A Day in the Life of MTL Program Coordinator Ryan L. Williams

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A Day in the Life of Program Coordinator Ryan L. Williams

In junior high, Ryan L. Williams remembers chat rooms having a big appeal on the family’s new computer.

How prophetic.

As program coordinator for UIS’ Master’s of Arts in Education (MAE) program, Ryan still spends a lot of her day chatting with people—though now it’s mostly through email.

Ryan knows she works for a great program. MAE was ranked # 6 by Top Masters in Education and in the top 100 for best online programs for graduate education by U.S. News and World Report.

But Ryan seems to care more about what the program delivers to the teachers and other professionals who enroll than about rankings.

“Our faculty,” she says, “know both their content and how to deliver it well in an online format.”  They also know how to package courses that meet students’ needs, she says, “especially with regard to state requirements.”

Here’s what a day for Ryan make look like, but she wants you to know “I don’t really have a typical day. I just have things I do every day.” Read more to see what she means.

8:30

After sitting down to her desk each morning, Ryan turns first to her own in box, looking for emails current students sent during the previous evening. One might need help registering for a class. Another might want to know the process for graduation. Adjunct faculty may need assistance with their course, or have a student concern.

Though not often, Ryan enjoys meeting the online students she serves during face-to-face advising appointments.

There is one thing Ryan wished all online students knew:

“If you have a question or a problem, don’t hesitate to ask because another student has almost certainly had the same issue, and UIS has probably provided a resource to deal with it. We offer a lot of resources at UIS.”

Next Ryan turns to the MTL inbox to answer inquiries from prospective students. As you will see, a big part of Ryan’s job involves marketing—informing teachers about the many online educational programs offered in the Educational Leadership department.

After all, how can anyone benefit from UIS’ good online programs, if they don’t know about them?

10:00

Almost every day, Ryan checks the MTL website to make sure program deadlines and dates are current. She may need to update endorsement information  to reflect Illinois State Board of Education requirements: “If I have to change some wording, I usually go through our Licensure Officer to verify the information is correct.”

11:00

For the rest of the morning (and sometimes into the afternoon), Ryan does data entry, which is vital because it helps Ryan know the best approaches to take in her marketing or program improvements. This includes information on current students, their classes and success rate and where inquiries come from, for what program and other information.

12:00

Lunch. Most days, Ryan brings something from home (she enjoys cooking) to eat in her office, but some days she goes out to eat with Candace Meserole, Undergrad Advisor and Online Coordinator for English, History and Philosophy.

“When we don’t know where else to go,” Ryan says, “we just say ‘Default,’ and we know that means our favorite place, Gateway to India.”

1:00

Ryan checks her email throughout the day. The most desperate questions usually relate to Blackboard, which she knows can be intimidating to new students.

“Blackboard is every student’s source for connecting to faculty, connecting to classmates and staying on top of everything. Many of our students are coming back after years of being out of higher ed, and they’re telling me, ‘I have no idea where to begin.’ I can often help, or COLRS or tech services. Feel free to let us know when you have problems.”

2:00

Ryan spends the rest of the day on special projects. Right now she’s working on Facebook Boosts, She may also prepare for one of the many conferences she attends during the year as an exhibitor for online programs within the Educational Leadership department.

“The project I enjoyed most since serving in this position,” she says, is designing an ad for the Chicago Tribune with a graduate assistant and the EDL department chair (right). It was a success with the assistance of Creative Services.

“A lot of prospective students told me they found out about the program from the ad. It’s always great to see some fruit from your labor!”

5:00 to 5:15

After work, Ryan heads home, where she enjoys cooking, and connecting with friends and family. She also teaches at her local church, and on the weekends enjoys traveling with her friends “for shopping or thrifting.” Greece and Italy are both on her bucket list, as is visiting all 50 states.

Ryan’s mother sometimes reminds Ryan of plans to earn a doctorate, but for now Ryan says she is happy at UIS, assisting online students to reach their goals.