I love everything about design. I love the design of buildings. I love the design of photographs. I love the design of a good meal. I just like how things are put together. Maybe that’s why I love being an instructional designer. But it’s hard sometimes to explain to other people exactly what I do & more importantly what I can do for you if you want to teach online.

What do I do? Well, I help make things simple. I help make things visual. I help structure things so that the path for learners is clear and meaningful and engaging. I help people move to a style of teaching that works when they can see people to one that works better when they can’t see people, from a style that works well when you all learn at the same time to one that works well when everyone chooses when they want to learn (which, if you look at our server stats, is usually somewhere between 4 pm to midnight). As I was wondering around the web this beautiful Sunday morning, I came across a wonderful quote from George Nelson. While Nelson is an architect, I like his definition: a designer is someone who “gives form to the essense of something”.

What’s the essence of what you do as a teacher? And what form will that take online? As an instructional designer, everything I do boils down to helping you answer those two questions.

Hmmm …. I wonder if that’s any clearer.  🙂  Let me know what you think.

what do we want to work on

(Photo, What do we want to work on? by Nancy White)


Odds & ends

From my feed pile, a couple of things worth sharing …

Cole Camplese asks, is it time to ditch the committee and fire up the community?  Count me in!

Want to avoid presentationitis, that uncontrollable urge that many of us have to lecture at folks online?  The idea is to show, not tell, to get your message across.  Look at how Alvin Trusty does it by weaving two topics together: copyright & how to make a great PowerPoint.

Textbooks as social objects?  Neat idea.


Seriously, what is up with this seating arrangement?

If you teach live online, I bet this feels familiar.

In our office, we’ve started using Twitter to stay in touch with the people we work with but whose offices are at other campuses. Our college is made up of 13 campuses spread throughout Nova Scotia so Twitter can come in handy. It helps us know when we’re busy or free, what projects we’re working on, or when we’re heading towards a place where we might meet up. With our group, we’re getting there but we haven’t reached the tipping point quite yet.

If you haven’t used Twitter, Common Craft has produced another of their unique videos to explain what it is and how to get started. If you’d like to try Twitter, share the video with a few friends. Like a lot of social media, it’s the most fun when you try it as a gang.

I dream of …

I dream of Barack.

I dream of Hillary.

Coming soon: I dream of McCain.

All this from a Canadian?

baby DylanThis weekend, my 16 year-old daughter brought home a school project – a baby. It wasn’t a real baby. It was a plastic one. But it cried and burped and needed to be changed just like a real baby. Her exhaustion by the end of the weekend reminded me of what our lives were like when she first came into our world.

This weekend has been one of the richest learning experiences my daughter has had during school. Think of how she MIGHT have learned about parenting. She could have read an article. She might have done some research and a project. She might have interviewed an expert, like … er … maybe her dear ol’ ma. But nothing prepares you more than having to immerse yourself in the experience of being a parent by actually caring for a child and then stepping back to reflect on that experience. That’s been her weekend. It’s been a crash course in nighttime feedings and frequent diaper changes.

I wonder. How could we create learning experiences that are more like the way we learned to be parents? And what would that mean for how we view ourselves as educators?

Make Art

Glen Hansard’s acceptance speech for Best Song was one of my favourite moments from last night’s Oscars.  “Make art!” he said.  Good advice for anyone, no matter who you are or what you do.  We’re all artists.

Here’s Hansard & his partner Marketa Irglova singing the Oscar-winning song.  It’s so beautiful it makes me weep.