Mayra Aixa Villar is bilingual in Spanish/English, lives in Argentina where she was born and raised and likes to stay current on available technologies including mobile learning. Keep reading to learn more about Mayra…
Mayra, how did you get started in L & D?
I have been in education and training since 2004. My graduate studies to become an English teacher and the experience I acquired in different institutions and companies were the solid foundation to build on my knowledge about learning.
In 2009, I started to research into eLearning, the research was part of my M.A. thesis on Applied Linguistics (sub-field Computer Assisted Language Learning.) I also started to blog about all these findings and I participated in local and international projects as a contributor in order to enhance printed and digital products.
In 2010, I was appointed by the United Nations to complete an internship at the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, UN Headquarters, New York. My tasks were mainly to evaluate eLearning as well as instructor-led courses and to carry out an in-depth research on training course design and training needs.
After that, I started to work as a freelance instructional designer and independent research in Argentina.
What challenges have you faced on your career journey?
Most of the challenges have to do with lack of resources and access to the latest technology. I have always tried to do my best to keep on learning and keep my skills updated. It has not been an easy journey for me, but finding my way in the field of eLearning has been an amazing experience indeed!
What are you passionate about in L & D?
I love transforming raw information into creative, meaningful learning experiences. The whole process of exploring new tools, sketching my ideas, designing engaging activities is my real passion. I am also passionate about research and writing.
How did you get involved with your current work role and what is your daily work life like there?
As I said before, I am passionate about instructional design and research. I also love interacting with people from different countries because their experiences and perspectives are a great source of inspiration for me. So, when I started 2012, I thought that freelancing for international projects was the right path for me.
As an entrepreneur, I have carried out different tasks, including eLearning/mLearning design and evaluation, legacy content transformation, storyboarding and prototyping as well as translation and localization of learning products into Spanish.
What is your most proud accomplishment in your career?
I felt really proud when I was interning at United Nations because I was representing my country and it was a dream come true as I had the opportunity to test my skills in a highly-prestigious organization and undertake challenging tasks every day.
And, I recently completed my M.A. program, which has also been a huge milestone for me.
Congratulations! You do have a lot to be proud of! Which is your favorite L & D conference(s) and why?
Because of the fact that I live in Argentina, I am not able to attend many conferences in the US, but mLearnCon would be at the top of my list since now, I am very interested in mobile learning and its potential to enable and enhance learning and teaching processes.
When you speak at conferences, what do you usually speak about?
So far, I have mainly presented on findings related to my postgraduate studies: linguistic modeling of online texts and computer-based applications, which draw upon those results. I have also spoken about natural language processing and natural language generation, two fields of computational linguistics I studied during my M.A. program.
When you blog, what do you usually blog about?
I usually blog about my own learning process as an instructional designer. I like sharing ideas and insights that others may find useful. I am also keen on exploring new tools and writing about my insights on how I can apply them to eLearning or mLearning design.
How else do you contribute in the L & D community?
I have a Scoop.it page where I daily collect the best scoops from different sources on eLearning, mLearning, instructional design and educational technology. There, instructional designers can always find updated information. I have been guest blogging for ASTD and Learning Solutions Magazine too. And, I am a very active Twitter user.
Where do you find the most benefit for yourself in the community?
In my opinion, Twitter and the Articulate Community are just the most beneficial sources for every learning professional.
Who is/are your favorite L&D role model(s)?
This year, I have had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with wonderful and knowledgeable people. RJ Jacquez has become a great mentor for me as I truly admire his vision on mobile learning and future technologies. I also look up to Patti Shank for her passion about the role of research to validate our practices.
What advice can you give others to help them thrive in L & D?
For me, it has been very important to build networks, start my own blog in English (I used to blog only in Spanish) in order to reach a wider audience to share my thoughts and challenges with. Creating a portfolio that makes you stand out and shows in what ways your work is unique is definitely a must. In my case, I have used videos to show how you can present content which is generally condensed in a fixed format, in a more engaging way. I have also concentrated on video as it is one of the most ubiquitous media formats, which makes it extremely practical to “tell stories”, to show step-by-step instructions and so on, at the right moment and virtually on any mobile device and desktop.
I would also recommend to be acquainted with the latest advancements and techniques in our industry but also, look at the current state of other fields beyond eLearning.
What else would you like to do with your career and/or what would you like to do to improve yourself and your approach in L&D?
I think that I will never stop exploring different technologies and learning new skills. I definitely plan to start learning some programming languages next year and to enroll in a PhD program very soon. I´d love to become a writer some day and to be completely devoted to mobile apps development for educational purposes.
Where can others see examples of your work?
How can others reach you?
I am on Twitter – @MayraAixaVillar
And LinkedIn – http://ar.linkedin.com/in/mayraaixavillar (a good place to find out more about my academic background and experience)
Thanks Mayra for letting us get to know you!