Stuck in PDF Hell? Try Movavi PDF Editor

I have a love/hate relationship with PDFs.  I love them when they work well but often times, especially when I’m editing one, well it can be a nightmare.  I was working on revamping a PDF I made a few months ago as a resource to accompany a presentation. While I have access to Adobe Acrobat DC on my work devices, I need something cheap and easy for my personal use.  Even in Adobe Acrobat DC, I find manipulating a pdf can be cumbersome and honestly a time suck.  I wanted the ability to move assets around and I stumbled across a great tool called Movavi PDF Editor

Movavi PDF’s features
This tool has many features including:

  • Tabbing which is set up like a browser.
  • Adding or removing pages from existing PDF documents and then rearranging the sequence in which they are presented.
  • Rotating pages within PDF documents.
  • Inserting JPG and PNG images into PDF pages and adjusting their position, size and orientation.
  • Combining separate PDF files together. This includes the ability to export content from many programs and merging it with existing PDF documents.
  • Save JPG or PNG images as PDF pages.
  • Ungroup assets on the PDF and move and manipulate

The last feature was what I was interested in.  Much like bringing a vector drawing into your favorite editor and ungrouping it, this tool allows you to ungroup and arrange assets in the PDF.  You can see it in action in this screen recording.

I’ve become a fan of using PDFs to accompany presentations instead of handing out a slide deck. Here is an example created for a group presentation led by Sean Hickey, Greg Nagy, and myself from Learning DevCamp 2018.  We took inspiration from the old Nintendo Power magazine and took our slides and expanded on talking points and made sure there were spots for note taking (which is a fillable box in PDF).

What PDF hacks do you have?  Are there tools that you use to get more out of them?  I want to hear about it!


Giving Back in L&D: How Do You Serve Others?

I am in the process of moving to a new position within The Ohio State University and it got me thinking about how I got to this point.  I was thinking through some of my favorite L&D experiences and was reminded of a work experience I had a number of years ago, and the changes I saw in people’s lives as a result of the training program. That place was the Region 2 Workforce Development Board in West Virginia and that job was as an adult educator.

What is Region 2 Workforce Development Board? To provide some context, in the state of WV when you receive public assistance such as Medicare, HUD, WIC, etc you have to do something to “earn” it.  The options are to maintain employment at least 20 hours a week or enroll in a job-like activity. The center I worked for provided the job-like activity. We were a one-stop shop to help folks earn their GED, create a resume, learn technology skills, enroll in university classes, and even earn college credit during the class. The tenure of each learner varied.  

Depending on their goals, some would leave after they earned their GED, others when finding jobs, and some came and went as they pleased.  If they did not reach the 20 hour a week attendance requirement, they were kicked out and I had to notify their Department of Health and Human Services caseworker.  After a month or so, many would usually come back to my class. Some learning from past mistakes and others still making them. On average, I’d have a classroom of 25-30 adults at one time ranging in age from 17 to 60+.  Each person had a specific reason for being there and a specific goal.

This photo reminded me of all the great and not so great things I saw during my time there:

  • I saw a single mother gain the confidence to earn their GED and later graduate from a local community college.


  • Another woman had a drug felony in her background because she was 17 years old and her parents got caught selling drugs out of their homes and the system threw the book at her too.  She found employment as a court reporter and thrived.


  • Another woman had the courage to leave an abusive relationship and faced the harsh realities of being on her own for the first time in 10 years and quickly found herself homeless.


  • One time when I went to one of the satellite centers to work for the day, I had a knife pulled on me by a man that busted in the center looking for his “old lady”.  It was the rare time I had a co-teacher who happened to be a retired prison warden so that got taken care of quickly.


I could continue story after story after story.  These are real people and it’s important to remember that when we provide an L&D product.  I didn’t build eLearning. I didn’t put these folks through a formal training program. I delivered to the best of my ability the three C’s: compassion, curriculum, and cause.  Each one of these folks was dealing with hardships that I couldn’t imagine and had never experienced. By being an instructor there, it made me a better person. It also made me realize that that “L&D thing” you are making, well a real human is reading it, listening to it, and wondering how it can help them in their current situation.  

Poverty has a name.  Poverty has a face. There are many poverties all around the world. Being able to help someone work towards defeating it, that is some major power. It was something that I certainly didn’t expect in this role.  To be honest, seeing real people improve, isn’t that why many of us got into L&D? Do you have that feeling in your own organization?

I’d like to throw out a challenge for you to give back in some way.  In the next few weeks, I’ll be launching another 6-week challenge, this time dedicated to service. Adult education centers are just the tip of the iceberg.  This is equally a challenge to myself as well. Myra Roldan has been kind enough to provide me with some guidance setting it up to make sure it’s easy to understand and participate. I hope that you too will participate.

Many of the L&D professionals I know are kind folks.  If each of us takes time to give back in some way, think of how much better the world will be.



Challenge 1: Coding Robots

The video features the song “iRobot”  by John Bellion.  All rights reserved.

