Xzandria Toombs was working in instructional design before she even knew it was a career path.
From 2016-2019, Toombs worked as an early childhood training specialist at Alabama Public Television (APT), putting her undergraduate degree in child development to work.
“I found myself doing some of the things an instructional designer would do, I just didn’t know the name,” Toombs recalled. “I spoke with my supervisor because I knew the work I was doing, work that wasn’t quite our normal routine.”
Toombs’ supervisor explained that Toombs was actually doing instructional design. So, after that conversation, Toombs started investigating. A career in instructional design was appealing, she says, because of the possibilities it opened up to her. Since instructional design is the process of developing effective, engaging learning experiences—especially in the digital space—it’s a growing career path that touches a seemingly limitless number of industries and fields.
“I started looking into instructional design and what instructional designers do,” she said. “What really interested me was that I could pretty much go anywhere with this career. I could be in education, in the healthcare field, in HR departments—really anywhere with an instructional design degree.”
Finding the career she wanted to pursue was exciting, Toombs says, but finding a program that fit her lifestyle and budget was a little less thrilling.
“I was working full-time, so I needed a program that was fully online,” Toombs recalled. “But the costs were ridiculous. I started browsing around for programs and colleges, and I found Trevecca.”
At Trevecca, Toombs finally found a fully online master’s program in instructional design that would allow her to reach her goals in a format that fit her lifestyle and her finances. Through the Master of Science in instructional design and technology program, Toombs honed the skills she needed to work in the field.
A 30-credit hour program, the master’s program is offered entirely online. Students hone the skills they need to become valuable assets to schools, universities, corporations, financial institutions, health care companies and more, gaining real-world experience through a capstone project that includes an internship with industry professionals.
A 2019 Trevecca graduate, Toombs now works as an instructional designer at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. She describes her job as helping instructors “to see what’s possible” when building online courses.
“My function is to structure online courses—even blended and hybrid courses—for instruction,” Toombs said. “I meet with different clients and make sure everything aligns from their course objectives to their instructional materials. We help to make the classes accessible for all students, so everyone is given a quality learning experience.”
LaMetrius Daniels, program director and director of online learning in Trevecca’s Center for Innovative Instruction, is excited to see her former student excelling in the workforce.
“Xzandria worked closely with me on designing and developing an online training module for the Tennessee School Boards Association,” Daniels said. “She put in the necessary work to complete the project correctly and on time. She is a problem-solver, innovative, creative, and made it easy to work with her during her time in the instructional design and technology program. I believe her exceptional abilities to adapt and ambitious attitude will take her far in a career as an instructional designer.”
For Toombs, her work is a way to express her creativity. While her daily schedule may vary—“juggling a storyline project, brainstorming ideas, getting back to a client”—she finds joy in helping faculty members create courses that accomplish their educational goals and provide a quality experience for students.
“When an instructor comes to our department with the syllabus and says, ‘I don’t know what to do,’ we can help them set up [the class],” Toombs said. “For instance, we helped an instructor and she saw the finished product today and said, ‘My students will really like that.’ That’s what it’s about—making it easier for students to navigate the information that they need.”
Eventually, Toombs says, she’d love to transition into the health care field, but until then, she’s focused on growing and developing in her profession.
“I definitely want to continue to learn more,” Toombs said. “I want to become a senior instructional designer. And I definitely want to get to a place where I can give back to others, like has been given to me. ”
To learn more about Trevecca’s master’s degree program in instructional design and technology, visit trevecca.edu/IDT.