John Marc Green had a successful and well-traveled professional career in journalism before finding his way to the University of Alabama at Birmingham as a graduate student.
From his first job as a newspaper reporter in Washington state in the 1990s to turns at Alabama Public Radio in Tuscaloosa, WIAT-TV in Birmingham, and running his own media production business, Green says he experienced the highs and lows of investigating, reporting, interviewing, writing and videotaping the news.
But a story that appeared on UAB News about a new Instructional Design and Development Program to start in the School of Education in fall 2017 piqued Green’s curiosity. It led him to investigate a potential career change and resulted in a pivotal conversation with Jenelle Hodges, Ph.D., program manager.
“After doing some research on the field, I realized instructional design and development meshed very well with my current skills and interests, and with my background in journalism and video production,” Green said. “Speaking with Dr. Hodges confirmed for me that the work of instructional design would be a natural evolution of my career that would help me integrate and expand my capabilities and future options.”
Green’s career evolution begins anew April 27 when he graduates from UAB with his Master of Science degree in instructional design and development. He will enter a burgeoning job market in the field of learning and talent development, where the national average salary for instructional design specialists exceeds $60,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“John Marc is the definition of a lifelong learner, and he is prepared to engage and grow in the IDD industry in many ways,” Hodges said. “Our program has enabled him to work with multiple clients both virtually and in person through multiple class projects and a 240-hour internship. He also has been trained in designing and developing computer-based training modules and implemented instructor-led training. He is well-prepared and driven to succeed.”
Strong job prospects
UAB’s five-semester, fully online, 30-hour IDD program trains qualified instructional designers to effectively analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate quality online, blended and on-ground instruction.
“The program was a great fit because it is designed to be able to be completed 100 percent online, including the collaborative student teamwork and service-learning partnerships,” Green said. “This makes it possible to complete while working full time, all while remaining very adaptable to my schedule. Dr. Hodges was also able to include aspects for peer collaboration and discussion, so that we experienced the benefits of collegial partnership, offered as blended live/online meetings. This provided the peer support I found so helpful for actually completing the program and getting the most out of it, as well as networking for the future.”
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates job growth for instructional designers to increase by 13 percent within the next 10 years.
The local job market wants more instructional designers because they have the “know-how” to evaluate the learning needs of any particular audience, and then create the training manuals, curricula, software and e-learning experiences to meet the audience demands, Hodges says.
“Our graduates find employment in the military, business, health care, higher education, K-12 and many other industries,” Hodges said. “Wherever learning and training are happening, you will find instructional designers.”
Green says his experiences working with clients as a student in all aspects of the process of systematic instructional design, e-learning and instructor-led training have proved this to be true. As an additional plus, he has seen more and more IDD positions open up in the Birmingham metro area, the state and throughout the Southeast, with some national companies offering work-from-home possibilities.
“Many companies also outsource IDD work, and many smaller companies are open to short-term instruction design project proposals,” Green said. “I am very excited about these opportunities and the possibilities they can bring for the field.”
Legacy of education
Green grew up on a farm in the rural Georgia town of Rising Fawn, where his mother and grandparents were teachers. It took him a few years to find his way “from the newsroom to the classroom,” but Green says he is honored to be continuing his family’s legacy of education.
Green says he was grateful to be the sole recipient of the Outstanding Master’s Student in Instructional Design and Development from the UAB School of Education at the Honors Convocation last week. He initiated and served as the first president of UAB’s Instructional Design and Development Student Organization, and he also is currently the community outreach manager for the IDD program as a graduate assistant to Hodges.
Green will also be one of several co-authors of a chapter in a peer-reviewed book for English as a second language for ESL teachers, along with Josephine Prado, Ph.D., and Rebecca Oxford, Ph.D., both of the School of Education’s ESL master’s program.
It is experiences like these, Green says, that have helped to provide a solid, evidence-based foundation of adult learning theory combined with practical experiences that will be a competitive advantage in the learning and development industry.
In fact, he has also had the opportunity to build e-learning modules with leading authoring tools including Articulate Storyline and Camtasia. Green has developed job aids, built learning games and recorded podcasts, all as examples of the problem-based learning the UAB IDD program emphasizes. He also constructed an online virtual-reality learning experience and developed interactive “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style e-learning modules as part of his professional internship. Green says the capstone internship experience, as well as the process of preparation for the rigorous comprehensive examination by a panel of IDD faculty at the end of the program, ensures students are ready to enter the IDD field.
“My educational experience at UAB has been exceptional,” Green said. “I have been very happy with the level of support, communication and opportunities for involvement provided by the university and the School of Education. When I encountered challenges, I always found some satisfying resolution either online or in person, and many mentors at UAB have helped guide my progress and provide encouragement and support. Dr. Hodges has created an amazing program and been an incredible mentor. Her energy and enthusiasm, along with her practical and down-to-earth focus, have helped many of us navigate the waters of a very rigorous course of study and emerge ready to be leaders in our field.”
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