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- Meet Danielle, a seasoned instructional designer with a unique perspective on the world of e-learning. With a background in visual communication, adult learning, and digital media, Danielle brings a diverse set of skills and expertise to her role. Her passion for the industry and the challenge of transforming traditional learning methods to online courses make her stand out from the crowd.
- As an instructional designer, Danielle's work is far from monotonous, with each day presenting a new challenge. She relishes the opportunity to make decisions about what content to keep or discard, ensuring that each course she designs is engaging, informative, and effective. Her role demands a flexible work schedule, which she appreciates and makes the most of to manage her time effectively.
- The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to the education industry. However, Danielle faced the challenges head-on and adapted to the new normal. She shares how she managed to stay on top of things and provide effective solutions to ensure a seamless transition to online learning for her students.
- Danielle believes that the key to her success is her willingness to learn and her acceptance of imperfection. She acknowledges that the learning never stops, and she strives to keep up with technological advancements and refresh online learning content regularly. She shares her tips for managing time effectively, prioritizing tasks, and staying motivated.
- As a member of the Public Relations Association and an accredited PR professional, Danielle understands the significance of communication and persuasion in the field. She incorporates these skills into her instructional design work, ensuring that her courses are engaging, informative, and compelling.
- In conclusion, Danielle's journey as an instructional designer is a testament to her passion, perseverance, and adaptability. Her unique perspective on e-learning and her dedication to providing effective solutions have made her a valuable asset to the education industry. Her tips for managing time, staying motivated, and embracing imperfection are sure to inspire anyone pursuing a career in instructional design.
Today I'm speaking with Miss Danielle. Oh sir. Danielle has come through instructional design on a non-traditional path, starting as a PR agency account exec and then moving on to a corporate communications director finally accidentally starting a career in higher ed. With her background in visual communication, Adult Learning and Digital Media. She brings a unique perspective to the world of instructional design. Hi, Danielle. It's really great to have you here with us today.
It's great to be here.
How long have you been working in instructional design?
About four years ago, I was asked to convert some of my on ground classes into online courses. So that's kind of how it began. It was really an interesting eye opening experience to take those 16 week in person classes and turn them into those eight week sessions. Especially because they were things like Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, which are very, very technical to begin with.
Right? A definitely Yeah, I saw that. You were into a lot of Adobe.
Absolutely. When I went to school, mostly Adobe stuff wasn't really there yet. So I've really been very self taught. So trying to figure out how to help others learn how to learn those because Adobe is constantly changing. And what you did yesterday might not be there tomorrow. So how do we help learners know how to have that competence to say okay, let's try this. I want to try and do this instead. So it's kind of what brought me a little bit to the instructional design side.
Yeah, that's awesome. What do you enjoy most about being an instructional designer?
Well, instructional design kind of happened accidentally, as my whole career in higher ed did. Did I have a clue what I was doing at the time? No, I know subject matter expert at subject matter expert, but I didn't necessarily know how to convert that. So I did work with a team who did a lot of the back end parts to begin with, and how do we decide what stays what goes how do we keep those the content similar enough so that people who are taking the on ground aren't getting more or less than those people who are taking the online classes as well. I think part of that challenge is what's really interesting to me
That's awesome. Can you describe a typical workday? What are your daily responsibilities?
I haven't had a typical day in 20 years. Well, that's all for now. I'm still teaching online classes. So I'm in that ebb and flow of grading and making sure those put together at the same time, you know, what class am I building at the time? So really, I don't have anything typical plus I had two boys who are now in college. So typical was anything from wrestling practice to Boy Scout meetings, so it was constantly moving. That's why I got into this because I needed that flexibility. I needed to be able to go to the nurse's office and take people's braces apart. So you just Yes, I actually had to do that with my little wire cutters. So amazingly amazing. So I love the flexibility. I love that. It's always something different.
Right? And that I mean, that's how the world is coming these days too. So it fits perfectly. Absolutely agile, continuous changing.
Absolutely. And I was teaching on the ground when we all got locked down. So all of a sudden, we went from being on spring break to Okay, we're gonna switch you to this online client but we've never used it before the exam and then it's okay, we're not gonna be here two weeks we're gonna be here for the rest of semester so what had been a lot of on you know, on ground, helping people okay, where's this tool? How do I do this turned into an okay, how do I convert what we usually do in class into this hybrid place? And so I really saw as my kids were struggling, they were in high school, they're supposed to be taking AP exams, trying to figure out how we were moving into that online space. really made me want to go in and see okay, I need to know more about the education side of this. So I actually went back to school at that time to do a master's in education technology. So it really opened my eyes to see what I've been doing. But giving it actual names.
Great. Yeah, I know, it was just after COVID happened, everything just changed. I think everyone thought it was going to be temporary. And like you said, it's kind of necessary and just, it's, it's crazy how things have changed in the last couple of years. And you had a high school student. I had her in sixth grade at the time, but it was just hard for her. Yeah, it's hard for all the kids so now it's our job to learn how to bridge that gap.
