UMBC Mic'd Up

Building a Community of Learners in ISD | UMBC Professional Programs

May 10, 2021 UMBC Mic'd Up with Dr. Chuck Hodell and Dennise Cardona Season 1 Episode 8
UMBC Mic'd Up
Building a Community of Learners in ISD | UMBC Professional Programs
Show Notes Transcript

When it comes to the field of Instructional Design, community and networking drive the success. When it comes down to ISD, we're all learners on various levels. Bridging the knowledge gap with well-thought out instruction is the key to dynamic transformations and continued to growth. Dr. Chuck Hodell, Associate Program Director and Lecturer in UMBC's Learning and Performance Technology Graduate Programs, joined us on this episode of UMBC's Mic'd Up to talk about the ISD field, its vast opportunities, and ways instructional designers can bring major impact to the world of learning. 

About Learning and Performance Technology Graduate Programs at UMBC: 
Learning and Performance Technology (formerly ISD) is one of UMBC’s most established graduate programs. Our online certificate and Master’s programs provide an innovative and engaging curriculum. We offer all courses in an online format to accommodate the schedules of busy working professionals. If you are interested in designing, delivering, supporting, and measuring training, learning, and performance within organizations the LAPT graduate program at UMBC  will prepare you to claim your future.

Dennise Cardona  0:00  
Thank you for tuning in to this episode of UMBC's Mic'd Up podcast. My name is Dennise Cardona and I am from the Office of professional programs here at UMBC. Today, I am welcoming a very special guest on to our podcast, Dr. Chuck Hodell. He is the Associate Program Director for the Learning and Performance Technology graduate programs here at UMBC. He is also the academic advisor for the program and a lecturer. And I've had the pleasure of having him as an instructor in my first beginning ISD class at UMBC. Welcome, Chuck. Well, thank

Dr. Chuck Hodell  0:36  
you so much for having me on, Dennise. It's an honor and a pleasure.

Dennise Cardona  0:39  
Yes, it's, it's a fantastic honor and a pleasure for me as well. And I love to be able to talk with you about your journey in ISD. And so if you could just kind of give us a little bit of an overview about your journey that led you here to you UMBC.

Dr. Chuck Hodell  0:57  
Well, it's typical the story of instructional designers and people that have careers before they come to education. and higher education specifically, a lot of people have done wonderful things in your life. But they didn't get that credential. They didn't go back to college or do anything. And I was in that position because I didn't get an undergrad degree until I was in my mid 30s. I went out had careers and other things and came to this. I don't know whether it's from the back door, another door. But I was at a private college administrative role. And we were developing a lot of courses. And we were moving and migrating courses from classroom online because we found that our population was starting to be International. And it really made no sense to try to fly people in for these things. So my boss at that time, Jeff McDonald said they have this thing up a USBC. I don't know what it's called, is amor, you know, he didn't know. He said go up or find out about that. If you want to go maybe that's what you should think about. So I went up talked to Dr. J. Marvin Cook, who is the godfather of ISD in the world. And who started the first graduate program umpc in 1968, which was the ISD program and sat down with Dr. Cook and talked about my interests and my background. And he said, Well, you seem like a good fit, you know, go take the GRE, let's see what we can do. At that time, the program was limited to 35 students, which I found interesting too. So I went to the GRE I had double the money and passed out. lowest GRE score history review of UMBC, I'm sure. But Dr. Cook took sympathy. And he said, You know, I know this doesn't represent who you are, commodity. And so I was the start of it, went through the program loved every second of it. Every course learned so much. And it really changed my attitude about professional studies, about graduate school and more importantly about what people can do in their careers. And how much is out there for them if they go seek it.

