ABINGTON, Pa. — Blended learning, virtual reality and active learning spaces are just a few examples of how technology has impacted teaching and learning. Instructional designers such as Penn State Abington’s Lindsay Wood are the professionals who unlock the potential of new and emerging technology to improve the learning experience.
“Professors are experts in their content areas, and my job is to help them stay updated on innovations in teaching and learning,” Wood, manager of instructional design, said. “Faculty need support in the classroom to create dynamic lessons and learning experiences and weave it into their teaching.
“I develop strategies to integrate technology into classrooms and learning environments, coordinate projects related to learning technologies, and develop and create learning resources as a part of designing courses,” she continued.
Wood, who started in her position at Abington on July 1, works either with individual faculty designing and updating courses, or with entire departments to improve student outcomes in challenging subject areas.
“Using the tools in the learning management system, we can get into the weeds with data and find out why students might be struggling with a particular topic," she said. "And then the next step is, how can we address it?”
Wood also consults with the information technology staff on active learning spaces, which are classrooms with advanced technology, multiple displays and flexible furniture arrangements.
“They [the IT staff] transform the spaces and install new technology, and I come in and model how to leverage that technology, how to incorporate it into lessons on a day-to-day basis, how to use flex seating to get students to work effectively in groups,” she said. “My role is meaningful integration of technology with instruction.”
“My role is meaningful integration of technology with instruction.”
— Lindsay Wood, manager of instructional design, Penn State Abington
Wood’s first job after earning her elementary education degree from the University of Central Florida was teaching reading and writing to at-risk middle and high school students. Later, she joined a school-district team tasked with making headway on meeting its adequate yearly progress goals.
“Through this experience, I developed a love for designing instruction,” she said. “It makes a high impact on students and engages them in learning. I went back for my master’s in instructional systems so I could optimize the way students learn.”
A subsequent position working with online graduate school programs sparked an enduring interest in higher education.
“We helped design the graduate programs from the ground up and made them immersive and engaging,” she said.
Wood's passion for the transformative education that Abington offers stems from that fact that she, like more than 40 percent of Abington students, is the first in her family to go to college.
“My parents immigrated from Cuba. Education gave me the opportunity to lift up my entire family to something better. I’m passionate about good instruction because I’ve seen the power of education to lift up entire families,” she said. “There is such a diverse student body at Abington, and they are looking for same thing: how a degree can change the trajectory of your life.”
About Penn State Abington
Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With nearly 4,000 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 21 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics and more.