DAVID KOBLISKA MASTERY JOURNAL Full Sail University Instructional Design & Technology M.S.

About Me

I am a husband and father, a teacher, preacher, music- and message-maker, problem-solver, and communicator. I enjoy creative thinking and tinkering with new ideas. I currently serve as technical lead and computer science instructor at Ozark Adventist Academy in Northwest Arkansas, where I also volunteer on the teaching and music teams at Compass Fellowship. I am excited to be in the Instructional Design & Technology Masters of Science Program at Full Sail University.

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My Intention

I am on a journey that is also the destination. I intend to be ever open to the unlimited opportunities for learning around me everyday. I wish to serve others by sharing with them the knowledge and skills I've obtained in a way that best helps them to savor their own journey of discovery and find joy in understanding. I loathe the weapons of fear and intimidation, and eschew the tyranny of should and hurry. In the dash between my dates, I wish to help others be freed by the knowledge of their immense worth and unlearn the lies that jeopardize this freedom. I want to inspire this generation of students to share their unique identity and talents with the world as they become the next generation of servant-leaders.

Inasmuch as my journey is also a path to mastery, I plan to spend the next 12 months seeking the clarity, capability and confidence to help children perceive and purpose their digital landscape for the highest possible benefit to themselves and their communities. My vision for the tangible fruit of this journey is a children's educational program that models healthy relationships with both people and technology in a wholesome and uplifting setting full of colorful and musical moments of exploration, experimentation, and discovery.

During the knowledge-acquisition phase of this process, which I am accomplishing in partnership with Full Sail University, I hope to learn best practices in instructional design and build skills in screenwriting, shooting and editing educational segments with multiple characters. I plan to seek inspiration from important pioneers who have traveled this path before, including the trailblazers that cut their own path against the grain of the comfortable and conventional. Also, I hope to build a network of supporters, mentors, and educators to help lay the foundations and a creative team to build out this dream into a reality.


Scenes & Serendipity

Moments of inspiration found along the way to mastery.

Make an Unexpected Difference

One of my favorite artifacts of history is the "Difference Engine" created by Charles Babbage. It is, quite literally, an entirely mechanical computing device with the capabilities of generating printed tables of information that had previously been generated by hand and rife with mistakes. Given that these tables were used for the important tasks of engineering and navigation, Babbage's invention was a breakthrough. However, his relentlessly imaginative mind kept him from building the entire device in his lifetime. He was content to have proved it possible and was confident his drawings were accurate enough to produce a working machine. He was right! When constructed in the 1990's, his machine worked as intended, even built to the tolerances available during Babbage's lifetime.

The ability to envision a working machine of this magnitude, full of astounding inter-dependencies and nuanced clockwork, is a tribute to the amazing capacity of the human mind when allowed to fixate on a given problem for long enough. Babbage faced challenges with financing and follow-through, but his design remains a testimony to human ingenuity and intellectual grit.

Reference: Difference engine. (August 25, 2020). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Difference_engine&oldid=974891943

Ripe for change?

Peaches arrived at our house this week and after just a few days, they had reached that perfectly ripe, melt-in-your-mouth stage that made them a joyful addition to our french toast. It got me thinking about ripeness and change. Everyone knows how disappointing it is to bite into a under- or over-ripe piece of fruit. We have a limited window of opportunity if we want to utilize these peaches in their natural, golden beauty. Life's seasons also come and go and when the moment is right-- or ripe-- it may be tempting to get caught up in admiration of its beauty, but it's nothing like the satisfaction that comes when you dig in!

Photo by the author.


What would I do differently? What would I keep doing, stop doing, or start doing? How can I make my situation better? What sacrifices would I make to ensure I'm more fully engaged as a graduate student in all my program requirements?

Week 1 Reflections: Strategies for Learner Engagement

What would I do differently? This week I discovered that jumping in and wrestling with a project is just as good a time for thinking as wistful moments of reflection and meditation. Instead of "thinking about things" during the week and leaving the writing until the weekend, things work out better in the end if I jump in as soon as possible. Part of this is the realization that as soon as I start writing, it stimulates a million other ideas; and these, in turn, inspire more reading and research. What seems like a simple assignment can snowball into a sustained impulse to figure out the meaning to life, the universe and everything. This is a good thing, really. I've always thought deeply about everything. But it means that I cannot expect to do all my synthesis on one day. I need to start making daily progress on significant projects as soon as they are assigned.

How could I make my situation better? I need some kind of system that will manage all of my research and keep all the articles I find in a searchable place where I can also easily cite them whenever I'm writing. I've done some investigation into software that can do this and came across Scriviner. I need to download a trial and give it a whirl while there is a brief break in the action. There is a little companion app that can be used for mind-mapping and creating index cards. All of this seems like it would make a useful addition to my existing process and it would be good to start sooner than later. (Update: Scrivener was overkill for small papers, but Zotero has been an amazing tool for organizing and citing sources!)

Sacrifices I'll need to make in order to more fully engage? During the previous month spent on the topic of mastery, I sensed that I'd have to cut out mindless time-wasters like mobile games and Netflix. To a large extent, I did that and felt pretty exhausted not having my usual breaks. This week I let the pendulum swing too far back to old habits. What struck me today (Sunday) as the week's final deadline loomed large, was that I don't think deeply when under pressure. I successfully started keeping a notebook of ideas this week, an idea I learned in the mastery class. Unfortunately, I temporarily suspended my use of other quiet moments for continued reading and reflection. Reading in my field of interest can be just as satisfying an escape and is way more productive in the long run!

Week 2 Reflections: Strategies for Learner Engagement

What would I do differently? Following my reflection from last week, I more diligently labored on the work consistently throughout this week. I worked hard to seek synthesis throughout the process rather than waiting until the time of writing. This gave me a much more healthy perspective of the workload and a better sense of how things were actually coming along. I also found that writing was easier because I had begun with the end more clearly in mind. Taking advantage of mind-mapping and note-taking to help digest the principles contained in the material, I felt that I was genuinely engaged in learning rather than merely completing assignments. Overall, this week has been a successful exercise in incremental improvements and, to be honest, it may be the first time that I have used a reflection exercise like this to any real advantage.

