UMBC Mic'd Up

Mastering the Learning Landscape

January 03, 2024 UMBC Mic'd Up with Dennise Season 4
Mastering the Learning Landscape
UMBC Mic'd Up
More Info
UMBC Mic'd Up
Mastering the Learning Landscape
Jan 03, 2024 Season 4
UMBC Mic'd Up with Dennise

Embark on a transformative journey with Patricia McMillan, a recent graduate of UMBC's Learning and Performance Technology Program, in this insightful episode of UMBC Mic'd Up Podcast. 

Join us as Patricia shares her firsthand experiences, valuable insights, and the impactful skills she gained during her time in the program. Whether you're a working professional or aspiring to enhance your skills in the learning and performance technology field, Patricia's story is sure to inspire and guide you. Don't miss this chance to glean wisdom from a successful graduate, navigate the learning landscape, and discover the transformative power of UMBC's innovative program. 

Tune in now and elevate your understanding of learning technology! #UMBCPodcast #LearningTechMastery #GraduateInsights

UMBC's Learning and Performance Technology Graduate Program:

Show Notes Transcript

Embark on a transformative journey with Patricia McMillan, a recent graduate of UMBC's Learning and Performance Technology Program, in this insightful episode of UMBC Mic'd Up Podcast. 

Join us as Patricia shares her firsthand experiences, valuable insights, and the impactful skills she gained during her time in the program. Whether you're a working professional or aspiring to enhance your skills in the learning and performance technology field, Patricia's story is sure to inspire and guide you. Don't miss this chance to glean wisdom from a successful graduate, navigate the learning landscape, and discover the transformative power of UMBC's innovative program. 

Tune in now and elevate your understanding of learning technology! #UMBCPodcast #LearningTechMastery #GraduateInsights

UMBC's Learning and Performance Technology Graduate Program:

Dennise Cardona  0:00  
Welcome to UMBC Mic'd Up podcast. My name is Dennise Cardona from the Office of Professional Programs at UMBC. And I am joined by a fellow peer in the Learning and Performance Technology graduate program, Pat McMillan. And it's so wonderful to have you here, Pat, I'm so anxious to talk with you. So excited, I should say to talk with you about your experience at UMBC with the program.

Pat McMillan  0:24  
It's awesome to be here. Thanks so much for having me. I am very close to graduating I graduate next week. I'm so excited. Yes, I've been in the program since about 2021. And I decided to go back to school during the pandemic, I thought this is a perfect time to go back. I can't, I was working from home. So I decided that I could just log on right after I completed work. And the program, I think is awesome. I was able to go through it it's very well paced for working adults. And I learned so much more about instructional design, performance improvement, and also professional development. And I didn't think I was going to get all of that out of this program. But it has so many different components and facets that I didn't even think of. I feel like I'm really ready now. Yep. 

I love that. And I feel the same way. So I graduated in May from the Learning and Performance Technology graduate program. 


Dennise Cardona  1:30  
Thank you. And you're graduating in next week, which is awesome in December of 2023. For anybody who will this will be published in 2024. So you will have already graduated Pat. Yeah. And I also started during the pandemic, I started in the fall semester of 2020. Because I figured I need to do something to keep my brain occupied during this time. And yeah, the learning of performance technology program is very appealing on so many levels. Can you talk about what motivated you to enroll in this specific program? 

Pat McMillan  2:05  
Actually, I was working in training. And I did that at my job for over 20 years. And I've been at just about every facet of training curriculum developer documentation development, SOPs trainer, senior trainer, the whole nine yards. And one day, my manager, she had gone through the program. And she came to me and she said, she handed me a flyer. And she said here, look at this program, you should enroll in this. And I looked at I was like, Oh, awesome. But she didn't realize that at the time, I hadn't completed my bachelor's degree, because I was still working on that. And this was a master's degree program. So that kind of put the seeds in my head. And I was really intrigued about the program the whole time, I was going through my bachelor's degree program, I said, You know what, I'm going to check into that when I graduate. I'm gonna go right into it. But I didn't. After graduated, I was a little, it's kind of hard working and going to school. So I needed some time to myself. So I took five years off, didn't expect to be off that long. And once I did get back in, I really researched this program, I researched other programs that were similar, because I graduated from UMUC. And they were like, really after me for their program, which is also good. But there was just something about this program that intrigued me a little bit more, because this program not just taught, it didn't just teach you technology, it also focused on the learner. And it seemed more balanced. It seemed like there was a good balance of the adult learner components with technology. So I knew I would be getting everything I needed. So I was ready at that point. And this was definitely the program for me. 