Dennise Cardona  2:57  
Okay, I have to laugh because this whole grv thing really, it did make me chuckle. I took my GREs many years ago when I was a few decades younger, and I failed miserably. And I consider myself fairly intelligent, and I failed miserably. And I have to say that that at that point, I was in my mid 20s. And I decided against graduate school at that point, because I felt like it told me you're not capable of it, which I think is horrible. Because I just graduated Yeah, I had just graduated from my communications program at Rhode Island College, top of my class in the communications, and then the studio re told a different story. And I have to say anybody who's listening who is interested in the learning performance technology program, we do not require GREs. Frankly,

Dr. Chuck Hodell  3:51  
I can tell you the history on that too. One of the first things that I promoted when I came on as an instructor in the program, is we've got to get rid of this GRE thing because I did some research and finally was no correlation between GREscores and success in the program and then later going on to careers. And, you know, at that point that was heresy and in academics and to start that discussion to say that this program actually later evolved to Okay, we don't need GRE's I mean, we if you already have an undergrad degree, you've already displayed your ability to to play the academic game and go through the process. And, you know, I think all these standardized tests are going to find a different life as things mature in academia.

Dennise Cardona  4:37  
Let's talk a little bit about the ISD field in general, because anybody who's listening in maybe they don't even know what ISD means or learning performance technology. Because it's it's a field that is from what I'm learning incredibly full and rich of opportunity. And so could you give us a little bit of a background in what ISD actually is? And how we can apply it in our life.

Dr. Chuck Hodell  5:03  
ISD is the best kept secret in many worlds. And the reason for that is because instructional designers are usually pretty quiet people. And we just like to get to our job and, you know, move on to the next project. And it goes back to the first communications between human beings, it's about learning transfer, and how to do that effectively and efficiently. So, instructional design is a field really didn't even have a name until the late 60s, early 70s. So Dr. Cook, obviously one of the people that made that happen, Robert ganya, at Florida State, started what many would consider the the ISD program that named and, and famed and lots of other things. But instructional design is the art of transferring learning. And it's about designing courses. But that's just one small part of it. It's about a systems approach to designing courses. So we're systems analysts, we look at every aspect of instruction and learning and we look at populations, we look at what we want to have learners be able to do at the end of a course or a program. So we set up a valuation task, we look at real mastery. So when we say we've evaluated learner, we've done measurable and observable task, reviews and evaluation. So there's an incredible sense of credibility about this large corporations, large nonprofits, academia, the government, everywhere that you find mass implementation courses and programs, you'll find instructional designers.

Dennise Cardona  6:32  
So I know from having the pleasure of being a co host on a YouTube channel with you, called instructional design from the ground up that you are full of knowledge when it comes to ISD. And you have a book that has been just released, can you talk to us a little bit about that book, and what people will gain from reading it?

Dr. Chuck Hodell  6:57  
Well, in instructional design, it's never really had an identity anywhere except, you know, small pockets of people that knew what it was. So when you get into higher education, whether it be you know, graduate PhD programs, certificate programs, Community College staff courses, instructional design, but there's never been a textbook that takes you from how this started to the practical applications of it. And it's my sixth book and instructional design. And each one, I've tried to tailor courses that I teach a UMBC and instructional design. So we've now evolved to the point where this is an actual textbook. It's the first textbook that's published by ATD. And I think it's, it shows a maturity in not only ISD, but in academic approaches to teaching instructional design and systems. And it's not so much about anything other than moving people from an interest in a topic through the ability to be able to do very practical things that are required of instructional designers.

Dennise Cardona  8:01  
That's great. Now, speaking of instructional design, one of the questions I love hearing, I love asking the motion hearing the response is, what is it that excites you the most about this field?

Dr. Chuck Hodell  8:16  
Well, I think, you know, I'm one of those people that I like to get, I like to get things done, you know, I don't, I don't like to immerse myself and things that don't have outcomes. And maybe that makes me irritating, and some populations, but, you know, if I start something, I want to finish it, and I want to see the product. And I want to know that there was a process to that. And somehow, in the most basic form, I've helped another human being. And it's something Dr. Cook always told me. And he's absolutely correct that, as an instructor, as a professor, that the one thing you want to do is make everybody a success, each one of your students needs to find success. And you need to help them do that. So this whole notion of going through this and having tangible results, and I look at ISD is, you know, a science and saying it's that every time we put together a course we have a hypothesis, you know, we believe a learner can do this, this is a process we're going to use to find that. And in the end, we're gonna evaluate measurably and observably and find out if our learners have reached mastery and what we hope they would do which are objective. So to me, it's very satisfying to build these courses and programs and projects where I see learners mature through this and at the end are able to do incredible things.

