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Academic Portfolio

My experiences as a learner inform my approach to designing instruction.

Graduate Work

The Instructional Design & Technology concentration of the Master of Arts in Organization, Information & Learning Sciences at the University of New Mexico prepares graduates to integrate learning and design theory with technology for designing learning solutions that apply to a wide range of applications and settings.

Instructional Use of Computer Simulations and Games

The Instructional Use of Computer Simulations and Games with Dr. Donald Fischer let me apply research into educational games and simulations to create a variety of prototypes. All the projects were done in groups that were established immediately, giving learners a meaningful experience in collaboration.

Screen Capture of Portal2 Gameplay

The “Soft Skills Simulation Training” video is a prototype for a gamified training simulation designed to onboard new customer service staff at a college or university. Fulfilling this assignment by designing a prototype ready for SME collaboration was important to me. I designed the game mechanics – but I could not have done it without my teammates.

Video Presentation of Simulation Storyboard

The storyboard for “Soft Skills Simulation Training” is made in PowerPoint then converted to video with Camtasia, which provided me with an excellent opportunity to further develop my software skills.

The “Genome Island in Second Life” video is a research-based analysis of an educational simulation. It was important to me that this project not be a static and boring slide presentation, and my teammates were agreeable – as long as I was willing to do the work. Putting in the hours to create a higher quality product was an investment into the development of my skills in addition to just being fun.

Genome Island Group Critique in Second Life

“Critique of Portal 2” is an individual analysis of the learning potential inherent in games designed for fun. Applying game mechanics to learning material (gamification) can be valuable when done well, but much can be said for the learning value inherent in many games designed for entertainment.

The Portal game series is valued as a vehicle for teaching physics. Educators and instructional designers can learn from games designed for fun with high incidental learning value (e.g., Portal, Minecraft). We can not only leverage these games as learning environments, but we can also learn from them how to apply game mechanics to target learning gaps and enhance learner engagement.

Learning Computing

Learning Computing with Dr. Leah Buechley gave me the experience of being the only absolute beginner in a class full of computer science majors. It transformed my attitude toward myself as a learner and the learning process itself.

How do we learn computing? What difference does it make who learns computing? What is is computational thinking and why is it important?

Image Created in Logo Programming Language

We all have more capacity for understanding complex and highly abstract concepts than we believe about ourselves and others. While I did not progress much beyond novice in programming, my projects did not reflect my inexpertness–although my code was simple. Experiencing firsthand the thoughtful and careful scaffolding, which can engage even the unlikeliest of learners, has been a transformative experience for me.

Image Created in Processing Programming Language

Logo programming language afforded me the opportunity to develop a mental model of what computer code is and does. This model gives me a solid foundation upon which I can build—and it increased my confidence in understand things I did not believe I had the capacity for. Learning Computing kindled my passion for discovering ways to break down complex subjects into digestible parts that facilitate deep learning.

Image Created in Logo Programming Language

In Learning Computing I designed a course in Moodle that explores the premise that playing Minecraft incidentally teaches computational thinking skills. Using Minecraft as a vehicle for instruction is well-documented, but it is the incidental learning inherent in Minecraft, that interested me here.

Learners are tasked with finding a problem and designing a solution. Enough hours of Vanilla Minecraft gameplay will make most players desire increased efficiency in some area. Learners are expected to find a problem and design a solution employing at least one logic gate, working in groups or independently.

I incorporated how creating logic gates in Minecraft could help learners understand concepts of Boolean Logic and Logic Gates taught in fundamental electrical and computer engineering/science courses. Learners are tasked with creating functioning virtual models and solving problems using redstone, the electrical component of Minecraft. This deeper exploration of what is possible in Minecraft was my introduction to virtual worlds as learning environments.

A Quick Demonstration of Logic Gates Created in Minecraft

Exploring Virtual Worlds & Virtual Reality in Online Learning Environments

Exploring Virtual Worlds & Virtual Reality in Online Learning Environments with Dr. Rebecca Adams opened my eyes to the potential for using virtual worlds as learning environments, as well as the vast possibilities that digital tools can offer education and training in myriad ways.

3D Flower Creation in Second Life

El Torreon Group Build Project in Second Life is the culmination of the course elements learners had been artfully scaffolded through. This video showcases the learning area we created in a virtual world. Using the 3D modeling tools in Second Life we created many of the objects ourselves including the building. Not shown are the puzzle elements that prompt visitors/learners on a scavenger hunt that requires them to visit numerous other educational builds in second Life. I enjoyed building and developed an interest in writing scripts to animate objects.

El Torreon Group Build Project in Second Life

The Outfit Changes in in Second Life video is a very quick demonstration of navigating the folder system to create easy custom looks. The challenge was to create a tutorial about one minute long. Although my longer version was easier to follow, every learning challenge presents us with the opportunity to refine the question: What, exactly, is my objective?

A Quick Tutorial on Outfit Changing in the Virtual World Second Life