As a recent college graduate working in the newspaper industry, Rick West discovered his love for technology. He was interested in the ways technology could be used to teach and communicate with others. This discovery led West to pursue his interests in the field of educational technology, the field in which he is now a professor in the McKay School’s Department of Instructional Psychology and Technology (IP&T).
While working in layout and sports reporting for the Herald Journal in Logan, West became interested in the role of communication in the field of education. “I was interested in writing, technology, and ways newspaper design could make newspapers effective ways to communicate with people,” West said. “At the same time I was also teaching seminary part time and thinking about seminary as a career, which ended up not happening, but it got me thinking about how much I love teaching and how much I love design and communication.”
West earned his master’s in IP&T at the McKay School and his doctorate degree at the University of Georgia. He loves how programs in instructional psychology and technology help people to improve their careers and become more effective teachers. “We get to understand how people learn and then how we can improve learning in the world, and that’s really satisfying,” West said. “You feel like you’re making a difference.”
West is interested in many aspects of the instructional technology field, but he is especially involved in group creativity and online collaborative learning. He explained how collaborative creativity is particularly relevant in the 21st century. “I find a lot of satisfaction and excitement in studying how we can help people learn to be more creative together,” West said. This group collaboration, according to West, can lead people to work more effectively in their jobs, find good jobs, and be more successful in what they do. Currently, West is researching how people can be taught to be more creative working in groups in higher education.
During the time he was pursuing his graduate degrees, West took several evaluation and research classes and became involved in program evaluation. While a graduate student, he received his qualitative studies certificate and began evaluating grants given to school districts in Georgia for professional development. West enjoys evaluating projects since he is able to see the direct impact of the feedback he gives his clients about how to improve their practice.
As he was completing his degree at the University of Georgia, West applied for a position at the McKay School’s IP&T department and was excited to return to BYU. “It is one of the strongest programs in the country, “ West said. “It’s a great group of people to work with.”
Besides spending time at the IP&T office, teaching, and researching, West enjoys running while listening to good audio books. He also enjoys the performing arts and did some acting during his time as a student. He loves going to theatre performances and concerts with his family.