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OPWL testimonial: Bonnie Spencer, class of 1998

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).

Bonnie Spencer
Bonnie Spencer

IPT grad visits Boise State campus for the first time

(written by Bob Evancho, originally published in the Boise State University Focus Magazine in 1998)

On the afternoon before she received her master of science degree from Boise State, Bonnie Spencer walked across the school’s rain-soaked campus, dodged puddles, and admired the Quad’s lush, green lawn and the blossoming dogwood trees alongside the Math/Geosciences Building.

But Spencer’s stroll wasn’t one last trip down memory lane before her college days ended. Despite her impending graduation from Boise State with a master’s degree in instructional and performance technology (IPT), the 49-year-old Las Vegas resident was visiting the campus for the first time. “This is a lovely campus,” Spencer commented as she walked past a flower garden near the Hemingway Center. “It’s a lot greener than I imagined.”

A Boise State graduate who has never been to Boise?

Thanks to the IPT program’s distance-learning option, first-time visitors/graduates are an annual occurrence at commencement. That’s because those students can earn their master’s via computer conferencing—a process that allows them to enroll in the program, “attend” class at their convenience, study anywhere they can take a laptop computer and complete the program without having set foot on campus.

Including Spencer, six of the 10 IPT graduates from the Class of ’98 were from out of state. Grads from Phoenix, Minneapolis and Fort Worth, Texas also traveled to Boise to participate in the May 16 commencement. In previous years, students from as far away as Asia and Europe have taken IPT classes through Boise State.

Administered by the Boise State College of Engineering, the IPT program is designed for professionals in fields such as instructional design, job performance improvement, and training.

For Spencer, a human resources manager for a U.S. Department of Energy contractor, IPT provided just the training she sought. “This program has been one of the most rewarding professional experiences I have ever had,” she said.

Spencer said the IPT program’s most beneficial aspect was its flexibility. “I could spend whatever time online on evenings and weekends and work around my job and other responsibilities,” she said.

And the burden to perform is on the student, she added, because with IPT’s projects and online discussions, the instructor will easily notice if someone is silent.

“With online courses, there is more of an impetus to contribute on a regular basis—much more than a regular classroom,” she said.