Creating effective learning experiences
As a learning designer I create courses that help people learn. I design and develop courses in a variety of subject areas, often working with people who are experts in their field. Since my background is in education and I hold deep knowledge in how to create effective learning experiences, I am often hired by organizations or people who know their subject matter but aren’t sure how to bring it to life for their participants. My experience lies across the range of face-to-face to online modes, described in more depth below.
When I design for the face-to-face (in person) mode I create structured lesson plans – not just PowerPoint slides. I write measurable learning outcomes and incorporate ways to assess those outcomes to ensure participants will learn the material. I intersperse small chunks of content delivery with a variety of participatory activities through which people can apply their learning, individually and in various-sized groups. The face-to-face workshops I create are neither “presentations” nor “lectures”; they are active learning experiences for all.
Recent Example: I provided learning design services to the Community Social Planning Council in Victoria to help create lesson plans for the Youth Financial Literacy Experience series. This was a five-session face-to-face workshop series to help marginalized youth build financial literacy skills.
“Beth developed a course for our School of Health and Human Services. Beth’s ability to acquire resources, develop curricula and liaison with a multi-disciplinary department was of the highest calibre. I valued Beth’s knowledge, flexibility and professionalism. It was a pleasure to work with Beth.”
– Joan Astren, School of Health and Human Services, Camosun College –
Asynchronous online courses are usually several to many weeks in duration and are taken by a class of participants together. I have worked as a learning designer on hundreds of these types of courses. One of my chief considerations when designing in this mode is designing activities that they can engage in alone, as well as activities that they can engage in with the rest of the class or in small groups. In this mode a facilitator is usually actively “present” online to guide participants’ learning. Asynchronous means “not at the same time”, which means that participants usually have some flexibility across the duration of each week or unit to access and participate in the online course when it is convenient to them, while still maintaining social presence with the group.
Recent Example: I designed and developed several versions of a seven-week online course in Lay Navigation for cancer-related organizations such as the BC Cancer Agency and Canadian Cancer Society. Participants in these courses are volunteers who are learning how to provide support to cancer patients.
“Beth has a tremendous work ethic and the skills, knowledge, and ability to turn ideas into actions that produce positive and meaningful outcomes. We highly recommend Beth!”
– Lisa Mort-Putland, Executive Director, Volunteer Victoria –
Synchronous online courses take place in web conferencing systems, such as Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Zoom, Skype or GoToMeeting, and are actively facilitated by one or more people. My work with synchronous online has mostly been to integrate this type of online learning with other modes of online learning, such as integrating 2-3 web conferencing sessions in longer, asynchronous online courses; however, I also have designed many short ‘standalone’ synchronous online sessions as well. In this mode I strive to create participatory learning environments for the participants as opposed to a “webcast” or “webinar” which often features a presenter talking to participants with no opportunity for participants to interact.
Recent Example: For BCcampus I created (and facilitated) a three-week online course which helps people develop skills in how to facilitate synchronously online. It is called “Facilitating Learning Online – Synchronous” and is offered by both BCcampus and Royal Roads University. The course features three one-hour synchronous online sessions led by facilitators, intentionally designed to model both facilitation skills and the skills needed to move around technically in a web conferencing tool.
“Beth developed an exceptional training program to prepare volunteers to provide post treatment support to cancer patients. I had no experience with online facilitation and Beth was in BC while I was in Nova Scotia. It was an absolute pleasure working with Beth. Her organizational and facilitation skills made the process so easy. She has a great sense of humor and is clearly passionate and skilled at what she does.”
– Kim Veino, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator, Canadian Cancer Society – Nova Scotia –
E-learning courses are online self-study courses that learners complete on their own, without the presence of a facilitator or other participants. When designing in this mode one of my key considerations is to write measurable learning outcomes that can be accomplished by the learner when learning alone. My goal is to create e-learning courses that aren’t just the “click-through” kind, but ones that really engage and inspire the learner. To create visually-pleasing and interactive e-learning courses I usually use the content authoring tool called Articulate 360 (Articulate Storyline), which gives me access to dozens of templates, images and character sets. I have also created e-learning courses solely using activities within the Moodle Learning Management System (LMS), for example the Lesson activity which allows me to create branching, scenario-based learning.
Recent Example: For the BC Cancer Agency I provided learning design and development services to create an e-learning course called “Orientation to Patient and Family Engagement”. The Storyline-authored course featured click-and-reveal, quiz, drag and drop, and matching interactions, to name a few.