Prior to fall 2013, Boise State University’s online Master of Science in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) was known as the Master of Science in Instructional and Performance Technology (IPT).
I have worked in the computer training industry for 12 years as a software trainer and lab developer. I thoroughly enjoy the training industry and decided to move to the next step, instructional design. A colleague of mine had gone through the IPT program at Boise State and recommended it to me. I started in 2006 and instantly knew it was exactly what I was looking for. However, due to job changes, I took a few years break from 2007 to 2010. When I came back, the staff and professors remembered me and went out of their way to help me rejoin the program and finish within the college deadline. I worked full-time while taking classes at first on campus and then online. I finished the degree in May 2013. Although I have two bachelor’s degrees, I feel this is the most beneficial degree I have earned. This program is one of the best in the nation for workplace performance. Its classes provide many hands-on, real-life projects that allowed me to build a firm foundation for furthering my career.
The professors in this program are nationally and internationally recognized and have many contacts in the performance improvement field. As students, this provided us with several opportunities to learn from some of the leading experts in the industry via webinars and online discussion boards.
The program coordinators, staff and professors are some of the smartest, most caring individuals I have ever worked with at any university. When I started the program in 2006, I lost my job at the end of the semester. My professor knew how much the program meant to me and helped me to find an internship for the next semester. Then after a leave of absence of 3 years, when I contacted her and the program coordinators, they remembered me and helped me to resume the program like I had never left.
The curriculum in the program is challenging and relevant. I took most of my classes on campus except the last two semesters when the program moved completely online. In both settings, the professors did an excellent job of engaging the students in the topics and challenging them to stretch their boundaries, knowledge, and skills. The core classes provide a firm foundation for performance improvement and all of its components. The electives are spread out over several different career paths allowing students to find their own concentration. I chose the WIDe (Workplace Instructional Design expert) certificate within my degree. This allowed me to delve deeply into strategies for building effective instructional design projects. I found the tools and theories extremely valuable and have kept all of the textbooks as references for future projects.
The students in these classes were from all over the world with a broad range of career backgrounds. This diversity really enriched the discussions, provided a great variety of viewpoints, and enhanced the learning in the classes.
I started the program with the goal of enhancing my instructional design skills, but the program taught me so much more. Training is a very small part of the overall performance in any organization. As a part of the curriculum, I worked with real clients to solve a broad spectrum of issues. These experiences brought the classroom instruction to life, taught me new skills that I can apply in my career, and provided me with a great portfolio.
Kwan, J.**, Clark, S.**, & Villachica, S.+ (2015). Bringing service standards to life. In J. E. Stefaniak (Ed.), Cases on human performance improvement technologies (pp. 154-181). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Clark, S.**, Collins, A.*, Kwan, J.**, & Sesnon, A.** (2012, August). Making Service Standards Real for Families in Need PerformanceXpress Newsletter, August, ’12 issue.
Clark, S.* (2010). Working from Home: One Team’s Story. PerformanceXpress Newsletter, June ’11 issue.
Kwan, J.*, & Clark, S. * (2011). Evaluating a Consulting Methodology Training Program. PerformanceXpress Newsletter, April ’11 issue.