Canadian citizen and Ontario resident Terry Greene, 37, has visited the United States multiple times over the years but has never set foot in North Dakota. Even so, he earned his master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology (IDT) from the University of North Dakota.
“When I came across the UND IDT program page, I had a really strong ‘aha!’ moment,” Greene said. “I knew I liked making instructional stuff, as I always loved the creativity of lesson planning and things like that… I was pretty excited.”
The 100% online program enabled him to earn his education while living and working in Ontario. Instructional design has a growing presence in Canada, according to Greene, but not nearly as much as within the United States.
“I didn’t even know what I was looking for. I was teaching English as a Second Language at a college in Toronto, but the job was only by semester. I needed a master’s degree to get a permanent job, so I started looking.”
Greene earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, as well as a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) from George Brown College in Toronto.
“My undergraduate degree was in Elementary Education. To me, University of Alberta was really the only choice at the time as it was my only hometown option. U of A was a great college, but I finished the degree realizing I didn’t want to teach elementary school,” Greene remarked.
It wasn’t until five years later that he found UND’s program. Greene went from looking for a master’s degree as a way of securing a permanent ESL job, to finding a degree that was right for him and opened many more opportunities.
“I chose UND because it had the program I wanted and the flexible delivery that allowed me to earn it while I worked,” he said.
When asked about the experience of earning an online degree, Greene spoke fondly of the program.
“The live online experience is meant to mimic the in-school experience and the IDT program did a wonderful job at it,” Greene explained. “Not only because they know how to use the technology to make it happen, but they really focus on the human experience. They work on developing a learning community.”
Greene spoke highly of the program’s faculty and their level of inclusiveness for the online participants. Even though he hasn’t been to the state, he mentioned that he’d like to visit someday.
“UND has impacted my life for the better, and that’s an understatement. I feel like a part of the community, even though the closest I’ve come is Winnipeg, Manitoba. I’ve only seen my instructors on video screens, but they were the best teachers I’ve ever had and I cannot thank them enough for their efforts in teaching me Instructional Design.”
With regard to the use of online resources, Greene also had positive takeaways.
“The IDT use of Blackboard was great. Navigation is easy, things are readily available and your focus is on the course content. I’ve been in other environments where it’s not nearly as straightforward,” Greene said. “The most effective use of technology was the live classroom in Adobe Connect. The teachers made great use of it in order to mimic the in-person experience.”
Greene appreciated the real-world application of the coursework, stating his instructional programs from class made their way into the workplace regularly.
“I gained a skillset to succeed in my job and company. In the program, I focused on making instructional alternate reality games, which made the work challenging and fun.”
The idea behind alternate reality games (ARGs) is putting the players in the real world, rather than in front of a game console. During his research in the IDT program, Greene became attracted to the idea of using ARGs to teach the value of collective intelligence and problem-solving skills. He created an ARG for a Youth Gambling Awareness program which saw use across Ontario. Even though it’s been difficult to find those willing to implement the game, he is still pursuing the format as a means of education.
Having earned his master’s degree in IDT, Greene now works as a Learning Technology Specialist in the Learning Design and Support Team at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario. Greene said he couldn’t imagine ending up in a better place to live with his wife and two daughters.
UND Office of Extended Learning