Dennise Cardona  4:02  
I love hearing that. And I can totally understand what you mean about needing some time off in between going for your bachelor's and then starting a master's program. And what's really intriguing about that is I am sure that there are listeners or viewers if they're viewing this on YouTube, who may be on the fence about starting up a graduate program because they are working professionals and they're concerned about, "Gee, how am I going to fit a graduate program into my busy life I'm already busy and maxed out." And I was feeling the same way before COVID hit. I wanted to do a graduate program for the longest time but as a working professional, I shied away from it because I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to keep up and you know during COVID I was working full time still. Obviously it gave it afforded us opportunities to not have to commute so we saved time there and that could be dedicated to our, to our work to our graduate work. But what would you say to a graduate somebody, a prospective graduate student who is a working professional, who may be balancing a few different things, and feels like, "Oh, gosh, I don't have time in my schedule for this." What? What would you say to somebody like that? How did you do it? How did you balance at all?

Pat McMillan  5:18  
I wouldn't say you really can do it, just take your time, start off slow. I think a lot of times people are focused on how long a program takes. And there are some programs out there that are really fast. But I knew I couldn't do that. I knew I needed to pace myself. So I said, I will start off with one class. So I can just get a feel of being back into school, I can get a feel of this program, how fast does it go. And I can say, honestly say that this program is very well paced. There was enough time to complete my assignments, didn't feel rushed, wasn't always work. In some programs, they don't even really give you the spring break. You kind of work all the way through. But this program wasn't like that you got a spring break, you didn't have things due at the wrong time. Some programs have things to do during all the big holiday like Easter Mother's Day, there's always a biggest time and Fourth of July. But this one, it didn't seem like that that seemed like it was very well paced, organized. And I think the program is designed to be completed in at least four years. But I want it to finish a little bit earlier. So I wasn't really wanted to finish in two years, but I was able to do it in two and a half. And once I got the hang of the one class, I started taking two classes at a time. And I said, You know what, I can do this. And there were times when that did get hectic for me. But because the program was so well paced, I was able to complete all of my assignments on time. Yeah, you can do it just pace yourself little bit at a time until you get the hang of it. 

Dennise Cardona  7:07  
Yeah. And it goes back to prioritizing things in life and realizing I think it's knowing the motivation, like why am I doing this? Am I enjoying this, and if you enjoy what you're learning, and you enjoy applying what you're learning, you have a strong why like, why am I doing this, then you can prioritize things in life, you can juggle things around, I used to spend an enormous amount of time on social media just scrolling through Instagram, looking at funny dog videos, and sometimes like a half an hour in the morning while I'm drinking my coffee. And I'm scrolling through Instagram. And so I just started to learn how to take some of those things off my plate that weren't being productive, and filling it with the things that would benefit me in the long run. So I think it's... now when you first joined, enrolled in the program first started taking those that first initial course and then you started building upon that, what were some of the expectations that you had from the program? And maybe some concerns you had? And how did the experience compare to those initial thoughts?

Pat McMillan  8:15  
I will say I really wanted to learn a lot about the adult learner. Because with having a training background, and seeing different types of learners in my classroom, and not really understanding how everyone learns differently, and what I could do differently to support people. So for me, that was a big thing to learn more about. And I didn't realize there were so many different learning theories out there that I had never heard of before. Oh, my goodness. And it's also rooted in psychology, a lot of the adult learning theories. So I didn't, I wasn't aware of all of that. So it really opened me up to a lot of new experiences, even though I had experience in the classroom and experience at work, but just how the adult learning principles developed. That really intrigued me. That was something that really helped me in the beginning. As far as challenges, um, I would just say, just kind of staying on pace with the curriculum, figuring out which class to take next. I know there are core courses to take that are outlined for you, but just figuring out where to go next, after your core courses. What really interests me next, and what else should I take? And my job I was lucky, very fortunate my job paid for all of my learning. So just making sure I got everything into them one time because you had to show you have your class schedule within a certain time frame before the semester started, and just making sure everything was reimbursed. I was like, Oh my gosh, how am I going to pay for all of this? That was another thing, just staying on schedule with that my reimbursements and making sure everything was paid. Oh, yeah, that was pretty much it.

Dennise Cardona  10:18  
Awesome. What was one of the top takeaways that you had from the Learning and Performance Technology program that you believe is the most beneficial to your personal or professional development?