I had so many ideas to kick off the 6-week challenge, I decided to do something that can also help me with a work project.  I’m building a module about teacher’s ethics, specifically why teachers should not cheat during statewide standardized assessments.  I start the module off with a story of a fake teacher “Chauncey Johns” who uses a real method to cheat on exams.  My center at OSU monitors these exams and with that monitoring are able to detect probable cheaters that we inform the state department of education to conduct an investigation.

When building this module, I struggled with the visual of the monitoring.  How can I show that in a way that isn’t too scary but also gives a nod to the queries and forensic analyses ran to protect the integrity of the systems?

Behold my little test monitoring robot:


The body is made of code.  My favorite thing about the robot is that the arms are lower case “j”s 🙂  To get the animation, I used keyframing.  Maybe I’ll keep going and see if I can get the robot to move around 🙂

You can still join! Drop your email address below to sign up for the Instructional Design 6 Week Challenge!

Ready to sign up?  You will receive 2 emails a week throughout the challenge.

  1. To notify you of the new week
  2. To recap the previous week’s work

Achievement Unlocked: Unicorn Horn

“Oh you are so creative!”
“I don’t know how you come up with those ideas”

I’ve been told that I’m creative. It bugs me when I’m told that I “think outside of the box”. I don’t see a “box”. Even though my mind wanders and I have so many ideas, I know that creativity isn’t a biologic trait. Creativity just happens. There have been many studies that suggest that creativity happens when we let it go.
Writing this article, I was inspired as I was working on another assignment. Something inside of me got me thinking about creativity. Maybe it’s the Super Bowl commercials in the background, maybe it’s because I don’t want to focus on writing a paper. I cannot pinpoint it, but I do know that being able to unleash your creative powers is important. Taking a fleeting thought and being able to articulate that into a product (eLearning, blog post, etc) is a skill that you can work on and build.
Here are some tips for you to unlock your unicorn horn:

Let It Go

I know this probably goes against a lot of advice you received, especially in traditional education, but it is ok to let your mind wander. A good part of my day my mind thinks through my future, ways to tackle a current pain point, even how to build my next instructional design product. An analogy I use to illustrate this is fishing. Even though I may have my fishing rod reeled in for a portion of the day, the vast majority is spent having my fishing rod cast into a deep lake. To be successful, you must bait your hook. So many people struggle with letting their mind go. I bet you can remember some amazing stories and memories from your childhood. Start there and think about what those look like within the frame of today or even the future.

Change Your Physical Environment

Have you ever had a great idea in the shower? How about driving home from work? Sometimes in order to think about something differently, you need to change your physical environment. Try it next time you get stuck.

Learn To Not Care What Others Think

Much to my credit or detriment (depending on the day), I rarely care what others think. I’ve shared ideas, writing, etc to pretty ugly criticism. It doesn’t phase me. I don’t feel the need to be understood. I have a gang of awesome people that support me and this is a must have to unlock your full potential. I recently shared this awesome video of Will Smith that sums this up perfectly
Life is too short to deal with crappy people. I’ve had to cut a lot of people out of my life because they want to tear me down instead of lifting me up. Ain’t nobody got time for that 😊


If you try any of these techniques or have others to get you in the creative mindset, share them!

How to Make a Cinemagraph in Powerpoint

This week I was tagged in a great conversation with many instructional designers on Twitter. I was specifically asked what I was working on and if it was an emerging technology.

Cinemagraphs are image files that feature a slight animation, making a focal point. There are many ways to make a cinemagraph including using programs like Photoshop and Flixel but I wanted to see if it could be done in Powerpoint. The answer is YES it can!

A great example of cinemagraphs in action, thanks for sharing Mel Milloway!

To create a cinemagraph, you need to take a photo of the splice of video you’d like to animate and crop the animated portion on top of the picture. Here is how you do it in Powerpoint:

eLearning SuperPowers: ELH #187


I have made the top 12 list here 🙂

I know you have probably said it because I know I have. “I don’t have time to do the Articulate eLearning Heroes Challenges. I have started the year being focused and intentional so on this MLK day, I used my day off of work to build this.

From the ELH#187 page:
Challenge of the Week
This week your challenge is to share a top 10 list of things you want people should know about e-learning.

Your list can be for any audience. For example, you can target your list to a general audience, those new to our industry, or even to experienced e-learning designers.

Your entry can be a static list, blog post, explainer videos, an interactive graphic or infographic, or anything else you’d like to do.

My Process:

My mind immediately went to superheroes.  eLearning Developers need to use many skills in order to build an appropriate solution.  I decided I wanted to create an interaction with hotspots, explaining what I think people should know about eLearning. Total time to create the interaction: 35 minutes. It is not perfect and certainly is not polished but I wanted to show that you can build a prototype and share an idea without using a ton of time. If I wanted to take it to the next level, I’d add superhero costume elements with the hotspots so when you select Sonee’s eyes, it also reveals a mask.