How could I make my situation better? I successfully followed through on investigating and incorporating some professional writing software into my workflow. In addition to Scrivener and Scrapple, I discovered Zotero, a free community-developed source management app that ingests critical sources and generates citations and bibliographies with direct support for Word, which I believe for the moment to be the best platform for the size of documents typically required at this point in the program. I have found a LinkedIn Learning course on Scrivener created by a professional who uses it every day that should give me a good idea if I want to invest that next step. I did discover that the Mac version is far ahead of its Windows counterpart. It was a good time to switch my professional production environment back to Mac.

Sacrifices I'll need to make in order to more fully engage? Thankfully, this week I've been able to strike a much better balance between the intensity of study, the demands of work, and the need for downtime. I've been practicing the sacrifice of replacing "later" with "now" in practical ways. For instance, I've been more faithful in jotting down ideas as they come rather than "thinking them over," which usually equates to "completely forgetting them." The slower, more important sacrifice that seems to be happening is a giving up of the comfortable feeling that I have a lot to offer in this field. It takes humility, but being more honest about all I have to learn has really helped me approach things more deeply and thoughtfully, rather than superficially hurrying to get the work done. The magnitude of how this degree is going to change me is beginning to sink in and every sacrifice is worth it.

Walking the Walk: Mastering Instructional Design requires a commitment to lifelong learning, and putting into practice the very skills i would expect of my students. it is an essential part of my job to create a rich, personal study regimen by which i can extend my influence via the very digital channels i labor to master and which I hope to improve. doing this will give me insights into 21st century learning that no textbook can convey. **

** Based on Doing What We Teach: Promoting Digital Literacies for Professional Development Through Personal Learning Environments and Participation by Ilona Laakkonen

In J. Jalkanen, E. Jokinen, & P. Taalas (Eds), Voices of Pedagogical Development - Expanding, Enhancing and Exploring Higher Education Language Learning (pp. 171-195). Dublin: Research-publishing.net. doi:10.14705/rpnet.2015.000292

Reflecting on the journey through S.W.O.T. analysis


What do you do well? What unique resources can you draw on? What do others see as your strengths?

The single greatest strength I have as a teacher and instructional designer is my mental wiring as a communicator. From early on in my professional life, I realized that I had a love for words and using them to express an idea clearly. When I teach, I use precise language that avoids ambiguity and special jargon that inhibits understanding. I am adept at reading my audience when presenting in public and have a gift for breaking ideas down into digestible packages that are age-appropriate and sensitive to the diversity of my listeners.

Professional strength assessments I have taken place communication as my top talent and others describe me as a creative writer and interesting presenter. Early on, the president of my organization noted my ability to “anticipate the question.” I have been successful as a mediator by sensing questions (and objections) arising in the minds of my listeners before they're voiced. Besides having good mechanical skills in writing, I enjoy the writing process and find that I have matured over the years in being able to step back and accurately assess if I am sticking to my points and scaffolding my overall message clearly.

Finally, my verbal skills are complemented by graphic design abilities that help me construct clean, compelling layouts when presenting my thoughts visually. Thinking in pictures means that while speaking, I can also quickly pivot to appropriate illustrations or analogies that shed light and create mental pictures that engage my audience if I see their attention lagging.


What could you improve? Where do you have fewer resources than others? What are others likely to see as weaknesses?

It has only been in the last six months that I have begun to grasp the important issues of student engagement and their critical relationship to learning. When I have been actively working on assignments for this course, I’ve been highly inspired to research and understand the nuanced interplay between the various dynamics, such as how collaboration, motivation, interactivity, and volition work together to fuel engagement.

Awareness of these important concepts are now beginning to impact my planning and execution in the classroom, but without a class to keep me focused on engagement principles, I may lapse into other concerns such as the technical details of my subject matter or struggling with classroom management problems.

If I don’t keep the important goals of professional development and intentional design at the forefront of my thinking, I can lapse from training myself to love and pursue mastery to maintaining dry and mundane regimens like time management and status-quo consistency. Another key to this is finding a collaborative community of practice that inspires and holds me accountable for stretching my creative and professional boundaries.

I feel a great professional vulnerability in that I work in a small organization where I am not particularly regarded for my role as an educator but mostly for providing and troubleshooting our computing infrastructure. Because of my technical focus, I have not made it a priority to build a professional network corresponding to my role in education and instruction. I am even further removed from the professional world of instructional design if I wish to move more in that direction.


What opportunities are open to you? What trends could you take advantage of? How can you turn your strengths into opportunities?

As far as my own classroom, the opportunities are great because until taking this class, I have had virtually no methods of engagement. Already the things I’ve tried have shown immense promise and I am excited to expand my repertoire of strategies.

As far as the larger industry, the shift to remote and online learning has increased the demand for quality online instruction. Some sites provide the facility to create and curate original course content which opens the door to low-risk entry into this growing market. There is also an explosion of innovative tools for creating content and publishing resources to match the growing population of motivated learners who are seeking them out.

Despite the ever-growing multitude of do-it-yourself YouTube channels, there exists a smaller cluster of interactive delivery systems that can really facilitate a seamless flow of engagement, instruction, collaboration, and assessment; however, this is the new frontier of developing technology and it’s exactly what I’m interested in.

In my field of Computer Science, more states are recognizing the importance of offering appropriate curricula throughout the K-12 years. Arkansas, for example, has added additional benchmarks for elementary education to its initial requirements for CS in high school. As more of our educational system requires computer science, the more opportunities will emerge.


What threats could harm you? What is your competition doing? What threats do your weaknesses expose you to?

