This is the third in a series profiling each Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) campus instructional designer. Julie Meyer has been an instructional designer for Penn State Schuylkill since 2012 and was previously an instructional designer at Penn State Great Valley.
Did you do anything with ed tech before you came to Penn State?
Before I came to Penn State, I worked at the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. I was an instructional designer/multimedia developer on an Intro to Life Insurance course. Before that, I went to Bloomsburg University. My degree is a master of science in instructional technologies. I was on a committee, the Distance Learning Review Graduate Assistant Group, reviewing desktop videoconferencing systems. That was back in 1998 through 1999.
What made you become interested in instructional design and ed tech?
It was more I was attracted to the Master of Science in Instructional Technologies program at the Institute for Interactive Technologies at Bloomsburg University. Not to sound like a dork (laughs), but I was teaching at a daycare, so I was interested in education and the partnership between education and technology.
Growing up, I was kind of a geek. My dad didn’t buy us an Atari system; we got Texas Instruments. So, my first exposure to ed tech was that and programming in BASIC in elementary school. But then I kind of forgot about it through high school. So, I didn’t have many opportunities in high school to do that.
Then in college, I had a little bit of exposure. My undergrad degree was in speech correction. So, I started getting interested in technologies, and I had a course in learning about different technologies and software to help with learning disabled and special needs areas. I kind of got my feet wet and then I started looking more and seeing what the opportunities were. I graduated and worked locally in that area and went back to graduate school. I worked for a full year, took a class in the education area, and then started my master of science degree.
What do you enjoy most about working for TLT?
The access to other staff working in this field; it’s more of a team environment. When I was at Penn State Great Valley, I sometimes felt very alone as an instructional designer working in a graduate school area. Although I did attend the Penn State campus meetings, I still felt like I was working more alone. Where here, I can reach out with training opportunities; I have access to fellow staff and faculty to partner with to deliver different trainings.
What are some things you like most about working for Penn State?
The access to my fellow coworkers–it’s kind of like a family, especially the group of campus instructional designers. It seems that we are working together in the same direction. We have meetings together–they’re always very interesting–and the ability to share experiences to see if what’s working for one campus can work for another campus.
What is kind of exciting working for Penn State is that we’re looking at the course sharing programs, where I’m able to work with other members of the Penn State community and a group headed by David Stone, the director of Collaborative Programs at Penn State University Park. His group is doing a lot of the lead work in course sharing. The great thing about working for Penn State is there are a lot of learning opportunities that are present, including TLT Symposium, Learning Design Summer Camp, and WinterFest, which is hosted by ITS Training Services–we just have access to a lot. And it’s nice also that they are taking into consideration that we are not all at University Park–so there’s more opportunities to access trainings from a distance.
What are your primary areas of focus as an instructional designer at Schuylkill?
One of my focuses this year is transitioning our accelerated RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program from Evolution to Sites at Penn State. This is a former Penn State Video Learning Network (VLN) program, so I’ve been working with this for about two years. I partner with the A/V person to look at and manage our other Polycom courses. So, my job is really training faculty and being accessible for faculty for questions that may come up in delivery and courses for course sharing. Our campus has moved into a lot of course-sharing aspects.
We’re also involved with corporate communication shared programs across our campus, Penn State Worthington Scranton, Penn State Wilkes-Barre, and Penn State Hazleton. We’re not broadcasting any courses at this point; we’re delivering some local courses and receiving some through Polycom and other hybrid and online-delivered mechanisms.
I also work with other technologies around campus. We just installed a One Button Studio in November, so we’re working with faculty to utilize that tool in their classrooms. I’m also a lead person here on campus when there are questions about the course management system ANGEL. I go in and make sure our new students learn about ANGEL and other technologies as they arise. I’m located near the help desk in the computer center, so when questions come up about technology, I am accessible to them to answer those questions.
Our campus also got a grant for sustainability–EPICS: Penn State Schuylkill as a Living Laboratory for Sustainability. So I’ve been working closely with that in applying sustainability principles in our daily lives here at Schuylkill. I am leading the EPICS committee in organizing an Earth Day/ Eco Fair, with a Sustainability Symposium to be the highlight of the day.
Are there other current projects you are working on with faculty at Schuylkill?
We have faculty using clickers, Doceri, and One Button Studio, along with creating multimedia projects and movies. I have a faculty member who gives his students a theory in criminal justice, and they do some role-playing and acting out of those theories, so that’s always interesting.
Then, I’m really using the hybrid delivery methods in the nursing program, so that’s a biggie right now. My main goal right now is migrating the course content from Evolution to Sites. I have about five more courses to migrate.
What is one ed tech improvement that you would personally like to see in the future?
I guess growing in our area of content management systems, where we’re really moving into the future and really bringing more mobile access to our course management systems and other technologies. So students who are on the go can pick up their cell phone, pick up their tablet devices, and fully be engaged and immersed in their classroom experiences.