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.

Continue reading “Sharing Accessibility Stories: Making eLearning for Everyone”

The Importance of Being Present in Your Online Course

You can have a well-designed course with relevant content and an expert instructor, yet the course can still be perceived as a negative experience by students. Why? The instructor was not “present” in the course. 

It takes more than grading to create instructor presence. Bangert defines instructor presence as “the ‘methods’ that instructors use to create the quality online instructional experiences that support and sustain productive communities of inquiry” (Bangert, 2008, p. 40). Without instructor support, courses quickly become barren.

Continue reading “The Importance of Being Present in Your Online Course”

Looking Through a Learning Tool

There is a spectrum of opinion about online learning, inclusive of two polar opposite sides in the discussion: it’s either new and exciting and every course should be online, or it is a scary new technology that destroys the personal communication essential for a “good class”. As I consider this debate, something that both groups should realize is that it’s easy to fall into the trap of defining instruction through the use of a tool, rather than realizing there is an inherent separation between the instruction and the tool. Today I’ll explore the differences and how this separation impacts our design. 

Continue reading “Looking Through a Learning Tool”

From Instructional Design to Learning Design

Student-Centered Design

Back in 1997, I was a member of the Ed Tech faculty at Northern Arizona University. We had decided to move our Masters of Educational Technology online—and did what an inexperienced faculty without support would do.

 We took our face-to-face curriculum and put it online. 

It went about as well as you would expect.  

Continue reading “From Instructional Design to Learning Design”

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.      

Continue reading “Going the Extra Mile: Understanding Non-Traditional Students”

Playful Course Design

As someone with a recent background of scholarly writing, I had to overcome my unconscious assumptions that scholarly meant minimal “fun” or “play-based” interactions. After a few psychology and technology courses, I realized there was a smaller divide than I originally assumed. I spent a lot of time trying to find ways to investigate and discuss learning and cognition theories to fulfill my course requirements, but for a long time ignored the obvious truths behind why I wanted to study learning in the first place—witnessing learning either intentionally or unintentionally in various forms of play. 

Continue reading “Playful Course Design”

Why (and How) I Guard my Instructional Design Time

In Ann’s recent post, she outlined some of her workflow processes and how she gets through the variety of tasks she has in any given day. As I was reading through and editing it, I really only had one thought cross my brain.

“I could never work like this…”

Continue reading “Why (and How) I Guard my Instructional Design Time”

Three Things to Consider when Designing your next Learning Experience

When you’re developing an eLearning course, there is always an overload of “practical” stuff that you have to keep in mind. Development timelines, coordinating with subject matter experts, and making sure all the nuts and bolts are ready for the launch day of your course. 

In the midst of all the details, I like to stop and consider how I can make each course I develop more effective than the last. There’s always a new angle or strategy out there to consider. I’m sharing 3 ideas here and I hope you’ll try them out.

Continue reading “Three Things to Consider when Designing your next Learning Experience”

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.

Continue reading “Surprised by Inspiration from IKEA”

Engage Learners with Instructional GIFs

You can’t really go anywhere on the internet without running into the ubiquitous animated GIF (graphical interchange format). Originating in 1987, GIFs shaped—and grew—with the internet in the following 30+ years (for those who missed the 90s or want to reminisce, the Internet Archive created a search for early GIFs).

Continue reading “Engage Learners with Instructional GIFs”