One threat is my melancholic nature. I have struggled with learned helplessness in this regard, but the focus on self-improvement this class has provided has helped enormously. In the past, I’ve also had anxiety and depression which still flares up during times of stress. These threats are manageable to the extent I am vigilant to take time for self-care. I wrestle with low self-esteem and can be risk-averse when it comes to new ideas and starting new programs or habits. I believe that a community of practice and support would greatly help me have a better ability to leverage risk.

EDM533: Visual and Verbal Communication in Instructional Design

It Started with a Virtual Field Trip Infographic...

Created by David Kobliska in Adobe Illustrator

... And Became an Interactive eLearning Module Prototype

Final Reflections on the Project

From Infographic to E-Learning Module

The translation process felt very natural because I had instinctively planned for the module design while creating the infographic. In fact, the infographic was to serve a “teaser” advertisement of sorts while at the same time engaging the students who would see it. Mysterious names and empty silhouettes provided an invitation for students to begin speculating and even researching who these main characters might be that they would find on their virtual field trip.

Adobe Illustrator and XD provided the needed integration to be able to copy and paste elements directly from one tool into the other. As the eLearning module took shape, I discovered the capability of adding overlays to the static screens that could be activated by clicking an interface affordance. I chose the bright red pins as a trigger for more information. The yellow strings that crisscrossed the bulletin board in the infographic became the primary means of navigation.

Learning Science

Students are engaged by interaction with their subject matter. Here, in the absence of an actual hands-on field trip where students would be immersed in their environment, the infographic and eLearning module had to rise to the task of providing an interactive experience. By adding a fun theme, students’ imaginations could be engaged and this would add an immersive element that was otherwise impossible given the circumstances.

Cooperative learning techniques are also a proven way to increase student engagement. The index cards that follow the unmasking of each suspect provide immediate follow-up discussion points that can be handled as an entire classroom or in small groups. Students can also jot down a question they select which increases their confidence in the learning process by adding a sense of control to their learning experience. This self-guided control also permeates the interactive module which allows students to explore various locals and discover various suspects based on their own choices.

Enabling Principles

The skills I have learned that formed the foundation of my success with this project includes the following:

  • choosing a motivational strategy to use in approaching an instructional design project
  • developing a strong theme that heightens student expectation that the learning experience will be fun and engaging
  • delivering engaging materials through lessons that contain interactivity and opportunities for students to be in control of their own learning experience
  • providing students the opportunities for cooperative learning and further study

This month of learning essential design principles, researching visual learning principles, and working with new tools has been the most rewarding experience I have ever had as a teacher. It has built on the important foundations of mastery and research into student motivation gained through prior classes and provides an exciting launching pad for the months to come.


Value Proposition Design presentation in Keynote

Below is a recorded presentation in Keynote which presents Value Proposition Design in my own words and images. The client is a faltering Instructional Design firm that specializes in civilian military training. The presentation is meant as a four-minute introduction to services I might provide to "train the trainer" in the V.P.D. concept.

The development of this presentation was extremely satisfying as the initial idea of using bicycle gears to illustrate client "fit" was met with an unexpected theme available in Keynote. When my instructor suggested the writing needed to be more compelling, the discovery of Andy Schleck's story of Olympic victory involving his bike chain gave me the opportunity to articulate the risks involved in a competitive market. Skills I had developed years before in unleashing Keynote's capacity for stunning visuals also allowed me to fully realize a compelling product.

Client Presentation video

The following is a 4-minute video presentation to be made to my client, Ozark Adventist Christian School. This is a real-life scenario with real people and a genuine burden I have to make a difference. This work is dedicated to Mr. Mike Dale, my Principal for the past 10 years who passed away today after battling COVID. His words to me about this mastery journey was, "Never give up!" I will miss his positive presence and influence in my life terribly. And the place where I teach Computer Science, Ozark Adventist Academy, will never be the same.

Reflection on a life spent teaching

Life is Precious

Today I learned how much it can hurt when someone dies. Our beloved principal, Mr. Mike Dale, lost his battle against COVID. He hired me 10 years ago, taking a chance that a pastor could become a teacher. He has been my most ardent supporter, raising tens of thousands of dollars for technology at the school, and pushing relentlessly for a robotics and STEM program. When I visited with him in September and told him I was taking classes at Full Sail, he said, “Never give up!” He repeated this to me later in an email. It was a miracle we got to know each other at all because he had just survived a major lung infection just before we met and has had a quarter of normal lung capacity these past 10 years. We knew if the pandemic struck him it wouldn’t be a fair fight. We labored all semester under the strictest of precautions only for him to catch it after all the students went home for Thanksgiving.

Lives You Touch

My wife and I learned of his passing as we waited in our seats for a wedding of two former students to begin. The wedding party was almost all former students of mine. Any teacher could have been invited because all of my colleagues made an impression on the bride and groom, but I was the one they invited. The smiles that greeted me at the back of the church when we arrived were on faces I hadn’t seen for years but it felt like days. Teaching changes you in ways you never expect. A few weeks ago I wrote my seventh-grade teacher on Facebook Messenger to wish him a happy birthday. On a whim I began writing important things he had changed in my life that were still with me. Just a few words, I thought. Four paragraphs later I could have kept going but decided to hit send anyway. An hour later my phone chirped. “You brought tears to my eyes,” he wrote. “God bless you.”

New Lease on Life

I loved college. I was an overachiever, a straight-A honors student, but also had a creative streak that flavored everything I did. I’ve always been that way, but I haven’t felt that way since until this past month. Stretched and challenged like nothing I’ve experienced in years, yet cheered on by my teachers and finding a wonderful contentment in weaving creativity with critical thinking. Knowing, even teaching Adobe apps, but never leaning into them, like a farmer at his plough. Exhausting work, but what a sound and peaceful sleep after finally turning projects in. Learning the value of the second draft, second thoughts, a second looking over things. Seeing things mature when pushed to process and produce like I have never been made to before. I shared with Mr. Dale about my dreams of using this degree to make a real difference in K-12 Computer Science education. He said, “You will help a lot of people!” This class has given me the tools and procedural blueprints to iterate on an idea and make it reality, to bring it to professional light of day and press the launch button. I am so very sorry that Mike will not see the fruits of what he so encouraged me to do. But now my dreams are closer to reality than ever before. Once again it was teachers. Teachers made this difference. Conclusion I know this isn’t exactly the kind of reflection I was asked to write, or planned to write. Leaving for the wedding, I knew I had left this for the end of a long day, but had no idea it would have been a day of such highs and lows. I’m spent. But I am reminded that life is short and it’s good to choose hard and meaningful work. This degree program was a gift in honor of a dedicated teacher whose life was taken by this pandemic. Now there are two such teachers who have changed my life.