Dennise Cardona  9:37  
Well, I'm one of the recipients of your incredible knowledge and your great teaching experience. I started off with the ISD program at UBC taking the beginner course. And 602 was a number of it. And you were my instructor. It was a first for me step into ISD. I knew that I wanted to pursue A graduate degree while working at U and BC. And I have been, I've been marketing this program for almost 14 years, I've listened to everything. I have listened to every single information session, I have gone to every single ISP forum that we used to do when it was in person. I have listened to countless experts in the industry talk on our topic based webinars. And a little thing thing in the back of my mind always said, One day when I have time, I'm going to study this, and COVID hit, and I had some extra time on my hands. And I wanted something new. And I wanted to challenge my mind. So I said, What the heck, let me enroll, let me take one class. So I took the beginner class. And I loved it. It was like a bunch of light bulbs went off, not just one, but like a whole room of light bulbs went off. Good.

Dr. Chuck Hodell  10:57  
It worked.

Dennise Cardona  10:58  
It worked. You flip that switch for me? And for so many of us. I mean, I'm sure. I don't know how many students you've taught over the years. But I'm positive that you have just touched so many lives through what through your instruction. What I would love to know from you is, first of all, can you tell us the names of the courses that you do teach? And then I want to pick your brain about them specifically, what what you like most about teaching each one specifically?

Dr. Chuck Hodell  11:26  
well over a period of time that I've taught, which goes back almost 30 years now. The main course that I've taught is 602, which is the introduction instructional design. And I've now taught that I think I'm at 80 consecutive terms without a break. So that's fall spring summer. I haven't had a term off. So if you can turn them off, I would appreciate it.

Dennise Cardona  11:50  
Sorry, I don't have any polling. But I'm really glad you didn't take the semester off when I decided to take that course.

Dr. Chuck Hodell  11:57  
Yeah, so 602 has been a mainstay, I am honored to teach it because I was Dr. Cook's Signature Course. And that's what I predominantly teach. I also teach 605, which is the adult learner. But through the years, I think I've taught almost every course in the program. And the reason I enjoy 602 is because I have brand new folks like you coming in that are interested, but don't really know what it's about. And the thing about graduate school, especially the first course in graduate school is like almost a charm school too. Because a lot of people never been in graduate school, even though we do have PhDs that come in and take the courses. But a lot of them never been in grad school. And now that we're online, which I think was a brilliant move, Dr. Williams, and on all of us discussed and moved on years ago. You know, it's this whole notion, okay, now I have to learn Blackboard, I have to learn how to be online, I have to learn netiquette, and all the things that go with that. And I have to behave in a discussion boards. I'm really frustrated because my computer doesn't work. And you know, you always have students that tried to do it on an iPhone from McDonald's somewhere because they just haven't really had it sync any of that. You need to have a laptop at least and

Dennise Cardona  13:11  
probably hungry, you know, they could be hungry.

Dr. Chuck Hodell  13:13  
Well, who is it? Right? I mean, I will tell me times, I've actually gone through my courses as Pinera because I'm on the road, and it's the only Wi Fi I can hit. But you know, what I love about 602 is it's all new folk. And I see their lives change. And not because of me, you know, I'm insignificant in this process. The whole notion is you get people to think about systems. And when you start to think as a systems thinker, and you become an analyst, and you start to connect all the dots in your life and in your learner's life and in the process of instructional design. And you see all of these wonderful things, and then you elevate your thoughts to chaos theory, which I just think is incredible, because everything in your world is related, whether you know it or not, you know, if butterflies all flap their wings at same time, you're gonna have a hurricane. You know, you kind of get behind that thinking even as you know, it's just one example of silliness. So you go to weather, but this notion of there is nothing in your life that isn't connected to something else in your life. And when you start to apply that, in a systems approach to instructional design, what you learn is a lot of things that are out there don't work. And here's why they don't work, because you haven't been holistic about this you haven't looked at as a system. So what we find is students that take six to then go on to be incredible managers, and start their own programs or start their own companies or do whatever, because they understand how all the systems in their life work. So when you start to connect all of these things together, you know, I only learn instructional design. You learn how to engineer your life, you learn how to engineer the things that are around you. And that's what changes in people. Yes, they're great instructional designers, but more importantly, they now are Systems analysts. And I think that's incredibly important.

