classroom with computers

Stacey Robinson: Teacher-Designer

Dec. 13, 2016
Robinson's past experience as a classroom teacher continues to have a huge impact on her current role as instructional designer at SOS Intl.

From classroom teacher to instructional designer, Stacey Robinson has learned to engage students through writing, web and graphics design, research, collaboration, project planning, and adult learning.  Her past experience as a classroom teacher continues to have a huge impact on her current role as instructional designer at SOS Intl.

“I like to refer to myself as a ‘teacher-designer’ because I’m able to transfer my skills as a classroom teacher into my current position as an ID,” Robinson said. “What was once my teaching strategy for students is now my adult learning and engagement approach.”

T&D World asked Robinson about her tricks for engagement in NERC Compliance training and how she got started in the power industry.

Q: How did you get into training and development?

For many years, I served as a Technology Teacher/Coordinator in both public and private schools. In 2011, I decided to enroll in the graduate certificate program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in an effort to add a computer education endorsement to my teaching licenses. Midway through the program, my advisor asked if I would be interested in obtaining a Masters degree in Instructional Systems Technology - Training and Development.

This was a new program for the university and they were actively recruiting students to enroll in the program who were interested in opportunities beyond the classroom. After I thoroughly researched the details of the program, I decided to give it a shot. There was no looking back after my decision.

Q: Best thing about your job right now?

The most important part of my job is my role as a Project Manager. Managing e-Learning projects is extremely important for successful e-Learning course design.  In addition to having the traditional elements that come with any ID project, such as those included in the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) model, it’s imperative to include project management fundamentals. These include defining and scoping projects, drafting project charters, schedules and budgets, and effective leadership. Well-designed training must also meet the goals and objectives of our customers’ schedules, budgets, and most importantly, their employees’ performance.

Q: What courses and content have you developed in the past, and what’s coming up?

In the past, I’ve developed courses that helped learners review and refresh standards set forth by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). Some of those courses include:

  • Operating Personnel Communication Protocols
  • NERC Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Cyber Security
  • Personnel Performance, Training, and Qualifications
  • Resource and Demand Balancing

At SOS, we’re flexible in that we design and develop what the clients need to help their employees’ performance. Sometimes those courses don’t necessarily pertain to NERC standards. Currently I’m working on developing a Transmission Fundamentals course that provides System Operators with an overview of transmission stations and switchyards, transformer principles, circuit breaker, and transmission line functions. In addition, I’m helping develop a Basic Electricity Fundamentals course that helps students, as well as non-operators, learn the basic principles of electricity.

Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your past experience as an instructional designer that you want to communicate to trainers, students or participants?

I think it’s important to communicate to other IDs and trainers that our design experiences should always be learner-centered and dynamic. It is extremely important to know how people learn.

Q: Why do you think your job as an instructional designer is important to the industry? How does it help the students and the utilities?

IDs are extremely important to any industry’s training efforts. IDs create effective and efficient learning experiences for students. No doubt, we live in a time when information is easily accessible. However, there are key differences among accessing information, understanding it, and implementing it to improve performance in the workplace. As an ID, I’m able to streamline and structure information for trainers to deliver so students can easily retain and incorporate it into their day-to-day tasks. I like to focus on the student experience during their training and how to make learning stimulating, memorable, and relevant. This all begins with developing interactive courses so learners will be engaged. In the real world, time is money. My goal is to make sure our clients understand that SOS’s training is a worthwhile investment.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?

During my spare time, I love to get creative with DIY projects and repurposing old furniture.I particularly enjoy going to yard sales and antiques malls searching for the perfect piece of old furniture I can bring back to life with just a little bit of imagination and elbow grease. I spend countless hours on Pinterest, blogs, watching the DIY Network channel, and perusing magazines for ideas and tips.

Although I see this as a complete escape from my day-to-day responsibilities as an ID, it’s also an extension of what I do as a Designer. For example, I use somewhat of a Systematic Approach when gathering materials for repurposing projects. I tend to conduct an initial analysis of what I would like the finished product to look like. Once the design details are determined, I select my materials and start the development process. This is where the excitement begins because I get to experiment and apply different techniques – just like I do when I’m developing a training course for students.

Q: Anything else you would like to add about your training/instructional design philosophy?

I believe it’s never too early to take risks. Instructional Design is a field where working under someone else’s creativity can be a bit suffocating at times. Do your own research and imagine yourself as the student. Your inner creativity can be a rewarding and inspiring journey to self-discovery and learning.

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