- Elizabeth Roper Tun Zan
When Elizabeth Roper Tun Zan started taking Instructional Design and Delivery courses at UCSC Extension, she says she felt like Rip Van Winkle being awakened after a long sleep. After pursuing an undergraduate degree and M.B.A. in economics, and working in industry for 15 years, Tun Zan left the job market to raise three children. She was hungry to explore her career options, and after reviewing Extension’s course catalog, she selected ten classes that appealed to her. Within a few courses, she was hooked, and it was only then that she realized that the certificate in Instructional Design and Delivery was in sight.
How did you feel when you first started taking classes?
When I started, I was taking “Organizational Change, Introduction,” and I felt like I had been asleep for a hundred years. When I finished business school, we didn’t have cell phones; we didn’t have email; we didn’t use the Internet. Back in school, I felt like I had woken up in a different land. I needed this experience to get back into reality. Being at UCSC Extension gives you a real opportunity to update your skills in present-time. Silicon Valley is a very technological, multinational, collaborative, fast-paced community. I started taking courses in an effort to get my confidence up—and I did. What I didn’t expect was to learn so much from the program. I learned how to work online, work on group projects, give presentations, and be involved in an online community.
What is the appeal of instructional design?
One thing about Extension’s program that I love is that it opened up lots of questions for me. I wasn’t a professional instructional designer, trainer or teacher, so when I started taking courses, my instructor asked me, what kind of work do you want to do? He said that there are many different roles I could take on—I could design a class, I could be the project manager for a series of classes, I could play multiple roles. When you complete the certificate, it doesn’t pinpoint you to one particular area; it opens a lot of other doors and possibilities.
What was your experience with the Instructional Design Practicum?
When I took “Facilitation Skills,” I practiced for my practicum; the same thing for “Learning Theories and Styles” and all of my Instructional Design classes. I was focused on one idea. One of my passions for the last 12 years has been teaching meditation classes, which I do in my community. In our practicum course, we were told to pick a scenario from work, and I decided to use my meditation business. Instead of working directly with an employer, I did a needs assessment of a large healthcare provider that offers health and wellness classes. I noticed that although they provided more than 100 mindfulness classes on site, they didn’t have any online versions. When you are an instructional designer, you have to look at the client and assess their needs, and how you can take your toolset to help them meet their objectives. It was an aha moment.
What advice do you have for professionals interested in instructional design?
It’s definitely worth taking a few classes to see if it’s a fit for you. I have to say what I learned in the program is much bigger than instructional design. I learned how to create effective presentations, communicate what you want to say visually, how to work well with teams, how to understand learning theories and the way your coworkers and clients learn, and how to adapt your presentation and communication skills based on your learning skills. These are life skills that everybody needs, and that’s what I picked these courses.
Tun Zan completed her certificate in late 2014 and is currently developing her online meditation classes.
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