Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Office of Information Technology

Learning Environments &
Educational Studies

Jian earned a PhD in education with the Learning Environments and Educational Studies program in 2016. She is originally from Wuhan in the Hubei province of the People’s Republic of China and currently lives in Knoxville, TN. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Instructional Design Specialist
Office of Information Technology (OIT)
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville, TN

As an instructional designer and developer, I work closely with faculty to create instructional materials, courses, and curricula within traditional and online learning environments. I also develop and deliver training and workshop sessions on instructional strategies and current technologies and software for students, staff, and faculty for both face-to-face and online teaching environments. In addition, I provide leadership for implementing strategies to incorporate emerging and OIT-supported technologies into teaching and learning.

Accomplishments since Graduating


  • Waugh, M., & Su, J. (2016). Student perceptions of a successful online collaborative learning community. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 14(1), 1-16.
  • Waugh, M., & Su, J. (2015). Online instructional program design: One size may not fit the needs of all. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 16(1), 1-10.
  • Waugh, M., & Su, J. (2014). Student persistence and attrition in an online M.S. program: Implications for program design. International Journal on E-Learning, 13(1), 101-121.
Accomplishments Earned as a Student

Travis Hawk Fellowship
– For outstanding academic credentials and success in academic journey; August 2011 – July 2012

Graduate Certificate in Evaluation, Statistics, & Measurement
– Certificate obtained in Fall 2013

Personal Interests

I am from China. I love traveling and back in the day was a college backpacker. I have lived in three continents across the world (Asia, Europe, and North America).

In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, reading, and music. Karaoke is one of my favorite things to do with friends. I also spend time at the gym, working out, a couple of times every week.

What do you think was the most rewarding/challenging about this program?

I greatly appreciate the guidance and support from my awesome advisor and mentor, Michael Waugh, my committee members, Barbara Thayer-Bacon, Schuyler Huck, and Blanche O’Bannon, and all of the great faculty members and colleagues in the department. This program taught me so much and fully prepared me for a successful career in the instructional design field.

What was the most memorable experience?

My most memorable experience during the program was the great feeling of belonging among my peers. I learned a lot through collaborating with different groups of peers. We shared conference trips and enjoyed stress-relief social gatherings together. It was such a valuable experience to have gone through the journey with a group of scholars bonding with one another.

What would you tell an incoming/current student in the program/department?

The programs in EPC have so much to offer. My advice is to set academic goals at the early stage and grab the wonderful opportunities for learning and professional growth along your journey in the program.

“Looking back, I feel fortunate to have made the right choice to have joined this wonderful program. I graduated with some most cherished memories in my life. Now, I am so happy to be back and become a proud member of the UT campus again.”

Lisa Yamagata-Lynch


Associate professor, Lisa Yamagata-Lynch, was selected as one of two Office of Information Technology (OIT) Faculty Fellows for the 2016-17 academic year. Yamagata-Lynch came to UT Knoxville and joined the Educational Psychology and Counseling (EPC) Department in 2011. We asked her about her experiences so far, and her plans for the future. Read her responses below.


Why did you want to become an OIT Faculty Fellow?
I found out about the OIT Faculty Fellow opportunity couple of years ago, when another faculty who I met during my job interview here became a fellow. He encouraged that I apply, but it was not the right time for me then with my tenure and promotion timeline. I waited a few years, applied for the fellowship for the 2016 to 2017 academic year, and was offered the position.

What are some things you have done in this position?
The goals I set for myself in my fellowship application included the following areas of potential contributions by providing:

  • faculty and staff workshops for designing and developing asynchronous and synchronous courses and programs,
  • consultation services for faculty and administrators interested in designing/redesigning online courses and programs,
  • consultation services for addressing accreditation issues with online programs, and
  • consultation services for addressing assessments for multi-section online courses.

As UT is in a transition between Blackboard and Canvas for our learning management system, most of my efforts have been organizing materials for faculty to use Canvas, and consultation time with faculty about Canvas. I have also been involved in organizing the ITCoP (IT Community of Practice) brown bag series, where we often have a panel of experts/guests share examples of their work and engage in audience questions and answers.

Additionally, I had the opportunity to be part of a search committee for a full time instructional designer for OIT. It was great to be part of this team and meet great candidates for the position. I look forward to working with the person who was hired.

What else are you planning on accomplishing?
I hope to continue helping both OIT staff and faculty to make the transition between Blackboard and Canvas.

What have you most enjoyed about this experience?
I have enjoyed being able to have a space in OIT, and get to know the staff a lot better than I would be able to otherwise. We truly have dedicated professionals at OIT who are there to help us when we are in need. At times, I think that faculty may not know what exactly they need help with, but people at OIT are happy to work with us in any way that they can.

“As my term is getting closer to an end it feels like there is always more that I could have done. Moving an entire organization from one learning management system to another is hard work in all stakeholders and end users. I hope to be able to help in any other way possible in the future.”

Lisa Yamagata-LynchLisa Yamagata-Lynch is one of four faculty members chosen this year by the Office of Information Technology (OIT) as a Spotlight.

OIT chooses different UT faculty members who share their innovative ways of using technology in the classroom. Yamagata-Lynch was selected to discuss her online course IT 532 Online Learning Environments. This course is taught with a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous methods using both Blackboard and Blackboard Collaborate. She utilizes asynchronous activities as a build-up for the synchronous meetings. For instance, an asynchronous assignment of answering discussion questions about required class readings will then form her plan for the synchronous discussion. If any important point are being missed, she can bring that up. After those points are covered, she can then focus on taking the readings a step further and discuss how to utilize different skills.

The synchronous meetings are set up like a live, virtual classroom with video and audio feeds, a class roll, and shared whiteboard space where presentations can be displayed. After a logistical check in and short lecture, Yamagata-Lynch performs break-out activities. Essentially, students break into small groups in a separate space to work on problems or have small discussions before being brought back into the main “classroom.”

She goes on to discuss the importance of group projects and explains ways to overcome challenges specific to an online teaching environment. For these tips, information on where to start as a new instructor, and the entire presentation check out OIT’s Faculty Spotlight page.