Alison Thompson, an instructional designer for the Office of Professional Program Support, began her career in higher education after starting at a local community college in the Chicago area. Here, Thompson began assisting faculty in course design and quickly found that instructional design allowed her to combine her interests in teaching, design and technology to help create powerful learning experiences for students. Thompson followed this passion to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2017, where she has been designing courses ever since.
“I was drawn to UW-Platteville because of the wonderful reputation of their online programs,” said Thompson. “I was very impressed with the comprehensive course design process that was in place and the commitment to quality in online courses.”
In addition to her regular responsibilities, Thompson teaches her own online classes in communication, utilizing the very platforms she helps build.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
Every day is different! I usually spend much of my time meeting and talking with faculty about the great things they are currently doing in their classes. Faculty have a wealth of experience and knowledge, and I learn so much from each of the faculty members that I have the privilege of working with. Faculty members are committed to their students and helping students succeed and I am proud that I get to support that mission and effort.
As an instructional designer, you have several responsibilities, including meeting with instructors, course planning, and designing the actual courses. What is the biggest challenge of working with so many different materials?
One of the challenges in this position is the working with a large variety of course topics. On any given day I am having conversations about engineering courses, writing courses and math courses. It is extremely important to stay organized and there are so many virtual work tools that make communicating more efficient and effective.
Given the technologically-based nature of your responsibilities, has the process of your work changed at all since you began your position at UW-Platteville? If so, what has been the biggest change?
COVID has changed how and where work is being done, but I also think it has caused a bit of necessary disruption in the higher education space. Faculty members have been forced to utilize new and different technologies in the classroom which has been a catalyst for their desire to learn more. Because of this, instructional designers are in high demand and many more people now understand the scope and importance of the position.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Faculty have wonderful ideas and creative ways to engage students in the classroom. I love taking those strategies and converting them into an electronic format so that students can have similar experiences even though they are taking classes at a distance.
What are your interests outside of work?
My husband and I are the proud parents of three daughters – ages 12, 9, and 5. With all the activities the girls are in, I don’t have much time for hobbies, but when I do have free time, I enjoy biking, hiking and reading.