Graduate students participate in real-world project
Three BU students pursuing Master of Science degrees in instructional technology: Zachary Hulayev, John Wardigo, and Francesca Fortunato, worked during the Spring 2021 semester with Curbell Plastics, Inc., one of the nation’s top suppliers of plastic sheet, rod, tube, tapes, and fabricated parts, to develop a learning module about performance plastics.
The partnership came about while Bloomsburg’s Department of Instructional Design and Technology graduate program was recruiting community partners to participate in a 12-week capstone project. The project was a real-world simulation where students were paired with a “client” to create an instructional design product.
“This project was part of the student's capstone course called Advanced Instructional Design, said Jessica Briskin, assistant professor in the Department of Instructional Design, Technology, and Leadership. Briskin, the faculty who mentored students through this course, said that “we partner with organizations to allow students real-world experience working in teams on authentic Instructional Design projects applying their developing skills to a real-world project. Students will produce a working educational material (i.e., training, eLearning modules, microlessons, etc.) for the client.”
The Curbell training and development (T&D) team worked with the students who interviewed and collected data from Curbell’s subject matter experts, created a storyboard concept, and developed a final product for use by both Curbell and the student’s portfolios. The final project was an eLearning module containing a series of videos with assessments that addressed the difference between single-use and performance plastics, discussed the importance of life cycle analysis, and shared information about Curbell’s commitment to sustainability.
The opportunity turned out to be a beneficial learning experience for both the students and the T&D team. While the students learned about Curbell as a company and the world of performance plastics, the T&D team learned about new design software, techniques, and how to work with an outside organization to create an end product that would still be representative of Curbell’s brand.
“Instructional designers put so much time, dedication, and effort into their creations, and one of the toughest parts of the job is receiving feedback,” shared Curbell Plastics’ associate director of training and development Jinny Kcehowski. “We talked a lot about the importance of understanding goals, objectives, requirements, and getting feedback all along the way to ensure that the final product meets expectations. It was an absolute pleasure to work with this team of students.”
The Bloomsburg University graduate students’ final capstone project was a fully animated, entertaining, and interactive eLearning module. “We especially loved the concept of Plastics Man,” said Kcehowski. “He’s a superhero whose mission is to inform the world about how important performance plastics are to our everyday lives.” The eLearning module features video lessons with original characters, staggered learning assessments and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete.