I have been passionate about education my entire life. While my older brother pretended to be sick to get out of school, I was more likely to pretend to be well so I could go to school. My answer to “What do you want to be you grow up?” has always been “a teacher.” Even though my career has moved away from the K12 classroom in recent years, I know that “a teacher” is still an accurate answer today.
When I sat in my first education course as an undergraduate newly admitted to the Advanced Study portion of my education degree, I distinctly remember thinking, “One day, I want to teach these classes.” My career goal is to teach in a teacher preparation program at a university. My background as an English teacher and my experience teaching CUIN 3312 Educational Technology has prepared me for this future. I already consider myself a teacher educator; however, I intend to seek a full time, possibly tenure-track position in teacher education.
As an undergraduate, I avoided taking research courses because I was afraid of the workload. As a master’s student, I quickly realized that I had no reason to fear the workload; I greatly enjoy reading and conducting research. I identify with the pragmatists in that I want to find practical solutions to real world problems. While I am still exploring the breadth of history behind pragmatism, its primary tenet of finding what works now drives my research goals.
Since I began graduate level work, I have read hundreds, if not thousands, of scholarly journal articles detailing the most recent and innovative research in the field of education. As a member of both the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) and the American Educational Research Association (AERA), I receive several scholarly journals in the mail and have access to several more digitally. However, as a classroom teacher, I did not know that this research was being conducted, let alone where to find it. One of my goals is to make scholarly research accessible to current and future K12 teachers. I attended a fascinating session about eye-tracking research and K12 teachers at the 2022 AERA Annual Meeting. At the end of the session, I was left with one huge question: What do we do with the findings? As a teacher, I did not know about this research, so I could not learn from it to improve my practices. This problem is not singular to eye-tracking research. How can current teachers implement the most recent research findings to improve learning in their classrooms? It is my goal to find practical and pragmatic ways to share this knowledge.
When I was sitting at the airport in Chicago waiting for my flight back from the 2021 AECT Convention, I found myself chatting with another traveler. As is common in conversations with strangers, the topic of careers came up and I was asked, “What do you do?” My answer that I am an instructional designer was met, as it always is, with a look of confusion and a request to explain what that means. I do not fault strangers for not being familiar with my career choice; before I started my master’s program, I had never heard of an instructional designer either. I chose my master’s program for its focus on educational technology and the multiple doors it would open to my future, and when I took my first course, titled simply “Instructional Design,” I knew which of those doors I would choose. I was passionate about teaching from an early age; I’ve been passionate about learning design since that first course.
I am currently an instructional designer at Houston Community College. My goal is to stay in this position at least through the end of my doctoral program, and I may choose to stay longer before transitioning to a full-time teacher educator. I find fulfillment in guiding instructors who know their content area well and are the subject matter experts (SMEs) but do not necessarily know the best way to present that knowledge or to structure a course, especially when teaching online. For me, this is still a form of teaching, and it is something that I want to continue doing. Even when I do move away from this role, I know that I will continue to aid my colleagues in any way I can to ensure that all students receive the best possible education.
An important aspect of service for me is mentorship. Mentorships, both formal and informal, have been a critical part of my growth as a professional. One of my professors in my master’s program has become an informal mentor, and I owe a great deal of my success to her guidance. As the English Department Chair at Gentry Junior School and as a New Teacher Mentor, I strived to provide guidance and support to the teachers in my department and my mentees. As I continue to grow and develop, it is my goal to always seek guidance from those from whom I can learn and to always provide guidance when I can share what I have learned.
The Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) of AECT is a place where I have found mentorships in both directions. As a new member, senior members of GSA and of AECT reached out to me and helped me grow in the organization. Now that I am a part of GSA leadership, I reach out to new and potential members to do the same. It is my goal to continue serving AECT through reviewing proposals, planning convention activities, and division activities. I intend to become more active with the Teacher Education Division (TED) in the immediate future. I also intend to explore other divisions relevant to my interests, such as the Division of Distance Learning (DDL), Technology Integrated Learning (TIL), and the Research and Theory Division (RTD), with the intention of seeking a leadership position in the divisions best suited to my goals and interests in the future. In addition to AECT, I intend to become more involved with AERA, specifically Division K – Teaching and Teacher Education, as well as the special interest groups relevant to my goals and interests.
