Instructional Design, Learning and Development, Technology

ADDIE Infographic

Brief ADDIE infographic video, experimenting with assets and design elements of Doodly and Filmora.

Instructional Design, Learning and Development, Reviews, Technology

Doodly do or Doodly don’t?

Doodly software is an easy to use tool for whiteboard animation creation. I created the above in a matter of minutes- start to finish, render, and upload to YouTube. Simple.

What I like:
– Software, no extra hardware needed. No pen. No big clunky board. No projector.
– SIMPLE to use with drag and drop functionality.
– Easy interface for basic entry/exit customization.
– A number of useable assets for just about any project.
– You can add your own images if you want something more.
– Great royalty-free audio tracks.

What I don’t:
– Limited options for entry and exit.
– Limited ability to manipulate the timeline.

Doodly is a great tool for basic whiteboard animations. The biggest plus is its simplicity and no need for extra hardware. If you can use PowerPoint, this is even easier. Anyone who knows the basics of using a computer and Office software can learn Doodly in minutes. The lack of advanced functionality is limiting if you want to take your creative view to the next level. If you really want something more powerful and technical, Adobe has great tools to challenge you. If you want to create a quick whiteboard animation, Doodly works.

Education, Instructional Design, Learning and Development

Training: Manageable, Memorable, Measurable

Why have a training program?

It’s simple, employees desire opportunities.  Learning and development provides opportunities for employees to gain skills, acquire positive behaviors, grow knowledge, and become empowered in their jobs.  Effective training improves retention as employees feel that they can learn and grow in their role.   To be effective, training initiatives must clearly define goals and objectives, and communicate those to participants.

Effective training is manageable, memorable, and measurable and it starts before the training session ever begins. Design and Development of the learning program requires time and evaluation. Obstacles to effective training must be anticipated. Goals and competencies must be established before content can be created.  Why is the training important? Who is the audience? What is the desired result? How will the results be measured? What is the best format to use?  Does the content meet the goals and adjectives? Will the content and method of implementation achieve the desired result?  These questions should be repeatedly addressed in the development process.  After delivery it is important to evaluate the training from both a presentation standpoint, and receive feedback from participants. Review the feedback, document results, and strive to improve the next time. It should be a learning and development cycle and it does not stop.

Training can rarely be thrown together and effective without careful development, addressing the questions above.  The half-hearted approach will be recognized by the participant.  Training also should not be like drinking from the fire hose. There must be a reasonable schedule with time to digest the content. We’ve all sat through marathon learning sessions and walked away overwhelmed, retaining virtually nothing. A jam-packed agenda with no opportunities to digest content is counterproductive. Training sessions have to be manageable. Breaking content into chunks with breaks for both discussion and pause are essential.

Participants need REAL application of content and need to interact/reflect on it for the content to “stick”.  Interactive game based learning isn’t just more interesting and engaging, it works.  Blended learning strategies offer a show, do, review approach. The participant engages multiple senses, and therefore increases content retention.  In person training should have interactive components as well. Show/Do/Review makes training memorable.

Learners need to be engaged and able to connect learning to their day-to-day life. Building engagement involves building interest, identifying how to make the learning content relevant, and delivering content in a way that is appealing and promotes retention. If well executed the learning becomes authentic and important to the participant. They are then motivated to engage, seek further knowledge, and to implement what they have learned.

Learning must be measurable.  If you can’t or won’t measure effectiveness, what’s the point?  Just to say it is done?  So many times this is the case and employees know it and training completion becomes just another box to check, which leads to inattention and no retention. Without measurability there is no way to see what works and what does not. What may be fun and engaging, may not solve the problem.

What makes training effective?  Essentially, the little things add up.  A strong, well-organized learning program with sound principles and objectives is ineffective if the environment is uncomfortable and riddled with distractions.  If learners are participating strictly to check a box, little of value will be taken away.  Negativity breeds negativity. If training is poorly planned and poorly executed, it is a waste of time for everyone involved. The training environment must be conducive to learning. Basic human needs must be considered. Snacks and breaks are important. Goals, objectives, and implementation strategy work in tandem with participants and place to build an effective training.

Best Practices, Instructional Design, Self Improvement

Presentation Points

What makes a good presentation?  Is it the speaker? The content?  The visual aid?

What about all of it?

Everything matters and contributes, but it’s the little things that will elevate your presentation to the next level.

The speaker can detract from the content, just as poor/inaccurate content can take away from a good speaker.  A poor visual aid (PowerPoint) can be detrimental as well.  Just as an unprepared speaker can make the audience uncomfortable, a thrown together presentation is off putting to an audience. 

Compare it to viewing property for sale. 