Dennise Cardona  15:04  
Wow, that is so powerful, what you just said, and I, now I'm in my third graduate course in the program. And what I love most about it is that whole systems approach that whole holistic approach, and that everything really is connected through the courses. So far my experiences, it's taught me how to think more critically about the world and about every process that I do, and how Yes, every single one of them affects another one in it could be a miniscule way. But even though it's miniscule ways, it's like the whole butterfly effect. Or maybe we should use cicadas as our reference, because they'll be here

Dr. Chuck Hodell  15:43  
for 17 year pros. We another thing that's interesting with systems, especially in instructional design is when you go back and do you know, some review of a course that's failed, and you do the forensic on it. And what you find out is there were things that were going on, that you didn't allow for. And some of those basic things are people's time. They come to courses hungry, they have childcare problems, they have transportation problems. And I remember so vividly as an instructor carrying around six month old babies on my shoulder so that my students could come to class at night because I would rather have them there and their children there. They're not they have, you know, that relationship. So that's part of this forensic look at systems. Okay, one of the things that really went wrong here, we got really smart people, we have a really great course. We're implementing it in a way that I think is okay. But yeah, what's falling apart here? And then you find out, okay, well, transportations an issue, or I got technology problems, or, you know, this workgroup that I'm trying to work with, as a manager, that's not helping. It may vary. Actually, the problem. The other thing we find out nicely, very quickly is we don't assume that everything is an issue that we can solve. First thing we do is determine whether or not there's something that we can impact. So if there are other factors, don't design a course or a program is going to be a failure, just because nobody wants to address the real issue, which may be environmental or managerial, or what have you. Well, it's

Dennise Cardona  17:18  
interesting that you bring that up, because I'm going to bring something up that's a little personal with our show is that we've been recording episodes for maybe about a month to a month and a half at this point. And we were running into some technology issues because we couldn't figure it out. We use this program called ECAMM

Dennise Cardona  17:37  
Live. And I thought at first that maybe that was the issue, because Chuck was coming into my feed blurry. So I nicknamed him blurry, actually, for a little while. And I hope we're over that. We couldn't figure out what is going on. I mean, I've been to I went to 20 different forums on the on the problem. I had 20 different people telling me 20 different solutions. We tried everything, couldn't figure it out. But you know what, there's always a solution if you look for it. And we figured out the solution, it was an upload speed. So Chuck had to invest in more upload speed. But look it up. He's sharp and crisp, and clear is anything. But that just goes to show you though that as ISD people we need to be putting our detective hat on, we need to we need to ask the right questions, we need to dig deeper to find out what the real problems are, what the real issues are. Because what what we think are the issues may not be them at all. And it's in that investigation. And that curious mindset that we find the answers that we find the solutions, or we realize maybe there's not a solution, we just need a different approach.

Unknown Speaker  18:51  
Well, and I think that's the beauty of it. Structural designers don't normally go in and have a solution before they figured out what the problem is already got to do this analysis of what's going on. And many times the things that don't work are not design related. So go in there, I'd say this to anybody that's listening or watching this notion of when you start to do forensics, on problems, make sure it's holistic, make sure that you look at every possible influence factor. And be honest about what you find. And sometimes it's easier to design a course because you don't want to have that discussion with a manager or, you know, want to invest more money and, and certain things that would make life easier and more productive. So, you know, sometimes we deliver less than favorable news, but we're always honest. And I think that's part of it, too, is people look to us for credibility and honesty, and the ability to really do a good analysis and forensics on things and provide solutions that we think can actually work.

