About Me

My Background (Autobiographical Statement)
I have always known that I was going to work in education. The challenge has been figuring out what exactly I would do within the education space. For a long time, I planned on becoming a high school band director. I studied piano and trombone in high school and attended the University of Georgia's Hugh Hodgson School of Music for my undergraduate degree in Music Education. After graduating, I pursued full time positions as a band director, but ended up working in a highly unusual but versatile teaching position at Morgan County Charter High School in Madison, Georgia.

While I did work as a band director for the school, I was primarily hired to write and develop a new class for 9th grade students called Freshman Seminar. This course was meant to cover a wide variety of topics including business, technology, personal finance, health, driver's education, soft skills, and school success skills. I had unknowingly signed on to work as an instructional designer, just by a different name. While working at MCHS, I wrote and developed this curriculum along with a few other projects. I worked with a colleague to completely rewrite the district wide PBIS lessons. This involved creating more than 30 lessons with activities and assessments, all of which needed to be hosted in an online platform so that students and teachers across the district could access and use the materials in their classes. I also served as a teacher leader by working with our "High Performance Professional Learning Community" to develop, implement, monitor, and evaluate school improvement initiatives each year.

I found that the most rewarding aspects of my job involved creating educational resources for students and teachers to use, and supporting other teachers by improving systems and processes that were used daily. As I began looking for potential graduate degrees and programs to continue my education, I found the field of Instructional Design. I quickly realized that over the past 3 years as a teacher, I had been doing instructional design tasks and was intrigued by the possibility of doing this kind of work full time. Instructional Design is a field that would let me leverage and apply my wide skill set in a way that traditional classroom teaching did not. I applied and was accepted to the University of Georgia's Learning, Design, and Technology program in the Summer of 2021 and left my teaching job to pursue the degree.

In this degree program, I hoped to increase my experience with a variety of technology tools and resources commonly used in the ID industry which I had not experienced in K12 teaching. I was also looking to learn more about standard ID approaches and strategies to improve my design processes and abilities. I was excited about engaging with more theories about learning, knowing, and teaching, especially because I felt that my music education background had not covered philosophy and pedagogy extensively. I have been impressed by the breadth of tasks and experiences the program has provided for me as I worked to meet these personal goals. I've created eLearning modules using Articulate Storyline, instructional videos using Premiere Pro, wireframes using XD, microlearning units using PowerPoint; print-based training manuals, needs assessment write-ups, data analysis papers, literature reviews...the list is nearly endless. I've been very pleased by the variety of tasks we've completed in the program as I feel that it sets me up well to tackle any kind of instructional design task in the field. As part of these many different tasks and projects, we've explored a variety of approaches and methods. Of course the typical ADDIE framework was used, but we also used design thinking, systems thinking, human-centered and learner-centered design, and more. We explored using project management frameworks as well. Most importantly, significant emphasis has been placed on exploring learning theory, pedagogy, and andragogy as an essential and fundamental basis for design approaches and decisions. Learning more about the various theories of knowledge and learning has enabled me to make deeper and more informed decisions when engaging in design which, in turn, leads to better outcomes for clients and learners.

While pursuing this degree, I've also been able to work as a freelance instructional designer. These professional experiences have enriched my learning in the classroom as they've given me additional opportunities to apply my knowledge and skills as a practitioner while also expanding my professional network. As a freelancer, I've served clients in public schools, higher education institutions, emergency response, real estate, and healthcare. Some notable projects and tasks include leading the accreditation process for a UI/UX start up in Atlanta, conducting high level planning and organizing for a UI/UX bootcamp, conducting a needs assessment and performance improvement project for a dental clinic, organizing and developing a digital content strategy for a real estate client, and web design for a first responder consultant. These professional projects have increased my knowledge and given me a wider set of experiences, making me a more versatile designer.

Looking ahead, I plan to pursue a PhD to conduct research and add to the Instructional Design body of knowledge while increasing my skills and experiences. While my options are extensive, I'd like to conduct research into areas like pedagogy for software learning and training, the potential applications of VR to learning and training situations, connectivism as a modern learning theory, and pedagogical trends in video game tutorial designs. While pursuing this PhD, I hope to gain experiences working in higher education to determine if academia will be my final destination, or if I'll want to pursue a career as a practitioner. I've always known that I wanted to work in education, but figuring out exactly where has been the challenge.
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My Design Philosophy (Overview Statement)

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. As part of our coursework, students were charged with creating our own definitions for instructional design as a step toward developing our own philosophies. After much deliberation, and heavily influenced by the Richey, Klein, and Tracey (2010) book The Instructional Design Knowledge Base: Theory, Research, and Practice, I created this definition:
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.
I often view the world as being deterministic, scientific, and logical, so my philosophy and design approach is similarly rooted in concrete knowledge and deterministic evidence. I strongly believe that all designs should be rooted in evidence-based methods and systems in order to ensure the best possible experience for the user. Creating learning experiences without a solid basis in learning theory and educational research is irresponsible and unethical. We exist to serve our learners as best as possible, and that means using the best practices as they are currently known. When our body of knowledge expands and changes, the designer must continue to learn and adapt to the new concepts.

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 surprise that I have a view of the instructional design field which incorporates both researchers, practitioners, and the body of knowledge generally.

Professionally, I am seeking to become a researcher in the instructional design field. I have therefore created a definition of instructional design that 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.
A more detailed and academically cited example of my philosophy can be downloaded below:
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