The following is the transcript for the interview between Justin Plevinski and Jeremy Bond, DET which took place on February 11th, 2019. Dr. Bond graduate from the Doctor in Educational Technology (DET) from Central Michigan University in December 2018. In this interview he reflects upon his experience with the DET program. Note: some statements in the trascript have been changed slightly for readability.
JP – Justin Plevinski
BOND – Jeremy Bond, Doctor of Educational Technology
JP: What is your occupation?
BOND: Right now, I’m interim director of e-learning for Central Michigan University (CMU). Which basically means that I still, officially, have my former position as the manager of LMS (Learning Management System) instructional support.
JP: What is your educational and professional background?
BOND: I worked for the last 20 years in staff positions at CMU. Most of that time was focused on either the development or support of online and distance learning. Over time, as the same systems were used more often by a lot of campus faculty, my role grew across the institution as did that of my teams. I’ve also been involved with have included adjunct instruction. I taught for 16 years at a community college and I’ve taught as an adjunct at CMU’s College of Education Human Services since about 2012. I also had a real estate license for a number of years. I did some technology consulting for a long time. And also, before I ever started teaching in for credit settings, I taught in adult ed enrichment programs. Lots of education-centric professional experiences.
Educationally I started out a traditional undergrad in the 90’s. I found it taking 4, 5, and 6 classes at once really wasn’t my thing. My transcript is a train-wreck in some respects. I stopped out a couple of times. Ultimately it took almost 11 years for me to wrap=up my bachelor’s degree. Then I earned an MA from CMU in about 18 months, I went through the program really pretty quickly. Then I took a couple of years off and then started the doctorate in the fall of 2015.
JP: Very interesting. What led you to enroll in the DET program?
BOND: I had honestly been waiting for it to s tart since I finished the MA. When I was a grad student in the MA program the program director at the time had alluded to the potential of he and his colleagues creating an add-on, a doctoral program, meant to pick up essentially where the master’s program left-off. Those things take time and I had made a deal with myself, so to speak, that if, in fact, they ever pulled a Doctor of Educational Technology program together, and that I was still in a position to get through it in time, I would give it a go. I talked quite a bit to other faculty and I considered doing a PhD or an EdD, which I wasn’t necessarily opposed to. Those are great programs, I have friends and colleagues, who have been through both. But I really was waiting for the DET. What drew me to it was the positive experience that I had with the same core of faculty going through the MA. I knew that I could potentially have another good experience and come out the other side of it as a doctor. So it was an easy choice.
JP: Did you just graduate in 2018.
BOND: I did, I was a December 2018 grad. I was the second person in our cohort across the finish line. There were seven of us that walked in December. But one of us was technically an August grad. She was out in front by head and shoulder easily above the rest of us. But then I was the second person to defend my dissertation. I like that. Now being second place was pretty good.
JP: What was your experience as you went through the DET program?
BOND: It mostly was very positive. I’ve randomly met others who’ve wanted to talk about what I thought about it. I have a lot of great things to say. I don’t think I was an especially well-prepared doctoral student early on. That’s me, that’s certainly not on anybody in the program. In fact, I use that as a platform to say, that once I made some of my short-comings or insecurities known to my advisor, to some of my other faculty, they were phenomenally supportive and transparent in saying, “have you thought about this? And are you doing that? Have you ever been shown how to read a journal article?”
And so some of the things that I guess could be described as modest struggles fairly early on were reconcilable. In the program, one of my earliest memory was from the first class and getting a paper back and the feedback the professor offered me, in terms of word count, was longer than my paper. It felt like a gut punch at first. But with talking about it with classmates, they had gotten similarly detailed feedback. I started to see it as not as an affront but as an investment. One of my closer friends in my cohort pointed out that you are in this to become something you are not. This is the feedback that we want, it can’t just all be affirmation.
My experience was complex but wonderful. I really came out at the end of the 3 years with a different orientation toward constant improvement, and a different orientation toward receiving constructive critical feedback. I had some new and some improved skills. I even had friends who had gone through other programs in years prior. One in particular went through MSU’s (Michigan State University) program. She was half teasing me and half complimenting me. The crux of her comment was, “you really sound educated now!” And I said, “Well thank you!” I overlooked the fact that I must have sounded like an idiot in the past. She didn’t mean it that way of course. But it changes you. Studying you at that level changes you. If it doesn’t change you, then I would either say that you’ve chosen the wrong program, or you are not doing it right. It changes you for the better.
JP: Let’s talk about your dissertation a little bit. Can you tell me what your dissertation was about and why you came to choosing that particular topic?
