We received an inspirational email over the Christmas holiday. It was from one of our master’s graduates, Amy Lomellini of New York, who could not attend commencement. In 2015, Amy became paralyzed with a neuromuscular disease, but she decided not to let it hold her back, so she began her first MET course right out of the hospital while mostly bed-bound and recovering. Who knew? She didn’t tell everyone or make excuses.
Amy is still in a wheelchair and fighting back. She couldn’t physically attend graduation in the spring, so she ordered the cap and gown and had her own ceremony in her living room. Ironically, she had been involved in disability education for several years before it affected her personally, but, as you can imagine, this ordeal opened a whole new perspective for her.
After graduation, Amy got a new job as an instructional designer. Here is her email.
Giving Thanks for What I’ve Learned and What the Future Holds
Amy Lomellini, MET ‘17
This holiday season I am thankful for the knowledge and skills that I gained in Boise State’s Master of Educational Technology. Now that I am working as an instructional designer, I can truly see how all the pieces of the puzzle come together in real-world scenarios. When faculty ask about online learning and teaching possibilities, I can confidently speak to both theory and application and have the resources, knowledge, and skills to tackle challenges head on.
One of the most beneficial aspects of the program was the encouragement to tie our course projects to our current practice. For example, in the Multimedia course I used my graphic design skills and multimedia theory to create training documents and screencasts for projects I needed for work. After taking Internet for Educators, I redesigned my department’s website and increased unique views by 250% in one year. These achievements led to a promotion within my university while I was still in the program. As a Digital Media Producer, I used my newfound coding knowledge and further research to conduct an accessibility evaluation of the university’s website that identified and resolved potential barriers. I recently have taken my coding skills even further to learn how to design accessible online content for learners of all abilities.
The MET program reinforced that instructional design was where I really wanted to be. Just a few short months after I graduated in May 2017, my dream job as an Instructional Designer at a local college became available. I decided to apply but didn’t know what to expect because I had only graduated recently. For the interview, I was told that I would be required to present a portfolio of my work. I actually breathed a sigh of relief – which I later learned was not the reaction of most candidates! I was relieved because I had spent the previous semester cultivating exactly what they were asking for – my MET EdTech portfolio. All of my hard work prepared me to give a confident presentation that my hiring committee still talks about to this day. My preparation paid off and I got the job as an Instructional Designer.
Now that I have been on the job for a few months, I can see many of the aspects from the MET coming together in my daily practice. When I meet with faculty to explore the possibilities of online and blended learning, I have theoretical foundations and adult learning theories to ground my recommendations. I love the challenge of designing across disciplines for diverse students and faculty. Each day brings something new as I work with faculty to turn passion for their field into a quality learning experience for students. I often draw on my experience as a student in the MET for examples of well-designed and facilitated online courses. It is exceedingly rewarding to change reluctant faculty’s minds about online learning by showing them the endless possibilities of educational technology.
In addition to consultations, I also teach online and in-person faculty development courses and workshops about accessibility, course design, academic integrity, multimedia, Quality Management, and more. For these workshops, I draw on skills learned from the Multimedia and Graphic Design courses in the MET to create engaging presentations, learning activities, and take-away materials. Teaching these courses and workshops allows me to put the various strategies and skills learned from across the curriculum of the MET program into direct practice.
FUTURE: Leading the Accessibility Charge
I see accessibility as an incredibly important, and often overlooked, facet of educational technology and instructional design. I am furthering my work by spreading awareness and implementation of accessible design strategies in various capacities throughout the college. I hope to explore more about accessibility in educational technology through research in the EdD program at Boise State in the future.