Curating an Instructional Content Collection for Teaching and Learning

Content continues to be published at staggering rates—and it’s only likely to increase. With the proper equipment, time, and an internet connection, anyone can publish content with relatively low effort. The value and accuracy of this content might not go through vigorous quality checks (or may be outright fictitious and created for malicious purposes), which means we must become savvy to identify, evaluate, and share the best resources.  

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A Melting Pot of Learning

(While I try to speak without bias, I should note that I have a Western Mind model and come from the Euro-American cultural background. I welcome any comments to discuss these ideas in greater depth as I find this topic very fascinating and relevant to what we need to be discussing in this day and age. The more perspectives we can gain from others the more we learn about their culture and our own biases.)

As an instructional designer, familiarity with how to make learning material (in whatever modality) reach as many students as necessary and possible in ways they can comprehend is essential. In this pursuit, we focus on topics such as accessibility, universal design for learning (UDL), and inclusion. However, in addition to those, I have been exploring an area that could use more data—the integration of cultural understanding in learning design. 

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Why Storytelling Matters in Teaching and Instructional Design

I love stories and believe in their power and ability to change people’s lives by calling them to action. Littlejohn, Foss, and Oetzel (2017) concur, asserting that “storytelling is a universal function, a natural human capacity that crosses time and culture; humans comprehend their actions and those of others in the form of stories” (p. 348). Recently I’ve been pondering the importance of incorporating the art of storytelling into teaching and instructional design.

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A Learner-Centered Focus: Reflecting on 2021

As with other years, we’re taking time this season to reflect on a year once again defined by uncertainty. In some ways, 2021 seemed like a blur—a continuation of the Covid-19 pandemic challenges we faced in 2020. 

Despite these challenges, Model eLearning continues to be a creative outlet for our research, writing, and passion for meeting the needs of our learners. We’re thankful for you—our readers, community of practice, and colleagues. Your support makes our efforts on the blog meaningful as we approach two years of remote work. Our team’s focus—creating learner-centered experiences—remains our compass as we look to 2022 and beyond.

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Alternative Ideas for Discussion Boards: Reinventing a Classic Online Class Activity

If you’ve been around higher education for very long as a professor, instructional designer, or student, you know there’s one activity you can never seem to get away from in an online course: Discussion Boards. 

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Small Steps to Make Your Class a More Accessible Experience

Have you wanted make your class more accessible and inclusive, but you just didn’t know where to start? Maybe you know you should add accessibility into your course, but it feels like you don’t have enough time to redesign the whole course. 

Accessibility improves the learning experience for all learners. Not every student discloses their needs (whether physical or cognitive, permanent or situational), so it’s important to take a proactive approach to create an inclusive learning environment.

When you pick small, manageable elements to focus on, you can slowly infuse accessibility into your course each time it runs. With a few changes, you can start to make your course materials more accessible.

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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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The Brains Behind Assessment

In the current day and age of learning, we find a lot of variability in how we develop and provide learning environments. Many individuals have had to rethink their teaching and learning atmospheres to accommodate societal changes. In all of those alterations, the need for assessment is one of the primary components of any learning environment that needs to be addressed. But with the consistency found in needing assessment, we still need to think through what activities and evaluations fit best with the curriculum, learners, and modality. So how do we make that decision?

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Limited by Modality

Many conversations addressing education lately have returned to the way various designers, instructors, learners, and stakeholders define a particular modality and its effectiveness. Some individuals focus on a modality’s apparent constraints instead of its affordances as an excuse to do less or remain stagnant, while others view the very same limitations in addition to the modalities strengths as a way to explore more options for how to reach learning goals in a new way. 

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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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