Here is a part of a screencast of the development using Articulate Storyline 360:

Check out the finished product



Book Review Engage the WORL&D by Zsolt Olah

I was not paid, coerced, or asked to do this book review.  I did it because I wanted to 🙂

When I first heard about the whimsical Zsolt Olah writing a book, I knew one thing….it would be different than any other learning and development book I have ever read.  If you would like to hear Zsolt talk more about the book in his own words, check out this TLDCast episode.  If you are looking for the next Dick, Dick, and Carey book, you are barking up the wrong tree.  If you are looking for an entertaining read peppered with real-life examples from Zsolt’s 20+ years in learning and development then you have come to the right place.

Engage the WORL&D starts off with a map of The WORL&D and an invitation to zap it using the Zappar augmented reality app.  When you do so, you are introduced to LI DOE (The Last ID On Earth) and your guide throughout the book.

Who wore LI DOE better?  Palpatine or me?!

Throughout the book, you will see LI DOE go through a transformation as the gender-neutral hero travels the world and performs instructional design tasks. This is framed in a humorous story that reminds me of a modern Chaucer Canterbury Tale.  In order to perform the learning and development tasks, LI DOE uses the Magic Mojo Hexad (an instructional design competency model that looks like the baby of a Simon boardgame and Trivial Pursuit wedge holder).  As you read each chapter, you unlock one of the missing traits of the Magic Mojo Hexad to help aid LI DOE on the adventure. The name of the places on the map also help you remember the topic the chapter focuses on.

My favorite chapter was the one focused on Human-Centered Design.  Zsolt starts the chapter explaining how important it is for learning and development to focus on the NOW and focus on our users.  So many times I have seen (I’m sure many of us have) the use of technology because it is shiny and new.

I hope this song is stuck in your head now, too 🙂 Disney’s Moana, all rights reserved.

Zsolt then says something that I love:

“…you don’t want learning to stick.  You want people to stick with learning” (p. 111)

The examples of gamification in this chapter are great, including the shout out to one of my favorite shows, Top Chef. I love the challenges in this chapter including playing a new game every week and asking who you are in the game, the goal, and what does or does not make it engaging.  Personally, video games have played a big role in my creative development in learning and development.  In a future blog, I will be sharing some of my favorite games and how they have influenced me in instructional design.

This is not just a passive read.  In one chapter that focuses on critical thinking, you are asked to recall information about an earlier story.  I admit that I failed.  Zsolt thought about the reader while crafting the story, peppering in an experience, and having the reader focus on what they already know about the topic and how they can improve their own learning.

The true reward for reading this book has to be the resources.  Highlights include LI DOE’s AI Framework (with a built-in sense of humor) and Stuff To Read (Zsolt’s extensive list of book recommendations).

Engage the WORL&D is a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously but that does not mean you should overlook the advice and resources throughout.  It was a lighthearted read that I enjoyed on my Amazon Kindle.  I’d recommend this book to folks newer to instructional design because it shares many lessons that you do not want to learn the hard way.  Excellent read and I’d highly recommend.

Where to Find Me In 2018!



I am so blessed to say that 2017 has been the best year of my career.  Here is where I can be found in 2018!

January-April 2018

  • Applied Instructional Design, online graduate course at The Ohio State University.  This is the 2nd level of instructional design courses offered in OSU’s College of Education and Human Ecology.  I am serving as a practitioner mentor, meaning that I provide students feedback and help guide them in the instructional design process.  Students also have the option to work with real clients on real instructional design projects.  I am absolutely thrilled and honored to be a part of this.  The course’s professor is Dr Ana-Paula Correia
  • I’m also enrolled in two courses: Scholarly Perspectives in Learning Technologies & Learning Technologies Diffusion, Innovation, and Change.  These are my first two brick and mortar classes since 2014.  It will take some getting used to physically going to class and let’s face it, Jan-March in Columbus can be a brutal time to be outside.





  • Learning Dev Camp  Salt Lake City, Utah June 11-14, 2018.  I’ll be presenting and tweeting up a storm 🙂
  • EdMedia Amsterdam, Netherlands June 25-29, 2018.  Hoping to present and of course being a typical tourist.



  • ATD Chapter Leader Conference October 11-13, 2018.  Arlington, VA
  • AECT 2018 Association for Education Communications and Technology.  Kansas City, MO. October 23-27, 2018



2017 Year in Review


Professionally 2017 has been an awesome year.  Earlier in the year, I battled some health issues but I’m happy to report that I have my eye issue managed.  I’d like to take the time to write this out to express my gratitude to those who have made the year so great for me.

I did not make any formal goals

I know what you are going to say, failing to plan is planning to fail.  Yes, there are many times I agree with this but this year my free spirit led me to many opportunities.  I pride myself on being a gritty person but in late 2016 I had a “mentor” flip on me.  This helped me focus selfishly on myself and how to continue to grow in learning and development.  It led me to continue to look outside of my organization for leadership and guidance.  Also, I learned what NOT to do to someone (personal pet peeve, I am not “your staff” and quit using the pronoun “I” when a TEAM worked on something).  Looking back, I now see how insecure my former mentor is in their own abilities and knowledge.

