Kevin M Handy



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.

Professional Experience

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.

In 2015 I approached the Program Manager of Computer Technology, Programming Languages, Microsoft Certifications, Multimedia and Digital Photography at Collin College. I asked him whether or not a certification sequence might exist at the college. I had already completed two degrees and had nearly completed my doctorate but wanted something to augment my existing education and experience. We chatted for quite a while. I told him about my background. And he told me that he didn't really have anything that could help me because I'd already taken master's level work in instructional design. Would I be interested in being a faculty member? I immediately said yes.

Going Solo

Some people look at my resume or background and think, huh, he's been an independent business owner for many years. Well not exactly. Back in 1998 I decided to do some work that would be classified by the IRS as I-9 in nature. In other words it was work that could be done after hours that didn't conflict with my primary job. Before I started a campaign to give back to the community I formed Digitalingo in 1998.

I felt that for tax reasons it was best to form a separate entity in case I needed to claim any substantial expenses in the future and amortize those. In other words I did this for tax reasons. Frankly software and some of the other things we use in our business is rather expensive so I was advised to form a sole proprietorship. 

I continue to do I-9, W2 and Corp-to-Corp through DIgitalingo to this day. I use it for branding, tax purposes and so on. But that doesn't mean I didn't, haven't and wouldn't want the right full time opportunity. Like many folks today keeping the lights on is a priority and freelance work can sometimes fill the gap. Thus my resume is non-traditional. It doesn't nicely flow from one year to the next because I might be working independently and contributing to the community through my teaching at Collin College. Or I might have a small assignment that I can do at night.

Those unfamiliar with instructional design see conflicts of interest. But in point of fact there is generally no conflict of any kind - either from a corporate ethics or time perspective. I don't bill a client or employer for my time unless I'm doing the work for them. If I did otherwise I probably wouldn't be in business today.

Giving Back to the Community

Between 2015 and 2017 I designed, developed and delivered brand new courses which I created and called the Instructional Design Certificate Series. I love teaching in the series because I practice what I preach. It's definitely not a situation where I talk the talk but can't walk the walk. I'm constantly developing and honing the courses - which are blended - classroom plus a pretty serious online component. And then I created practical projects. I created a three course series on Adobe Captivate and one on Articulate Storyline. But also Techsmith Camtasia and SnagIt. But not just those courses - indeed I created courses on nearly every aspect of what we do. I teach administering and using an LMS - in that my learners experience using an LMS first hand as administrators using the free MoodleCloud.  I also leverage a web-based tool called EasyGenerator - a tool similar in nature to Lectora Online and Articulate 360. But I believe people must have a good theoretical and practical foundation - I teach adult learning theory so they understand why we do what we do and how it impacts learners. But then I created an instructional design course where they learn nothing but creating instructional design documentation needed for good management of a learning project. But also I teach them basic storyboarding techniques.

In order to do these things one must have more than a passing familiarity or all credibility is lost. So when I walk into  the classroom I can speak from experience. And I love the combination of "doing" during the day and "teaching" actively on nights and weekends. Paying it forward is vital if we're to keep the next generation of instructional designers ready to deliver a 21st century product.

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. I'd like to chat with you about what I can do for your business.