Comprehensive Reflection


My Bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Graphic Design prepared me to take on various tasks related to building websites and making brochures and flyers. Although this work provided some creativity and artistic license, it lacked career growth and self-gratification. Therefore, I sought a new vocational path that would allow me to nurture my creative spirit, but more importantly build on my skills so I could significantly impact those around me.

My research about the EDTEC program led me to believe its curriculum could meet my requirements. In my fall 2007 application essay to the EDTEC program, I wrote, “I aspire to produce interactive content that reach and teach. I want the theories and models learned in Educational Technology to effectively solve the communication issues I face as a designer.” Reflecting on my experience in the program, I have come to realize that my goals and expectations were exceeded and I have been given a new sense of identity as an instructional designer.

My Loves

Throughout my experience in the program I have been exposed to many theories, models, tools, methodologies, and principles. Experimenting and practicing with my new skills and knowledge has opened my heart and mind to several of these ideas. I love them for what they contribute to me as an instructional designer and the unique value each offers to the application of educational technology.

Cause Analysis

My first love identifies the barriers and drivers that keep the learner from performing at an optimal level and will help them conquer a performance problem. “Analyzing performance problems will help you seek out the real reasons people don’t perform the way they should, the true problems and then help you match solutions to those problems” (Mager, 2007, p.2). Using the cause analysis framework helps me systematically approach what is the root of a performance issue- skills/knowledge, motivation, environment, or incentive; and determine whether the person or environment needs the intervention. What I find applicable about cause analysis is that the four barriers and driver pertain to all situations and performance problems. I even find myself informally using this analysis when trying to figure out solutions to life’s daily issues. In my EDTEC 540- Educational Technology project, I lead a performance analysis to determine why student assistants in my office were not using the telephone system efficiently. The data analysis information was obtained from an online survey focusing on the learners’ telephone knowledge and how they received previous training. A telephone job aid was a recommended solution to address the skills/knowledge deficiency. This solution system also showed me that non-training interventions should always be considered when suggesting interventions to performance issues.

Course Design Model

In EDTEC 544- Instructional Design, Dr. Frank Nguyen introduced me to Ruth Clark’s Course Design Model. Following this model I am able to develop a learning environment that motivates the learner, is relevant, practical, and can even inspire the learner to extend their knowledge beyond what is presented. I value each step in this model because it guides me to review the instructional problem and analyze remedies that are appropriate to the success of the overall design.

Determining the Instructional Method

Determining the instructional method is a strategy to promote the desired learning performance that will meet learning outcomes. There are several techniques I use to determine the instructional method, including reviewing the research that is relevant to my audience, speaking with stakeholders, and considering applicable learning theories. I had minimal knowledge about learning theories prior to EDTEC 544, so I really enjoyed experimenting with different theories and their unique instructional design characteristics in my projects. For example, in EDTEC 671- Learning Environment Design, I built an individual e-learning tutorial that used problem-based learning and practice items to teach complex concept and context. In more basic lessons like an e-learning on Formal Dining Etiquette I developed for EDTEC 572-Technologies for Course Delivery, I chose to use acronyms to help the learner practice and retain the information.

Determining the Delivery Method

There are many legitimate technologies or platforms used to deliver learning, including instructor-led, computer-based training, distance learning, virtual learning, web-learning, or a blended approach. I determine the best delivery method by analyzing what technology is compatible with the audience analysis and can support the instructional method. This solution should, “build on experience that facilitates both deeper understanding and easier recall” (Allen, 2003, p.15). My multimedia background continually inspires by instructional design techniques to test how traditional models of teaching can be adopted into digital environments. For my team project in EDTEC 572, my teammate and I developed a four-hour course on dinning etiquette using a blended learner method. The learner first engages in an e-Learning pre-training and reviews materials on a course website to recall prior knowledge and understand foundational concepts before their scheduled face-to-face workshop.