TLDC changed my life

I met Sam Rogers & Debbie Richards when they came and headlined Central Ohio ATD’s Learning Technology Day April 18, 2017.  Sam shared on Twitter a link to TLDC, a daily Livestream talking anything and everything learning and development.  TLDC is the brainchild of Brent Schlenker and Luis Malbas.  I popped in one day and tried to ask a question using the Q&A feature in Crowdcast.  My question did not get addressed so I tweeted Brent and Luis, asking if I did something wrong.  Long story short, Luis then called me, explained TLDC and the vision and I wanted to get involved.  Not knowing anything about me, Luis and Brent took a chance on me (someone who has hidden under a rock for most of their career).  By being a part of the TLDC team, I have met too many great people to list (but I look forward to giving each of them a high five in Phoenix next month), was part of several of the top 10 TLDcasts of the year, and have grown exponentially by learning something new every single broadcast.

 I met some of L&D’s Finest IRL

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These are just a few of the photos I took.  I commit 2018 to even more photos and adventures.  I’d also like to say that all of these folks are so kind and lovely in person.

  • I loved watching Dr. Clark Quinn make his mindmaps during a keynote at AECT.
  • Katie Stroud introduced me to her beautiful family and visited me briefly in Columbus through a whirlwind tour she took this year.
  • Dr. Ray Jimenez called me right before I started writing this to talk about opportunities in 2018.
  • I had the opportunity to virtually and face-to-face express my gratitude to Mike Taylor who inspired me to get a Twitter that has helped propel me to new heights.
  • In October, I went to the College of DuPage to do some task analysis work and met Trish Uhl!  I sent her a Twitter message and she picked me up and we had an awesome dinner.  During dinner, she asked me to do something with her for ATD Employee Learning Week.  Inspired by our conversation, I was able to get a proclamation from Ohio Governor John Kasich for the campaign.

ELW Proclamation

Trish was even kind enough to send me goodies from her travels in Dubai, knowing that I am a camel lover.


 I focused on academics


with Dr Ana-Paula Correia

The main reason I work at The Ohio State University is for the employee tuition benefit.  So far I’ve earned one additional degree and feverishly working towards a second.  I am honored and blessed to have the most amazing advisor and mentor Dr Ana-Paula Correia.  By focusing more on academics in 2017, I have focused on collaboration with others and using school as a technology sandbox.  Along with my team members Tim Nunn, Anna Leach, and Natalie Gintert, we even created a learning technology evaluation framework: CPR (Context, Pilot, and Report).  This led us to present at the Association for Education Communication and Technology (AECT) and to get published in an AECT journal 🙂


L-R Cara, Anna, Dr. Anna, Natalie, and Tim via video 🙂

Also this year I became part of an all-female learning technologies research group.  We did a project with Hack OH/IO, a student-led annual hackathon.


Learning Experience Design (LED) Research group led by Dr Ana-Paula Correia.  Members include Vicki Simmerman, Karen Bruce Wallace, and Ceren Korkmaz

We hope in 2018 to lead a similar event (thanks for your help Scott!)

Volunteering helped me grow professionally

This year, in particular, I wanted more responsibility.  I found leadership experience outside of work through volunteering.  Some of the amazing organizations I have been a part of this year include The Ohio Instructional Designers Association, Exploring Learning Technologies (ELT group at The Ohio State University), Toastmasters International, Central Ohio Association for Talent and Development (COATD), and Training Learning and Development Community (TLDC).  I try to not just be a warm body but an active participant in each organization.  In 2017, I founded my own Toastmasters club at The Ohio State University and serve as president.  I was also elected President-Elect of Central Ohio ATD.  Volunteering has allowed me to build skills I want to develop more outside of the workplace.  These stretch assignments have been invaluable to me and I look forward to continuing to volunteer in 2018.  Mike Lenz and Doug Bushee interviewed me on the Learning Innovations Podcast about the importance of volunteering.

I started my own consulting company, The Learning Camel

Launched in June of 2017, The Learning Camel specializes in social media queries and implementation.  I’ve worked with giant clients like Facebook and Babelfish and I work with individuals and businesses.  I’ve secured my first conference client and I hope to continue to grow the business.

2017 By The Numbers


2 Publications

(Refereed Proposal)

North, C. A., Leach, A., Gintert, N., Nunn, T., Correia, A.-P. (in press). Evaluation of the Duolingo English Test: Implications for K-12 English Language Learners. In M. Simonson (Ed.), 40th Annual Proceedings of Association for Educational Communications and Technology. Bloomington, IN: Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT).

Editor Reviewed

North, C.A. (2017). Is Your Digital Brand Human? Training Journal Nov 2017.


