More than twenty years ago I began to wonder about the nature of adult learning. I decided early on that a program that was interdisciplinary in nature would satisfy my intellectual curiosity while providing a means of supporting myself – so I combined foreign language and marketing. The backdrop for this endeavor was one of the finest teaching schools west of the Allegheny mountains, the first of its kind, Eastern Michigan University.
I honed good communication and organizational skills in my undergraduate program. I studied German, Spanish, some French, Italian, Arabic and Mandarin. I felt that if I could understand people I could better meet their needs in business – it hadn’t occurred to me that it might help me as a trainer for I didn’t know the profession yet existed! I also studied European history, geography, international marketing and of course took courses in economics, political science and the like. Our program was very multidisciplinary. In my second year at the university I decided to take some time off and study on my own, abroad, at an internationally renowned language center, the Goethe Institut, in Munich, Germany. There are Goethe centers all over the world, however, Munich was the original location and still had one of the finest programs in the country.
When I graduated there were few jobs in the auto industry and without the right connections getting in was difficult. A natural interest in computers and a course I completed in International Trade and Transportation were the combination I needed to begin an interest in what was then called EDI – electronic data interchange.
I went to work for a company that later was bought out and became part of Harbinger, a leader in EDI transactions. From there I went to work as a contractor at Northern Telecom in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That location later shutdown and by luck the location in Richardson, Texas was starting up a help desk. I know had the knowledge and experience of supporting both technical and sales users which I could bring to the table at what became Nortel.
After Nortel began massive layoffs I was a victim of those and decided that I would try contracting and see what other options might arise. At Nortel I had become something of an expert at calendaring and contact management and was a first line support person for that and the Microsoft Office Suite. I offered short “lunch and learn” sessions for both help desk staff and for selected employees. The results were very good. Our call counts decreased and I began to take an interest in training and certification. I then worked in a business analyst capacity and began to look at organizational effectiveness. A reorganization brought me back to the realm of financial reporting – for sales. The sales funnel from one line of business needed to be reported up to the “C” level in the organization so I dug into that effort with gusto. In that role I was exposed to my first encounter with e-Learning. I knew that I wanted to work in training and e-Learning from then onward.
After Nortel I continued my career with some small and medium sized firms and decided to try my hand at creating my own small business because I felt that perhaps I could offer both training and business analysis. Without formal experience this was not an easy task, however, I was able to finally work with clients and combining my customer service, help desk, sales and other skills, experience and knowledge I began my foray into creating better, formalized instruction.
In 2004 I began to look at instructional design more seriously. Please see my Philosophy section for more on what I believe constitute design versus development.
Today my professional focus is on delivering high quality instruction both on the web and in the classroom. In particular my interest is in blended learning.