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Apr 17, 2020 | EdD, Education, News

Creating virtual open house gives doctoral student valuable experience

Shawn Harrel

As we established last April, Shawn Harrel, EdD Class of 2021, likes to stay busy. That trait was illustrated when he began his first directed field experience, an integral part of the EdD in Instructional Design and Performance Technology program. EdD in IDPT students are required to complete two DFEs that consist of at least 60 hours assisting in significant leadership responsibilities under the supervision of a Baker University supervisor and a field mentor at the hosting organization or institution.

Harrel’s first DFE began taking shape last November, when Dr. Regena Aye, assistant professor, approached him about working on a DFE related to a virtual open house for Baker’s School of Education and School of Professional and Graduate Studies. Harrel had completed several audio/visual projects for previous IDPT courses, so she knew he had the technical skills needed for the project.

“The idea was to invite prospective students to an online open house platform,” Harrel said. “The event would include group and private chat sessions using videoconferencing, as well as video and other informational content about the degree options at Baker. My role would include creating the open house platform as well as additional tools or resources needed.”

Because the event was the first of its kind at Baker, Harrel had a lot of flexibility in how to proceed.

“I leaned heavily on my experience in audio/video production to create interactive videos for enrollment and financial aid,” he said, “as well as a brief animated video inviting prospective students to register for the open house.”

Harrel’s mentor for his DFE was Linda Heinen, director of graduate education enrollment for the School of Education.

“Working with Linda was a great experience because I felt like I was part of the enrollment team,” Harrel said. “While I handled the video content, she coordinated all of the stakeholders—many Baker professors and staff that would be involved in the virtual open house. After reviewing my proposal, she made improvements that shaped the event into a better experience for prospective students.”

As the DFE project progressed, the unexpected turn of events with COVID-19 meant that Harrel was busier than ever. In addition to his doctoral work, he also had to coordinate online learning for the digital media technology course he teaches at Summit Technology Academy.

On the day of the event, Harrel was in constant communication with Heinen, who declared Baker’s first virtual open house a success and attributed much of that success to Harrel.

“Shawn worked incredibly hard to make this event happen,” she said. “I think this DFE will benefit him going forward.”

Harrel found that he was able to apply what he was learning in his courses to his work on his DFE.

“In several previous classes, we had to create mock project proposals for various instructional-design-related work,” Harrel said. “These included a proposal for NATO to incorporate microlearning as well as a complete training proposal for a wedding planning company, to name just a couple. This is exactly how the DFE experience started.”

Harrel also used his video production experience when putting the project together.

“I happen to bring a lot of experience in video production, so I made it a point to use my experience in that realm for the DFE,” he said. “I recorded two videos, one for financial aid and one for enrollment, and created a short explainer video. In each case, working with Baker staff was a great experience. I was able to use their expertise in the subject in much the same way we’ve learned in so many IDPT courses.”

Harrel’s hard work has already paid off. He applied for, and received, an adjunct teaching position at Lindenwood University, highlighting his DFE experience on his application.

Going forward, Harrel hopes to continue to learn from his fellow students, who all bring a variety of skills to the program. Harrel says his cohort members work in fields such as elementary education, the military, and higher education instruction and administration. Each brings diverse skills, which allows students to learn from each other.

“[This] degree has a broad scope, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that each person in my cohort had a wealth of unique experiences that are applicable to instructional design, but no two of us are the same,” he said. “The beauty of the program is that we can all bring our prior experiences and strengths and apply them in countless ways.”

Harrel is thankful for the experience his first DFE provided him.

“The DFE with Baker proved to be a real-world learning opportunity, which is exactly the point of a DFE,” Harrel said. “Interacting and engaging with subject matter experts, communicating with the marketing department to craft the precise message for prospective students, and being a member of the enrollment team throughout the process are all part of the experience that I will draw on as my career progresses.”

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