3 Credentials Earned

  • Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) Credentialing Specialist
  • Toastmasters International Competent Communicator Award
  • Toastmasters International Competent Leader Award

7 podcast episodes


9 Presentations

This one has a video recording 🙂

  • Nunn, T., North, C.A., Leach, A., Gintert, N. (2017). Evaluating Learning Tools. Presented at The Ohio State University Innovate Conference. Presented at Innovate Impact 2017, The Ohio State University, Ohio Union, Columbus, OH, May 16, 2017. Recording

I want 2018 to be even bigger and better!

Some of the things I want to do in 2018 is to write a book about educational technology, travel abroad (it looks like Amsterdam & Scotland are calling my name in June), and focus more on paying it forward.  I’m also going to be at several conferences throughout the year.   I’m humbled that I could provide anyone advice but I know had I not listened to the advice of others, I would not be in the position I am today.  I look forward to learning with you in 2018 and if you ever want to work on something together, let me know.  I love meeting new people (even if I’m socially awkward f2f, I’m a social butterfly online).

Finally, I hope that those with mean-spirited intentions grow up in 2018.  I have found that with accomplishments that there is a rush of hateraid.  If someone is jealous of you and tries to bring you down, don’t let them.   The world is a HUGE place and I celebrate everyone’s successes and accomplishments, no matter where they are in their career.

Review of Write and Organize for Deeper Learning by Patti Shank, PhD

Patti Shank book signed for Cara North

This book review is extremely overdue.  I’ve had the luxury of taking the rest of the year off from work and since I hate to clean, the weather is perfect to curl up and read.  I took advantage of that today and finally got around to reading Patti Shank’s Write and Organize for Deeper Learning book.  I met Patti virtually earlier this year through my work with the TLDC and she’s a lovely person.  She sent me a copy of her book and I was not paid or required to review it.

I can remember the first learning and development book I was required to read.  My manager at Amazon purchased each of us a copy of “Telling Ain’t Training”.  I love “Telling Ain’t Training” because of the practical applications throughout.  Reading Patti’s book, I was reminded of this and enjoyed the practical tactics peppered throughout.  My co-worker calls these “pro tips” and they are presented in a way that can be applied regardless of your learning and development setting and background.

In Chapter 1, Shank asks the reader to summarize each section and provides points throughout the book to take notes.  I did not want to write in my book so I used my new Rocketbook to outline the science Shank says many do not use in building instructional materials.



My version of the exercise on page 24.

Shank argues that in order to develop instructional materials that lead to deeper learning, a learning and development professional should use four strategies:

  1. Understand your audience’s needs.
  2. Write for clarity.
  3. Make text readable and legible.
  4. Organize for memory and use.

I do not want to spoil the fruits of the book but if you are familiar with Quality Matters, many of Shank’s tips will be familiar.  Particularly the importance of knowing your audience and writing learning objectives from the audience’s point of view is imperative so there is an understanding of what is expected of the materials/training.  The material provided on avoiding wordiness was a good reminder for me.  I am spoiled by having access to an editor at work but I know it won’t always be that way.

I also enjoyed Shank’s perspectives on readability.  She even shares the readability score of the book at the end.  This was something that I first learned about at my tenure at Amazon.  Much of the Kindle training for the Tier II associates was technical and it was challenging to write materials at a level that is easy to read.  Additionally, Amazon has Kindle associates all across the globe, many of them were ELL.

The book was an easy read with tons of information that was presented in a way that made it easy to digest.  This book is great for someone transitioning into learning and development and also serves as a good reminder for those who have experience.



The Value of Mentorship

One of the MANY reasons I love Toastmasters is that it is like chicken soup for my soul.  I’ve met so many people in the Columbus area that I likely wouldn’t have otherwise, and I’m working on my public speaking and leadership skills.  Tonight after our meeting, I spoke to one of our longtime members, David Hill who achieved one of the highest achievements in Toastmasters, the Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM).  Less than .5% of all of the Toastmasters (and this is an organization with 345,000 members+ worldwide) are recognized at this level.  David shared with me that he liked a lot of my ideas and would like to work with me to get to the next level of my Toastmasters journey.

Mentorship is a big part of Toastmasters and something our new club president, the lovely Ann Ruege (my birthday twin) wants to bring to the forefront in the upcoming year.  This isn’t just a pat on the back or a handshake.  This is a relationship with someone who supports you and wants you to succeed.  Someone who values your input and can help talk you through professional or personal issues.

Why am I sharing all of this?  On the way home, I got stuck in some traffic and had time to reflect on the notion of mentorship and what it means to me.  Here I am, in the middle of my career and I’m very lucky to know some incredible people.  These aren’t just people that follow me on Twitter, these are people that in some way has made an impact on me as a person and has helped me be where I’m at right now.  I looked up some definitions of mentorship and was sad to see most of them was something like this:

“The guidance provided by a mentor, especially an experienced person in a company or educational institution.”

An interesting aside to this is this graphic with the definition:


So no one cared about mentorship until recently?  Is this just a buzzword?

I believe that mentorship does not have to have a senior, more seasoned person.  Mentorship can be peer to peer and it’s about cultivating a relationship with someone in order help better them and you.  Going back to my original point about speaking with David this evening:

Is he senior to me in Toastmasters? You betcha!