I have always been a person of several and varied interests, from my love of various genres of music and books to my areas of research. While my listening and reading tastes vary greatly without a clear throughline, my research interests all revolve around teaching. No matter my title, I will always be a teacher at heart.
As my primary goal is to become a full-time teacher educator, I am deeply invested in the research about pre-service teachers and teacher educators. To be a good teacher educator, it is important to have a deep understanding of best practices in both K12 education and teacher education. My experience and research in both areas has prepared for this future, and I strive for continued growth.
My career began in Pasadena Independent School District where I taught 9th grade English I for three years. During my time there, I also served as a Curriculum Writer, where I worked directly with district specialists and other teachers to develop curriculum materials for teachers across the district. This was my first taste of learning design beyond writing lessons for my own classroom. My career then took me to a junior high school where I taught 8th grade English for three and a half years and served as English Department Chair for two years and a New Teacher Mentor for one year. This has given me experience in teaching both high school and junior high school. My roles outside of the classroom while I was a teacher have given me experience in collaboration and leadership in education.
I have taught CUIN 3312 Educational Technology at the University of Houston since the fall semester of 2018, immediately after I completed my master of education. This course is required for pre-service teachers seeking a middle grades or high school teaching certification. Because the course combines pre-service teachers from all content areas, from math and science to dance and art and everything in between, this has given me experience with working beyond my content area of English.
My scholarly activities have also often centered on this area. Following the shift to emergency remote instruction, I collaborated on a peer-reviewed chapter in the AACE and SITE-published, open access eBook Teaching, Technology, and Teacher Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Stories from the Field. Our chapter was titled “Connecting Learners Through Technology in COVID-19: Facilitating Pre-Service Teacher Collaboration During the Pandemic.” I presented a session at the AECT 2021 Convention titled “Teacher/Students Leading Student/Teachers,” focusing on the implications of graduate student instructors who teach pre-service teachers, as both groups are living in a dual role of both teacher and student. This is an area in which I intend to conduct future research, including possibly my dissertation. Finally, I am currently conducting a semi-systematic review of the literature around the use of the flipped classroom model with pre-service teachers.
In addition to my roles as instructional designer and adjunct lecturer, I am also a freelance resident author with Infobase. In this role, I write informative blogs for the Infobase Learning Center and design and conduct research-based live webinars. The audience for my work at Infobase spans K12 teachers, specialists, and administrators and higher education staff and faculty. I view my blogs and webinars as an extension of teacher education as they are informative and meant to help instructors at all levels improve practices to improve student learning.
Knowledge and Expertise
My varied research interests have given me a breadth of knowledge and expertise across several areas of instructional systems design and technology.
Though pragmatist is a newly acquired descriptor of myself, I list it first because on reflection of my work thus far, I can see the pragmatist underpinnings in my research goals. As a K12 teacher, I always worked to find pragmatic solutions to the problems that arose in my classroom or in my school. In my past research, I have sought to find what works in relation to using mobile instant messaging in my published article “GroupMe: Investigating Use of Mobile Instant Messaging in Higher Education Courses” and teaching pre-service teachers during a pandemic in my book chapter mentioned above. However, I am still new to this philosophical approach, and I am still learning exactly what it means to be a pragmatist, including the variations of pragmatism. To learn more, I read William James’ lectures Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking and am currently reading The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand. I have several other books on pragmatism on my reading list and intend to continue learning what it means to be a pragmatist and how it can continue to inform my research and teaching.
Those who know me now would be shocked to learn that I was not a fan of educational technology when I first took an educational technology course in my undergraduate teacher education program. As a future English teacher, I felt that books belonged in the classroom, not tablets. This belief quickly changed when I entered my own classroom in a district moving to one-to-one with Windows tablets and I saw first-hand the impact that educational technology can have on learning when wielded carefully. Within my first couple years in the classroom, I became an expert in educational technology and became the teacher to whom other teachers would frequently come for help or advice.