Dennise Cardona  19:58  
Now, let's just talk a little bit about The before we get into the opportunities in the ISD field and what that landscape looks like, what I'd really like to talk about is how how students are actually let me reframe this question. Do you feel that a graduate education is necessary to be successful in this particular industry? Could you talk a little bit about that?

Dr. Chuck Hodell  20:28  
Yeah, I mean, this goes back to the old notion of, you know, what point is credentialing necessary. And whether it's a certificate graduate certificate, or whether it's a graduate degree or a terminal degree, it all depends on what you want to accomplish, and what organization you might be thinking about working with or working for. And everybody has their own set of diagnostic about what works best for them. And I wouldn't dissuade anyone from any approach that they would take. But I think the reality of it is, in a world of credentialing, you're going to need a credential. And whether that's a graduate certificate, or graduate degree, or an undergrad degree, or whatever, I think employers are looking for that validation that you have paid your dues, that you've learned the basics, that you've been able to demonstrate your ability to do certain things. And I think that's a realistic thing to be able to do. And there's always the outlier, who's been in this field for 20 or 30 years or any field, and they can demonstrate, you know, practically anything that a certified instructional designer could do. But the notion is you have to have some standard for anything, otherwise, you have no standards. And I think it's perfectly reasonable for employers to expect someone to have credentialing. And I think a graduate certificate in instructional design, Learning and Performance technology, or whatever you choose to do. There's a perfect avenue for that, because you look at these postings for jobs, and you almost always find that they want certification, and you're not going to change that world. It's not going anywhere, whether I agree with that, philosophically, are not as insignificant to me or others. Because the notion is, if there are five candidates and one of them is certified, that the person is probably going to be chosen, at least looked at seriously. So while I think people can evolve and start in this, and that's another good point, Denise is, a lot of people come to this field as other things. In fact, almost everybody does. Certainly I didn't sit in high school, and dream about being an instructional designer. And I still never found that barista did that. Even though my reward is now almost the two cups of coffee for for any information, levy that validity, all of us came from something else. And I think it's true in a lot of graduate pursuits with people that come to it later in life, they have already done this, I proved myself in this. And now I want this credential because I want to do other things. So lots of ways to look at it. Like I said before, we have PhDs that come in this program for this credential. And we have people that come right out of a bachelor degree to do it. So it's all over the place. But I think majority of folks are here for that credential, and to be able to use that to promote themselves in their careers.

Dennise Cardona  23:16  
And I have to say, as a student of the program, what I love most about the peer engagement that I've experienced so far, especially in the discussion boards, is I love how everybody shares their applied experience out in the workforce, they bring that to the classroom. And so we're all learning from each other. And everybody is from a different walk of life. I mean, I've I've met people from all different types of industries, it's amazing healthcare, technology military, myself, I'm, you know, I've worked at you, UMBC as a digital content specialist. There, everybody comes to my different, different walk of life with different experiences, and we all learn from each other. And to me, that's been the greatest gift, so far of being in a graduate program is that ability to have a different lens from which to view the world, and to be able to learn from learn from so many different people. And I'm able to take everything I learned on say, a Wednesday night and bring it to the workforce, the workplace on Thursday morning and apply it. So that's really, to me one of the greatest strengths of a graduate program like the one we have here at UMBC because it just has a proven track record, have given you that knowledge that you need in order to be successful out in this field.

