Less than half a year after supplementing his education with a certificate at University of Wisconsin-Stout, Michael Wildman is seeing big dividends.
In May he finished work on the instructional design certificate, which consists of four classes. Not long after that, he was promoted to program designer at Olive Tree Arts Network, where he has worked since 2018.
The certificate is one of 31 professional development options at UW-Stout at the graduate and undergraduate level. Most certificates do not require being enrolled in a degree program at the university, and most are online.
“The certificate really helped jump-start my career and enabled me to get to the position I'm at now,” Wildman said, calling it a “stellar” program. “Every course in the program provided knowledge and skills that I'm utilizing to create learning experiences at my organization.”
Along with the promotion, Wildman recently was named one of the international Thirty Under 30 emerging leaders in the field of learning for 2020 by the Learning Guild, which supports organizational learning. He was honored during the Guild’s Nov. 16-18 annual conference, held virtually.
As a group, the young leaders represent seven countries, 11 states and the District of Columbia, as well as companies that include Adobe, Allianz, Amazon, JetBlue, KPMG, Pepsi, Southwest Airlines, Workday and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Wildman, a native of Wausau who lives in Chicago, has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UW-Platteville and is working on a master’s in instructional design from UW-Whitewater. Learn more at his LinkedIn site.
With so much learning moving online because of the pandemic, he earned the new skills from UW-Stout at a perfect time to benefit Olive Tree Arts, based in Chicago. The nonprofit organization promotes cultural understanding for young people through the arts and creative expression.
“The pandemic expedited our process to working in online spaces. I now oversee our virtual programming and learning and development initiatives,” Wildman said. “I've helped turn our in-person program offerings that serve 500-plus students, teachers and community members into online offerings and designed and built a virtual onboarding program from scratch.”
The certificate program “gave me the confidence to start creating high quality learning solutions on my own,” he said.
Joan Vandervelde, who works in online professional development in UW-Stout’s teaching, learning and leadership department, said Wildman “is an excellent example of the value of a certificate. Certificates have the fastest-growing enrollments in the country right now for a variety of reasons.”
Students in the instructional design program build an extensive eportfolio of projects to showcase with their LinkedIn profile and reference in their resume and job interviews, Vandervelde said.
Certificate programs typically take six to nine months to complete, and many of the courses count as credit toward a related master’s degree.