Director, Curriculum Development and Training Division
In 2011 I started working as an instructional systems specialist in the Federal Government. While researching the private sector, I discovered evidence-based practice and knew it was time to resume my education in order to update my skills. While I considered several great programs, no other school seemed to offer a program like Boise State’s Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL). The OPWL program’s learning goals are aligned to the standards of various professional organizations serving Human Performance Technology (HPT) practitioners, including evidence-based practice.
The program’s four guiding principles focus on forming future HPT practitioners. The result is a rigorous program that challenges students but does not limit itself to “book knowledge”. Many of our classes used a project-based learning approach that taught us underlying research and theories, and required us to apply them to solving performance problems for real-world clients. Project planning and execution also provided opportunities to learn valuable supporting skills such as coordination, communications, virtual team management, client management, and project management. We also learned to select and use technologies to help us perform those skills. While I was probably more seasoned in the profession than some of my classmates, I still learned much. In fact, I was able to immediately apply most of what I learned to my job. A win!
Like many adult learners, my personal and professional life was sometimes at odds with my studies. Every single member of the OPWL faculty and staff was always supportive and understanding. I would never have been able to finish the program without their help. While the faculty and staff are great, they are half of the story of the OPWL community.
Students can expect to make lasting professional connections among their OPWL classmates. In my experience, project teammates and classmates in general have always been happy to help one another. A wonderful tradition is the willingness of OPWL students and alumni to “pay it forward”. If you have a question about a class, project, or, more importantly, portfolio defense jitters, someone is available to share their experience. A LinkedIn group allows you to maintain contact with the OPWL community long after you’ve earned your degree or certificate.
I would encourage anyone contemplating advanced studies in performance improvement, instructional design, or HPT in general to consider Boise State’s Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning. You will learn much research and theory, but more importantly, you will gain experience applying them to real-world problems. The degree has earned a national reputation in the profession and is reasonably priced compared to other programs. If you’re looking for a challenge and sense of community, you REALLY need to talk to an OPWL advisor.