Principal Mike Dale, Ozark Adventist Academy

Project Design Brief & Media Assets

The remaining work for IDT552, Corporate Training and Motivational Development, culminated in a Project Design Brief which featured two media assets created in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe XD.

Infographic created in Adobe Illustrator

Creating the infographic above involved statistical research and creative interpretation. I wanted to communicate both the exploding job market and something of the disparity between the attitudes of parents and administrators about equipping students to meet the demand. Of the two, the school-related information is the most immediately relevant to elementary school staff, and placing this at the top it allowed me to tell the visual story of planes flying over the high mountains of opportunity.

Prototype eLearning Module developed in Adobe XD. Live version available here.

The above eLearning module was my second foray into Adobe's prototyping app, XD. However, this was my first attempt to frame a training solution for bringing Computer Science and Computational Thinking to the attention of our local educators. This is certainly a prototype, but I can see a style of communication through illustration emerging in the projects shared throughout this journal, and the overall experience of this course has been to greatly increase my confidence as an Instructional Designer. Quite frankly, it is the first time I have envisioned pursing this field professionally since beginning the master's program at Full Sail.

You can view more comprehensive IDT552 assignment details and feedback here.

IDT574: Digital Media and Learning Applications

Mastery Reflection

My work on the proposal video project for the Osceola Country Museum has been a thrilling and engaging exercise. It was an excellent way to pull together and test the things we’ve learned while delivering a useful artifact that was very relevant to the material we’ve been assimilating. If I were to begin this project again, I would have revised the script to be less wordy and more engaging. The talking-head format is too static for the length that the video turned out to. The details I was trying to communicate would be better addressed in a design proposal document, which would allow the video to stand alone as an engaging overview.

Improving my process would include acquiring a teleprompter and gaining experience shooting video using a green screen to allow for a more neutral background. The preparation of graphics was done on the fly during the video editing stage and would have better been sketched ahead of time and then rendered in a more consistent format throughout the video. I would have liked to prepare some sample interactive content which was spoken about in the video, but the required time for this aspect was not available this week. As it was, the project took a lot longer than I expected, but I was also pushing myself more than on any other project in this course.

Regarding time-management and sacrifice for this degree program, I don’t believe I could have structured anything much differently. This week culminated in a massive event for my son’s high school class of which I am a sponsor. It was an exciting opportunity to make important memories during a year when this has been severely challenged by COVID-19 quarantine guidelines. Supporting my family and rendering the necessary work for my job and class sponsorship positions were a real challenge to producing this project. Nevertheless, I have felt driven and focused on its execution and feel that creating this kind of content would be an excellent fit for my developing professional skills in the future.

Project Samples

Scroll through the following sections to view samples of work done in IDT574 along with commentary.

Audio Production with Adobe Audition

Previous experience with non-linear audio editing was based primarily in Apple GarageBand and Audacity. This course required the use of a new tool, Adobe Audition, which proved to be a simple tool for recording while also a powerhouse for analyzing and editing. As an introduction to this new tool, the course required preparation of a short demonstration of both poor and professional audio instruction. This put into practice the theoretical building blocks acquired through training videos and lectures.

Video Production with Adobe Premier

Although previous courses involved a small amount of video production, IDT574 introduced the important concept that the human mind is capable of dual-channel processing of both audible and visual information. The creation of a video exploring this concept offered the opportunity to also put these principles into practice. By creating simple wordless diagrams under headings that corresponded to spoken words, it is possible to engage learners using both cognitive processing channels without overloading either.

Creative Feedback

This course introduced the three levels of instructional design that would each be the focus of future courses: audio production, video production, and multimedia/interactive instructional content. To maximize student exposure to these tools, both the projects and all related peer-review materials were composed in the corresponding modalities. This gave opportunity for some humorous banter between colleagues as well as multiple exposures to the work other students were doing in these three areas of instructional design.

Proposal for Interactive Multimedia Upgrade to a Welcome Center / Museum

The capstone project of this course challenged each student to deliver a multimedia presentation proposing upgrades of this nature to the Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum. This was a chance to engage a hypothetical client in different upgrade options for their facility based on a range of budgets. This learning experience also included a community discussion board where classmates could brainstorm and collaborate as colleagues. The project was an excellent opportunity to synthesize theoretical knowledge while putting new skills into practice in a realistic client engagement scenario.

IDT610: Filmmaking Principles for Instructional Design

Reflection Post

Reflect—How did your attitude, logic, and behaviors influence your performance or contribution? What worked? What didn’t? I have been an amateur filmmaker from a very young age and, while this didn't hurt my attitude going into the course, it did require me to adjust course on my way through. The planning document for the project was in a format that seemed odd to me having never done scene-by-scene planning of an instructional video. While I am used to thinking in terms of action sequences with multiple camera angles and a need to closely monitor continuity, I have never worried much about the instructional value of my videos. Until now. As soon as I composed the required planning documentation, I realized how useful it was to have charted out and diagrammed each shot. But it wasn't until I was in the midst of filming that I realized how much I hadn't been able to visualize beforehand. My action sequences worked well but the simple "how-to" demonstration was very flat and unimaginative in my mind. I ended up resorting to dissolve transitions between each of these steps because the continuity would have never flowed otherwise.