Pat McMillan  10:30  
the UMBC Learning and Performance Technology program, it really helped me to see different facets of things that I can do or my job because of this experience, because I've always been interested in human resources development. And I didn't know we were going to explore that. But this program really does explore that. And organizational development, professional development. I think that's another area that really interests me, I haven't worked in it before. But having the knowing that I do have some skills now, in some understanding of professional development, I think that will help me pursue another career and go to another go down another path. And because initially, I was just pursuing instructional design. But now I see there's a lot of different things I can do with this degree. And with the UMBC Learning and Performance Technology degree, a lot of people when they asked me, What was I majoring in? And I told them, they would just look at me with a blank look, what is that? I never heard of it before. So I think what I'm learning is definitely groundbreaking. And it encompasses a lot of different things that can support an organization. And yeah, those so that's definitely what a great takeaway for me. 

Dennise Cardona  12:01  
Yeah, that sounds like a fantastic takeaway to be able to realize that what you're studying isn't so niche that you can't do things with it. That's what I found, too. I discovered parts of myself that I didn't even know existed through this program. And I started to present at conferences now, I never would have had the competence to do that. But this program teaches you how to organize learning. And presentation is you're you're sharing knowledge with people, so they're going there, they're listening to a presentation to learn something. And if it's mandatory or voluntary, it doesn't matter. They're there to learn something. And so being able to learn how to organize how to create a valuable learning experience for people, for me up my game and opened up new pathways for me to that I never even thought about before this program. 

Pat McMillan  13:02  

Dennise Cardona  13:03  
Now in what ways do you feel the program has helped you succeed or prepared you for the challenges in your field? Currently?

Pat McMillan  13:14  
Well, I would say the UMBC performance and technology program is, I learned a lot about return on investment. With my last class with instructor, David Rudd. And I can see what we definitely can use that in my organization. Because a lot of times we do things and we will implement a new program. And let's say a year later, it's scrapped or something just doesn't work out, or it's not performing the way it should. And I think that a lot of the skills we learned on what's the return on investment, can teach you how to kind of show the value of a learning program, and why we need why a company needs to invest in it. So that is something that was awesome to learn. And that's a whole different arena. Yeah, so just getting that and knowledge was mind opening for me.

Dennise Cardona  14:18  
Being able to justify to an organization, why this is valuable, why this training is valuable, why it's necessary. And if you can prove that through ROI, through data, that hard core data that you cannot deny data doesn't lie. And so being able to calculate that and express that to somebody in an organization to prove the value of a learning experience is very powerful. And I love David Rudd. I had him for several classes to he was fantast- he's fantastic. He's God. He just has a way of engaging the classroom. Everybody in it, and he's just come down to earth and humble and he just is full of knowledge. So he's great, a great addition to this wonderful faculty that helps to bring all of the all of us students in the program to a new level. And so yeah, he very powerful. Now, can you share what you are doing professionally? How are you applying the skills and all this knowledge that you acquired during the program in your current role?

Pat McMillan  15:30  
Actually, today, I'm a project manager. And a lot of the a lot of what we focused on did touch on project management concepts as well. So I'm thinking through a lot of the things that I'm working on the projects, and how using some of the skills that we learn, then trying to apply them to my current projects, some things like getting stakeholder buy in, and how we did a lot of different types of reports, reporting for leadership, and executive levels, and just, just showing your worth in an organization, and why what you're doing is so important, and why that organization needs it. So I can apply a lot of that to what I'm doing now as a project manager, and vice versa. So I think project management is really, a lot of that can be done within this program, because you're kind of managing a project, when you're putting forth a new learning program, you have to kind of chunk it out and plan it and go through the full project lifecycle. Yeah, so that's something that I'll definitely use.

Dennise Cardona  16:48  
Yes, project management is such an essential skill to everyday life to personally and professionally, some, something funny that I did last year, it reminds me that I'm probably going to do the same thing this year. At the end of the year, I wrote out my learning objectives, really new year's resolution objectives, but I put them, I created them, like they were a set of learning objectives. And they were very concrete and very specific. And I learned that skill in the program. And it has changed my life on so many levels, professionally and personally. But I was able to lay out my new year's desires in that kind of a format. And yeah, I was able to check things off task by task. It was like project management for New Year's resolutions, and it was just planning for the future. And wow, that was really helpful. And I was able to accomplish most everything on that list. So I need to go through that practice again this year, because it really worked. 

Pat McMillan  17:50  
Yeah, it reminds me of a design plan. Yes, we have to kind of go through. And that's something that we touched on in the program as well. Yeah. 

