Saturday, July 14, 2012

eLearning Design Program Opens New Door

Even though Jill McNair had an MBA, she couldn’t find a job. After her husband’s art business collapsed during the recession, McNair applied to many companies to help support the family. 

“After months of fruitless searching, I decided to go back to school and update my skill set,” said McNair. “I also decided that I wanted to pursue a new field that would be interesting, rewarding and would be in high demand.”

She looked into programs in educational technology at a nearby state university but found it to be too expensive, even with financial aid assistance. She then came across Rio Salado College’s eLearning Design certificate program in a catalog, and it piqued her interest.

Rio’s flexibility and affordability would allow her to pursue an education in the growing field of educational technology. She was confident that her skills would be in high demand after graduation.

McNair said she decided to go for it, and supplement her income by starting a small childcare business in the home. "Within a month or so, I had received financial aid and was taking my first online class," she said.

Managing her time and finding a quiet study space were her biggest obstacles.

“I remember one day asking my husband and daughter to plan an outing during a time that I had to concentrate in order to finish an assignment,” said McNair. “I realized that it was not feasible to ask them go somewhere every time I needed to concentrate – I’m the one who should be going somewhere.”

McNair overcame these obstacles with the purchase of an inexpensive laptop and the creation of a study space in her bedroom. She also worked during the late night hours and while her daughter was asleep or at school.

The eLearning design program taught her instructional designing. She went from not having any knowledge in the area, to creating courses, modules and many other online learning tools.

Her two internship experiences made a huge impact, especially one in which she redesigned Rio Salado’s eLearning Design community. McNair completed the program this past May and is starting a freelance business. She is also continuing with one of her internships and building a portfolio.

Her advice to other students in the eLearning Design program? “Take a chance and contact the company you would like to intern for," McNair said. "This is a relatively small industry, so you might get a yes! I know for sure that the answer is ‘no’ if you don’t ask.”

By Patricia Oliverio-Lauderdale, PR Intern at Rio Salado College
Article published in the Tempe Republic July 14