Instructional design occurs at two key levels – for institutions and users. I have had the good fortune to work on both. I have researched and acquired technologies for institutions and, within that framework, have produced educational resources to meet user needs. At the first level, institutional goals, budgets, contracts, and human resources have guided my analysis of what systems work best. At the user level, I work with three main audiences. First, I help instructors assess and develop digital resources to become more effective and efficient. Second, I work with students to learn what applications and interfaces best suit their needs. Third, I develop technological assets for institutions that reach beyond instructors and students. Academic projects and databases, as well as prospective student and alumni portals, reach beyond LAN based systems to larger audiences. Such resources can be used to help professors collaborate internationally, recruit students, or provide information to alumni who want to support their alma mater. I have been lucky to work at all of these levels of design and production. There is nothing more satisfying to me than using technology creatively to solve problems and meet the needs of a community and its stakeholders. I enjoy the collaborative process and find a great deal of satisfaction developing systems and resources for instruction and assessment.
I became interested in instructional design and technology while working at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the early 1990s. During this time, I took a graduate course in Instructional Design at Temple University where I completed a project on instructional design in museum education. I was especially fascinated by the museum’s use of 3D CAD technologies to determine how best to design galleries and exhibitions for museum visitors. As a member of the museum’s Education Department, I used CAD technology to simulate virtual galleries and develop educational resources for museum collections and upcoming exhibitions. This method helped me assess how to present materials for different audiences and age groups, even before real artworks were put in place. I was captivated by this creative process and became determined to find ways to integrate technology into my later studies and career.
As a graduate student at the University of Virginia, I worked in the New Media Center where I developed Internet database archives and digital resources for academic projects. Most of my work was for the Institute of Advanced Technology’s Pompeii Forum Project, for which I created animated walkthroughs of CAD models and map-based QTVR panoramas of Pompeii. I also developed websites and interactive educational resources for the project. Finally, during my time at the Digital Media Center, I taught professors and students how to use technology and integrate it into their work. This experience took me out to San Francisco where I worked as a freelance designer for companies such as Mosaica Education and Levis.com, and then as a lead web developer for the online retailer Webvan.com. Since I returned to education in 2001, I have been developing instructional systems and resources for schools.
Whiteboard image at right used with permission from Suzanne Lustenhouwer.
Instructional design begins with assessing user (community, instructor, student) needs and balancing them against available systems and resources. Having acquired, installed and administered server technologies, I have developed a broad working knowledge of backend systems. I am also proficient with an extensive list of graphic design, sound editing, film production, web development, and educational applications, including content management systems like Moodle and Blackboard. Understanding both back and frontend tools enables me to advise users more effectively on the pros and cons of using specific types of hardware and software. Given the investment of time and energy that comes with technology projects and integration, helping users make informed decisions before getting started is a fundamental step in the process.
Once needs have been assessed and technologies have been determined, it is my job to remain informed and train users how to use and integrate new technologies into their work. Good listening skills, flexibility, and patience are as necessary to the process as solid technological knowledge. My experience working with instructional technology in corporate and academic settings has provided me with the communication skills I need to help administrators, teachers and students develop ideas and achieve their goals.
Technology is always changing; therefore, keeping my knowledge and skills up to date is essential for solid instructional design and development. My natural curiosity and desire to grow drive me to do this. I enjoy researching new tools, learning how they work, comparing their design and functionality, and determining how they might be used in academic settings. By remaining current on hardware, software and trends in technology, I am better able to address issues, serve user needs, and act as a model for change.
I recently received an MS in Instructional Technology at Bloomsburg University. This program advanced my skills and inspired me with new ideas. I chose Bloomsburg because it offered hands on experience I could imediately share with other educators. I completed the program in two years with a 4.0 GPA while working at Lewisburg Area High School as a Social Studies teacher and technology trainer.
Drawing of Bloomsburg University from: Dunkelberger, Robert. "A History of the Campus and Master Planning at Bloomsburg University." Bloomsburg University Archives. September 25, 2002. December 21,2014. <http://library.bloomu.edu/Archives/Campushistory/campushistory.htm>.