Dennise Cardona  17:59  
Yeah, absolutely. And so I'm working now with an organization where I'm going to be a facilitator for a train the trainer program. And they have developed the entire thing, design the entire entire program. And I'll be teaching it, and this is, that's new for me, because typically I'm, I design, develop and deliver all of my stuff. And so this is a very different type of tasks that I'll be doing. And it'll be interesting, but it was so fun to see that the person who laid this out and organized everything. She's a UMBC graduate as well. And alumn. 

Pat McMillan  18:36  
Oh, wow. 

Dennise Cardona  18:37  
Yup. And anyway, she, she laid it out, so well. Everything is so organized, I was blown away by the organization and how the project management of that entire training course was just from point A to point Z, really just all the way out. Everything is so planned, that I have as a facilitator, no questions in my mind, I know exactly what I need to do. And that was really, I think she learned that from the program, because I know we learned that in the program, just learning how to develop, design and develop training so that other people could just pick up and do it for us if as a facilitator.

Pat McMillan  19:17  
Yes, you can definitely spot a graduate from the Learning and Performance Technology program, because that was my former manager, and she was an awesome mentor. She knew training like no one else in the organization. She just so yeah.

Dennise Cardona  19:36  
Now can you share a specific moment or a project during the program that significantly impacted your approach to learning and performance technology?

Pat McMillan  19:47  
Oh, wow, there was so many. I think maybe when we did the cat debate project, because yeah, that was a big one. 

Dennise Cardona  19:58  
Yes, it was 

Pat McMillan  20:00  
And that's one of the great things about this program because you also get to explore technology. And right now, in this virtual world, we're doing so many E-learnings and just to be able to develop an E-learning. And to publish it, to me was awesome, it was quite a feat, it, you really have to learn that technology and you also applying your design skills, you're applying your knowledge of the adult learner. So everything you're doing, everything you learn really has to go into that. And you don't want to make it boring. Because it's something that people are going to go through self paced, so you definitely want to make it very engaging. Just picking out the fonts and knowing how to organize things on the page. That was a lot. As well as knowing how to do things for different types of people. Sometimes we need to have ADA compliance within our E-learnings as well. Then, yeah, oh, yeah, that was an awesome project for me. 

Dennise Cardona  21:15  
Yes, absolutely. I had fun with those classes, I took all three of the technology classes. And I learned a lot I really did, I was able to put together courses on self paced courses on and, writing course I put together from the knowledge that I gained from the initial class, the six out to the basic instructional design class to learn how to create a design plan and do the ADDIE model all of that stuff. And then using the stuff we learned in the technology classes to be able to put that into something that's usable in a self paced environment. Really just remarkable. It's this program is just filled with so many golden nuggets. 

Pat McMillan  21:59  
Yes. Oh, and I also did a learning. I don't know if you did that. But that's a really short microlearning. And that can be done in a matter of two minutes. So you have to figure out how to get a whole lot of information within that time and make it very engaging. And the technology is very easy to use. Yeah, that was a lot of fun.

Dennise Cardona  22:22  
Absolutely. Now looking back at how do you feel about your decision to enroll in the program now that you are ready to graduate?

Pat McMillan  22:33  
I am so happy that I went ahead with it. Because it took me a couple of years, really to decide on going back. I just took so much time researching it and going on a website and reading up about it and looking at the videos that were out there. And looking at other schools and comparing and contrasting. And just figuring out what I wanted to do. Really, that was the biggest thing for me. Because I could have gone and most people get an MBA or something more standard or normal. But I decided to do this, which is something totally different. So groundbreaking. I'm really proud of that I had the courage to go forth and do it. I'm shocked that I'm finished now. Because it seems like I just started. So I'm shocked that I got through it so quickly. And yeah, I think I did an awesome job. I feel wonderful. Like, a lot. Big accomplishment. Huge. Oh, yeah, anyone can do it.

Dennise Cardona  23:43  
I can't think of a better way to end this podcast than what you just said. Because you just summed it up. And I'm so happy for you. I'm so so happy you are complete with the program next week. And you're just out there in the world doing great work as a result of it. And I'm so happy that I had the pleasure of working with you in some of these classes, and being up there and learning from each other. It's just been a great journey and happy that you took it as well. Yeah, I wish you so much success.

Pat McMillan  24:14  
And you've done an excellent job to this was an awesome interview. 

Dennise Cardona  24:18  
Thank you so much. Thank you so much for everybody tuning into this episode of UMBC's Mic'd up podcast. If you'd like to learn more about our offerings, do a Google search for Learning and Performance Technology at UMBC or simply click the link in the description.