But one son was taking home repairs and I was supposed to be building sheetrock walls and running wires and how do you convert that to the online world and it was not. Not super well done, because there wasn't a lot of time put into how we make this work? Yeah. Now it is kind of, okay, how can we take those experiences and make them work for other people?
Learn from all of it.
How do you manage your time effectively speaking?
I think that's hard. Especially because I've been in kind of the teaching mode for so long, because there is such an ebb and flow. You know, assignments come on Sunday night and all of a sudden you get 72 Things degrade by Tuesday. So I think it's really kind of keeping an eye on what's due next. I tell my students and my kids all the time, okay. Don't freak out. Let's look at okay, let's do next. What is the rubric? Say what do you have to do to get the points, let's get that done. And then you can add the bells and whistles from there. And I think that's the same with instructional design. You know, what do we need to have done okay, now how can we make it faster? How do we make it cooler? How can we make it even better? Because I think we get so caught up in ooh, this could be this this and that, that we don't meet those basic precedents that are required for the choir for the assignment. And you know, even in corporate communication, I always start with Okay, so witnesses do okay, if we only have two weeks, then that tells us quite a few things. We can't do all these photoshoots, we can't build custom sites. So what can we do with the time that we have available?
That's really good to keep in mind guys staying ahead of the game, especially with so much coming in at us. Yeah. Always remember that. Do you have any strategies for finding employment or clients in this field?
I've been lucky in that I've been just picking up where I teach. So I haven't really had time to go through that process just yet. I know having that network is key. It's still amazing to me how many people aren't using their LinkedIn, aren't using their social media, aren't using the networks that they have because they never know whose husband from the wrestling team is a recruiter or you know, who is looking for something. So I think it's really a matter of going out there and saying, Hey, this is what I do, and maybe I can help you do this. And that's hard. It's really hard especially as a lot of designers are moving more and more into their home spaces. They forget there's other people out there. I find as I'm teaching my online classes, I constantly have to remind them that there's a person on the other side of the screen, who's here to answer their questions and you can pick up the phone and you can call me and I will answer your questions. But they really approach it as a mu is my computer class. And I think we have to really get over that hump and it's not quite there yet.
Yeah, right out of the connections and networking. Right. I agree. And we need Yeah, I mean, can I just continuously reach out, but reaching going back to the question of helping or finding clients? I think you're right, it's all about LinkedIn. And networking.
Well, I think it's also being willing to put something out there because you know, as I'm, as I have students who are looking for internships, like well go to your favorite nonprofit. Yeah, their website, is there something you know, they're constantly looking for help. Can you say, I would love to put together this social media campaign for you and if so, can I put it in my portfolio? Yeah, that's how you build those you know, opportunities. If you don't have anything in your portfolio then find someone who needs something, even if it's videos on how to make stained glass or you know, some type of hobby, what can you teach someone and how can you use those tools to show someone else that you can use those tools?
I love that. That's great. We are blessed with our career and our position with having so many different options and opportunities to help other people. What has been the biggest factor to your success?
Knowing that if I don't know it now, I can learn it by tomorrow. I mean, you constantly have to know that. You know, my I have a degree in digital media, which at the time was a lot of social media, and social media changes every single day. So really being able to say, Okay, this is what worked yesterday, but this might not be what works tomorrow. So how can I find the tools? How can I find the experts who can help me move this forward because I can't know it all. How can I find the person who this is their niche? How can I find a way to partner with them? How can I figure out how to do it on my own? And sometimes it is sitting down with an old fashioned book and going page by page and pulling your hair out and sometimes it's getting someone to show you how to do it but I think it's not it's getting over that fear of Oh, I couldn't possibly.
Yeah, definitely being it realizing you can figure it out. What methods do you use to motivate yourself to continue working in this field?
I think if you think from project to project, there's always an end. So sometimes you get into that, who is gonna be really amazing. And you're like, Oh, crap, this is gonna have work. And then you get to this Oh, wow, this is really a lot of work. But eventually you get to that, okay, this is coming together. And in the end, there'll be something that's done. So even if it's not perfect, you know, I constantly have to remind my students that we can't let perfect stand in the way of perfection because perfection is not going to work. Perfection is something we can try and attain. But we have to accept that sometimes. This is what it is right now. But the beauty of this is it's electronic . We can change it tomorrow. If Purple's networking, let's make it green. Yeah. So how can we kind of keep thinking about how to make it better but learn to accept what we've got right the second grade.
I love that. Just continues iteration after iteration.
Which professional associations do you belong to?
