UX CONSULTATION  |  MOBILE DEVELOPMENT  |  LEARNING DESIGN  |  SYSTEMS INTEGRATION

WHAT I DO

When users pick up a device or visit an online space, the last thing they want to do is learn how to use that space. They should innately know how to navigate and interact to find the information they’re looking for or to share their own content, ideally within a few seconds of first being exposed to the design.

A big part of what I do, and the main focus of my doctoral research, is to analyze, make recommendations for and design user experiences that are universal,  intuitive, easy to use and engaging, without making the user think too much.

The best user experience designs have users engaged, talking positively about their experiences and most importantly, coming back.

After working on the original iPhone OS SDK, I became interested in how touch based interfaces might differ in how they are used in education.

After developing a few fun apps for the App Store, I started to focus my attention on what touch-based interfaces would look like to help people learn, not just as far as subject matter and function, but user interface elements and assistance with learning in all its forms.

Currently, I’m working on an app that takes advantage of the Canvas LMS’ API to pull information and help in curriculum mapping.

Designing experiences and useful apps and online spaces is what I love to do.

Creating content that is both dynamic, useful to the user and aesthetically pleasing allows users to actually enjoy their experiences. While some site are functional but ugly, a balance must be struck between the two, ensuring that a web site or app does what it should and delights the user.

Having developed a few websites using WordPress, I’m currently focusing on Drupal Development for education, specifically related to knowledge-base sites and communications and marketing.

Having worked in video production for over 12 years, I’ve seen it all.

I’ve developed multimedia tutorials, both in video and interactive HTML5 formats, as well as shot, lit and cut various video projects.

Creating motion graphics and titling is equally as important to define a video as something a viewer would call ‘professional’. By combining motion graphics, well shot video, lighting and pacing in the editing process, a final video can come out looking something worthy of broadcast.

Working in eLearning since 2006, I have broad experience in working with students, instructors, designers and administrators in field of eLearning and Distance Education.

To have a successful eLearning department an educational institution or business should have certain organizational, human resources and other supports in place in order to be most successful.

Crafting appropriate policy for your organization based on shared-governance and input from all stakeholders, especially instructors is an extremely important step in moving your educational programs forward.

This, along with a comparison of imperical data from similar institutions from your region and beyond ensures that you’ll be making the best decisions you can while maintaining a clear vision for the future.

Having designed many courses, both for educators and in various subject areas, I am experienced and efficient in working with instructors and other stakeholders to design, develop and deliver courses that are both learner-centered and innovative.

Pedagogy always comes before technology.

In working with content experts, my primary goals is to educate instructors and work to build instructional design skills in everyone.

When designing courses, previous instructors, subject matter exports and the history of the course is always taken into account, along with mechanisms to ensure both student success and continual improvement of the course.

Students should be engaged, and part of engagement is fun. If students aren’t having fun, then changes are they’re not going to be engaged. Building in aspects of gamification, drawing upon personal experience and activating prior knowledge is one of the core principles in any good instructional design.

As the world becomes more and more connected, online spaces are able to interact with each other in new ways, sharing data across multiple sites.

My most recent projects involve designing and developing educational web and mobile apps that talk to other systems, whether it be social networking like Twitter or Facebook, content providers like Flickr or Instagram or Learning Management Systems like canvas.

Building systems that allow for alternate pathways to complete a task, either to save time or to improve upon an existing experience, is probably the most important part of web development today.

WHAT I THINK

USER EXPERIENCE

When your users visit a site or use an app, they want to get stuff done. They don’t want to have to think about how to accomplish a task – it should just be innately clear to them.

When designing for the web or mobile, there should have a clear  understanding of how people with interact with a product. Without that, people will give up, get frustrated and find something else to do.

TEACHING IN THE 21ST CENTURY

The best teachers never cease to learn. Too many times I’ve encountered instructors who are satisfied with the status quo, afraid of looking incompetent in front of their students, and unwilling to adopt new technologies and strategies.

Just because someone is uncomfortable using a new tool, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used, especially if it’s in use by our students. They are the drivers for change in education, and they dictate what they expect from their learning experiences.

ASSESSMENT

The standardized test was the worst thing to ever happened to education.

Combine test anxiety, disconnection from objectives and a myriad of other reasons, the best form of assessment is always one that replicates the real world application of knowledge, skills and problem solving.

Without doing this, all we’re teaching our students to do is how to jump through hoops and be a good student,  which won’t serve them in the workplace.

FAILURE AS A LEARNING EXPERIENCE

When was the last time anyone in the history of the world got something right the first time and was an expert from then on. Very Rarely.

The idea that students should be assessed and punished for their mistakes is not reflective of real-world experience.

Most of us learn to solve problems through trial and error; by making mistakes, identifying those mistakes and engaging in corrective action. It’s through this repetitive process that we make connections in our brains and memories and form long term ones, and thus learn.

INTERACTIVITY IN ELEARNING

When I hear the term ‘Interactive’ when talking about Distance Education / eLearning, I always grit my teeth and prepare for the worst.

Some people think that if videos, interactive assessments and online games are included in online courses, that this makes them interactive. Technically it does, but not in any meaningful pedagogical way.

The true goldmine for an ‘interactive online course’ is the creation of a community in which learners collaborate and problem solve together, interacting through their learning process.

LEARNING AS PLAY

The contemporary learning experience seems to assume the following:

Adults are not allowed to have fun.

The more engaged a learner is with content, and with their peers the more they will learn. Letting go of the age old rows of tables, staying in the classroom and facing forward model, instructors should be always on the lookout for alternate methods of getting their students excited.

Playing games, challenging students to solve abstract problems, providing scenarios and other such learning activities break the mold of what it means to be a ‘student’ and when they see this simple change, they will usually become more engaged.

Part of this philosophy though, is ‘unlearning’ the idea that we have to teach students to learn for themselves, and break the chains of previous bad experiences in education.

SOLVING PROBLEMS IN TEAMS

Most of time, we don’t learn how to use our newfound skills and knowledge through rote memorization, we learn it through the application of knowledge in the real world.

Learning through problem solving and application of new knowledge in a specific context activates prior experience in the learner and facilitates learning through an act of creation.

This is why project-based learning is something I have always supported and implemented. Learners working in teams to solve a problem, will always benefit more than watching a ‘sage on the stage’.

ELEARNING LEADERSHIP

We are at an interesting time in technology-enabled education. With many administrators in educations being unfamiliar with what is required for such types of learning, it’s important to have leadership in this area, to advocate for change so that students’ learning experiences continue to be top notch, both in the classroom and away from it.

Part of being an effective leader in eLearning is to ensure that there is always forward movement towards a structured process that includes quality standards for distance education courses, coupled with professional development for instructors.

WHAT I LEARNED

Doctor of Philosophy: Cognitive Load Theory, Evolutionary Educational Psychology & User Interface Design - University of Wollongong (in progress)

Master of Cross-Disciplinary Art and Design: User Experience & Interface Design, Web Design & Project Management - University of New South Wales (2013)

Master of Education: Adult Education, Learning Design & Instructional Technology - Western Washington University (2007)

Bachelor's Degree: East Asian Studies - Western Washington University (2002)