Dr. Chuck Hodell  24:36  
Well, and I think that's an important point, because the notion of academics when I came out of high school, in the 1800s was, you know, either went to college, or you worked in a factory in Dayton, Ohio. And, and I was a fair reality and, and neither was good or bad. It's just what it was. And so academic pursuit was one thing is now about To be something else, and certainly still have the fields where research and the rest of it is, is more important than a lot of the practical applications, depending on your program, just like in physics, there's applied physicists, and there's theoretical fears there is. And I think we look at this differently now in graduate school. And that's one thing Dr. Cook always said was, all of our people work, nobody comes here, without a job or without focus, because they want to do something very practical. And if you can't give them something that they use that evening, or the next day, then you failed them. And I still believe as the line is designed philosophy that my approach has always been, I'm going to one create community in my courses, because I want everybody to get to know each other. Second thing I'm going to do is create opportunity for networking, which is, many of us find out most jobs released instructional design will come from a networking environment. So either know somebody, you know, somebody knows somebody. And it's a very safe network that way, because people have realistic expectations about things, but it just helps create this whole environment. And that's one thing is programmed, as was always been famous for, I remember hosting job fairs, where we would have hundreds of people come in, and I'd have a wall of employers and then a wall of students. And, you know, this is how we did this. We created our own communities because they didn't exist. So I think this whole notion of how people look at this and my obligation as an instructor, to create community and create a great environment where people communicate and support each other. I see that is, in many ways, just as important as the content that I try to teach.

Dennise Cardona  26:46  
Yeah, absolutely. Let's talk a little bit about the whole ISD field and where it is, what it is, and where the opportunities lie.

Unknown Speaker  26:56  
Well, ISD is now in a maturation process. So we've gone from this unknown entity where people couldn't even spell ISD to this notion, you know, we're becoming a science and, and respected. And I think we're at the point of exponential growth in terms of what instructional design will actually be able to do. So part of this process is the credentialing which I think we have an in fairly good stead. The other notion is making this more visible. And for people to understand that almost everybody that teaches in some manner or form is an instructional designer, whether you put together a course on a napkin the night before, or whether you spent a couple years putting together a program, like many instructional designers do, you're still doing this work. And I think the recognition within the general population of people that are trainers, teachers and managers that instructional design is all of us, is really going to make the growth in this field. Incredible. So we are in the middle of this migration from the unknown to the known are becoming more visible, you know, with 100 billion a year so spent on training alone, if this work isn't done, well, you're wasting money. And most organizations these days don't have a lot of money to waste. So they're very interested in doing things efficiently and effectively. And that's what we're about.

Dennise Cardona  28:15  
One last question I always like to ask is, what's been the biggest lesson or takeaway that you've had, from working, or even teaching in this industry?

Dr. Chuck Hodell  28:28  
I think the biggest lesson I've learned is never underestimate the power of learning the power of people to perform the power of folks to reach for their dreams, and then find a path to get to that. And to me, my students have always been more important than anything else I did. I would sacrifice content any day, to build a body of students that felt good about themselves and wanted to grow and wanted to go on to greater things. And fortunately, I've never had to sacrifice the content, because content helps with that approach. But to me, it's always about the student. It's always about the learner. I want them to be successful. I want them to have the best life and the best career that they can have. And if a program or an instructor or professor can have, you know, one moment of that, then I think we've have reached the point where we feel good about what we do. I certainly do. I'd much rather know that you're happy with this course. Then you tell me how to write a four part objective, because I know you can do that. But my personal belief on that is it's about you. It's about learners. It's about students and growing this body of people that enjoy their work, and are really good at it. Hmm.

Dennise Cardona  29:38  
That's a really powerful closing statement for this episode. Thank you so much for being with us today. Dr. Chuck Hodell, your new book, I'm excited to pick up a copy of it instructional systems development theory and practice. I hope I have that correct. That the correct title.

Unknown Speaker  29:57  
It's close enough. Close enough. Available in Amazon near you?

Dennise Cardona  30:02  
Yes. So pick up a copy. If you're interested in this incredible field, learning more about it, pick up a copy of that book and also reach out to Dr. Chuck Hodell. If you have any questions about the graduate program itself, or Dr. Greg Williams, they're both very happy to answer any questions that you may have, as well as myself to being a student of the program. So thank you so much anybody who is interested, you can find out more information on our website at thanks so much for tuning in.

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