eLearning Past, Present, and Future (2011-2021): A Conversation about Trends in eLearning, Instructional Design, and Online Learning

In May 2011, I graduated from high school. In June, before I started college, I walked into my first group interview. While I had never heard of eLearning or instructional design, I was still intrigued. Dave Goodrich, one of my high school science teachers, now worked at Spring Arbor University (SAU) as an instructional designer. He believed in my potential and said this student worker job could last throughout my undergraduate career if I wanted. 

I met Dave, Tara McCoy , and a couple others from what was formerly the Office of Academic Technology (OAT) outside a coffee shop. When I was hired on the spot, I had no idea what I was getting into or how this field and career would help me as a student and as a professor. 

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New Year, New Start: The Importance of Faculty Training

When the calendar turned to January 1, 2021, many experienced a collective sigh of relief. A new year brings expectancy, excitement, hope, and the promise of a new beginning. While 2020 was a challenging, uncertain, and crazy year, we learned so much through it in many aspects of life, including in the fields of Education, eLearning, and Instructional Design.

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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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