Can he help me with navigating the educational channels to achieve my next level in Toastmasters?  I have no doubts

Can I be a mentor to him? Absolutely!

Say what?!  Yes, in addition to talking about Toastmasters, David is also interested in building a brand and getting his name out there.  This is something I’m going to be talking about in the District 40 Toastmasters Fall Conference.

That’s right, mentorship should be two ways.  Before I dive in, I want to say this list is certainly not all inclusive.  I am blessed with a lot of great people in my life and I recognize that more and more every day.  Also, I’m not doing this to promote someone. No one knows I’m writing this right now (besides my cat).  Frankly, with all the lists out there about Top 20 Professionals or Top Bloggers, I hope that sharing this is a different way to recognize people that might not necessarily know what they mean to me.  Here is a list of some of my mentors and why they have an impact on me:




L-R: Anna Leach, yours truly, Natalie Gintert, Tim Nunn

I hate group work in school.  Hate it.  So when I had to be a part of a team for some of my graduate work at OSU and it was VIRTUAL, I was so angry.  I didn’t want to have anything to do with it.  Despite my reluctance, I became a part of this team, called TANC:

Tim Nunn

Anna Leach

Natalie Gintert

Cara North 🙂

We have worked together for almost a year now and our skills complement one another. Tim is creative and has a unique perspective being a high school computer science teacher.  I know I can go to Tim to get the scoop on new technologies and for a perspective with an education lens. Anna is a data wiz and I’ve learned so much from her about the importance of data.  She also is driven to learn about instructional design and I want to say when she’s rich and famous that I knew her.  Natalie has this great aptitude to work through any issue and make it work.  She’s one of the best problem solvers I’ve ever met.  Our powers combined we’ve been able to do some pretty special things.  The pic above was taken when we finally all met face to face.  We presented at an OSU conference together based on some research and a project we had completed.  We are also presenting at our first big academic conference together this November.  We also worked on a cool project for OSU’s College of Nursing and we hope to take that inspiration to South by SouthWest EDU.  Of the group members, I was the only one with formal work experience in instructional design but by working with them, I’ve become a much better instructional designer!

Ana-Paula Correia



Team TANC with Dr. Ana-Paula Correia

Have you ever met someone who you absolutely hit it off with from the start?  That’s how I felt when I met Dr. Ana-Paul Correia during my first advising appointment.  She doesn’t take no for an answer.  She has continually pushed me to do more and reach higher levels since I’ve known her.  It’s an interesting relationship because even though she’s my professor and advisor, I’m also her work colleague in the College of Education and Human Ecology at OSU.  When she encouraged our team to apply for the AECT conference, I didn’t think we had a chance of being chosen to present.  I’m glad I am wrong.  APC, as I like to call her, is getting ready to start her 2nd year at OSU after previously teaching in Iowa.  As she has helped me with becoming better academically, I’ve helped her on the practitioner side of things by getting her more involved in the Central Ohio ATD and sharing my local network so she can help become acclimated to Columbus.  I’ve also helped her navigate the OSU system which in itself is a job.


Of course, this isn’t every day, but I can say most days I have no problem getting up and going to work in the morning.  I’m lucky to work with a cadre of people who not only allow me to be my weird self but also encourage me to come up with new ideas.  Especially in a university, it’s hard to be innovative.  I have had some great leadership including Brooke Parker, Dr. James T. Austin, Dr. Dawn Snyder and Traci Lepicki who have continually helped me grow as a young professional.  They also let me be heard and express my ideas, which I appreciate.

Debbie Richards

I first met Debbie Richards a few months ago when she came to Columbus to present at Central Ohio ATD’s Learning Technologies Day.   I was immediately drawn to her presentation style, her humbleness, and warmness.  We were even on a podcast together. It was when I traveled to Salt Lake for Learning Dev Camp that took our relationship to the next level.  It was the last day of the conference, I was a few hours away from flying back to Columbus when she asked me a question:

“What are you doing?”  

Immediately I wondered if I had something stuck in my teeth or if I was wearing my breakfast on my shirt.

“What do you mean?”

She then went on to ask me what I was doing with my career and she told me I had a talent with social media that I should capitalize on.   By her saying this it watered the seed that had been planted deep in my head about running my own business.  Not only did she encourage me more than she’ll EVER know, BUT she also introduced me to Ahn who has taken me under her wing, gave me a chance to work for her, and is showing me the business side of digital marketing.  I am so grateful to Debbie and Ahn for their support of me and The Learning Camel.

Granted, my husband doesn’t like how I come home after work and work my 2nd shift at The Learning Camel and I usually work the majority of the weekend, but it doesn’t feel like a job. I love working in social media and digital marketing 🙂



I’ve been pretty lucky to be able to help manage the social media of several organizations including my Toastmasters club, Central Ohio ATD, & Ohio Instructional Designers Association.  These volunteer experiences have been great for me and I will always include volunteering as part of my professional life.

