This past July, WISER welcomed Christa Brown as our Director of Educational Development. Now that she has had a few months to become acclimated to life at WISER, we thought it would be a good time to sit down and check-in with her on her experience so far.
“Having been at WISER for a couple of months, what are you enjoying most about the position? What has been the most exciting/interesting things?”
I really enjoy the variety of tasks that come with my role at WISER. In a single morning, I may meet with a course director to redesign a scenario assessment plan, collaborate on a video project, and use new tools to create online course content. One day is never the same as the next and I like that. My days fly by.
One of the most interesting things I have observed was a hospital mock code and all that the staff and simulation specialists must do to ensure this event proceeds as planned.
“For those who have not had a chance to work with you yet, would you tell us a bit about your past experiences with training and instructional design.”
Early in my career when I was teaching Mathematics in Middle school, I began training teachers on curriculum design and how best to incorporate technology for learning. After earning my master’s degree in Instructional Technology, I was able to launch my career as an Instructional Designer, where I designed and developed corporate training.
I worked as a training consultant for an international organization. Next, I created and led a team of instructional designers for an online learning organization. And, just prior to joining WISER, I facilitated staff and leadership development training sessions for Learning and Development at UPMC.
“Could you tell us a bit about your process when creating curriculum?”
I rely on the ADDIE Model of Instructional Design as my base for creating curriculum. As an iterative design model, it works – Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation. As fun as the design and development phases are, it’s the Evaluation phase that cannot be neglected, as it can result in the need for important edit.
Additionally, and especially now during the pandemic, I find it vital to consider the learner experience in course design. What and how the learners experience the curriculum impacts the level of success. We must ask: “What modalities can be used to help the learner engage with the content?” & “Is there a way to build community among the learners?”
“Would you be able to describe your approach to collaboration on projects and/or curriculum development?”
One thing I love about my role at WISER is the opportunity to collaborate on curriculum projects. For example, Course Directors come to WISER with a goal in mind, and together we create distinct learning objectives that guide the learning event and assessments. I have benefited from the expertise of each member of WISER who never hesitate to answer my questions in a friendly manner.
“While web-based learning existed prior to recent pandemic, it is now all the more important to utilize when appropriate – could you tell us a bit about your experience and thoughts regarding web-based curriculum?”
I bring with me 10+ years of online learning development to WISER. That includes experience with a number of learning management and course authoring platforms. It’s fun to learn new tools of the trade, but we have to remember to not let the tool drive or limit the learning we are designing.
“Finally, you’ve worked all over the States (and world), could you share a bit about the places you’ve experienced.”
I love to travel and to learn about other cultures in both the US and around the world. I fell in love with San Francisco on my first visit there and moved there to teach in the Bay Area and go to graduate school. It wasn’t just the city I loved, but the Sierra Nevada mountains also attracted me for hiking, camping, and climbing.
From there I hopped across the ocean to live and work in Singapore, where I led middle school math curriculum development at the United World College of South East Asia. Living there afforded me the opportunity to explore many Asian countries. Some of my all-time favorite dishes are from Thailand and Bali.
Following that experience, my home base for more than 10 years was Charleston, South Carolina.
And then, my family and I decided to go abroad again and spent some time living and working in Kathmandu, Nepal.
We moved to Pittsburgh for the universities and the performing arts scene (and its proximity to my hometown of Cumberland, MD is a nice perk, too).