STAFF SPOTLIGHT: Meet Rob, one of two instructional designers to join the Academic Commons

The Academic Commons team is growing! This academic year we added two Instructional Design Specialists to our department. Rob and Sadman join the team to support faculty with course design, educational technologies, and online instruction.

Keep reading to hear about what advice Rob gives to instructors teaching in online and hybrid classrooms and learn how he can support you.

What is your title and your role at Jefferson?
I am an Instructional Design Specialist Associate in the Academic Commons.

I think of my role as one of a “creative transformer” – someone who draws on their technical and learning design knowledge, creative instincts, passion as well as other resources to help meet the goals of our faculty, our students, and the university.

How long have worked at Jefferson?
I have been here since November 2021 and am really enjoying this new role. Starting a new position can be a bit daunting for the first couple weeks, and a remote role can even be more difficult, but the Jefferson team was incredible in making me feel welcome and part of the team from the start. With frequent use of Slack and Zoom, I feel like I am constantly connected to the team – probably even more so than if they sat around the corner from me! I am also fortunate that I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, so I have had the opportunity to meet some team members in person.  

Explain to us a bit about your work and what departments you support.
I collaborate with and support team members and subject matter experts with projects, namely, the design and development of courses and instructional materials. I also have a background in graphic design, working with Adobe programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and many others, so I look forward to contributing unique design elements to courses as needed. I recently worked with faculty from the School of Continuing and Professional Studies and am excited to work with other groups at the university.

Tell us about a few of your favorite educational tools.
I really like Flipgrid and VoiceThread. Flipgrid allows someone to easily record videos and include questions and comments about a lesson. Others can then respond with a recorded video response with no time limit. Also, students can be creative in their response, personalizing their videos with music and animation features.

VoiceThread is a slides-based platform that allows one to present their project by adding images, videos, voice, and text. Projects can be shared with other students, and they can respond with their thoughts.

What advice would you give to an instructor teaching online for the first time or maybe transitioning to a hybrid classroom?
I would encourage them to approach the situation with an open mind. Online applications provide a wealth of resources by which students can learn and interact with each other and their professors – but in order to take advantage of those possibilities, it is important to take some time to explore how parts of the course could be “transformed” to an online environment and not just “shifted” online from the way they are done in a campus course. 

How can instructors work with you to transform their course content to the online environment?
The Academic Commons is here to help! You can contact us for a one-on-one consultation via the “Growing with Canvas” calendar in Canvas. We also have virtual workshops and on-demand recorded videos that you can explore at a convenient time. Visit our site for how-to guides and video guides on educational tools like VoiceThread, Canvas, Nearpod and more.

How do you spend your time when not supporting instructors?
I love spending time with my wife and daughter, exercising, watching sports, and listening to podcasts on a variety of subjects.