Then there is the TLDC.  If you don’t know the TLDC, it is The Training Learning and Development Community.  It was founded by two former Elearning Guild employees Brent and Luis who wanted to develop a positive community for learning and development professionals.  Every week day there is a live show via and topics are discussed about various pain points people may have or there are guests that share their perspectives.  I’ve never watched an episode where I didn’t learn something (yes, Anthony and Ajay you’re episodes have value too :p).  If I can’t watch the episode live, I hit up the replay.  I volunteer for TLDC, helping manage their social media and writing up the daily show notes.  How did I get this gig?  I asked Brent and Luis a question about the format of the show, specifically, why my question didn’t get answered after they asked for participants to add questions in the Q&A box for the speakers.  This led to another conversation about me (let’s face it, why on Earth would they know who I am?) and it led to me becoming a volunteer.  From this community alone, I have been able to meet some of the community members face to face including Katie Stroud, Sam Rogers, Lisa Robbins, Joe Ganci, & Brent Schlenker.  On top of that, I’ve started talking more to people who are not necessarily IDs, but provide a lot of value to challenging my perspectives and processes.  This list includes Mike Simmons, Mike Lenz, and Jason Noxon to name a few.  Then, one more level here, I’ve met this AMAZING ID in Scotland Bethany Taylor and we have set up periodic Skype calls to talk about our work and talking through how to approach things.  I’m proud to be one of the volunteers, working alongside Craig to support this amazing community.  If this isn’t the best example of mentorship being a 2-way conversation, I’ve got nothing else for you.  Plus, TLDC has stickers! IMG_4090

You don’t need a turkey and fake leaves decorating your home to be grateful.  It took a traffic jam for me to think this through but I wanted to take some time to write this out and just say thank you.  I am humbled by the fact that I know so many kind and giving people that provide so much value to my professional career.

Have you thought about who you have mentorship relationships with?  Have you told them how much you value them?














Where to Find Me The Rest Of The Year!




The last part of my year is filling up quickly so here are some places to find me if you want to hear me speak or see me in the flesh 🙂


  • July 25, 2017. Ohio Association of Career Technical Educators (Ohio ACTE).  Columbus, Ohio.  WebXam Updates: End-of-Course Testing.  Co-presenting with Brooke Parker and Richard Huggins.  Connections to Education Conference
  • July 31, 2017. Ohio Association Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences (OATFACS).  Columbus, Ohio.  WebXam Preparing Students Through Classroom Assessment. Co-presenting with Brooke Parker.  Impact 2017: New Courses, New Opportunities


  •  August 22, 2017. Ohio Podcasters Monthly Meetup. Columbus, Ohio.  So We Started A Podcast: Lessons Learned and Live Show. Co-presenting with Joseph Suarez.  Columbus Ohio Podcasters Meetup



  • October 5-7, 2017.  Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) and Ohio Association for Adult and Continuing Education (OAACE) Regional Conference. Cleveland, Ohio. Speaking proposal pending Building Your Brand Using Social Media. Regardless, I will be attending this conference.
  • October 23-26, 2017. Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). New Orleans, Louisana. Tentatively attending (I am working towards my Credentialing Specialist Certificate and if I earn it, there is a recognition ceremony at this conference). ICE


  • November 3-5, 2017. District 40 Toastmasters International.  Lawrenceburg, Indiana.  Social MEdia: Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network and Extending the Virtual Handshake (Educational Session). D40 Website
  • November 6-11, 2017. The Association for Educational Communications & Technology (AECT). Jacksonville, Florida.  Evaluation of the Duolingo English Test: Implications for K-12 English Language Learners (ELL). Pending conference journal publication and first authorship.  Co-presenting with Anna Leach, Natalie Gintert, Tim Nunn, and Dr. Ana-Paula Correia.  Roundtable discussion


Nothing planned yet.


On The Horizon:

  • Instructional Redesign Podcast.  Co-hosting with Joseph Suarez. Launching soon I promise!!
  • January 29-30, 2018. The Training Learning and Development Conference.  Phoenix, Arizona.  Registration confirmed.
  • June 11-14, 2018.  Learning Dev Camp. Salt Lake City, Utah.  I plan on submitting a speaking proposal once the conference website is up.  Conference Website



Learning Dev Camp Day 1 Takeaways

**The night before**
Quick shoutout to Debbie Richards for the AWESOME dinner recommendation.  Anna Leach , Erika Nelsen and myself went to dinner at Ruth’s Diner. Their patio area was lush and cozy and as the sun started to go down, the temperature was perfect for an outdoor meal.

Ruth's Diner

Day 1:

Let me first say that the reason I chose this conference is because I’m sick of being talked at. If I want to hear theory, I can go to class.  I come to conferences to BUILD. BUILD networks, BUILD confidence, and BUILD stuff!  Looking at the caliber of speakers and knowing their niches, it was a no brainer to choose this as my annual professional development conference.   That being said, this is my first time here so I didn’t know what to expect.


If you want to get lost in the crowd, this might not be the conference for you.  So far I have met some really awesome people from all across the US here for a common goal: to share and learn more about learning and development.  Today was affectionately called a “ramp up” day with a morning session, keynote, and afternoon session.