One home has consistent fixtures throughout, antique bronze light fixtures, faucets, and door handles. The flooring may have tile in the kitchen and bath, hardwoods in the common space, and carpet in the bedrooms. The color selections complement each other.  Walking through the home is pleasant.

The other home has stainless steel faucets, with antique bronze light fixtures, and gold door handles. The kitchen is tile, but the living room is dark hardwood that meets thin light hardwood in the entry way. Carpet in the master bedroom is a thicker shag than the smooth, cheaper, carpet found in the other rooms. The hall is hardwood, but it is neither the dark of the living room or light of the entryway. Each room is a different color, and not part of an overall theme.  While each room may be nice, the overall viewing experience leaves one a little confused.

Consistency and/or complementary is pleasing to the viewer. Everything doesn’t have to be the same, but there needs to be a common theme.  While the viewer may not be able to put their finger on exactly what left them with a little angst they will feel as if something is just not right.  Take the time to work on the little things.

A few little things:

  • Keep headings similar in size, placement, and spacing.
  • Use consistent bullet points.
  • Use consistent fonts, and sizes, for headings and content.
  • Use consistent imagery. Don’t mix and mat photographs and clipart.
  • Colors should remain consistent or complimentary throughout.
  • Stay within your template. Do your best to work within the content real estate that you have.
Education, Instructional Design, Learning and Development

ARCS Model thoughts

It’s not enough to design great eLearning. Learners who are not interested in the topic, who do not buy into the goals, who generally resist change, or who fail to see the big-picture reasons for learning the new material or skill have what Guild Master Julie Dirksen identifies as motivation gaps.

Know your audience, establish relevance, and build confidence for the buy-in. Satisfaction is achieved and the learner does not feel time was wasted on another boring training.

Pamela Hogle‘s article on the website for Learning Solutions MagazineARCS Model Aids in Designing for Motivation is a well explained piece on motivation and barriers to learning.  As with most learning modules relevance, motivation, and usefulness are the primary frustrations designers must overcome in order to create an effective tool. Where the ARCS model differs from others is making confidence a key indicator. Applying new skills and implementing new strategies is a daunting task, takes time, and can be overwhelming. It is much more comfortable to keep the status quo, sticking with the familiar.  Reinforcing relevance and offering clear implementation strategies will build confidence necessary for a successful use of learning content. Establishing relevance is not enough. Many will be able to see how the training is relevant to them, but may be overwhelmed with precisely how to utilize the acquired knowledge. Concise examples, clear instructions, and modeling give the learner a vision for how the strategy can work for them. Sometimes the most difficult part of learning a strategy is visualizing its use in your own situation. Examples help provide clarity and the buy-in that what is being learned can actually be used.



Best Practices, Education, Instructional Design, Learning and Development

Bells and Whistles: Engagement


A few basics for creating an engaging lesson/learning module:

  • Plan. Don’t wing it.
  • Determine your objectives and desired outcome.
  • Establish how you will determine mastery.
  • Mine your resources.
  • Outline the lesson/course.
  • Build it.
  • Add the bells and whistles.

The course is just part of an overall process. For an instructional objective to be met and the course to be effective there must be ongoing performance support outside of the course. The learner must be motivated to engage in the content and to motivate the learner, relevance has to be clear.  Motivation can also be driven by opportunity. Meetings, projects, deadlines, task lists, family, and life in general are barriers to training. When categorizing tasks for the day training is not likely to be in the urgent and important category. Training is usually put in the “I will get to it when I can” or the “Oh my gosh it is due tomorrow” category.  If designers create training with time management in mind everyone’s life is made a little easier and training is more effective.  Compress activities and implement/suggest opportunities for practice to make training relevant to the participant. A few minutes here and there is a lot easier to manage than a sixty minute required commitment. There is a time and place for long sessions, but periodic required training is not it.  Saving progress is an essential feature. Chunk the module in such a way that there are natural breaks.

Planning is the key to breaking up the content into natural pauses. Story-boarding is an effective planning tool for planning. A storyboard is an organizational tool to establish the order of presentation, what resources are needed where, and where best to place learning checks. That is an oversimplification, but it explains the idea. PLAN for engagement. Preparing learning checks will chunk the material and engage the learner. Within the learning check, you have an opportunity to re-loop and review- TAKE IT.

Most understand that learning and presentation is a cycle. You explain what you are going to tell them. You tell them. Then you tell them what you told them.  I do not think of it in a circular pattern of instruction.  For me, loops are preferred.


In your loop learning, stimulate prior knowledge. Offering examples that relate to what the learner already knows can provide relevance as well as an opportunity to review prior material. Another opportunity to re-loop is by providing the chance to interact with the content.

