About Me

My CV in PDF format for your perusal.

Photo by Matt Kosterman, 2020.

I am based in Chicago and work as an instructional designer (ID) / instructional technologist (IT), mainly in medical education. I have designed and developed instructional methods and curriculum in different formats (e.g. face-to-face, blended, fully online – synchronous and asynchronous). I created, manage, and am the primary contributor to a faculty development website for the University of Illinois College of Medicine (UICOM): http://comfaculty.uic.edu.

The term instructional design refers to the systematic and reflective process of translating principles of learning and instruction into plans for instructional materials, activities, information resources, and evaluation. Instructional design and instructional technology are related, depending on who you ask. As an ID at my current institution, I design solutions that are not only functional but also attractive and appealing to the end-users, our medical students, staff, and faculty. I have established problem-solving procedures to aid in making informed decisions about curricular design. Instructional technologists (ITs) help facilitate educators’ use of various technologies that they need to accomplish their jobs. It is certainly realistic that one can have either title and the capacity to have both skill-sets. There is a lot of overlap between the two.

I work very closely with the faculty at all campuses of UICOM (Chicago, Peoria, and Rockford). I bring my experience in learning theories, online teaching methodologies, learning management systems, and creative ways to incorporate effective web tools and technologies to engage our students and hopefully enhance instructional experiences. Our faculty members have attained mastery of the course content and valuable classroom experience to inform course development and we work together to develop a shared understanding of the course content and sequencing.

At the most fundamental level, instructional designers and technologists are intermediaries, bridging the intellectual and attitudinal gaps that exist between instructors and students, and facilitate the use of those supported technologies which they need to accomplish their roles. While faculty members are experts in their respective fields of study, they do not necessarily possess all the knowledge and skills needed to handle and manage the myriad (and often changing) technological tools which they are expected to use, particularly in an online environment. It falls to instructional designers and technologists to offer them as-needed guidance, training, and technical support.

Another key role which instructional technologists play is to continually explore new ways in which technology can enhance the educational process. As new and sometimes transformative technologies regularly emerge, it is the instructional technologists that use their technical aptitudes along with knowledge of pedagogical principles and theory to innovate new and improved solutions to educational challenges.

About Me

I have been the Instructional Designer at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago campus since December 2013. I was the first to have that role in the college. In late 2018, I was promoted to be the first-ever Director of Instructional Design and Learning Innovation at the university and for the college. I continue to work closely with faculty to design, plan, and evaluate the curriculum. I lead a regular series of workshops designed to create stronger communities of teaching and learning. I am also an Instructor in the Department of Medical Education, the oldest and largest such department of scholarly research in medical education in the world.

In addition to instructional design, I have a Masters of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) from Florida State University (’99). Most of my library career has involved teaching others (e.g. other librarians, public health workers, clinicians, scientists, etc.) how to use technology more effectively for specific purposes. 

My experience in the library world gives me a unique ability to be an excellent searcher in library databases. I synthesize the medical education and instructional design literature to advise administration and faculty on current theories and trends, to meet the changing demands of the academic environment.

UIC uses Blackboard as the learning management system (LMS). I work closely with faculty to determine the best student-centered design using evidence-based principles. I am a member of the Learning Management System Governance Board for the University of Illinois. This group has the awesome responsibility to determine how to best make use of our LMS for a wide variety of purposes. I have also partnered with other offices in our college to analyze confidential data on student performance, faculty instruction, curriculum content, and delivery. I create longitudinal benchmarks with this data for our teaching faculty and staff.

I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation in Instructional Technology at Northern Illinois University and graduated in May 2020.

My research aims to understand and improve teaching, learning, and participation in inquiry-based learning (IBL) environments in medical education and to determine the appropriate educational technologies to meet their needs and goals. I use IBL as an umbrella term to include case-based learning (CBL), problem-based learning (PBL), and team-based learning (TBL). I achieve this by examining the literature, as well as practices and experiences of learners, educators, and scholars with/in IBL activities and integration of educational technologies.

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6765-4015

Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?view_op=list_works&hl=en&user=7AqCy2IAAAAJ

Slides: https://www.slideshare.net/maxlibris

Teaching Philosophy

My philosophy of teaching and learning is one based on social cognition theory. I believe students can learn from everyone around them, whether that be other students, faculty, professional experts, their friends and family. The same can be said for instructors if they come to teaching and learning with an open mind. I have extensive experience with inquiry-based learning (IBL) in higher education–specifically a type of IBL activity–team-based learning (TBL) as a designer of content and as a facilitator. Team-based activities require a different type of classroom management than a typical didactic session. I have collaborated with subject matter experts to determine appropriate pacing of content and what technology (if any) might augment content delivery in a positive, student-centered way. Technology in general allows students to broaden their horizons beyond a single physical room to an entire world of knowledge by providing resources to more easily communicate with others. I believe that all students are capable of learning and it is my job to help them do so by providing resources, time, effort, and new learning strategies to achieve their goals. There should not be a digital divide and it is our responsibility as educators to determine methods and means for eliminating it as much as possible. 

I am constantly exploring new methods and media in the classroom as a way to provide enhanced learning experiences for my students. For example, in one undergraduate course that I taught for Northern Illinois University, students were required to create a digital artifact that incorporated images, text, audio, and video. As software and hardware products are improved rapidly, this also required me to ensure that I gave the students practical instructions on how to use these products to create their artifact by creating job aids. By utilizing new and emerging technologies when teaching my students, I hope to instill in my students a passion that will continue into their own classrooms, when they are the teachers. In a world where technology is constantly changing, I am an early adopter of new technologies. Thus, I am continually doing research in order to better understand how different learning strategies, technologies, etc. are affecting my students’ learning and motivation to learn. In this way, I believe that research and teaching are closely integrated. As instructors, we need to continue to research how we can be more effective teachers, what strategies we are using to do this, and what will best help our students to learn. 

I believe in active learning techniques that challenge students to question ideas and to search for answers. I lead my students to find answers themselves instead of simply providing them with all of the answers. I work with my students to help them understand the meaning behind what they are learning, why they are learning it, and how it relates to their version of “real life.” I assist my students in transferring their acquired knowledge to situations outside of the classroom, encouraging them to continue this life-long learning practice throughout their educational careers. 

I have taught students in face-to-face, blended, HyFlex, and online course environments throughout my career. I have also co-developed and co-instructed a number of online courses such as Media Design: Multimedia (ETT 555) and Instructional Media and Technology (ETT 510) for Northern Illinois University, my alma mater for my doctorate. For my work at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, I led the transition for the entire face-to-face preclinical curriculum to an online format during the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe my experience with developing both online and face-to-face courses at the higher education level has provided me insight I can share with my colleagues who are learning how to deliver content in various formats.

Finally, I am passionate about teaching and learning. By showing my students my passion for the topic being taught, it generates excitement in the classroom and sets up a stronger motivation to learn.