I'm still a member of the public relations Association. I'm actually the accredited PR because I think a huge part of what we do is public relations. It is how we tell a story, it is how we communicate because if we just put something out there, if they don't act on it, and they don't do it, then we haven't done our jobs. So sometimes acting on it is getting them to click, sometimes acting is getting them to complete an assignment. So how do we use those communication skills? Because that's really all it is. It's psychology, it's persuasion. It's not necessarily the information that's on there. It's how are you getting them to go from one page to another? How are you getting them to keep paying attention to that video, and my son had to take a bunch of pre training before he started college was about drinking or sexual abuse or one of those types of things that incoming freshmen should know. And the survey afterward like you can't write that he's like, Well, it was my numbing the DOM like you can't do that. Like how do we make it better? As you know, that's not how we can talk. How can you give them some ideas about what parts of it were? You know, was it too fake? Was it too stage? Were they not speaking your language? You know, what about it not working? Was it too long? So how do we take that feedback and constant evaluation to kind of help figure out where we are going to move next? How can we fix this? Because some of it is mind numbingly awful. We've all had to sit through those. How do we make it better? How do we know that we've gotta get this information out? How can we do it differently?
Yeah. So how do we raise our energy levels? How do I know and how do we learn from our mistakes? And other people's mistakes? So that we don't make that?
Absolutely. My aunt, my recent Master's, was almost online. And it was really interesting to see that a lot of what we were learning wasn't being necessarily applied. To like the modules and things and it was really frustrating to say, Okay, you're telling us to do this, but you're not showing us that way. So why not? Why are you not taking the time to go back and adapt this and I know it takes time I know it takes money. I know it takes energy. And I think a lot of times, you know, just as once you write the brochure, it's done. It's on the shelf, you're done. But you can't consider your online learning that way. It's constantly got to be refreshed. Yeah. And you know, one of the first classes I built was social media. Campaigns, which is a great online class, but it's not a sit on the shelf class, because it's constantly moving. What you told them tools wise to use might not be there. You Twitter's upside down right now. So what do you know, how do you teach them enough of how to put enough basic content in there without having to redo it all the time? I know that it's hard
That's frustrating. Going back to the iteration after that, or yeah, just
I use a I use for Adobe, I use what's called classroom in a book because that's what the school has decided. And it's great except they have decided now to update that every year, which means I need to go back through and re record all those tutorials and by the time you're done with 13 chapters, that's 100 videos. And that takes a lot of time and it is frustrating, especially when you're like okay, you change four words. You know, being willing to put that out there. I think it's really important.
Right? Well to one thing with like that particularly that I'm trying is to do more live, just, I don't know, that's just an idea. Instead of recording them all. Do it live the first time and then after that, then just keep the recordings of the live. Absolutely. I mean, I just feel like the world's coming so fast paced.
No, I definitely agree. I think there's some things that definitely that fits for, ya know, I
know not everything obviously.
Can you get you know, that way you also capture the energy you learn you capture people's actual responses. It's not someone talking to a screen. A big difference,
right? What book would you recommend to new and aspiring instructional designers?
I think I will read everything. But there's not necessarily one book because books take a long time to get printed. So it's keeping up with blogs. It's keeping up with industry news. There's tons and tons of stuff about how to tell stories. There's a great one by Cal Dini, which is the influence of persuasion. That's not the exact name of it. But it's all about the psychology of making decisions and how we persuade people, and it is not necessarily an instructional design book. I think it's really important to understand how do we move people from point A to point B, and how do we push their buttons? So I think influence is really a good one. Yeah, that sounds like I want to look into that book. It is. There's a great short video on YouTube like the six six steps to persuasion or something. It looks like a whiteboard type of video, but it's pretty pretty interesting to see. Oh, awesome.
Okay, well, is there any I guess that was the last question? Are there anything else you'd like to add that we have not covered?
I just think constantly looking constantly is curious. You know, join Facebook groups, join you know, those professional associations, use LinkedIn, because you're never going to be able to keep track of all of it all at once. So how can you use those other tools? I know it after I made the Julian videos for my classes. I actually put them out on Facebook or on YouTube. Just because it was a place to host them. And I find that almost every day, I get someone who says Hey, thanks for putting this out here. I was really confused about how to do this. So no, I'm not trying to monetize but I've got 100 and something videos out there if you want to learn how to create some more interesting visual communication, if you're trying to play with Photoshop or InDesign or Illustrator, because I think the visual communication part is really, really huge. And we don't necessarily get as much training in that as we need to but instructional design really hinges on it. So how do we make it better? How do we communicate in ways that are appealing? And they're gonna catch your attention?
Yeah, that's great. I'm glad that you shared that about your videos. I am well. I was going to ask if you mind sharing some information about your free gift with the audience. I think they really like to hear more about it.
You know, anything, you know everything. I got step by step from the classroom in a book. I've also got quite a few that do. Maybe you want to be able to add a picture to an image. Maybe you want to learn how to create a really cool logo or create some social media posts in Canva. If you go to my YouTube channel, there's quite a few different options out there depending on what you're trying to learn everything from even little things like trying to put your face on a milk carton. One of my most popular videos is how to use the vanishing point in Photoshop. So I only made them for my class, but I'd save time. I said okay, well this is something that other people can use. That they get a lot of attention. So check it out. Yeah, that's great.
You're welcome. Thanks for sharing. Your story is going to be so helpful for anyone aspiring instructional designers, and thank you for sharing with us. I hope that you have a wonderful day. I will have
happy to be here.
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