I’m a creative person; a writer, an artist, a musician, wood-worker, story-teller, web & multimedia developer, and an instructional designer. This is how I approach everything in life. Since I was a kid, my way of playing has been to design and create things. I love getting deep into the process. It usually begins with a problem that needs to be solved.
I like to fix stuff that is broken, like old electrical appliances with broken gizmos, etc. I enjoy taking something really dirty and grimy and polishing it up so it looks new again. I do that with ideas too. I see patterns where others see complexity. I can sort through the clutter to find the path forward. When things get stuck I’ve learned how to get forward motion again. I’m a strategic thinker. I bring imagination and persistence to my work.
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Learning is discovery. It’s what life is all about. We were made to learn. Designing engaging learning experiences for others is a privilege and a challenge. I consider it to be an important task since our work impacts so many others for good or ill. I work hard to be good at it.
My gift is teaching. I’m told that a lot. I think it’s because I have a great desire to learn and to know and there’s so much that I don’t yet know. Even the process of learning excites me, not just the outcome. I spend a lot of time reading and studying new things. Because I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with others, that makes me people think of me as a good teacher.
I’m interested in recent discoveries in cognitive psychology that give us fresh insight about how people learn. I’m really into research on multimedia learning by Richard Mayer, cognitive psychologist at UC-Santa Barbara and others. Mayer is a sort of hero of mine and I’ve read all his books. I’m also a big fan of Cathy Moore who said, “The most important principle for designing lively eLearning is to see eLearning design not as information design by as designing experience.”
A lot of eLearning design is figuring out how things work. You do that by talking with subject matter experts, asking good questions and listening. Sometimes being ignorant about a topic helps because you know what it feels like to be a novice learner. Experts sometimes don’t appreciate how difficult it can be to learn their content. Their explanations are often verbose and convoluted, and need a good copy-editor. I like copy-editing for the same reason I like to clean up grimy stuff. Good writing is clear and concise.
It’s a challenge, knowing how to communicate a complicated topic so that it makes sense to a novice learner. Often it is best to situate the learner in a context that requires they master the content to solve a problem and then let them figure it out themselves, rather than explain it to them. All this takes the ability to solve difficult problems and some creativity.
About my career
After teaching high school English and mathematics (strange dichotomy, I know), I earned two Masters degrees. A Masters in Instructional Media at Longwood University and a M.Ed in Instructional Technology from the University of Virginia. I worked in instructional design, web and multimedia development in higher education for almost 20 years. For the past 2 years I managed a team of instructional designers to design and build online programs and courses at Ohio University. Prior to that, I taught undergraduate courses in visual communication and graphic design at Ohio University. I also taught an online course in Web Design.
I used to do a lot of web design in html, css, and Cold Fusion. Then, I focused on video production and motion graphics, using Adobe Flash, Apple Motion, Final Cut Pro, and Fotomagico.
My focus now is on designing eLearning courses using tools like Articulate Storyline 360, Camtasia Studio, Adobe Captivate, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier, After Effects, etc. and I’m having fun.
On the side, my wife and I manage a multimedia design business in our home. We started Royal Oak Media in 2005. It gives us the opportunity to work together doing something creative.