Saifiyya Bintali spent most of her childhood learning online while she moved around overseas, so being an online learner was a familiar experience as she entered college.
She is a first-generation Muslim American undergraduate student working toward bachelor’s degrees in secondary education and English. She's also a student worker in UNLV's Office of Information Technology.
And now she's is taking what she learned in the virtual classroom to pursue a career in instructional technology.
Bintali is attending the Educause Annual Conference this October in Chicago, Illinois, after being awarded the Professional Pipeline Student Scholarship by the organization.
The scholarship supports minority and underrepresented students interested in IT careers in higher education. It enables recipients to attend the technology conference in person at no cost, along with a mentorship and career coaching from IT professionals.
“I’m drawn to the intersections of technology and education and how they can come together to make more accessible, engaging learning experiences for students no matter where they are,” Bintali said about her interest in online learning.
Her interest in educational technology grew when she joined UNLV's eLearning team as a student employee. While balancing schoolwork and teaching high school students as part of her degree, Bintali helps maintain instructional technologies in over 150 classrooms and provide support to thousands of instructors and students for Zoom, Panopto, and other tools.
Bintali applied for the scholarship after she was nominated by Alethea Inns, instructional technology support specialist for the eLearning team.
“Safiyya’s work impacts thousands of people across campus,” Inns said. “Her authentic passion, practice, and existing work with instructional technology is invaluable to UNLV. Safiyya is the future of IT in higher education.”
Bintali will be able to connect with others that share her unique professional viewpoints and enable her to develop her networking and leadership skills, according to Inns.
Beyond her technical work, Bintali helped incoming students use technology to learn online successfully and build remote communities in their first year at UNLV. She has also discussed the impacts of technology on the online student experience and different teaching practices for virtual and traditional classrooms to government leaders.
“I've been wanting to seek out more professional development and educational opportunities in the field of instructional technology, so I felt like this was an invaluable opportunity,” Bintali said about the scholarship program.