Prior to 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).
Director of Institutional Effectiveness at Utah Valley University
In 1996, I was an active duty Coast Guard officer and had just been assigned as the Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Institute in Oklahoma City (the Institute is the Coast Guard’s distance learning center). Knowing that I would be retiring from service in the near future, I decided it would be good to update my skills for use while still in the Coast Guard but also to prepare myself for a second career. I decided that a distance learning program would be more appropriate for two reasons: (1) there was no local program that would have worked for me; and (2) I did not know when I might get transferred again. To my delight I found the IPT program at Boise State which was exactly the program I wanted and I could do it online. It was the only program I saw that had this particular focus and it also allowed me the option of taking some management-related IPT courses since that was more applicable to my career situation. I was transferred within two years of starting the program to a position as Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Training Center in Petaluma, Ca. Thankfully, with being able to do it online, I was able to continue my studies and eventually complete the degree. This would not have been possible without the distance option for the IPT program.
I was very impressed with the quality of the program. There was a strong emphasis in participation and active learning and that made a real difference for me. I remember taking the first introductory course with other new students and we had lots of side discussions about this mode of teaching/learning. We all found it to be very enjoyable and of high quality. An added benefit was the ability to interact with classmates from various types of organizations and locations around the country (and internationally). That made the experience much more rich for me. It was great fun to attend ISPI conferences and meet faculty, staff, and fellow students who I had previously only known online! I felt a definite sense of community in the IPT program that was actually stronger in many ways than in conventional programs I have attended.
The degree has helped me in several ways. First of all, the Coast Guard is a big proponent of performance technology. As Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard’s west coast training center my degree gave me the background I needed as well as the credibility to make decisions regarding training and performance improvement initiatives. In addition, my online learning experience through Boise State was so positive that I became a big supporter of expanding our distance learning programs.
After retiring from the Coast Guard, my IPT degree helped me get a job as Dean of Business, Computing, Math, and Science at Spokane Falls Community College. I served there as dean for five years. While there, I had a special interest in helping out with our college-wide continuous improvement efforts. I was key in helping the leadership team and campus design a system for assessing our performance and tying that to improvement efforts. We went from a “recommendation” on an accreditation report to a “commendation” on a follow-up-focused visit.
Given a strong background and interest in this area I accepted a position last July as Director of Institutional Effectiveness at Utah Valley University. In my short time here I have been involved in a number of projects for which my IPT degree has helped prepare me. I am currently working on helping to design a training program for academic advisors. I have work with faculty on program assessment and also serve on several leadership committees at the strategic planning and campus-wide levels.
I am grateful for my IPT degree and that I had the opportunity to obtain it through distance learning.