MEd in Learning Design and Technology

Barth Baron, Jr

“Five years ago, I never could’ve imagined I’d be working closely with seasoned NASA researchers and helping the industry to imagine new paradigms in pilot training and safety systems.”


Learning Design and Technology

Related Degrees

  • MEd, Learning Design & Technology

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Hawaiʻi, then my family moved to Boston for my parents’ work and postgraduate education. We moved back to Oʻahu when I started 6th grade.

Where do you work?
I have two jobs: My LTEC master’s project led to a position with San Jose State University Research Foundation at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. Mostly I’m designing learning interventions and assessment strategies to support my group’s research in cognitive engineering for human/systems integration. The skills I learned in LTEC allow me to translate between the group’s theoretical work in cognitive psychology and how these theories play out on the human level. Among other projects, we’re in a three-year collaboration with Boeing, researching certain airline crew behaviors. In the past, humans were mostly seen as sources of error in complex systems. Our work seeks to understand the positive role that humans play in producing safe outcomes. This human-centered approach resonates nicely with LTEC!

I’m also a full-time captain at Hawaiian Airlines, where I fly widebody airplanes on our longer routes.

***Disclaimer: My NASA work isn’t connected to Hawaiian’s policies and practices. The two channels are completely separate***

How did you become interested in the field of education? In the LTEC program?
Growing up, I went to a lot of schools; some were as good as it gets while others struggled to serve their students through no fault of the outstanding and hard-working teachers. The good schools sparked a love of learning, while the others started me on a path of wondering about the huge disparity in learning opportunities out there. Later, while in some teaching roles, I wanted to recreate the magic I’d experienced at those strong schools, and my explorations into improving learning outcomes led me to LTEC.

How did the COE program benefit or impact your career path?
LTEC opened an entirely new chapter in my life! Five years ago, I never could’ve imagined I’d be working closely with seasoned NASA researchers and helping the industry to imagine new paradigms in pilot training and safety systems. This opportunity happened because of LTEC’s spirit of innovation and collaboration, and words fail me to express my gratitude to the LTEC community for helping me grow and challenge myself.

Would you recommend this program to others?
I believe the LTEC master’s program has a lot to offer people from many professions. The creativity and ideation processes, emphasis on empathy and user analysis, and focus on the reduction of bias in problem analysis are LTEC hallmarks with wide application. You don’t have to be an educator to benefit from what LTEC offers. So yes, I recommend the program!

What are your future plans?
This fall I’m starting the LTEC PhD program where I plan to research the role of learning to support resilient operations in complex socio-technical systems.

Is there anything else you would like to include?
Last month, at the International Symposium for Aviation Psychology, I presented a paper we wrote on the role of informal learning in airline pilot culture. It was exciting to be on stage as a first author at such a high-caliber conference with only a master’s degree! I got a very favorable response from that talk, and I 100% credit the LTEC faculty with enabling that success.


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