Using Graphic Novels to Enhance Scenario-Driven Projects for a Cloud Computing Program

Concurrent Session 5

Brief Abstract

Courses in University of Maryland University College’s (UMUC’s) newly developed graduate program in cloud computing architecture provide an immersive learning designed with the adult student needs in mind for an applied learning experience that provides focused, job-relevant knowledge.

In this session, instructional designers will present a cloud computing classroom that utilizes graphic novels and storytelling to enhance the scenario-driven project-based learning.  


Jessica McCarty is a learning designer and certified project management professional (PMP) with over 10 years of instructional design experience. At University of Maryland University College (UMUC), she is part of the Learning Design & Solutions group, and also teaches information literacy as an adjunct instructor. Jessica has a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology from George Mason University and a graduate certificate in distance education leadership from UMUC. She expects to complete her Doctor of Education degree in educational instructional technology at Frostburg State University in 2019.
I am a learning designer at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). At UMUC, I promote the use of best practices for online courses built upon my experiences designing over 70 courses taught to students worldwide. I also possess a first-hand understanding of the faculty experience; I was an undergraduate professor in the department of Digital Media and Web Technology at UMUC. I effectively manage the design, development, and implementation of multiple complex projects. My work includes contracts, establishing timelines, and coordinating the work of faculty and staff to produce online courses, instructional videos, learning objects, and simulations. I also interact both virtually and face-to-face with the program chairs, faculty, and staff in the undergraduate and graduate schools, as well as the editors, graphic artists, programmers, and production staff in my department. As a facilitator of the curriculum redesign process at UMUC, I work with subject matter experts to develop Program Outcomes, Course Outcomes, and Teaching Guides following Blooms Taxonomy as a guide. I am also heavily engaged with several innovative learning initiatives at UMUC, including the implementation of university wide mandate of all UMUC courses going textbook-free with open educational resources, the development of competency based education courses, open learning initiatives, project based learning, and the design of training modules for the Faculty Development project. I am also familiar with designing courses to meet accessibility standards. All of these responsibilities have prepared me well to design and develop technology enhanced instruction for adult learners and work with faculty to produce high quality content.

Extended Abstract

Organizations are increasingly moving their critical information and assets to the cloud and are seeking employees who understand how to migrate their systems to the cloud, as organizations take advantage of the benefits of storing their data off-site. However, cloud computing is still rarely part of the curricula in higher education, as institutions cite issues with costs, the rapid pace of technology innovation, and a lack of available faculty expertise (Panko, 2017).

University of Maryland University College’s (UMUC’s) newly developed graduate program in cloud computing architecture equips students with the technical and management skills to effectively design, operate, and maintain cloud computing systems. The program is designed to help prepare students for positions in cloud computing, computer network architecture, network and computer systems administration, information technology project management, and computer systems analysis.

The cloud computing curriculum is centered around the completion of authentic assessments in the form of applied scenarios, projects, and hands-on labs that involve real-world tasks, tools, and industry standards. UMUC partnered with leading cloud providers to minimize the cost to students. 

At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Apply the tenets of project-based learning to a cloud computing curriculum

  • Overcome obstacles in developing courses for a rapidly changing field of study

  • Design project-based assessments that apply real-world experience to industry standards and competencies


Panko, R. (2017). Cloud education lags at universities: Four professors' perspectives. Retrieved from