Inquire—What concepts/techniques do you still need to learn about to gain mastery of the material? How do you know? I need more practice in lighting a scene. I know this because only one of my scenes really "popped" as being particularly well-lit. Having said this, it seems that using a set in a facility with a lighting grid overhead would make a world of difference. I have some experience working in a television studio, but the ability to recognize when I've got it "just right" when doing my own lighting setup feels a long way off. I also need more experience in order to learn how to work with directing talent. It takes a specific subset of skills to effectively communicate my mental picture of how things should go to the participants that will have to embody that vision and realize it in front of the camera.

Suggest—What could you have done differently to improve your performance or contribution? Reflecting on the day of the shoot, I realize that I could have spent more time practicing with the available lighting resources before working with the talent. Doing this while expecting them to then give an enthusiastic performance was asking a lot. I need to compartmentalize the technical from the creative live-action aspects of the shoot. Once I have the lighting set, I need to take time to work with the talent and practice their parts, coaching them toward a series of successful takes.

Elevate—How will you approach similar situations in the future? How does this experience inform your professional objectives? Frankly, I have always anticipated a future of making screencasts in order to teach computer science, but I realize now how engaging it is to introduce a topic with an enacted story. So it was an unexpected part of my mastery journey to blend my storytelling filmmaking skills with a highly controlled instructional process in order to meet specific learning objectives. This unique intersection of professional trajectories and past experiences is very intriguing to me and using video to tell a story adds an immensely rewarding aspect to the instructional design process for me.

EME6227 Game strategy and motivation

This month of study focused on designing an interactive game experience that would motivate students and accomplish learning objectives. My process drew on my love of adventure games and years of playing Dungeons & Dragons. The concept art I produced was almost completely original and I found this particularly challenging as the volume required was quite large. Admittedly, the concept was extremely broad and not limited to a particular content base. Rather, the design reflects a gamified learning system for delivering conceptually complex topics with a large base of terminology and component parts that are all interrelated. The sample artwork used the topic of Computer Science basics with terms such as "bit" and "byte" and their relationship to each other.

Game design has sparked the most creativity and ambition in my journey through the Instructional Design master's program so far. There are more ideas where these came from and I realize that I am very interested in leveraging interactive gaming for delivering complex content. There was a great sense of reward from delving into the many decisions that went into creating the overall game concept. Each smaller piece affected the bigger picture and I found it personally engaging to juggle all these aspects at once while also considering the look and feel of the interface. The greatest challenge was the final layer of creating an audiovisual presentation to bring all the pieces together. During this process, I discovered gaps in my design that I wanted to fill and this retroactively affected some of the most fundamental assets I had produced earlier.

I am particularly intrigued with puzzle games and this is reflected in the design of the mini-games that make up the formative assessments in my interactive learning system. During this month, I discovered the game "Human Resource Machine" by Tomorrow Corporation. This game teaches computational thinking by presenting machine language programming in the context of a busy office where workers accomplish the low-level tasks assigned to a typical CPU. This was a very inspiring find because I have been thinking for a while about how to introduce this very mundane subject to my computer science students. Playing this game forces the player to think like a low-level Central Processing Unit and helps answer the mysterious question as to how computers do what they do at their most basic level. Kudos to the developers!

In summary, I believe this has been an insightful month that may lead to a career option in educational game design. Please enjoy the presentation of my design below.

EME6630 Learning Management Systems and Organization

Reflection on Developing a Course Content Map

Course Content Map for American Red Cross Adult First Aid / CPR / AED Training

Developing a content map has been a new experience for me and I can see that it plays a valuable role in designing a learning module. Because this module is based on an existing training document, the first step in developing the map involved studying the provided material for its inherent structure and logical progression of ideas. Having personally taken the Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED training every other year for the past 10 years, I was aware that these three primary topics are often covered separately and that there is a logical flow within each of the three. My only enduring criticism of the training is the lack of introductory material helping a layperson to evaluate random emergency situations and deciding how to help. The training PDF includes this introduction, so I decided to devote the initial class meeting to rapidly evaluating emergency situations. By having students make their own flowchart for deciding on appropriate interventions, they will better internalize this material during the first lesson. The remaining topics divided easily into three additional lessons taken from the title: CPR, AED, and first aid training.

In deciding content types, I was highly influenced by my experience with the Red Cross online training simulations that have been the primary delivery method for the training I’ve taken for over a decade. These training modules include text, videos, and scenario-based assessments that must be successfully completed before moving on to subsequent topics. These online modules, together with in-person practice of CPR and AED administration on certified mannequin equipment, have served as a well-balanced, albeit brief, coverage of the information that is summarized in the training PDF. In creating the content map, I decided to include the interactive online material I was familiar with, along with more time for individualized inquiry in the form of WebQuests followed by in-class sharing and discussion. Searching the Internet for relevant information is a low-impact way to engage students while giving the instructor a chance to informally assess individual student comprehension of the main ideas being discussed. By sharing what they’ve found, students reveal their ability to sift through information for what is relevant, and instructors can address misinformation or common myths that might surface during an online search.

Finally, the reflection activities I chose are meant to engage the learner emotionally as this has been shown to develop intrinsic motivation toward the material. I chose to have the students watch testimonials of people involved in administering and receiving some of the life-saving interventions taught in the course. By reflecting on these outside of class, the student will connect with the material at a deeper level than hypothetical scenarios can afford. By balancing the emotional and intellectual context of the material, the learner has a better chance of establishing lasting connections to the material in their long-term memory.

Reflection on this Month's Learning Experience

Procrastination was the deadly sin of the month this time around. With school starting, I had very little creative energy to invest in these assignments. It should have triggered a warning that self-care was on the decline, as procrastination is my go-to method of escapism when responsibilities are squeezing my mental recuperation time down to the barest margins. Instead of trying to find inspiration in the waning moments before a deadline, I would better invest that time early on. I also made the mistake of seeing my schedule as a battle between work and school, rather than an integrated mix of disciplines.

