Lily Valibaba dreams of improving the classroom experience for children. At UA Little Rock, she is pursuing a Master’s of Education in learning systems technology where she is discovering how to incorporate technology into curriculum design that will benefit future youth.
Valibaba, 39, began questioning traditional classroom education after her son was diagnosed with autism.
“I have an atypical child,” she said. “He did not learn well in the traditional environment. His autism prevented him from participating in so many things. The more atypical kids I met, the more I realized how little we shifted to their needs and how much we pushed for integration into the mainstream. I began questioning. How can we tailor an education to meet the needs of an individual learner? How can we let them excel in areas while simultaneously modifying instruction to boost lower performance areas? How can learning be more inclusive?”
Her questions led her to blended classrooms, technology in classrooms, and eventually course/curriculum design.
“I realized through my research that instructional design can be used to answer those questions and that not only atypical kids would benefit, but that any learner truly benefits from a well designed course.”
Valibaba also sees a career in instructional design as a way to improve education.
“By designing online courses and helping others bring their courses up to par, I am shaping young minds so to speak. Not shaping them to an ideally framed book of knowledge, but to think. To ask questions. To move beyond what we already think we know and extrapolate data and then apply it to real world problems and scenarios. I am helping create great thinkers and it makes me feel good!”
She completed her undergraduate studies in 2015 at UA Little Rock and received a degree in anthropology with a minor in international business. She started graduate school in fall 2017 and is a full-time online student.
“The moment I stepped on campus for my interview, I felt like I was home,” she said. “This is where I grew up as a learner. This is where I laid my foundation, and it has only grown ever since.”