Now that I teach CUIN 3312 Educational Technology at the University of Houston, I feel I have come full circle. As an instructor, I frequently use educational technologies such as Mentimeter and Pear Deck to make instruction interactive and learner-centered. I use the Google Suite of tools and am a Level 2 Certified Google Educator. The mobile-instant messaging tool GroupMe provides an easy and familiar method of communication and discussion for my students. In using each of these technologies, I am also modeling their effective use for my students and encouraging them to use technology purposefully in their future classes.
I am a firm believer that technology should be used for the sake of learning, never for the sake of the technology. This is a mindset that I try to instill in my students and the faculty with whom I work.
My first hands-on experience with an instructional design method was my master’s capstone project, in which I used the Dick & Carey (2015) method to design one hour of instruction on sentence structures. I like to compare the process of that project to the lengthy lesson plans that I wrote as an undergraduate. When I entered the classroom, I rarely wrote lessons plans as detailed as those that I turned in to my education courses, but the process of completing those plans to that level of detail taught me how to think through all of the components that I needed. While I wouldn’t necessarily write out a rationale for each part of the lesson, I would think through the rationale. For me, instructional design is the same. I no longer spend months working through the method, but I do think through the process.
As an instructional designer, I now mainly use the ADDIE method – Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. I like its simplicity and adaptability. I use it when planning professional development webinars and designing the curriculum that I teach. I also teach this method to the faculty with whom I work, and I am in the process of developing an Infobase webinar to teach this method to a wider audience of instructors.
I have had several opportunities to utilize the Articulate course creation software, including both Storyline and Rise. As an instructional design intern for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Training and Leader Development Division, I used Articulate Storyline to build asynchronous modules. As an instructional designer at Houston Community College, I use Articulate Rise to create asynchronous professional development courses.
Open Educational Resources & Accessibility
Through my work as an instructional designer, I have become involved with both open educational resources (OERs) and accessibility.
I attended and completed the OER Core Elements Academy 2021 hosted by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and completed the Texas Learn OER asynchronous course created by the Digital Higher Education Consortium of Texas (DIGITEX) in the same year. While I have not yet authored many OERs myself, I have advocated for their use with the instructors with whom I work and through presentations, such as one at the Texas Digital Learning Association (TxDLA) 2022 Conference and another at the AECT 2021 Convention. In combining my interests in teacher education and OERs, I have a book chapter manuscript currently under review for inclusion in Aspects of Open Educational Resources in Higher Education: A Global Perspective by editors Jako Olivier and Andreas Rambow for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The chapter is titled “Legacy Building Through a ‘Teaching with Technology’ Open Textbook Project” and focuses on the open textbook that was written by Learning Design and Technology graduate students specifically for the Educational Technology course that I teach.
In becoming a certified Higher Education Peer Reviewer for Quality Matters, I learned about the importance of making online courses that are accessible to all learners, including those with visual or hearing impairments as well as methods and strategies for ensuring accessibility. When conducting internal course reviews in my position as an instructional designer, I evaluate courses for their accessibility and ease of use. In addition to accessibility for learners with disabilities, I have a deep interest in Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which focuses on reducing barriers for all learners. In an effort to learn more about implementing UDL campus-wide, I read Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education by Thomas J. Tobin and Kirsten T. Behling. I presented a session at the TxDLA 2022 conference focused on helping those who already know and use UDL to share its benefits with instructors who are reluctant to embrace it.
Finally, in addition to the knowledge and expertise demonstrated in this dossier, it is my hope that the evidence provided here also shows the soft skills that I have developed over the course of my career thus far. The majority of my projects are collaborative in nature, and I have frequently demonstrated my ability to work well in teams, both as a leader and as a team member. I consider myself to be a lifelong learner, and I am always on the lookout for new and innovative research relating to my interests. I am flexible in nature, always willing and able to make adjustments to a plan, whether a research plan or a lesson plan. Especially following the chaos of emergency remote teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, I am capable of handling sudden and extreme change. All of these are skills that I will continue to develop and will suit me well in my future endeavors.