Determining the Media

“Media are the passive carriers of the active ingredient of learning” (Clark, 2008, p. 25). Videos, job-aids, simulations, audio, or a blended approach can affect the learners’ experience from just another typical training session or as an engaging and innovative event that alter the way they interact with learning. For example in EDTEC 561- Advances Web Based Multimedia Development, I experimented with the idea of turning IKEA’s paper instructions on how to build furniture to a movie format, mixing both live action and animation. I discovered through prototyping the video that most consumer who typically would not purchase do-it-yourself furniture for fear of “messing it up” now felt more confident to buy the home assembly item because they had a clearer understanding of how to build the furniture. They liked how they could rewind the video to reinforce their understanding and control the pace of the content being presented. A simple live-action demonstration increased learner confidence and leads to an increase in IKEA’s sales.

Keller’s ARCS Model

Learners who are motivated are more readily able to recall previous knowledge, synthesize content, and store new information in long-term memory. They are more focused on the information and willing to accept and build connections with new knowledge. Keller’s ARCS Model consists of a set of motivational concepts and strategies I follow so my learners find value and confidence in their experience. The first part of the model emphasizes gaining and keeping the learner’s attention. Keller’s strategy for getting attention includes perceptual arousal, inquiry arousal, and variability that include interactions and media. In part two of the model, relevance, the learner needs to see the significance in the instruction is they are to stay engaged. The learner should find personal value, familiarity, or goal orientation with the information presented. The confidence aspect of the ARCS model, part three, is required so the learner’s faith in the learning remains throughout their experience and they are aware of personal successes and outcomes. The final part of the model, satisfaction, learners must obtain some type of result, or consequence from the learning experience. An example of how I motivated my learners was is EDTEC 670- Exploratory Learning Through Educational Simulation & Games, my team created a board game on sexual wellness that attempts to pique students’ interest by presenting realistic scenarios in which they could envision themselves. The game uses the general tone and layout of a social party game to keep students engaged without distracting them from exploration of the scenarios and topic.

Ideas Shine Through

I had been professionally creating multimedia for two years before I started the EDTEC program. During that time, aesthetic principles like color and typography influenced my project design. The EDTEC program has taught me how to use learning principles and theories to profoundly impact how I approach instructional design. My new knowledge has resulted in products that are still aesthetically pleasing, but are more meaningful and memorable to my audience. My admiration for these principles and methodologies inspire my to create instruction that the learner will value and that will produce return on investment.


Through my participation in the EDTEC program, I have acquired an enthusiasm for developing computer-based learning because it parallels my multimedia background and is a great outlet for expressing my creativity. As an instructional method, e-learning offers valuable learning and business attributes, including cheaper training solution, adapts to learner needs, and is a safe environment where the learners can make mistakes, seek additional guidance, and assess their knowledge. I use Keller’s ARCS model to create e-learning that is interesting, meaningful, and memorable, and ensure a positive return on investment.  Just like certain types of textbooks or videos can engage the audience, the quality of e-learning can be motivating, enlightening, lackluster, or anywhere between. A successful intervention, “engage learners to sustain and promote learning through relevant visuals and frequent interactions” (Clark, 2008,p. 226). I utilize Ruth Clark’s Course Design Model to influence the design and development of a treatment and to make sure that design addresses the audience needs.  As illustrated in my ED 795A client project, my teammate and I worked on a project to transition instructor-led training to an e-learning format. After extensive consultation with the client and analyzing their learners’ needs the e-learning included examples, practice activates, reflection, and graphics to help learners apply content to real-world situations and motivate them to be successful in their jobs.

