Here are the answers to some key questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is storytelling so important to your approach to design?

From a personal perspective, I have always been a storyteller, a lover of literature, and a writer.

Early on, in my career, I realized I was able to apply my love of storytelling to the craft of teaching. I taught in immersive ESL programs, and we developed a lot of the curriculum to help students practice skills in simulated real-life situations. Grammar and vocabulary skills were taught in the context of those situations. So there was a lot of role playing and scenario-based instruction. Teaching English-as-a-Second Language, it was only natural to construct the situations in which learners would need to apply their skills and use the classroom as a safe place for them to practice, fail, receive remediation and improve.

Working for Roger Schank in the early 2000s, I was introduced to the world of online learning and computer-based simulations. Developing these programs was a natural extension of the earlier work I had done in the classroom, and it furthered my belief in and passion for the application of storytelling to teaching and learning.

What do you mean by “disenfranchised learners?”

It’s admittedly a broad definition, but in reality, there a lot of ways that learners or would-be learners can slip through the cracks. I’ve worked with learners in all these sectors, and have created Designs2Learn as a means to extend my own reach in these areas.

The most obvious would be those who by their demographic or economic status are unable to access the material they need in order to improve their status and move on with their lives.

In addition, there are those who willingly reject the status quo but retain a love for learning and a desire to improve their status and move on with their lives. This group could include what many of us know or define as homeschoolers, un-schoolers, non-schoolers, etc.  

The last group I’d include are those who remain within a system, whether it’s K-12, higher ed, or corporate learners, who have little or no say in their learning choices and are simply turned off by what they are being served.

Why “Designs2Learn”?

I started out as a teacher and evolved into world of learning design. I can still remember how happy I was to finally get to the “curriculum design” component of my Master’s degree program. Sure, I loved all the theory, the linguistics, and the practica; but even then, it was the lesson planning and materials development that particularly motivated me.

The interaction between subject matter experts passionate about their areas of expertise and teams of instructional designers equally passionate about their deconstruction of the learning process continues to fascinate me.

It’s my respect for the process, however evolving the field is, that contributed to the name Designs2Learn.


What role does technology play in your approach?

Technology by itself is never the solution, but technology can be the means to more successful individualized instruction, it can provide the platform for extending an organization’s reach, and it can bring learning to those who may not otherwise have access.

For these reasons, technology typically plays a major role in the learning programs we design. Given my own background and those of the designers I work with, the role of teacher, facilitator and mentor also play a major part in our solutions.

In my early days of online design, I used the phrase “high touch online” to describe the programs we were developing, and it’s a concept that influences a lot of the work we do to this day. The guiding hand of teacher, facilitator or mentor is always present. This is true, whether it’s a simulated role in asynchronous instruction or an online facilitator in a synchronous or cohort-based program, or classroom-based instruction.