Featured Online Faculty Profile
Jill Iskiyan, MBA, SPHR
Professor - Professor, Online
Teaching Field: Human Resources
Where I come from
Like many of my students, I did not take the traditional college route. After high school I worked for 13 years at the telephone company. Starting from an entry level position, I moved up to a position as operations manager, where I had many human resources (HR) responsibilities as the job evolved. I found helping managers and employees resolve issues to be very rewarding. Additionally, my job included extensive amounts of employee training, which was the informal start of my teaching career. Over time, I was able to go to college, taking night classes, and complete a double major in human resources and psychology.
When I graduated there were no HR positions with my employer available in Phoenix, where I live. I wound up working for a professional employer organization (PEO), providing human resources services to small and mid-sized businesses. I loved that job, but the company went out of business in 2002. When they closed their doors, I started my own part-time HR consulting business.
Online put me way ahead
Online learning helped me to take my next steps forward. In addition to consulting, I had begun teaching night courses in HR at a local community college. That allowed me to stay home with my baby during the day, which was important to my family and me. Then a colleague I met in an online higher education forum got me excited about online teaching. I would need an advanced degree to qualify so I researched online programs, looking for an accelerated track. I earned my MBA with an HR emphasis online in about nine months. It was a lot of work but it was worth it!
In the meantime, my colleague allowed me to do assistant teaching in her courses, facilitating discussions. It was an awesome way to hone my skills. When I finished my MBA, I applied for faculty positions with various online schools and was fortunate enough to receive several job offers. But DeVry University online stuck out as a leader in the field and the place I really want to be.
I've been teaching with DeVry University since 2004. I am also program counsel for one of the business program deans, doing course analysis and trouble-shooting. Prior to that I was the course architect for the current version of the undergraduate Staffing course, which means I designed it with the guidance of a curriculum team. DeVry University regularly updates all its courses to reflect changes in the field and trains faculty members to do the course design. As course architect I gathered feedback from former students, fellow instructors, my program dean, and industry advisers, and revised the curriculum accordingly. I teach the undergraduate Staffing course almost every session along with four or five other talented instructors.
What's the difference?
DeVry University's online courses run on an eight week term; they are accelerated versions of the 16-week classroom courses. The online assignments may differ somewhat but the course objectives are the same. In the online environment, it is incumbent on the instructor to create an online community fast. Getting students excited and engaged is a must! This might be the biggest challenge that online educators face but it is also the most rewarding.
As a DeVry University student, you can graduate in less time than from a traditional college, and online provides just as good an education. DeVry University Online generally does not cancel classes with low enrollment, unlike traditional colleges, so you can satisfy your course prerequisites and graduation requirements without delay. Students (and instructors) participate from all over the globe; and DeVry University places great importance on accommodating military students on active duty.
DeVry University's platform for online learning is called eCollege. Of the three major platforms, eCollege is the finest, in my opinion. Technical problems are rare - it is very user-friendly. In the majority of our courses there is a central repository for electronic learning media - such as the textbook, study tools, and library resources. DeVry University calls this technology enhancement The Hub.
Online students have to be very self-motivated, and enjoy interacting online. If you're into MySpace and instant messaging and so on, you have a great head start. And, if not, because of our easy to use course platform, students can get up to speed quickly.
Teaching and coaching
I believe learning should be enjoyable (and even fun!) for both the students and instructor. Finding creative ways to explore the subject matter so as to keep things interesting is very important to me. I want to inspire and coach others to think about human resources and business management because of the real-world relevancy they hold.
My job is to help prepare students for careers, so our online work is very practitioner-oriented. For example, the current Staffing course project is a mini job analysis. The student interviews anyone of their choosing about what they do and creates a job description. Past students have noted how enjoyable this project is because they are able to try their hand at real HR work.
The network behind me
Four years' experience as a senior HR consultant and director at the PEO, which had 700 clients at its height, and 13 years at the phone company gave me very broad exposure to all sorts of employment policies and practices. I did enormous amounts of research for clients. When a DeVry University student brings up a question, I have numerous examples to draw from and resources in which to direct them to for further investigation, if desired.
To keep my knowledge and skills current, I network and consult regularly with my HR colleagues. Additionally, I am a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and maintain my SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) certification, which must be renewed every three years. I also belong to a myriad of electronic HR newsletters to keep on top of best practices and changes in employment law.
Higher education is, in general, the ticket to get beyond entry level and onto the management track where you can enjoy new challenges and better pay. DeVry University has an excellent reputation and track record for providing that ticket. To me, DeVry University sets the gold standard for online education. It continually develops its faculty and provides a myriad of resources to its students so that both can be effective participants in online education. And you can't beat it for convenience!
Finally, DeVry University has very fair policies and practices. Some online universities have a reputation for being easy. DeVry University does not - students earn their degree and employers know it. DeVry University provides as much flexibility as it can within the curriculum, while maintaining high academic standards. DeVry University is extremely interested in student feedback, which is gathered at the end of each term via an anonymous survey. Courses are continually being revised and improved from student input along with information gathered from our industry advisers on current job market requirements. The result is the most relevant, focused career education you can find!