Grad Story #38
Grad Story #38
Teaching & Learning, PhD
Specializing in Instructional Design & Technology
What is your hometown and what brought you to the University of North Dakota?
My hometown is Amman, the capital of Jordan, a city of 2.5 million and growing. My decision to come to the University of North Dakota was based on many factors. The first was that I wanted to concentrate on a university in the United States. The University of North Dakota has a very high rank in many majors, including aviation and engineering. To me, that meant that UND is a very respectable university and their education program would also be very good.
Secondly, they offered my major, Instructional Design and Technology. Then I compared tuition rates to other schools in the United States and found that the rate here is very fair and inexpensive.
Once I found out that Grand Forks is a very safe place to live, I told myself “Okay, this is the right place that I should apply and focus my attention on.” Once I arrived here, I realized that the people are very nice. Everybody is smiling and happy to say hello and talk and help.
What is the biggest adjustment that you have had to make in moving from Amman, Jordan to Grand Forks, North Dakota?
There are two main adjustments that I have had to make. First of all, improving my English language skills. I need to be able to deliver my ideas, my emotions and what I want to say effectively. Since I am a doctoral student the main thing that I have had to focus on is to develop my writing skills.
The second adjustment was the weather. In the summer, Jordan is around 100-120 degrees and the minimum in the winter is 35-40 Fahrenheit. It is possible to receive two or three inches of snow during the year in Amman. It was very nice when I arrived in Grand Forks in August, but the weather can change very rapidly, from 80 degrees to minus two or minus five in a short amount of time.
You are a Graduate Research Assistant with the College of Education and Human Development, what research projects are you currently involved in?
I’m working on a collaboration called The STEM Project which is federally funded. This project calls for the comprehension of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We are currently helping the students of the Grand Forks schools to develop their way of learning those subjects. The main project helps students design and construct a house that is completely sustainable. The house generates its own electricity and grows its own food. Students have to observe and measure the sunlight and convert it to electricity. Once they have the electricity, they calculate how much energy they will need to use. Essentially, they need to use all of the content that they will learn in science, technology, mathematics, to be able to construct the house.
What can you do with a degree in IDT?
There are two possible career opportunities. The first opportunity is to be a university professor, teaching courses in Instructional Design.
The other possibility, what I'm looking at right now, is to be a specialist in instructional design and technology. The specialist approach is much broader than the first goal because all the companies, all the universities, all the banks need an instructional designer. Amazon, Motorola, Adobe, and other companies, they need instructional designers to develop training courses for their staff as well as consumers to train them how to use their products.
Do you feel that there is a strong international student community on campus?
Yes, strong and cohesive international community here.
The UND Office of International Programs organizes many activities to help international students engage in their own communities and the larger UND community. One of the events that they host is called cultural night, it takes place on Thursday nights at 6:30 at the Loading Dock at the Memorial Union.
All students from all nations are invited to come to the cultural nights. The host students from, for example, India, China, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Norway, they cook their traditional food and present in traditional clothes.
The Office of International Programs also helps new international students adjust to campus life and life in the United States. I thought that I was going to have to discover all of this on my own but I had a peer mentor, an international student that assists new international students adjust. He picked me up at the airport, gave me rides to where I needed to go and helped me open a bank account. I never imagined the help that I received.
What is your best advice for a graduate student who is looking to obtain a degree in Instructional Design and Technology?
Research and conducting studies are very important. I plan to conduct one study every year, to be updated with new updates or a new information. The information and the knowledge grow day after day, so this is one of the reasons that I encourage students, after they finish their degree, not to stop doing research, continue. Even one study per year, this is the minimum.