This is my eleventh year as a full-time teacher and 12-month support staff at my school. Because I am responsible for ensuring a supportive and functioning technical infrastructure for our teachers, my time during the summer is spent primarily preparing for other teachers’ success. Every year, the new school year hits like a typhoon as students inundate campus as I must rebalance my responsibilities to include being an effective teacher at the same time that technical support issues escalate exponentially. I still have no idea how to improve this situation other than to find a full-time role as either an educational technologist or a full-time instructional designer.

The health complications I experienced this month and the sudden rise of Covid-19 cases in my community make it hard to feel that there is a logical adjustment that I could make to be better engaged than I was this month. It is true that I will be glad when the demands of this program finally abate but the increased stress of working as a teacher during a pandemic will continue to be an inescapable burden. I need to adjust my focus toward anticipating graduation and the career-related opportunities that go with this final stretch. That would certainly be an appropriate commitment to make at this point.


Reflecting on the 12-month IDT MS Program

  • Professional Development Contribution: How has each course contributed to your personal and professional development as an instructional designer?
  • Capstone Project Integration: How well were you able to utilize the concepts and techniques you learned from the program (theories, systems design, interface styling, and the creation of multimedia content) as you designed, developed, and implemented your Capstone Project?
  • Outstanding Personal Triumph: Describe your most outstanding personal triumph in each course.

MDL510 - Mastery: Personal Development and Leadership

  • Professional Development Contribution: The course on Mastery was an important stepping stone in acclimating to academia but more so, it challenged my attitude toward personal growth. Considering myself a well-educated and experienced professional, I needed to consider the many ways I was limiting my potential, even in middle age, by the assumptions I was making about myself. Really, this course was a doorway to the revitalization of my life journey. Rather than thinking of all the things I had already accomplished, I began to savor all the possibilities ahead.
  • Capstone Project Integration: Studying the lives and circumstances of famous masters, and writing my research paper on the personal journey of Fred Rogers, helped shake me loose from assumptions I had about how to "get good at something." My reliance on "natural talent" and prior experience would have severely limited my ability to grow into my new capabilities as an instructional designer if I had not reconsidered the patience and small steps needed to slowly build out this new career path. Assessing my "grit" also opened me up to be more teachable and humble to take the time and do the work necessary to build mastery.
  • Outstanding Personal Triumph: During this first month, a quote from Buckminster Fuller became a turning point, both as the climactic moment in my "Turning Point Video" submission, but also in my personal life which had been suffering from a lot of doubt and discouragement. Fuller saw that he was part of a whole to which he owed a debt both to be his best and to do his best. A verse from wisdom literature says to "go to the ant" and it was in the very act of observing a colony at work while enjoying my morning coffee that Fuller's words came fully home. I didn't need to worry about how this program would ultimately fit into the bigger picture, but I did need to give it my best for the benefit of whoever would ultimately be touched as a result.

IDT520 - Strategies for Learner Engagement

  • Professional Development Contribution: I was just starting my tenth year of teaching high school when the Deborah Kantor-Nagler scholarship allowed me to experience the kind of advanced training I had been craving as an educator. Dr. Deason introduced me to so many important concepts that would immediately improve my classroom atmosphere and teaching technique. To be honest, I never thought much about "engagement" as a distinct dynamic let alone to appreciate its pedagogical ramifications. This course gave me a foundation to build on with every single future course and a set of guiding principles that will inform every instructional effort to come.
  • Capstone Project Integration: My capstone project involves engaging adult learners and I first began to study andragogy during this second month of the program. Dr. Deason's relentless modeling of good scholarship and analytical thinking meant that I was able to develop good research skills and adopt tools that I would use throughout the program, right up until the capstone project. The five "C's" of curiosity, connection, control (over one's own learning path), confidence, and capability have all factored into how I built my interactive learning module.
  • Outstanding Personal Triumph: The biggest takeaway of this class and perhaps the most tangibly profound insight from the entire program is that engagement is primarily the instructor (and instructional designer's) responsibility. I had been blaming disengaged students for a decade but starting here in month two, I began to take that responsibility and it has made all the difference.

EDM533 - Visual and Verbal Communication in Instructional Design

  • Professional Development Contribution: This course, more than any other, established my confidence as a graphic designer. I come from talented blood in this area and have always sensed my ability to express myself visually; however, this class taught me to take an assigned challenge-- the kind that would be presented somewhat arbitrarily from clients and employers-- and work a process to develop a tight visualization of the material. More than just good layout skills, I learned the importance of visual hierarchy, uniformity of type, and how color and negative space all work in concert to communicate a cohesive message. This was also a season where I discovered the value of having talented peers review my work. I experienced how good ideas can become great ideas through this vital collaborative process. I also learned the value of immediate feedback as Dr. Barrett-Greenly was relentlessly consistent in providing it.
  • Capstone Project Integration: It is hard to underestimate how foundational visual organization (visual hierarchy, in particular) has become to my instructional work. In my capstone project, I created a strong unifying visual theme throughout all of the media assets. I carefully organized the material in a structured scaffold that was easily accessible through the entries in the main menu, and in one of the introductory videos, I created icons to represent the four main constructs that divide the major topic. I also crafted an informal logo that was present at every level of the training.
  • Outstanding Personal Triumph: I will remember this course for how my iterative work on a large-format educational poster taught me the value of multiple drafts and peer review. As I watched the development of my infographic, I went from scorning to tolerating, to honestly craving constructive feedback from fellow practitioners. When I look at my project now, I think of all the people that made a difference-- comments that I was tempted to view as petty which became important doorways to growth.

