I could do. That’s when I started looking for a diploma, a longer course that I could learn more and develop more skills and learn new tools.
DLI was mentioned when speaking to other students in the course I completed with Sheffield university, others that wanted to further their skills like me in Instructional Design and a quick google search and the digital learning institute came up straight away.
So conversations were first then I did a bit of research online and I watched a video with John Kilroy the CEO and he was talking about the future of instructional design and he had a guest speaker from Blue Eskimo on there with him and that was really interesting and kind of opened my eyes to the job prospects.
Then I thought I could combine my work experience and pedagogy in academic education and also combine my interest in design and my love for making the learning experience which I was doing more and more at that time due to the shift online.
To circle back to your question ye speaking to people, doing a bit of research and then I saw John on in action and got to see this very interesting and growing field that was taking place.
There seems to be a lot of motivation behind you wanting to do the course is that fair to say?
Yes definitely! Being able to combine pedagogy and design and being more involved in the learning experience that was really appealing to me and I could do that through the diploma and I could formalise what I was sort of scratching or chipping away at on my own, but you know it’s not very efficient sometimes when your teaching yourself. So, it was great to have a directed course that I could dip in and explore at my own time, fit it in with my work and then apply it immediately to my work. That was exciting as well! Working and doing the Diploma at the same time because I could test out everything I was doing on the diploma with students or with fellow colleagues. That immediacy applying what I had learnt in the classroom or with the teams I was working with was really satisfying and fun!
How did you find the course, the content and how engaged were you with the course while you were doing it?
I found it really engaging. For me I like to go at my own pace, so I was able to do that but there was also opportunity to talk to other students and the virtual classrooms which were once a month or every 6 weeks or so. That was really great! I couldn’t attend all of them but the first one was a really big call with lots of different people which was really exciting and it was great to network.
So I think you can take what you want from it, if you want to go to all those calls, if you want to go do every extra. There is loads of fantastic extras, for me I had peaks and troughs in my work so I could always do those but the course itself was very well designed, very accessible, very easy to navigate. There was lots of opportunity to consolidate your learning and sort of check what you know as well. So it was really great to build up your metacognition or your regulation of learning so that was really nice.
The tutors are really passionate! So, in the videos and also live and when you’re speaking with them you get excited by their passion for the area. So that was great to be taught by experienced and knowledgeable experts in the field.
It must have been really nice to apply the learning to your day job can you speak on this?
Ye it really was! The first assignment was talking about a trend and academic English is quite a serious field and people are quite serious and I sort of looked into gamification and academic English. So that was interesting because it sparked some conversations with my colleagues about gamification and this trend and why it hasn’t really taken off in academic English. So even from the first assignment, it was really nice to be able to focus on your area and you can pick a trend that interests you and just that sparked interesting debates with my colleagues.
So just from that first assignment you can use what you’re learning and form a discussion at work or it might even play into how you design the virtual classroom next week or it might form part of the curriculum for next year. So ye it was great to use what I was learning immediately, it was really satisfying.
What did the diploma change in your career?
The diploma really just affirmed for me that perhaps I wanted to be more involved in designing the learning experience. I loved delivering, it was great, I had a great 8 year run of delivering classes.
But I think it confirmed for me that I was one ready for a change and two I was a bit tired of the precarity that comes with those sorts of contracts. So, I was looking for something more of a permanent role where I could be part of a longer-term vision within a higher education institute.
So I think the diploma helped me figure out what I wanted to do longer term professionally. I got to dabble and experiment in all these different avenues, and it was kind of like a safe way to test could I do this as a job. I said to myself yes, I could do this every day, let’s make a shift, let’s make a change!
Did the diploma help you get the job your currently in?
Yes I definitely think it did! It helped me prepare for my interview, it was invaluable in talking about design processes and evaluation and everything else on the diploma came into play during the interview process. I do think this set me apart from other candidates.
Was there anything particular on the course that really stood out to you?
It’s hard to pick just one of them, but definitely the people delivering the course, the experts that were involved in the videos and the explanations I found those very engaging, very interesting. it was very accessible and the people made it accessible and I think that energy was important because it gives you that enthusiasm for the course.
I think for me the earlier modules were really important in filling a few gaps for me in my knowledge. Some of the design processes, I was familiar with ADDIE but some of the other processes I wasn’t so that was great because I could really expand my foundational knowledge that would have been essential.
All of the other modules, and the later ones too were we got to look at stuff like immersion. I really enjoyed the little segment on virtual reality and AR that was something totally new to me. So the novelty was exciting, the people delivering the course were really enthusiastic and I just think the content was really relevant to what I needed now.
So the relevance of it and how everything was up to date felt cutting edge so that was great too.
Would you recommend the Digital Learning Institute to other people and if so why?
I would definitely recommend it to people, the reason for that is that its changed my life. Ive got a new job, I live somewhere else now and I’m spending my days differently and I definitely think its thanks to that diploma.
If maybe it’s not a super dramatic change someone has during the diploma I think it can affirm the direction of careers or give you a taster of what’s possible. So I think whether you’re looking for a career change or your looking to make a big change or maybe just looking to explore something new I think the diploma has something for everyone. So ye I would highly recommend it, it’s definitely made a big impact on my life.
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