Tell us how did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?

Purnima Krishnamurthy was considering a shift in careers in the mid-2000s when she came across a UCSC Extension brochure at her local library. Her professional background was in accounting and IT, and though she had experience in instructional design, Krishnamurthy wanted to find a program where she could obtain an accredited certificate. UCSC Extension’s certificate in Instructional Design and Delivery was the perfect fit.

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“I wanted a formal education in the domain; I didn’t have a degree in instructional design but had lots of experience in it,” she says. “I had been out of the industry for a few years because I wanted to spend time with my family and see my kids grow. The third reason I wanted to get formal training was for the opportunity to network and meet people in my field. I could have read hundreds of research papers on my own, but the opportunity to connect with others was a big plus.”

What were the courses taught?

Krishnamurthy was impressed both by the practicality of the course work and the caliber of her instructors. Courses such as Business Communication Across Cultures (now called Cultural Proficiency) and Facilitation Skills stood out to her as offering skills that were translatable across disciplines.

“The Business Communication Across Cultures course was especially relevant. Every company today is global; culture is a very relative word. Every company has a culture, every team as a culture; [learning] that gave me a big perspective. What works for one might not work for another.”

She was also pleased to see how the IDD program reflected the field’s shifting focus into online learning.

“The course on online theories and online training [reflected] the direction that a significant part of our content is moving. That course gave me the fundamentals to understand what I do today.”

Krishnamurthy recommends that up-and-coming instructional designers familiarize themselves with the basic theoretical fundamentals of the field.

“[Newcomers should] get an understanding of the learning theories and the fundamentals [of] this industry. The program assembled [at UCSC Extension] is great for this – [it offers the] instructional design theories that are the building blocks of domain knowledge. The whole program is so cohesive and so practical. It is my bread and butter. I use the principles and theories that I learned here every day at my job.”

How was the experience at UCSC (University of California, Santa Cruz)?

She describes her teachers as leaders in their field who go above and beyond to provide support for their students.

“They are some of the best in the industry for what I’ve seen to date. They bring such a strong foundation to the course, in terms of the knowledge and broad industry experience that both of them have. I graduated from the program and their support is something I can still reach out for. They are helpful in so many ways beyond their domain knowledge.”

Krishnamurthy is proof that students can create lasting professional relationships with the mentors they find at UCSC Extension. She leads a team that develops data curriculums and communication strategy for data products.