About Me

My Background
Why Pre-Professional Students?
I'm interested in how we teach and support pre-professional students because I started my career as one. I have an undergraduate degree in Music Education, and first worked as a band director, teaching middle and high school students. In this role, I also found myself running a traditional academic classroom, serving on committees that analyzed student achievement data, preparing documentation for accreditation reviews, managing the funding of a 501(c)(3) non-profit booster organization, planning and coordinating international travel, designing and implementing curricular programs... it turns out that teachers do a lot!

I didn't feel adequately prepared for my career as a teacher once I actually entered the field. And when I talked to other peers and other teachers, the sentiment was shared. Teachers have to do so much, and it's just not possible to teach them everything they need to know before they start working. Some things just have to be learned in the classroom. But is this really true?
Can we better prepare pre-service teachers? Better yet, can we better prepare all pre-professional students to enter their profession ready to take more skilled action?
Instructional Design
After working as a teacher, I pursued graduate studies at the University of Georgia, in the Department of Workforce Education and Instructional Technology. There, I graduated with an M.Ed. in Learning, Design, and Technology along with a certificate in Online Teaching and Learning, and another certificate in eLearning Design and Development. The field of Instructional Design gives me the chance to synthesize my background experiences and interests and apply my skills in ways that benefit teaching and learning. I can bring my knowledge of traditional and online teaching together with my technical skills and eye for design to create effective learning experiences for a variety of learners.
While pursuing my master's degree, I worked as a freelance instructional designer and consultant. This experience allowed me to apply instructional design for a variety of clients in many different industries. In these roles, I worked with healthcare providers, first responders, real estate agents, higher education institutions, and UI/UX organizations. I noticed in many of these roles that the instructional interventions that were requested often dealt with the training of newer learners who entering the specific field or discipline.
Redefining Learning, Expertise, and Instructional Design
I am now continuing my graduate students as PhD student at the University of Georgia. I work with the University's Center for Teaching and Learning, providing learning technology training and support to faculty and instructors across campus. This position has helped me to gain experience in supporting higher education professionals in accomplishing their goals. My workshops seek to present new tools and approaches in a flexible and authentic way. My goal is that instructors should leave my workshops with greater knowledge about how a learning technology is used, and that they should have some ideas about what they could accomplish using the tool in their own educational context.
In my research, I focus on using 4E Cognition (embodied, embedded, enactive, and extended) as a lens to explore learning, expertise, and instructional design. From this developing cognitive perspective, learning takes on a different definition from the traditional ones we use in instructional design. Expertise, enskillment, and "skilled action" are also explored and redefined from this perspective. There are some fascinating implications for how learning could be designed to better support pre-professional students.
Use the buttons below to view my CV, or to read more about my research.
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My Philosophy

Defining a Field
My philosophy surrounding instructional design, and therefore my approach to design tasks, is influenced by my varied background experiences. I entered the instructional design world with an eclectic mix of training and experiences including training as a classical musician and conductor, education and experience as a public school teacher, and a significant interest in 21st century technology and technology integration into learning generally. I have always viewed myself as somewhat of a generalist and have enjoyed the incredibly broad and varied nature of work as an instructional designer. Heavily influenced by the Richey, Klein, and Tracey (2010) book The Instructional Design Knowledge Base: Theory, Research, and Practice, I have come to define the field in this way:
Instructional Design is a field concerned with updating, evaluating, and applying a body of knowledge to best design experiences and resources which improve human performance.
Instructional design is an incredibly broad field and can be found in higher education, public and private schooling, healthcare, business and industry, military, nonprofit, and informal learning settings. My definition, and ultimately my philosophical approach, focuses on how instructional design principles and ideas (the body of knowledge) are maintained and applied, regardless of the context or situation.
Designers in Multiple Roles
My view of instructional design, and therefore my philosophy and approach, incorporates designers working in two separate roles: practitioners and researchers. In my view, the practitioner has the responsibility of taking the body of knowledge and evaluating it to determine what methods, approaches, and frameworks are suitable to a given design context. Then, they apply that knowledge to design tasks in the field to best serve learners and performers. By doing so, they create value for the corpus and our field. The researcher's responsibility is to add to the body of knowledge by conducting scientific research to validate and verify new approaches, methods, and ideas. They will also evaluate the body of knowledge through peer review and replication. The researchers create tools that practitioners can use in the field. As someone who moves between academic and practical roles in my work, it's no surprise that I have a view of the instructional design field which incorporates both researchers, practitioners, and the body of knowledge generally.

My definition of instructional design also highlights the role I play in the field as a researcher. I do not want to suggest that there are two separate camps of ID members, nor do I want to elevate either role above the other. The function of my definition is to explain how these two roles work together to support the field of ID, the corpus of research, and ultimately learners and performers in their own lives. My detailed philosophy, available for download below, includes a more thorough explanation of the interactions between these two roles as well as a diagram illustrating the relationships.
The Human Element
I have also been heavily influenced by design thinking, especially as it has been used in fields of product design and UI/UX. I include the word "human" in my definition for very specific and intentional reasons. First, I want to emphasize that the field of Instructional Design should be in service of humans, not to the body of knowledge itself. While we do update, evaluate, and apply that body of knowledge, we do not do so for its own sake. We create value for the corpus and for our field by improving the learning and experiences of people. This idea comes from design thinking, where designers first work to empathize with the user first in order to better understand what the user experiences and how they will react to a design. From there, the designer works to create a solution to problems in order to improve the life of that user in some way. As designers of learning and training materials, it's important that we always strive to improve efficacy, efficiency, and ease.
Critical Realism
Let's get really philosophical! I often apply a critical realist approach to my research and design. This means that I support an objective ontology, but one which is necessarily mediated by a subjective epistemology. More simply, I believe that there is an objective, external reality which we all inhabit and share. However, the objective reality is not always accessible to us; we come to understand our reality through a subjective interpretation that is heavily based in our backgrounds, experiences, and personal understandings.
This means that my philosophy for design and for research focuses on both the objective and the subjective. I believe that there are objective, external, and real cognitive processes and properties by which people live and learn, and that these processes may be universal to the human experience. Subjectively though, the ways in which individuals come to understand the world around them can be countless, complex, and sometimes even contradictory. The specific approaches from cognitive science that draw my attention are those which help to explain how objective processes and subjective understandings intersect to create meaning.
Download examples of my design and teaching philosophies below:
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Design PhilosophyTeaching Philosophy