Being a part of a cMooc

It has been a while since my last post. I know, it’s a lame excuse, but something that is worth mentioning. I had just read through the comments on the #openlearning18 Twitter chat and saw how others have had the same blog dying-on-the-vine experience. Why blogs get old, at least for me, has a lot to do with the work I do. I am an instructional designer, and have been one for close to 10 years now. As I grad student, I saw how a blog could help with potential employers by showcasing my work and deep thinking. Once I had a solid career, a blog became less important.

There is a another reason to blog that goes beyond being a fancy resume. It is a way to contribute knowledge to the world or at least provide some perspective. Academics and researchers have an obligation to share their work, but not everyone has access (or the desire to get published in academic journals). As a partial academic, I tend to showcase work at conferences. Its a nice way to share ideas without having to try to publish, and for many careers in education technology, its a perfect way to share work products with a larger audience.

With that, I see the #openlearning18 cMooc as an opportunity to network with other professionals who are involved in higher education instructional design and technology. My goal is to participate as much as I can. A nudge always helps like this one from Gardner Campbell after I attended his session at the ELI conference a couple weeks ago. I never formally met Gardner, but have been inspired by his presentations.


Spring 2015 Activities

Hello folks!

It has been a productive Spring for me this year. I would like to highlight a couple of bits of my work these past months and plug the upcoming Distance Teaching and Learning Conference taking place August 11-13, 2015 in Madison Wisconsin. I will be presenting a session yet most likely on 8/12 or 8/13.

Syracuse University IDD&E guest speaking for IDE 632

Thanks to Dr. Rob Pusch for inviting me to be a guest speaker for the Instructional Design II course (IDE 632). This is the third time I have done this and each time rather informative. I find that in preparing for the session I am able to reflect on the work I have been doing over the years. It gives me a way to step and and think how I can utilize my experience to inform future colleagues. The session is run in a flipped format with a website that presents some in-depth readings and discussions and the live synchronous session to work on some activities that utilize this information. I am pretty flexible in how students approach the materials, but I try to make it as informative as I can to still engage learners who are not planning on working in higher education.

Here is the link to the session’s support website: Forgard – IDDE – 2015

LTDC Virtual Conference Presentation

On April 10, I presented at the LTDC Virtual Showcase. The entire conference was run through Blackboard Collaborate, with about 15 to 20 attendees per session. With Wisconsin being rather large, it makes sense to run a conference like this remotely. My session titled, “Defining High Quality Asynchronous Discussion Design and Facilitation Practices” focused on some discoveries I made from reviewing some of the recent literature on the topic of online discussions. I uploaded this session to my YouTube channel for those would are interested in watching.

Feel free to post a message in the blog if you have any questions.



Public Authority: The End of Public Higher Education in Wisconsin?

Some excellent insight into the current issues surrounding the future of higher education in the Wisconsin system. What makes this debate interesting from the instructional design perspective is that instructional designers may be asked to implement new efficiencies to save money or be seen as “non-essential” staff. If you work in higher education, you should be paying attention to where this leads.

See also the WISCAPE blog for further information:

Ragman's Circles

By Richard Grusin

In Scott Walker’s first budget in 2011, the one that included the notorious Act 10, which outlawed the formation of, and any substantive bargaining from, public employee unions, there was a proposal to split off UW-Madison from the UW System by making Madison a “public authority.” Back in 2011 plans for this separation of Madison from the UW System went so far that Biddy Martin, then UW-Madison Chancellor, had prepared the text for a new Chapter 37, which would apply only to UW-Madison and would govern it as a public authority that preserved all of the protections for academic freedom, faculty governance, and tenure that are written in to the Wisconsin Statutes. This 2011 proposal would have left the legal status of the rest of the System unchanged under Chapter 36, which lays out the statutory authority (and guidelines) for the University of Wisconsin System, the…

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Educause 2014 – Day One

ByuJ5ZRIYAAcSxHAfter making it to the Educause conference for the first time in my instructional design career, I have to say that I am very impressed by the presentations so far. Although most of the attendees seem to be IT professionals, but I feel that I am among kindred spirits hearing the questions and participating in the discussions surrounding higher education.

Starting the conference off (no pre-conference for me) was a keynote by the Harvard Business School scholar and author, Clay Christensen. I had read his books Disrupting Class and The Innovative University, so I was pretty familiar with his “disruptive innovation” theory. This was important because I felt that to truly understand the point of his presentation, it helped to have “done the reading before class.”

He did not say directly how higher education is changing, but alluded to it by giving examples from other industries such as auto manufacturers and personal computers. For instance, Dell, in selling itself out, had outsourced its business to Acer, who ended up being a competitor.

The question started to stew in me: what components of higher education are being outsourced? It is easy to offload some of our services, but we need to realize the difference between a partner-client and an instructional replacement. The first thing that came to mind was the use of publisher testing/instructional tools such as Pearson’s MyLabs or McGraw Hill’s Connect among others. It is easy to outsource instruction using these tools, but is this just a piece of disruptive innovation that is taking the market share? The point being, in our industry’s need to lower costs, we might be selling ourselves out, leaving nothing but a brand – like with Dell.

At lunch I had a fascinating discussion with a gentleman from Boston University, who leads an instructional design team. He shared a similar type of inquiry, framed with the notion of we need to pay attention to budgets more than ever.