Before building, gather all the resources necessary for success.  Mining of resources can take place before story-boarding or after. I prefer both. I gather the resources I know will be required. After outlining I usually find it necessary to add to my resource list.  Think of it like cooking. Before cooking you must check to see if you have all of your ingredients then purchase what you need. If you have all of your ingredients out, measured and ready for use you are not in a frantic rush to heat, stir, measure the next ingredient, and add it before whatever you are cooking is ruined by a delay.  Having all resources ready for use in an easily accessible folder or bank will make your instructional design process smoother and  less stressful.

When building your learning module, keep content frames clear, concise and uncluttered. Words, words, and more words is not necessary. Stick to the major points and add narration for explanation. Add images to enhance the topic and assist the learner in making connections.  While bells and whistles can be exciting and provide a tool to grab attention, don’t over do it. Too many bells and whistles become obnoxious after repeated use.  Keep in mind, just because the learning module is professional and serves a learning purpose, that does not mean it can’t be entertaining.  Lastly, if you are bored creating it, how will the learner required to complete it feel?

Keep it simple. Make it relevant. Plan and don’t wing it.

Education, Instructional Design, Learning and Development

The Powerful Impact of ELearning

Reading this article:   7 Benefits And The Powerful Impact Of eLearning In 2018

The headline summary states, “eLearning is not a new concept, but not many people recognize the impacts it is making on educational platforms. Since education is aimed at life development, eLearning is a privilege that can boost improvement across fields of knowledge and innovations.”

No doubt elearning is big. No doubt it has a major impact and is an amazing tool.  However, approach with caution. It is a tool.  You wouldn’t use a hammer to fix everything that goes wrong in your house would you?  Some fixes need a different approach.  The sole use of elearning is a dangerous move.  Students are losing the ability to focus for more than a few moments. The traditional classroom is boring, they would rather shut their brains off and play a game. This is where elearning, combined with direct instruction can force them to turn the mind back on and be challenged.

When combined with traditional methods elearning is an amazing supplement to the learning experience. Students can be introduced to new content using elearning. The instructor can build on that introduction with other resources and direct instruction. Elearning can reinforce previously acquired knowledge. It is also a great tool for application of learning concepts. If used with directed focus, it can enhance conventional and traditional methods. We don’t have to throw away the old ways, but we must learn to weave the new in with the old. Meet learners where they are and challenge them to be more.

Finally, as much as I love a good paper book, I love carrying my books everywhere…just in case a moment to read presents itself.  Elearning has certainly lightened the backpack of 21st Century students.



Career, Change, Instructional Design, Learning and Development

In transition

I am opening the door on the next step in my professional journey. I wish to transition from the secondary classroom into corporate learning and development/instructional design. My research is proving to be disheartening. There is so little respect for the k-12 educator. There is little understanding that the skill set required to educate young minds transfers to the corporate world. In fact, I presume that it is easier.  Let’s face it, no one in corporate America is going to require an IEP or 504 plan so that their instructional experience is differentiated to their very specific learning need.  No one in corporate America requires a PEP for their specific learning need…actually, you know, that is probably not true.  If corporate America is anything like working with my teacher colleagues (and my husband works in corporate America so I know that there are shocking similarities) some absolutely need a PEP in order to complete the technology tasks expected of them.  It amazes me how many professionals in the 21st Century cannot perform basic computer tasks.

I recently completed a brief synopsis on why I am seeking certification in Instructional Systems Technology.  My response is below.

With 18 years of education experience, a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Science Secondary Education and a Master’s in American History it is time that I broaden my career options. I am applying for the Instructional Systems Technology certification program so that I may further explore instructional design and current theories of learning.

I have a proven ability to design instructional models to meet the needs of a diverse audience.  Flexibility, creativity, and management skills have allowed me to successfully implement curriculum requirements and deliver content in an efficient, appropriate and beneficial manner.  I am skilled in technology usage and evaluation models, as well as possess excellent communication and time management skills.  My current classroom is 80% paperless using Canvas as my LMS platform. I am familiar with multiple LMS systems and with Instructional Design programs. Achieving certification for Instructional Design is the logical next step for me to transition my career to a corporate setting.

My diverse teaching experiences have prepared me for this area of study. In my previous post as teacher and site coordinator of ‘”my school’s” online credit recovery program utilizing APEX learning systems I was able to design multiple courses using the platform available and discussing curriculum needs with subject matter experts.  Data from student use and program completion was a key tool in our push for implementation of school improvement goals and program use increased graduation rate. It was my responsibility to utilize course instructional modules and site coordinator reports to monitor progress and ensure completion to improve graduation outcomes. Working with a small team of educators, I helped grow the Apex utilization program from a brief, twice a week, credit recovery program to a year-round program- taking place during school, after-school, and as an independent credit recovery option for struggling students.  Initially we were using the Apex program as designed, but found it necessary to customize content to suit “state and local” course requirements.  I was responsible for the design of multiple courses. As Apex course offerings and our own understanding of what Apex could provide improved, our credit recovery program was enhanced. We expanded from using Apex as a credit recovery tool to a comprehensive credit recovery program; I was instrumental in creating teacher-training tools and implementing broader strategies for utilization.

