What is your current profession?
I work as a crisis simulation developer and producer, faculty, and designer at Northwestern University in their School of Communication.
What is the most exciting part of creating learning experiences?
If having a great team to bounce ideas off and collaborate with is a given, I really love mixing various elements into a cohesive whole.
Creating graphics, designs, and finding perfect typography, editing video and animating titles, scoring, recording, and mixing the music, building and designing the accompanying manuals, and then unleashing it all on a classroom to test their mettle is such a perfect confluence of all the things I like doing all at once.
It's also great that we get to present this ourselves - we get to see them react, get feedback, figure out how to make it better, and do it again!
It's pretty rewarding.
How did you get into instructional design?
Everything I've been doing both personally and professionally has sort of led me here.
For my professional path...
I started teaching and tutoring about a month after I got my drivers license. My family owned a Kumon math and reading center, which I still run on the side today. I liked it so much, that I got my bachelors in education and went on to become a classroom teacher here in the city for about 6 years. I kinda got burnt out in this environment, but I knew I wanted to keep teaching.
I had a bunch of oddball jobs, but I finally got involved with an art education non-profit after one of my former professors reached out to me. This was super exciting because we built an experimental curriculum around an art and music project that I designed called Musical Chairs.
We were able to install and present this project at various high schools, galleries, museums, and other cultural institutions both here and overseas.
From there, several of us at the non-profit went on to develop a platform for teachers to collaborate and share curriculum online. I explain the project in more detail in the section on SITE. Fortunately, SITE was picked up by the College of Education at DePaul University, more specifically, their Center for Educational Technology.
While I was there teaching the faculty, staff, and students about SITE, I was exposed to what CET was doing. They were an in-house instructional design department and gear closet for faculty. I thrived in this environment, and realized this could be a great career path for me.
SITE fizzled out as many university-funded projects tend to do, but I wanted to keep teaching in higher education. Naturally, I would need a masters to do so, but I had been teaching almost 20 years at that point and didn't want to go back and just do more educational theory. I decided to get a masters in Interdisciplinary Art at Columbia College because I wanted to feed my creative side. I figured I could always learn the new technology on my own terms. While I was doing this, I was still running the math center, managing my family's gas station, and working as a freelance designer.
After I completed my degree, I was hired to teach a hybrid design course to masters students at Northwestern in their school of communication.
Luckily for me, my department was particularly forward thinking and so I was afforded a wide variety of contract work, the most exciting being developing curriculum, design assets, and videos for crisis simulations. It's great, I love it, I want to do more of it. That's what brought me to this point.
Whew! Now, for how my personal life has brought me to this point...
Simultaneously, I've been a musician basically my whole life. I've consistently been in multiple bands since I was in college. I was a big fan of the DIY approach and really enjoyed all the production that went into having a band in addition to creating and performing music. From t-shirts, posters, logos, flyers, making videos, websites, recording and editing...I enjoyed all of it. I ended up stockpiling a host of skills all because I just liked doing it for fun. It ended up dovetailing into my education work, and has equipped me with a huge host of interdisciplinary teaching skills.
In sum, through this weird twinned pathway, I've become an instructional designer by both fortune and design. It lets me do everything I'm good at and that I enjoy.
Well, if you've made it this far, I also have an artists portfolio at:
It's.....exploratory. There's tons of creative work I've been doing for years--music, videos, interviews, exhibits, installations, performances, etc., all archived in one head-spinning space.
Be warned: it's definitely like going down a rabbit-hole. Enjoy!