IDT552 - Corporate Training and Motivational Development

  • Professional Development Contribution: This course introduced me to Value Proposition Design which seems like an excellent construct for analyzing and understanding client needs and how to meet them. This was the first course where I, as a teacher, was able to imagine myself in the place of a professional instructional design consultant. I was challenged by the process of developing a message that would engage a client on their terms and in their language. Working under Dr. Marron on the presentation project gave me the confidence to see myself as a resource for future clients and refreshing my Keynote skills brought this tool back into my wheelhouse for future projects.
  • Capstone Project Integration: Because of this course, I very much favored developing my instructional modules in Keynote. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the desired template to work in the Mac environment and I was pressed for time. Nevertheless, because of my experience of making a narrated presentation during month four, I was able to visualize and execute the creation of instructional content built on narrated slide decks. The strong thematic element that ran through my various instructional videos was definitely inspired by the work done in this class.
  • Outstanding Personal Triumph: Keeping an open mind and following my curiosity really paid off in this course. Like a page out of the Mastery textbook, I stumbled upon a metaphor (a bicycle chain and sprockets) to use in describing Value Proposition Design and this led to discovering the story of Andy Schleck, a Tour De France competitor who had his chain fall off during the race. It became a powerful story that drove my presentation. (As a side note, I also noticed that one of the founders of Value Proposition Design theory was a professor at my alma mater, DePaul University. With my newfound professional confidence, I reached out and we have enjoyed a lively correspondence.)

IDT562 - Instructional Design and Evaluation

  • Professional Development Contribution: My journey through IDT562 will always be bound up in the development of the Instructional Design Proposal and the extensive research process that went into editing and honing it into a unified proposition. It was also a chance to join a new cohort after taking time off to recover from my family's bout of COVID. The professional edge and creative energy emanating from this group have made the latter half of the degree program an important complement to the first which was made up of mostly fellow classroom teachers. This was also the time I created a logo and realized my Illustrator and Photoshop skills had definitely gone up a notch. Formatting the design document helped revitalize my interest in creating beautiful documents, a knack that received a good deal of positive feedback from my new cohort and, in turn, served to encourage their professional process.
  • Capstone Project Integration: This month spent creating a cogent and persuasive design document was undeniably the preparation to formulate the abbreviated version in just the first week of IDT562. Dr. Reo's insistence on clarity and brevity within the capstone design disinfect seemed to draw directly from the playbook from which Dr. Deason schooled us in month five.
  • Outstanding Personal Triumph: My personal triumph this month was certainly returning to the program after a two-and-a-half-month hiatus. During that time, my professional community came to terms with the tragic loss of our school's principal who was also my personal friend and mentor. Mike Dale had hired me and epitomized Ozark Academy for the past decade. But I am glad to have passed on despite these setbacks

IDT574 - Digital Media and Learning Applications

  • Professional Development Contribution: Month six, spent in IDT574, cracked open a door to the important world of multimedia and the multiple sensory channels through which instructional designers reach their audience. More than an overview of audio, video, and multimedia, this course provided a captivating window in the work of Richard Mayer and Curtis Carter, John Sweller, and Alan Paivio. Cynthia Brame's article on maximizing learning laid the basis for almost everything I now understand of memory and sensory processing theory.
  • Capstone Project Integration: Although ODT574 erected immense new bulwarks of cognitive learning theory, the difference these epic new ideas make is in the subtle nuances of ID tradecraft. Narrated slides don't require bullet points. Icons representing a list of key ideas should appear advice a single word exactly at the moment that word is spoken in the script. Animations distract if they're not illustrating an important and complex system. Music should be subtle and relatively duck out of the way when content speaks. It is really impossible to measure all the ways this course has made its mark on all my work since.
  • Outstanding Personal Triumph: The first week of this course coincided perfectly with my family's spring break trip to Florida. I will always remember memorizing the names of cognitive load theory pioneers at the dining room table of our beachfront hotel room. So the triumph was balance. Making fun and work coexist. Long walks on the beach and deep-diving into dual-modality processing. Life is good.

MUS6018 - Music and Audio for Instructional Design

  • Professional Development Contribution: Until month 7 when I took MUS6018, I had no idea that audio tools existed that could erase specific background noises from a recording using a visual tool and a mouse. I understood a lot about audio production having served on numerous A/V teams over the years and having "run sound" for countless events, but this month really expanded my mastery of audio production. The concepts in the LinkedIn training course and the accompanying mind map exercise gave me a chance to bring together disparate concepts into a unified whole. Finally, the practice of making software tutorials for material that was completely new gave me a chance to experience how this kind of work would flow in a professional setting.
  • Capstone Project Integration: The IDT master's program has taken my vocal recording skills to a new level. During the Mastery class at the beginning of the program, I set a goal to purchase a high-quality professional mic for vocal recording. I was able to use what I had learned in this course and the practice it gave me when recording the narration for the interactive module videos. This course also helped me utilize a workflow in which I recorded the audio first and then matched the slide content and animations to the flow of the spoken word.
  • Outstanding Personal Triumph: My personal triumph in this course was accomplishing the technical parkour of jumping between the various layers of production to create the Adobe Audition tutorials video which involved mastering the concepts, practicing the techniques, scripting a tutorial, creating screen recordings, adding visual cues to each, editing the video together, creating branded overlays for the client, and meeting the demanding time constraint of the finished project!

IDT610 - Filmmaking Principles for Instructional Design

  • Professional Development Contribution: Dr. Wyly's process for storyboarding and planning the DIY video shoot was a new approach to filmmaking that I had been practicing as a hobby for many years. Using a design and planning document helped me realize that I had previously followed good instincts for lighting and framing but had no workflow that I could reproduce consistently. This course was another step in developing professional skills that would allow me to incorporate videography into the instructional design process when multiple drafts are required and a client is involved who must be able to review a concept before investing in the later steps of filming and editing. Without the approaches learned and practice projects provided by this class, I would have continued to produce videos "by the seat of my pants" which would have been untenable in a professional environment.
  • Capstone Project Integration: Although my capstone project didn't ultimately utilize any training video footage, I was able to leverage the lessons learned about storytelling which we covered in this class. Storytelling at its most basic form is unfolding material in a way that engages the learner where they are and takes them on a journey. This suggests a frame of mind for the instructional design process which was helpful in crafting a sequence of lessons for the capstone training module as well as sequencing the content of the individual videos.
  • Outstanding Personal Triumph: This course also corresponded with a family vacation which I was not going to reschedule. It was a lesson in finding strength in what might otherwise be considered a challenge. Because I was going to be visiting my sister's family in New York, I was able to write a story for the DIY craft video that revolved around Susan and her daughter, Bella. But planning the video and producing storyboard documents while in Ohio during the first leg of our trip was a leap of faith that things would work out as planned two states over when I was in the physical space where the shoot would occur. Keeping a level head as I navigated this course was an experience I'll never forget.