In preparation for this career transition I have begun the process of further refining my personal brand and enhancing my skill set. I am refreshing my understanding of learning models and studying current trends for instructional design and adult learning theory.  I am also gaining additional knowledge and expertise with programs such as Captivate and expanding my utilization of blended learning strategies in my personal classroom. I have begun providing professional development for colleagues who need assistance with k-12 technology implementation and tools.

In the future, I plan to transition out of the classroom and offer my expertise in the field of learning and development, as well as instructional design. The Graduate Certificate Program in Instructional Systems Technology will help further my career goals and provide the necessary means to transition to areas outside the k-12 classroom. It will also allow me to hold the necessary endorsements to continue in K-12 technology instruction if the opportunity presents.

The delivery format of the certification program allows me to continue my career in the k-12 classroom. The content knowledge gained will also help me be a better instructional specialist for my clientele.

My next considerations have to be: Is a certification program enough?  I feel like it should be. However, my research shows that industry leaders look down upon educators. There is no confidence in the transferable skill set.  I assure you, the skills are there. The juggling act of a k-12 educator is rather impressive. Until he met me, my husband had no idea what teachers faced on a daily basis.  He has been shocked and saddened.  I think that corporate America shuns the transitioning educator because they are uninformed and lack the knowledge that a personal association provides. Also, currents trends are to vilify teachers who are overworked and (I would say underpaid, but I don’t think that is always the case so…) underappreciated.

Thanks for reading. I will leave you with a quote from fellow teacher Keith Hughe’s

Where attention goes, energy flows.



Education, Instructional Design, Learning and Development

Academia vs Corporate Learning

I recently read an article that was almost condemning of one in academia attempting to transition to corporate learning and development. As someone who would love to step out of the classroom I was perplexed. Is this going to be possible for me? Do I have anything to offer corporate instructional needs? Rather than embracing the initial defensive response, I chose to delve deeper. It is the 21st Century, learning is at your fingertips and it seems everyone has an opinion. Since I am part of everyone, and this is my spot on the web, I will explore my opinion.

Is there really a difference in corporate learning and academia? Yes…and no. I choose the focus on the following three categories: purpose, audience, and method of instruction.

Nikos Andriotis posted an article on TalentLMS that explores this topic. The key difference is stated simply:

Instead of paying attention to facts, details, and knowledge, corporate eLearning plays up skills and how they’re applied in the workplace.

Academia focuses on learning objectives. Corporate learning focuses on performance. In both you are restricted to the objectives of the course. Whether it is the department of instruction for a state or the CEO of a company, someone is deciding what the trainer should present. In academia the trainer is typically well versed in the subject being taught. In corporate, subject matter experts provide the content and the trainer facilitates the instruction.

The audience needs also differ. Primary, secondary, and post-secondary academic settings are for preparing students to function in society. Learning is broad. Learning is broken down into steps and each new academic year builds on the foundational learning skills of the previous. Knowledge is measured by regular assessments of knowledge and understanding of content. In the corporate setting, it is assumed that the learner already possesses the basic skills for the job at hand. It is also assumed that the learner knows how to learn. The performance improving goal is stated and over time success is measured based on periodic performance indicators. Very specific business skills are measured.

In academia the learning time frames are broken into quarters, semesters or trimesters, and academic years. The time frames for corporate learning are much more compact. As the market changes, demands and needs change, therefore learning opportunities/requirements are quickly revamped to meet those needs. To simplify it, academia is about learning, content, and theory. The corporate world is about training.

Are instructional experiences transferable between academia and corporate? It depends on who you ask. If you ask someone who lacks knowledge beyond their own personal attendance of a school, then no and academic simply cannot successfully transition to instructional design, and corporate learning and development. If you ask someone who is not so short sighted and does not buy into the vilification of teachers, then yes the instructional skills are transferrable. One should not make any career transition without careful consideration and research. There are frustrations in every job. Skill sets are transferrable. Both academia and corporate learning require the ability to communicate. Both require time management and the ability to meet deadlines. Both require patience with clients who are not always eager to learn. Both require creativity. Finally, both require a dedication to success.

Does this over simplify the comparison? Probably, but that does not make it any less real.