Preparing for Fall 2020: Reimagining Higher Education

I am currently in a summer book study with fellow faculty discussing Teaching and Christian Imagination by David Smith and Susan M. Felch. Through my personal reading as well as group discussions, I’ve realized we need a significant reimagining in the way faculty and instructional designers view teaching and curriculum design in higher education.

Instead of providing a cookie-cutter process of how to teach and design curriculum, Smith and Felch invite readers to reimagine higher education through three metaphors: a pilgrimage, a garden, and a cathedral. In the wake of the many changes and uncertainties of COVID-19, I want to invite you to reimagine higher education through sharing some of the things I am learning from these metaphors and encourage you to begin taking steps toward making your reimagining a reality.

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Self-Care for Essential Designers

I don’t know about you, but these past few months have been crazy for me. The week before the coronavirus (COVID-19) started picking up in my hometown, I was out of the office focusing on my first residency for my doctoral program. When I returned, my inbox was full of emails about projects that were already in progress before I left as well as emails from instructors asking me to help them transfer their face-to-face courses to online using web conferencing and our university’s LMS, Blackboard. So, March 2020 was pretty much a blur.

Once I began working from home, I discovered it was more difficult to maintain a balance between my work and personal life. My daily schedule and routine remained the same, but it was all within the comfort of my home. Throughout March when people asked me how I was doing, the analogy that I liked to use was I felt like a steam engine or a bullet train and I wasn’t slowing down. Herein lies my problem:

I wasn’t slowing down.

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Sharing Accessibility Stories: Making eLearning for Everyone

In November 2019,  several members of our eLearning team attended Michigan State University’s (MSU) 5thannual Accessible Learning Conference (ALC). The theme of the conference was storytelling, emphasizing that the core of accessibility is “people and their stories.” As someone who’s been a student in the communication and theatre fields for almost a decade, this theme struck a chord with me. Often, at both private and public universities, the majority of students’ disabilities are often unidentified, so their stories go untold. These untold stories create a roadblock in these students’ ability to succeed in learning environments.

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Going the Extra Mile: Understanding Non-Traditional Students

When thinking about the demographics of students currently enrolled in colleges and universities, we often first consider traditional students, between ages 18-24. However, enrollment trends in traditional, blended, and online programs are revealing that nontraditional students, those ages 25 and older, are becoming more and more prominent in the classroom. Today I want to discuss the dynamics of nontraditional students, the pressures they face, and what it means to go the extra mile in order to understand their needs and enable them to succeed.      

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Surprised by Inspiration from IKEA

Inspiration can strike in the most unexpected places—even a Swedish furniture store. As my coworker and fellow blogger Gwen would tell you, IKEA is one of the best places for instructional designers (ID) to find inspiration. I’ll admit that I didn’t believe her at first. However, when we visited IKEA last year as a team-building exercise, I was surprised by the inspiration that sparked my creativity and motivated me to be a better ID. Many of the ideas I found that day have stayed with me and helped me improve the ways I work with programs, subject matter experts (SME), and stakeholders to design online, blended, and face-to-face courses.

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Announcements: Finding the Balance Between Posting Too Little or Too Much

What if you entered a face-to-face classroom and found no instructor to welcome you to class, give you an overview of the semester, or guide you through your projects? Or what if your instructor made an appearance the first day of class, but slowly became less and less engaged as the semester progressed?

You’d be in the dark for most of the semester and probably pretty frustrated with your instructor, right?

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Creating Effective Rubrics

Wendy and Ann have often worked together on rubrics sent to them by instructors. Today they’d like to discuss the importance of effective rubrics and walk you through the process of creating one that visually communicates your expectations. Ann’s going to start by discussing the importance of rubrics.

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eLearning Feedback: Encouraging Learner to Learner Feedback

Throughout my eLearning Feedback series, we’ve looked at the significance of relevant, relational feedback and how instructors can enhance their feedback by providing it to their learners through various audio and video tools. In the conclusion of this series, we’ll explore the value of learner-to-learner feedback and how you can create opportunities for students to provide relevant, relational feedback to each other.

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eLearning Feedback: Enhancing Instructor to Learner Feedback

In my last post on relevant and relational feedback, I mentioned how adding a human factor into your online courses creates another dimension of building relationships with students. Constructive, relevant, and relational feedback helps students develop an awareness of their learning as well as the ability to recognize and address their weak points on their own. Today we’ll look at audio and video feedback tools you can use to build relationships with your students and help them take these important steps in their learning.

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eLearning Feedback: Make it Relevant and Relational

In my series on Keller’s ARCS Model for Motivation, I discussed the important role satisfaction plays in increasing and maintaining a student’s motivation to learn.

Students are satisfied and motivated to improve when teachers provide clear, constructive feedback and affirm and encourage them, both verbally and nonverbally. As classroom environments become more digital and asynchronous, we must find ways to improve instructor and student communication, especially feedback.

In this series, I’ll share practical tips for instructor to learner feedback and learner to learner feedback. We’ll look at tools to help you improve and enhance the feedback experience in online courses. Today we’ll begin with why you should provide constructive feedback.   

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