EME6227 - Game Strategies and Motivation

  • Professional Development Contribution: This course was a "Eureka" moment for me as I discovered a love for designing and prototyping an educational gaming experience. I learned the components of gameplay ("pick-a-seat") and got an opportunity to immediately test my understanding of how the many aspects of game mechanics, motivation, engagement, and reward would work together to create a successful product. I also stretched my experience with Illustrator and Photoshop to new limits as I leveraged both to create dozens and dozens of digital assets to help me visualize and then create a pitch video for the game. Given that I have an intense interest in educational gaming, I feel this course has been a critical step in my journey which has only just begun.
  • Capstone Project Integration: One aspect of this course was to visualize the user's ability to interact with the content. Thinking through how they would navigate the software and relate to the interface affordances bore direct fruit when designing the capstone training module. This also posed a challenge because I did not have experience with Captivate or any LCMS platforms to be able to anticipate the available paradigms for how existing software would enable me to realize my vision for the capstone project. I could storyboard a prototype of the module but faced too high of a learning curve with available platforms to actually see it implemented in that way.
  • Outstanding Personal Triumph: Throughout the development of my game prototype, I was extremely focused on the details of the game's design and on the various features I was tempted to keep adding. In the last stage of the process, I finally understood what Dr. Cleveland was trying to tell me was missing from my overall concept. Suddenly, all the pedagogical concepts of engagement, control, reward, cognitive load balancing, and sensory, short, and long memory all coalesced around the technical process I had been preoccupied with, and I was able to communicate all my design decisions in those terms. It really was a breakthrough.

EME6630 - Learning Management Systems and Organization

  • Professional Development Contribution: It was very helpful to learn the background behind the instructional design field as it relates to legacy systems that will be encountered in the field. My exposure to LMS systems had been primarily from high school and college settings where they are used to post resources and assignments, facilitate assessments and track progress and grades. This course exposed me to concepts like SCORM, Tin Can, and the history of how digital learning systems have evolved. It was helpful to compare notes with other learners during this course and compare our proposed ideas for creating a learning module for the Red Cross material.
  • Capstone Project Integration: This course was an important step in preparing for my capstone project and influenced me to pursue the goal of creating an online learning module. Having produced several audiovisual artifacts throughout the master's program, I felt the biggest gap in my experience was the big picture of pulling these kinds of assets together into a logical learning flow that would be hosted using software found in state-of-the-art L&D departments. In particular, the interaction with other classmates exposed me to professional practices they use in such settings and I was able to choose the popular online training platform, Rise, to ultimately produce my capstone project.
  • Outstanding Personal Triumph: I received high praise from Dr. Reo for my annotated bibliography. This was something I had never done and he affirmed my ability to analyze, synthesize, and write cogent summary material about the articles that I had researched.

IDT680 - Media Asset Creation

  • Professional Development Contribution: Until I actually attempted to create an online learning module, I had no idea how to approach it. I had learned so much and yet felt lost when it came to putting the pieces together. During this course, I reached out to the L&D department of my own parent organization and was able to make some professional contacts that helped me explore what I had learned in a context that was close to home. I also worked with this department to gain access to the authoring tools they have for their training modules and was able to "test drive" these and compare them with those of the Rise platform which I ultimately used for the project. During this month, I also tried out Adobe Captivate with the help of some LinkedIn training and DIY YouTube videos. I feel this project really helped me understand better how to size up and approach an entire learning module design project.
  • Capstone Project Integration: All previous concepts of engagement, learning, assessment, LMS systems, illustration, branding, and design documentation were utilized in this capstone project. This course provided the important opportunity to integrate these strands of knowledge into one cohesive product.
  • Outstanding Personal Triumph: It was during this month that my mother, who had suffered for almost a decade with Alzheimer's, finally took her last breath. The ten days of her bed-fast decline and our family's continual bedside vigil coincided with the final week of IDT680. Dr. Reo was supremely supportive and flexible but ultimately I had to make the decision to press on despite the immense personal responsibilities to my family amidst my own emotional turbulence. It was another exercise in putting family first and still finding inspiration and grit during a most trying time.

IDT690 - Instructional Design and Technology Final Project

  • Professional Development Contribution: Producing a demo reel provided an important opportunity to review, organize, and curate a year's worth of hard work while also evaluating the same for the purposes of putting my best foot forward. Dr. Wyly's insightful feedback helped with the challenge of reinventing myself from student to potential employee. Until this course, I really hadn't had a chance to look back at my earlier classes and sense my strong suits. By starting a portfolio, I was able to begin a process that I plan to continue which will showcase the wide range of projects I have undertaken in this master's program.
  • Outstanding Personal Triumph: Creating a demo reel taught me an important lesson: never fall in love with an idea before involving other people. I had chosen a cadence and emotional vibe for my demo reel that I thought matched my cerebral style of ruminating over and philosophizing about my ideas. By choosing to adopt an exciting and edgy approach to the project, I was able to reinvent not only the demo reel but an important aspect of my work itself. I learned I could choose what I wanted to communicate and then make it happen. I can get my message across.
Created By
Dave Kobliska


Created with images by Annie Spratt - "Child completing maths homework" • Green Chameleon - "Designer sketching Wireframes" • Unknown - "10 Lb Rogue Weight Plate Near People Gathered · Free Stock ..." • Unknown - "Free stock photo of alone, beanie, boy" • Matthew T Rader - "An open door allowing light to shine into a dark room." • Unknown - "Old Radiation Sign Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures"Typewriter image by the author. Babbage Difference Engine image c/o Wikimedia Commons.