Learner-Interface Designs

I never realized the full impact a well-designed learner-interface has on the overall outcomes of a course.  Learner-interface design is, “not only supportive of interactivity, navigation, and information retrieval, but also integral to the success of all components of the e-learning application” (Allen, 2003, p.71).  Creating a good interface will keep learners’ attention, sustain motivation, and lead to higher retention. A learner should be able to relate to the interface to avoid making mistakes and feeling frustrated. This interface needs to be clean, intuitive, and audience appropriate. I need to consider several ideas when designing my interface, for accessibility I reference the cause and audience analysis, and the content architecture is based on the instructional method and delivery method.  In my ED 795A , my teammate and I considered cognitive load theory to create a user-friendly e-learning interface that met the needs of the audience. We used features like narration and graphics, job aids, navigational features to control the pace of learning, and an advanced organizer so learners could visualize their location in the course.

The Power of Prototyping and Usability Testing

Dr. Bob Hoffman taught me the power of prototyping and simulating a project design to acquire feedback before I begin production on the final product. Traditionally, I would just make a quick mock-up of the design and if the client approved I would execute the project. I never considered getting learner feedback because I assumed if the client is happy I am good-to-go. However, after prototyping several EDTEC projects I quickly understood that by accommodating user criticism and incorporating this into the final interface I could meet any unmet needs and avoid future issues. Traditionally, I provide a survey along with my prototype to collect feedback. Test users answer questions like, how positive or negative their experience was, did they stay engage, get stuck, or not understand how to navigate the content?  In EDTEC 650- Distance Education, I utilized “successive approximation” as described in Michael Allen’s Guide to e-Learning (2003), when creating an asynchronous e-learning module. This process is a repetitive cycle used to design, develop, and evaluate a rapid prototype.  I continually adapted the e-Learning prototype to accommodate user feedback and meet the needs of the audience.

The Only Constant is Change

Diogenes Laertius’s proverb, “the only constant is change”, is applicable to the educational technology field.  What was impossible a few years ago is now a reality, including collaborative distance education and digitizing learning. I have seen these changes first-hand in the curriculum of higher education and in the practical application of instructional design in the workplace. These modern advances have inspired my own ambitions as an instructional designer to challenge the boundaries of what is possible.

As Ruth Clark describes, to cultivate the physiological events necessary for learning, an e-learning environments needs to be compatible with the human learning process. Computer technology is upgrading daily, but humans are not physiologically equipped to upgrade at the same rate, they are “designed for change only over evolutionary time spans,” (Clark, 2003, p. 30). Therefore, if the human cognitive learning process is not able to respond to the technological innovations, these modern platforms may be proven as unsuccessful learning solutions.

I will be able to propose progressive solutions for my clients if my own skill set is current with the trends of the field, so as an instructional designer it is essential to be receptive to new technologies and understand how they can be utilized for instructional learning. I refuse to maintain a cynical attitude about new developments in the field and will explore educational trends that meet learning outcomes. By contrast, there is value in revisiting traditional models of teaching and not proposing grandiose e-learning solutions if training can be fixed with a simple update. The process of designing and developing e-learning, now or in the future, boils down to: identifying the instructional need and incorporating the appropriate design components so the learner will be motivated to cognitively work their way through the e-learning.


Allen, Michael W. (2003). Michael Allen’s guide to e-learning . Hoboken, NJ: Wiley

Clark, Ruth. (2008). Developing technical training (3rd ed.). San Franciaco: Pfeiffer

Clark, R., Mayer, R.E. (2003). E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer

Clark, R., Nguyen, F., & Sweller, J. (2006). Efficiency in learning: evidence-based guidelines to manage cognitiveload. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer

Horton, William K. (2000). Designing web-based training. USA: John Wiley and Sons, Inc

Mager, R., Pipe P. (1997). Analyzing performance problems (3rd ed.). Atlanta, GA: CEP Press

Rossett, Allison. (2009). First things fast: a handbook for performance analysis (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer

Schell, Jesse. (2008). The art of game design: a book of lenses. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann

e-Portfolio Presentation

A video depiction of my live e-portfolio presentation to the EDTEC faculty on April 15, 2010 (12:20)

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Professional Portfolio

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