Tying into the MOOC discussion group I attended in the afternoon, which might also be considered a disruptive innovation, I found how our industry is attempting to innovate something that is controlled by the faculty and designers – at least to a point. We are dependent on MOOC development tools to deliver the courses, similar to the LMS, but this is not outsourcing per-se. The development time and effort is still dependent on the institution, not a publisher. What I found interesting about this group was that some saw MOOCs as an easier way into eLearning than the LMS approach. It is because of the low stakes of MOOC. So, does this mean that the eLearning that has taken place is somehow more of an example of education outsourcing than a MOOC?

Let’s see where these ideas take me today at day 2 of Educause 2014.

Who I am and what I do?

I feel that it is important to declare a bit about myself in the hopes of perhaps setting a purpose to this blog, so the comments below may perhaps veer a bit off the path of this blog and help move the message towards the broader scope of who I am and what I do.

Initially, I began blogging as a way to market myself and enhance my instructional design career. After working (post-grad school) as an instructional designer, I am confident enough to state that having and maintaining a blog is not what keeps me marketable. Instead, its the actually work being done – not just writing about the work. After being employed for several years with plenty of prospects, it is more about making the time to write in my blog. This posting might just be an attempt at that.

Currently, I am designing and developing courses for University of Wisconsin Colleges Online. The position has its challenges, but is overall pretty rewarding. I get to work for a 100% online learning institution and use many of the tools it takes to create and delivery an online course. Many others have written about this process and I really don’t have anything to contribute that hasn’t already been said. Nevertheless, my approach involves creating courses that are interactive and engaging and training faculty on how to understand and teach online in interactive and engaging ways.

Later this month I will be attending the Educause 2014 conference, so I expect to pick up a lot of information on innovative approaches to online learning and higher education instructional design practice.

The other exciting thing happening is the Connected Courses workshop/MOOC that is starting up over at

On another note, work/life balance is very important to me. This is probably why I don’t blog as much as I would like. I feel that after about 8 hours of doing instructional design it is important to tune into something else. With that said, I’d like to list a few of the non-work-related activities I do.

  • Guitar player – for pretty much myself
  • Music lover – my current obsession is SoundCloud (
  • Biking/hiking/kayaking when I can
  • Cooking – I’m a culinary school dropout with a penchant for local and seasonal foods
  • Reading – pleasure reading is strictly science fiction and fantasy
  • And of course TV via Netflix and Hulu – I love the serialized programs being produced in the last 10 years

Want more of my stream of thought – check out my Twitter account @kforgard

Partners in Design Presentation May 2014 UW Colleges Colloquium

The “Partners in Design” presentation below, or how faculty and instructional designers interact, was presented by myself and Dubear Kroening at the UW Colleges annual colloquium.

This presentation highlights the work we have been doing on the developing of the faculty professional development course Teaching Online 101 (TOL 101) for the UW Colleges Online faculty. We are hoping to use evaluation data from this course to present at other conferences and perhaps publish something.

The longer that I do instructional design work the more I begin to think about how relationships matter the most in the field. Without high quality relationships and good rapport as professionals, the work an instructional design becomes that much harder. There is also the consideration of how faculty training is developed through such relationships. In this case, I was more of the subject matter expert and technology expert than the faculty member I have been working with. The roles are somewhat switched, but we created a pretty decent training product with TOL 101. My partner in this process, Dubear, has also contributed with his 10 plus years online teaching experience for UW Colleges.

The next steps are to start measuring the impact of the course on actual teaching and learning. We plan on interviewing participants from the first cohorts of TOL 101 6 to 12 months after the course to see how the course may have changed their approach to teaching and learning in all modalities.

The POD Conference Experience

Attendees playing human bingo

A shot from the Newcomers session. Photo by Jake Jacobson

This past week I had the pleasure of being able to attend the 38th annual POD conference ( For those who are not familiar with POD, it is a professional organization for people who work doing higher education faculty professional development. Most of the attendees are from various centers for teaching and learning, which has got to be one of the most diverse groups to work with. What I really love about this conference is that I don’t have to explain what I do as an instructional designer. Most of the folks at POD are either instructional designers or involved in overseeing the instructional design process. Many attendees have been doing this work for many years and are more than willing to share their wisdom and insight with each other. It is a very welcoming group of people.

What makes this conference unique is that most every session is interactive. There is no passive listening, which makes sense because people who do this work spend so much time encouraging faculty to create active learning environments. The majority of the sessions are “roundtables”, so its more about having a discussion with peers than listening. Some sessions present research in the field, but these sessions typically involved some interactivity centered on the topic discussed. A POD attendee should expect to talk about their work as well as actively listen to others.

POD also has a strong graduate student base, with many sessions focused on Teaching Assistant (TA) training as well as plenty of veterans who are more than happy to share their wisdom with newcomers to the field.

I was fortunate enough to be able to host a roundtable discussion with my colleague from Bristol Community College, Karl Schnapp. Our session, titled “Reflective Practice on Reflective Practice” presented a series of questions on how to engage faculty in informal focused conversations based on Schon’s model of the reflective practitioner. It was a very engaging conversation with other center directors and even a couple of graduate students.

The other session I participated in was the poster sessions. I presented on my faculty professional development course, Survey of Education Technology (SET). I was one of about 30 poster presenters, so I thought that perhaps I would be standing around for 2 hours. WAS I WRONG! I have some of the most engaging and inspiring conversations with folks to both validate and challenge some of my assumptions of the course. One person even offered me a job! Below are the slides I used to created the poster.

For those who are interested in faculty professional development, POD is THE conference to attend.

Very inspiring!