BOND: Absolutely, and I was one of the wild ones, I guess you could say, because we were encouraged to fashion our practicum subject matter into our dissertation. And so my classmates did that, that was sort of the plan A route. I did not, I basically abandoned my practicum, I felt like I had done all I could do with subject that I originally focused on. And I went back to a topic that I had poked around the edges of throughout the program. And basically, I studied the field of instructional design through a practitioners’ lens. And it was survey-based research. Ultimately, I had almost 250 subject response, all of whom were either instructional design or supervising instructional designers or working at least part of the time as an instructional designer. And I asked them a number of things- kept the survey instrument reasonably concise, but, I had some branching scenarios built-in. I asked them about their education background, I collected their gender, years of experience in the field- probed into the areas, of the models, the theoretical frameworks they felt grounded or supported their own work. I went pretty far into the realm of leadership, whether they, in two specific areas I supposed. Were they as respondents, being pulled in other directions. It’s pretty rare to find an instructional designer, frankly, who is only doing instructional design. Usually they are doing some media development, or supervision, or coding, or tech support, or all of those things and other things. But most of them position in some sort of supervisory capacity too. So I think you wanted to know how I ended up on that topic. I started this program in August of 2015 and in the spring of 2016 is when I accepted the interim promotion, the role I am in now, that I mentioned at the beginning of our interview. And part of that job was assuming supervision of a small team of instructional designers. And the team was, they’re brilliant people, the team is all still in place. Wonderful people, they were struggling with the volume of work, with just the nature of things, what was being asked of them, with no new resources. So I developed a pretty, I think, organic, curiosity about their work and the way it was coming in. This was kind of an interesting nuance with respect to my dissertation.
Katherin Dirkin, my chair and advisor, she was crystal clear that I needed to be very careful because this project was not about my work. So, if you feel a disconnect everything that I’ve shared up to this point and that situation, kind of inheriting this IB team, this is deliberate. I had to filter out and set aside all my emotion and preconceived notions of things and focus on the research. There was definitely this task, this kind of connection back to my real-life work. Which, you know, frankly, to jump a question, experience of the DET is a focus on becoming a real researcher, but also in a way that’s practical, pragmatic, if we can tie it back to our real work definitely ask that in terms of the program.
JP: After you’ve completed your dissertation, has studying it had any direct impact on your professional life? I know you just mentioned there was a purposeful disconnect between the two, but, when you go full-circle was there something that, I guess, came to fruition from that dissertation, that, positively affected your professional life?
BOND: I suppose that there were some finding that affirmed some things that I had done with the team here. This wasn’t just me, a lot of what I did informed by the work of the committee that I had been part of the year prior. In part was looking CMU’s strategies, let’s say, as they related to creating more online courses and programs and so I implemented a lot of things with the teams long before my project that involved deliberately stripping away functions that were in their way. That had nothing to do with instructional design. Finding other more suitable homes for some of those functions. And that really their capacity in terms of performing instructional design were increased notably. Turnaround times improved and so finding, in my research, that so many instructional designers really are bogged down doing maybe a dozen other things in addition to their work as designer in some cases. I think the top respondent was that they had 11 other areas of duty which is just mind boggling.
If you take a job as an electrician to do general carpentry, plumbing, you know, billing, receiving, you know all these things start to creep in, then how much electrical work are you really doing these days. You say, “about an hour a week” that’s an oops operationally. There were some affirmations, I think, in the data. Some of this, I think, might bleed into your next question if I understood it correctly. Some of the findings offer, at least, insight, into how the individuals on the team found their way into the field because its not an area, like, if you are going to be a medical doctor, then you’ve gone through a medical doctor program, you have an M.D. right? That’s not true of instructional designer, universally, there is not a standard education. increasingly, the standard is becoming an MA in instructional tech or instructional design. There isn’t a licensure, there isn’t a board that declares you an instructional designer. That made the groups background make a bit more sense to me, I think. There were other things, but those are probably the major take-aways and connections.
JP: After completing your dissertation, have you had any publications, or any presentations professionally based on the dissertation work? Or any interest outside of just the dissertation?
