After 28 years of decorated military service, including cavalry and artillery assignments in Germany, Bosnia and Iraq, Sergeant Major Craig Collins G’20, G’22 has begun to consider his next career move. . In his own words, his master’s degree in Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation (IDDE) and his Advanced Certificate in Digital Instructional Design from Syracuse University’s School of Education give him “unlimited options.”
Whether Collins goes on to become an instructor at the US Army Sergeants Major (SGM) Academy, become a leadership development consultant or even an individual leadership coach, Collins praises the “flexibility” of the IDDE program: “I am confident that with graduating from Syracuse I could go to any company with a leadership program and make positive contributions almost immediately. The sky really is the limit.
The SGM Academy is part of the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence (NCOLCOE), located at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. The academy’s successful relationship with the IDDE program began in 2019 when its sergeant majors were offered the opportunity to complete a master’s degree in instructional design entirely online. Syracuse was selected as an educational partner for this scholarship program due to the high quality of the IDDE master’s program and the support of the University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families and the Center for College of Professionals online and digital learning. Studies.
Collins was among the first cohort of fellows, graduating in 2020. He is now an accredited member of the NCOCOE Curriculum Development Directorate.
“I assist in the design, development and analysis of the curriculum for our Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Military Education (NCOPME) courses, which are used by all three components of the military – active duty, reserve and guard national,” Collins said. “Our mission ensures that every soldier receives common core competencies, which are derived from the analysis process and then approved by the NCOLCOE commander.”
For Collins, teaching the military leadership skills is a “fascinating mission.” Among the NCOPME courses he helps oversee are the Basic Leader Course, which prepares specialists and corporals for the duties and responsibilities of a sergeant; the Master Leader Course, which helps sergeants first class become master sergeants; and the Combat Staff Course, which trains personnel through master sergeants to serve in battalion and senior staff positions.
Collins asserts that the mission the Army expects of its leadership and the skills the IDDE 30-credit master’s program fosters are much the same: to design, create, implement, and evaluate instructional solutions for a variety of educational contexts and professionals. “What IDDE does and what the army does are very complementary.”
The adaptability of this skill set is one of the strengths of the IDDE program, Collins says, especially useful when applied to SGM Academy and its varied courses. “IDDE taught me flexibility and a flexible attitude. The principles I learned can easily be adapted to the current environment. In fact, he adds, “the IDDE program could be adapted to almost any field.”
Another strength of the IDDE program is the analytical approach it teaches its students, also an advantage when it comes to educating service members. “IDDE helped me analyze the concepts and required outcomes of a project, and then develop courses to achieve that outcome,” Collins says. “If you don’t understand what the problem is, you won’t be able to provide a solution.”
In particular, when developing or revising a course, Collins says he must first analyze: “What soldiers need to know, what they are able to do, and what they think of this knowledge. It corresponds to the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are the fundamental concepts common to any educational design. »
This last point – that Collins takes into account a soldier’s attitude about what he or she needs to know – may seem out of place in a learning and working environment where orders are the norm. On the contrary, says Collins, in the military as everywhere else, understanding your student is at the heart of teaching.
“Someone may not say out loud that they don’t like something, but they may act in a way that’s inconsistent with accomplishing a mission,” Collins says. “You have to observe the learners. Learning is above all a measurable change in behavior. In the army he can certainly give information – and as an experienced soldier he is used to giving and following orders – “but really to get someone to do what I want, I have to l ‘influence.”
Ultimately, Collins says that’s what instructional design is all about: “sharing information to create knowledge.”
And Collins practices what he preaches. One of his tasks as an IDDE student was to create an online blog. It’s something he continues to this day because Collins is a decorated soldier, expert teacher, and lifelong learner.
His blog is where you can explore what he’s discovered about his many passions: Cheap Trick (“The most underrated band ever!”); baseball; Star Trek (“Let me touch on a ‘hot’ topic on the internet, the rumored Quentin Tarantino remake”); the old west; and some of his favorite places in Europe: Prague, Venice and Bavaria.
Learn more about the School of Education’s doctoral and advanced certificate programs, including instructional design programs.