Haley Crenshaw is a recent graduate from Concordia’s Educational Design and Technology online program. Haley’s desire to integrate more technology in education inspired her to gain the skills and knowledge to better serve her students in this way. In her final project on gamification, Haley focused on building higher engagement learning strategies in the classroom, and proved gamification can be used for more than entertainment purposes.

Why did you chose to earn your master’s in Educational Design & Technology?

I chose to earn a master’s in Educational Design and Technology because I wanted a degree that offered several options in terms of advancing my career. When the COVID pandemic hit in 2020, I was given the opportunity to teach online for a year. This opened my eyes to how valuable technology is to learning and development. The time spent rewriting and designing curriculum for the digital space was enjoyable to me. It was easy to see how the benefits of technology in education could make a difference in the virtual classroom.

What classes or experiences at Concordia had the biggest impact on you?

I really appreciated that this program allowed me to complete all of my classes online and at my own pace. While I was working towards my degree, I was also working two jobs and had a very tight schedule. This is a flexible program and the instructors regularly checked in to see how I was doing with my coursework.

I really enjoyed the Instructional Design course. It taught me the necessary steps to take in designing an effective learning experience with technology. Also, the Theories of Learning and Design course allowed me to reflect on my past design experiences and identify information-gaps when designing coursework.

What is your current position?

I have spent the last seven years in education, mostly teaching at the elementary level. Some of that time I taught second through third grade, but mostly I taught at the fourth grade level. Currently, I am teaching eighth grade literacy and global studies. I appreciate the experience I have gained through instructing a wide-range of student levels.

What do you believe are the current and future trends for using technology in education?

I believe technology is the future of education and that is why I pursued a degree in educational technology and design. In my career, I already see how technology is becoming a priority for classrooms with more schools investing in 1:1 technology ratios. Technology is making books so much more accessible to learners. My students often prefer reading books online or even enjoy listening to audiobooks; this is an especially helpful tool for reluctant readers.

I can also see augmented reality becoming more popular in schools. This will allow learners to take field trips to any place in the world without leaving their desks. Teachers are continuing to see the benefits of utilizing game-based learning and gamification for greater student engagement.

Please explain more about your capstone project on gamification

Gamification is the process of adding game-like elements into contexts that traditionally do not feature those elements. Game-based learning is different because it uses actual games to guide participants to progress towards a defined set of learning outcomes.  Gamification can be as simple or as complex as a facilitator would like it to be. And that customization is helpful for the different learning levels of students.

There is beginning to be more research that shows gamification boosts engagement within a learning experience. This technology is still a newer trend in education and so many educators are unaware of how gamification can support learning in their classrooms. For my capstone project, I worked to create an online course for educators to gain basic knowledge of gamification. It is a self-guided course and offers opportunities for educators to pick and choose learning modules, or units, that will benefit them most.

How did you select Concordia to earn your master’s?

I decided to schedule a meeting with an admissions counselor to learn more about the program and ask a few questions. My meeting with the admissions counselor had me sold, from the very beginning I felt welcomed and supported by the Concordia team. The support from admissions and faculty was clearly evident throughout my time in the program.

What are your professional goals for the next five years?

I see myself putting my degree to good use! I would like to dedicate time to understanding the K-8 education structure better so that I can align that knowledge with my expertise in educational technology. It would be rewarding to support my fellow educators by developing and sharing professional digital learning experiences, so they can be successful in the classroom.

Check out another graduate of the program to learn about his amazing experiences at Concordia.

Please share any fun information about yourself

I grew up not far from Concordia University in Brown Deer, Wisconsin. I have a large family that enjoys spending time together. When I am not with family, I am often at home relaxing or taking a game break on my Nintendo Switch. If you can’t find me there, I am likely out with friends in search of a great workout or a tasty brunch.