Real learning is a part of the work, not apart from it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

How I became an ID

I wanted to be a Veterinarian. To my mother's chagrin - I had 'em all guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, and cats... I even worked for a Vet as a kid. I had a great deal of sympathy, didn't have a knack for biology. I had a love of history; still do. It wasn't enough for me to know who did what, when...but I needed the why? I needed to know the motivation and I absolutely loved the story! So, I became a history teacher (a lousy one early on but I grew as I gravitated towards Constructivism). I quickly found the greatest love of teaching was not the kids themselves, they were great, but it was in seeing them light-up when learning something new and applying that understanding at different points in the school year – making the connections to different events and actions!

Understanding social history and particularly sympathizing with the story of the haves vs. have nots, the women's movements, slavery & segregation I saw more and more that the public schools segregated students who had cognitive or physical disabilities from their non-disabled peers. I then worked to receive my MS in Inclusive Education from Syracuse University. The program really opened my mind to designing educational environments for all learners, regardless of ability (thank you SU). After moving to Arizona in the late '90's my career shifted greatly as I became a resource for other teachers and mentoring them in designing inclusive education to meet the needs of all students. In early 2000, an opportunity arose at a company called Smartforce. They were seeking teachers since teachers "understood" objective design (not to mention being really good PM's) to design elearning simulations around the principles of Roger Schank. I jumped at the chance to spread my wings. My curiosity in design and theory grew more and more with positions at companies like KnowledgeNet, Pearson Digital Learning, and the SUNY Research Foundation. Within the last few years I have seen the light and recognized the limitations of formal learning and embraced more and more social and informal approaches to improve organizational learning.

Why do I enjoy what I do? It’s a great fit. Put all the pieces together and I easily sympathize with the needs of learners, I approach design like I do the study of history; with a deep curiosity and fascination, and I find story-telling a natural and powerful social/informal vehicle for learning.
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