Introduction, or How did all Begin
Hello, my name is Yevgen and I want to share with you my previous professional background, so you can understand my passion for education and technology, and how I arrived at this point of my life: ready not only learn from others but also to share what I learned while navigating through the nets of distance education. Since you are reading this, you probably have some questions or are interested in some facet of distance education, or enhancing your knowledge with the help of different tools and technology or instructional design strategies.
When I was growing up, both of my parents were professors of mathematics/computer science in a traditional university in Ukraine. They fostered my love for education from a very young age, and I was exposed to university life on a regular basis. I completed high school with honors and before I came to Canada, I graduated with a Masters Degree in Computer Science and a Baccalaureate Degree in Economics from Chernivtsi National University. I also gained some experience in database programming for financial institutions prior to coming to Canada.
There is no need to describe desperation of new immigrants while they search for work and try to adjust to the new life in the new country with the new language. I believe my determination with a grain of luck helped me to land professional job at Athabasca University, Edmonton, AB, in January of 2003. That is when my story of distance education begins.
Distance Education and Technology - Journey to Today
The nature of work and its evolution through the years of my employment at Athabasca University defined and shaped my professional interests.
I started working at the Graduate Center for Applied Psychology (GCAP) in 2003. It was a new program, only a couple of years at that time. It involved collaboration between multiple institutions in Alberta and complex distribution of responsibilities. It was determined that this program would greatly benefit from a web-based student administration system and that became one of my main responsibilities for many years. The system became quite complex and included administration of the student records, student program planning with prerequisites management, grade book, Learning Management System (LMS) enrollment management, and included multiple web forms with different levels of approval tied to the system, as well as more than 20 reports to make administrators' and advisors' lives easier. To ensure the security, 'Login' was tied to the LMS login that also controlled access to internal pages of GCAP (Drupal) website. Multiple roles controlled access to the information and system's features. System was written using PHP for MySQL databases, and we named it CASIS: Campus Alberta Student Information System.
Any IT professional, including me, might say: "Writing the code is easy". Yes, when you have all requirements and are told what to do. For me, supporting and developing CASIS became more than that. Within a few years multiple enhancements were planned and I had to dive into learning about business analysis to ensure that the system was stable, had room for planned expansions or future possibilities, and satisfy all involved stakeholders. I believe that my analytical and interpersonal skills helped me successfully navigate through design of databases and systems, as well as through communication and negotiations with stakeholders. Three other major components have been added and integrated with CASIS system after that: Final Project Information Management System (FIMS), Practicum Information Management System (PIMS), and Graduate Student Admission System (GSAS). Needless to say I had to learn as much as I could about admission and administration processes, and the need of their automation. It helped me see the bigger picture of the program and later the university.
Athabasca University is Canada's Open University. Most of the courses are offered fully online and because CASIS was managing enrollments of students to course materials and LMS it was only matter of time when this part of distance education caught my interest and became an addition to my existing responsibilities. To help make courses in the program more interactive, interesting, and engaging, I decided to learn more about instructional design. Since then, I completed the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Instructional Design and later graduated with a Masters Degree in Education (major Distance Education) from Athabasca University. During that time, I continued supporting existing systems and worked on course production with faculty members of GCAP, which became part of the Faculty of Health Disciplines (FHD) after dissolving collaboration.
During my study numerous topics caught my attention and enhanced my understanding of online education:
Learning about program creation
Use of technology in education
This interest helped me to contribute in numerous initiatives within the faculty. I am proud to be part of the continuous education movement within the faculty and the University, be an active contributor in course development process enhancement and strategy, and share my instructional designer skills and knowledge of educational technologies and Moodle LMS with faculty and team members. I am also delighted to see how the interest and attention to competency-based learning positioned FHD ahead of other faculties within the University. I have been involved in piloting course development teams project within the Faculty and participated in many course revision projects to date. They involve course mapping, developing strategies for knowledge assessment and retention, as well as course production tasks, and post production evaluation.
In the past number of years my attention has shifted towards learning design and course production; and involves less and less technical (IT) tasks (as most of the "home grown" systems retired after faculty business integrated into the "big university picture"). I am also participating in the number of OER projects within the Faculty as well as designing new ways of presenting information to our learners.
I believe that my IT background, experience in designing systems, and interpersonal skills complement my new passion and interest in distance education and instructional design. I am always happy to share my knowledge with others, so if you have questions, collaboration ideas, or proposals please click on the 'Contact' menu button and let the knowledge sharing begin; or if you know me personally, you know I am just a click away and accessible by email or web-conferencing.