BOND: It’s been a funny journey, Justin, because I was one of the cohort members who was pretty anti- in terms of publishing and getting into the whole scholarship realm, and I was kind of vocal early on that I’m not here to become an article publisher or on the presentation circuit. I just want to be a doctor. There were a couple of us in that camp. Some stayed there, it really doesn’t interest them. The reason I say it’s been a funny journey is because, in the dissertation, we were allowed to structure it as three separate article, so that we had a leg-up, we took that route right out of the gate. So one of my three artifacts has already been published. Another pending with a journal now and were in the process of formatting the third to get it submitted, but it’s really going to be the big achievement if we get it where we want it. We are hoping to target Gender & Society, which would be remarkable to get into the journal. I’m trying not to build myself up for crushing disappointment. I got a couple presentations out of my independent inequity project, my practicum, that I didn’t anticipate, national level stuff at Educause which was pretty awesome. I’ve done, now that I understand the process of publishing a little, before I was even all the way through the program, one of the faculty, Dr. Zhang, reached out and offered to help me through the process. We co-published a paper that I had written for his course. Technically I was published before I graduated. I’ve collaborated with a couple of CMU faculty on another piece that was published just this last month, so yeah, there’s been some definite outside reach even though, in hindsight, it’s a little ironic, given my earlier stance on this particular issue.
JP: Fantastic, very interesting! What is the impact of the DET program, or even the degree, had on your career?
BOND: I don’t know yet. My sense is that it’s positive I think given that the role that I’m in the desire of the qualifications are a graduate degree, but the preferred qualitations are a doctorate so I assume its advantageous. The role I’m in is actually being consolidated with another vacant director position which is currently open for applications. I’ve applied so I’m hopeful that the degree has positioned me well. I have flirted with the idea with trying to get back into adjunct teaching. But it remains to be seen, I guess, for me, how the DET floats in that space. Its certainly seems to be accepted and useful in the publishing world. I’ve not had anyone respond to my proposals asking what is a DET? It’s been easier with my family to let them tell people I have a PhD. Now, quite honestly, trying to get into the nuances and the differences, I guess a concise response, the sense I have is that it has had a positive impact, but in terms of a tangible measure I don’t know yet.
JP: As you reflect back on your experience through the DET program. If you could give students who are just starting program, or students who are thinking about starting the DET program, some advice, what would it be?
BOND: I could go on a lot about this as I’ve kind of done with some of the other questions. I’ll keep it to, I guess, two, maybe three, pieces of advice. The program you go through with a cohort for a reason.. Make friends with those people. Take advantage of that community. And work the buddy system, it was extremely valuable to me, for the purposes of commiserating, for sharing strengthens, for mitigating weakness, that I was part of a cohort. So, don’t be an island. Even as more of an introverted person I tried to break past my comfort zone and I’ve got some life-long friends out of the deal. I think they’ve been there for me and hopefully in some capacities I’ve been there for them.
The other piece of advice, or the second, big thing, is to be open with the faculty. There are a deeply committed and involved bunch, but the are also innovators and their pioneers in their own experiences, in their own doctoral studies. For the most part, were more traditional. So there is some times, momentary disconnects between what life was life was like as a single 20-something working on a PhD versus a 30, 40, or 50-something with all those other kinds of life things going on. But there open to hearing and taking requests, “hey, can I get just another day with this”. I remember being given opportunities, even when the feedback was mostly good, of a redo. They are not a grade obsessed bunch of faculty. They are really committed, instead, to what matters more, and that’s growth and development in the students. But, if you don’t open up, and be clear about your needs, they are not mind-readers. So, I would say, engage in the dialog. And not just a “I need this, or can I do that” but really prepare to invest.
Which I guess is maybe my third piece, or my part B. Is that, you have got to be ready to knit this into your life. It is not going to fit in if you say, “well I can give the doctorate program, I can give the doctoral studies, Sunday mornings” You’re not going to make it. I had to learn this. I had to drag my books. This was Dr. Weible’s advice: take it to your children’s swim class, take it on the road trip to visit the grandparents or the in-laws, take it on vacation, bring it with you to the doctor’s waiting room, bring it to the office. You have your work briefcase, you have your class briefcase. Make it an appendage. 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there… I did commit big blocks of time, 6am – 9am on weekend mornings became the study time frame. But I think a lot of the work got done in the wee hours, in the evening, a lunch hour here or there, 20 minutes here, 20 minutes there. The point being is that it was knitted into my life. You won’t be successful if you push it into a corner. Especially if it’s a corner you don’t visit very often.
Those would be my three big things. Leverage the community, be open with the faculty, and thread your involvement with the program into your whole life.
JP: Do you have any last thoughts?
BOND: Other than to be sure to thank you, this is fun for me, the other contributions I’ve made, I really enjoy a chance to share what a remarkable experience it was. I appreciate the chance to do that. So I don’t have any other thoughts to directly the DET. I think by now it’s probably clear to anyone reading or listening that I loved it, it’s a great experience and I think it meets the needs of a wide variety of potential students.
JP: Thank, we have had Dr. Jeremy Bond.
BOND: Thank you Justin, have a great day!