Instructional Designer

Autobiographical Statement

Career and Education

As a child, I never told anyone that I wanted to be an Instructional Designer when I grew up. I actually didn't know what an Instructional Designer was until I began working in Online Learning. My professional life began with a career in community banking. Throughout my time as an undergrad, I worked at a local bank as a teller and loan document preparer. I graduated from the University of North Georgia in May of 2007 with a Bachelors of Business Administration with a major in Finance.

I only worked in banking for a short time before realizing that I wanted to return to my alma mater as a professional. I began working as a recruitment officer in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions in the summer of 2007. I continued working in recruitment at UNG through 2013. In the fall of 2013, I accepted a position as the Associate Director of Admissions at Piedmont College - Athens. In this role, I was responsible for meeting the enrollment goals of Piedmont's Athens campus. I enjoyed this position immensely, but decided to return to the University of North Georgia due to the long commute to Athens from my home in Dahlonega.

When I returned to UNG, I joined the Division of Distance Education and Technology Integration (DETI) as an Online Student Success Advisor. In this role, I assisted students with all of their needs related to online courses. This could include anything from academic advisement for completely online students, assisting on-campus students with online course registration, online course preparedness, online tutoring and academic support, and often resolving issues between online students and professors.

I often encountered students who were experiencing issues within their online courses that could have been mitigated by improved course design and execution. Poor navigational setup, a lack of detailed instructions, or an inability to connect the assignments to 'real life' were some of the most common frustrations that I witnessed. While I enjoyed assisting students individually, I wished that I could also assist the instructors, as supporting thier efforts would have an exponential effect on student success. This realization is what led me to the field of instructional design.

The University of Georgia was the first place that I looked for a program in Instructional Design. I was so relieved to see that the Masters of Education in Learning, Design, and Technology - Instructional Design and Development was offered online, and I was so nervous that I wouldn't be accepted. I'm so thankful that I was able to join the program and also earn the eLearning Design Certificate. I began finding ways that I could apply what I was learning in the program to my work at UNG, such as deploying a Flipped Advising model for online students. I also used the skills that I learned to create an online orientation that was used at UNG in 2017 and 2018.

As my confidence as an Instructional Designer grew, I began searching for careers in the field in 2018. I was offered a position to join the University of Georgia's Office of Online Learning (OOL), and started in November of 2018. In the past year, I have designed courses in Geography, Fashion Merchandising, Marine Biology, and Veterinary Histology as part of OOL's Online Learning Fellow's Program. I am now working closely with UGA's Online Master's in Financial Planning. I am responsible for the revision of all MFP courses, including curriculum mapping, course structure, consistency and accessibility. I am so happy to be working on these courses as part of an overall program revision, and have enjoyed collaborating with the MFP Faculty.

As I continue to work in this field, I'm finding that I am particularly interested in practicing the most efficient design process possible. I'm currently employing a 'Design Sprint' approach with the courses that I'm working on that will launch in Spring 2020. This has been an effective model for the faculty I'm collaborating with, and they have provided feedback detailing how helpful it is to create the bones of the course in a quick 'sprint', while leaving time for other development to occur throughout the semester. In this approach, we focus for one week on outlining the courses' module roadmaps, major assignment instructions and rubrics. After the sprint week is complete, we spend time developing media, refining assessments, completing quality checks, etc. The sprint approach has helped support the rapid development of new courses and a speedy revision of existing courses.

Outside of the Office

When I'm not at work, I still love to be on campus! Whether I'm cheering on the 'Dawgs in Sanford Stadium or Stegman Colliseum, I can't seem to get enough of our Georgia Bulldogs.

Stephanie with a friend at a UGA football game

UGA v. Texas A&M

Sanford Stadium, Nov. 23, 2019

Dawgs on Top! 19-13

Stephanie with a friend at a UGA basketball game

UGA v. Western Carolina

Stegman Colliseum, Nov. 5, 2019

Dawgs on Top! 91-72

At Home

I moved to Athens in early 2019. I love living near campus, and I often walk home from concerts, football games, and restaurants. I previously lived in a very rural area, so this a new and different experience for me. I share a small cottage in a historic area with my three pets: a yellow lab named Lucy, a beagle-mix named Daisy, and my cat, Sony Meowchel.

Yellow lab Lucy

Lucy the Lab

Daisy the dog.

Daisy the Mutt

Sony the cat.

Sony Meowchel

Yes, Sony was named after legendary running back Sony Michel.

Stephanie riding Forest the horse.

Forest the Horse

Forest isn't mine. I would steal him, but he wouldn't fit in my rental.