Alumni Spotlight: Emma Farrow, Online Master’s Degree in Instructional Design and Technology

After years of teaching math to middle and high school students, Emma Farrow decided it was time to make a move. Often, a teacher’s next step is working in administration, but Emma never desired that path. She asked herself what she enjoyed most about teaching and found the answer: “I enjoy planning the instruction for students to make learning happen. I also like to collect and use data to evaluate and assess what’s effective,” she says.

Education Needed To Adapt to Current Events

When the pandemic hit and schools abruptly switched to online learning, Emma became acutely aware that teachers were out of their comfort zones. With courses now delivered via video calls, both K–12 students and their instructors were deeply affected by the switch. “I realized very quickly that teachers didn’t have the right tools. The ‘bandages’ we were applying weren’t sticking, and we were missing out on opportunities for genuine learning and student engagement,” Emma says.

It was at this time that Emma vowed to find more effective instructional techniques for her students. She decided to make the most of the unprecedented teaching situation and was inspired to learn how to be more effective in her classroom.

Instructional Design is Rooted in Education

Emma realized her past experiences in planning curriculum and creating content made her an ideal candidate for a career in the instructional design field. Instructional designers create educational and training materials used by organizations of all sizes, across every business sector and geographical location.

Though Emma had plenty of practical know-how, she wanted to expand on her knowledge. So, she looked into the Master of Education in Instructional Design and Technology (M.Ed. IDT) program through the University of Cincinnati (UC) Online. Soon, Emma learned that the popular M.Ed. IDT program attracts former/current teachers and other professionals who want to focus on creating educational content for schools, corporations, and nonprofits.

“At UC Online, you can create a schedule that works for you.”
– Emma Farrow, M.Ed. IDT Graduate (April 2022)

Juggling Her Teaching Day Job With Studying Online

Before applying, Emma attended a UC Online information session. The speaker panel featured students and program faculty, including Dr. Zydney, an Instructional Design, and Technology program professor, who hosted the Q&A. “I found the conversation very beneficial and began seeing the possibilities with starting the program,” Emma says. (You can view the recording from the info session here.)

Once she applied and was accepted, Emma received a welcome email assigning her to a UC Online Student Success Coordinator (SSC). She found that talking with her SSC helped her come up with a schedule that was just right for her. “The brainstorming and planning part of the process was fun,” Emma says. “My SSC assisted in several ways, including the fact I was still finishing up another UC program. She worked with me to ensure I was getting courses done but not feeling too overloaded.”

Emma was pleased with the online master’s program’s asynchronous style. With courses available 100% online, she began to work at her own pace to meet course deadlines whenever studying worked best for her; Emma says:

“At UC Online, you create a schedule that works for you. Though my first semester was a little challenging, I was able to sit down and plan out my time based on what was happening in my life and at work. And it gave me something to tell the students I was still teaching that while they might be done with school for the day, I’d be heading off to school that evening!”

Instructional Designer Presenting

Learn how both educational and corporate settings value instructional design expertise.

Well-Designed Master’s Degree Helps You Hit the Ground Running

Students in UC Online’s M.Ed. IDT program begins with the Fundamentals of Instructional Design in the 30 credit-hour program that most students complete in under two years. Coursework covers need assessment, goal analysis, learner/context analysis, instructional strategies, instructional materials, and formative/summative evaluation. From day one in the program, M.Ed. IDT students begin applying what they learn to their current roles, whether they work as educators or in another business setting.

The program includes a Universal Design for Learning course, covering the principles that meet the needs of diverse learners, including those who struggle for assorted reasons. In the Multimedia Studio course, students gain essential knowledge and techniques to create powerful multimedia products — skills that Emma implemented when creating audio lessons, video lessons, and screencasts. And the Design of Blended and Online Learning Environments course guides students through the process of designing and developing successful online learning. (Blended learning is a training model that’s a mix of online and traditional face-to-face education.)

Emma can attest to the online program’s practical, real-world benefits. “Right away, I could apply what I learned in grad school to my classroom,” she says. “I often changed and adjusted my approaches as I learned new subjects in the program.”

Emma’s biggest takeaway from the experience? Having a new understanding of how the pieces fit together, something Emma hoped for when she started the program in August 2020.

“I’m now the Instructional Designer for UC Blue Ash College … My new position is exactly what I was looking for.”
– Emma Farrow, M.Ed. IDT Graduate (April 2022)

Emma’s New Future in Instructional Design

One of the unexpected benefits of the M.Ed. IDT program that Emma found was a vibrant community of students and faculty. As the semester progressed, she found the group’s conversations more meaningful and key relationships growing stronger. “I appreciated how intentional the faculty’s efforts were to create a strong online community,” Emma says. “Because as the program progresses, you began to see the same faces and really get to know one another.”

After graduating from UC Online in the spring of 2022, Emma embarked on a new career outside the classroom. “I’m now the Instructional Designer for UC Blue Ash College. It’s a new position which brings its own unique challenges, but it’s exciting because of all the possibilities and the positive interactions I’ve had with faculty who are interested in creating more effective student experiences,” she says.

Combining her experience as a teacher with what she learned in the online instructional design and technology program has been a dream come true for Emma. “I’m putting it all together now,” she says. “My new position is exactly what I was looking for.”

Emma Farrow Profile

Ready to Further Your Career in Instructional Design?

Emma’s positive feedback about the online M.Ed. IDT program isn’t unique. We’re honored to have many happy graduates who now have fulfilling careers in instructional design, creating memorable, enjoyable learning experiences for students of all ages.

Want to follow Emma’s lead and chart your course as an instructional design pro? Your next step is as easy as a phone call or direct message to an Enrollment Services Advisor. Connect online with them today or call 833-556-7600. The team is available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.

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