Morning Session: Megan Torrance Agile Project Management

I chose this session because project management is a valued skill at my organization. Our director has a PMP, my supervisor has her CAPM and I have jokes and ideas.  I should take PM more seriously and it’s something that will be a win/win if I can develop better skills.  Megan is an excellent presenter and someone I was excited to finally meet face to face.  She led in asking this question….


The reason this is an important point is that in the software world, it’s not multiple projects it’s usually one project at a time.  Megan then made the comparison of instructional design to the software industry.  She felt elearning is kind of software like, lots of testing and mucking around.  Some respects projects are like software but not really.  It is in this vein that she introduced LLAMA:


From Megan’s website, snipped without permission but here is the link

One way Megan illustrated this point is by asking us in the session what we want to get out of it, what are some concerns about project management.  Instead of going linear through her slidedeck, she skipped around to address the needs.  A point she illustrated beautifully is when kicking off a project, define the scope around 80%.  Why?  Because when you kick off a project you don’t know everything that you are going to do and you should assume the scope will change.

An easy way to derail a project?  By feeding the squirrels!


Squirrels come from your PMs, sponsors, SMEs…pretty much anyone that flies in wanting to add stuff here, cut things there.  Stay true to the project.  Know your learner, know what you want them to be able to do at the end of the training.  As Sam Rogers and Star Wars would say, stay on target.  Don’t overdo it though. Design documents do not maximize customer value.  Our customers are both internal and external. Don’t forget the learner!

Another takeaway I had from Megan’s session was the need for learner personas.  This was a timely subject because it’s something that my podcasting buddy Joseph Suarez is interested in with his team.  Megan shared that she always builds learner personas for any project.  She shared the analogy of a wedding planner.  Who is the most important person to keep happy at the wedding?  Several of us answered the bride, some answered the father of the bride, maybe even the mother of the groom.  The bottom line is it could be any of them.  But you can’t make everyone happy a wedding.  So who is the primary learner?  Megan says the team assembled for a kickoff session should  brainstorm out anywhere between 2-5 learning personas for a project.  Then let them cuss and discuss which one is the primary.  Based on the primary, then you can build a more targeted scope with better learning objectives.

Keynote: Katie Stroud, How to Change the World

I was SO excited to hear Katie’s keynote. I have gotten to know Katie better through the TLDC. So of course when we finally met face to face we had to get a picture 🙂


There were so many things I loved about Katie’s keynote!

  1. The first one was her authenticity and vulnerability.  I’m sorry but I think a lot of times in learning and development, we forget that our products are for adult learners.  As Katie put it so brilliantly, life is hard. She shared her curvy path from her childhood through college on how she got to where she was.  As someone who is a first generation college graduate, her story really resonated with me.  I may have had a tear or two in my eye.  I applaud her efforts and I’m proud to say I know someone with that kind of grit.  You go Katie!
  2. The second was the nod to Toastmasters.  I joined Toastmasters earlier this year and I proudly share and probably gush about how big of a difference it has made on my public speaking.  It’s also been tremendous to improve my impromptu speaking.  Katie had an activity where she put various items on each table and challenged each table to tell a story about it.  There were some interesting items, including a bunch of bananas salt shaker.  It was fun to hear what other tables came up with and it tied in with her theme of storytelling in her presentation.
  3. She did an excellent job integrating storytelling- emotional and physical responses (those mirror neurons in action).  She kicked it off with a personal story about her journey, she shared the adventures of her and Rev, and she asked others to share their experiences.

All of the other keynotes have big shoes to fill in order to be that meaningful.

Afternoon Session: Learning Technologies: From Now to Next Sam Rogers

Sam is another person I know from TLDC but I also met when he came to Columbus’ Central Ohio ATD Learning Tech Day and was a presenter. Oh yeah, we also did an episode of the podcast 5 Trainers in a Car together too 🙂  One thing I appreciate about Sam is his no nonsense way of presenting.  He kicked off the session wanting to know about what each person is working on.  We went around and shared and I was impressed by his active listening skills.  He remembered what everyone said and constantly referenced it throughout the presentation.  In detail.  So Joseph Suarez, maybe Sam can help you build up that skill 🙂

Sam is also great for giving meaningful one liners that this Tweeter loves 🙂

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Another key takeaway from this session was this graphic he provided:

sam's session

How many times does your instructional design team “sweat the small stuff” without focusing on the big picture?  Something like this should be printed on a tshirt and given to all instructional designers and also this shirt Megan shared for Project managers.

Dream Crusher

After the afternoon session, it was prize giveaway time.  Yes, my dreams were crushed, I didn’t win anything but I did have the cutest little parfait thingy ever!


Dinner: Red Iguana 2

This place was so good they needed two of them in Salt Lake City! The dinner crew included (in no particular order) Candace Kinzer, Jeff Batt, Katie Stroud, Sam Rogers, Erika Nelsen, Brent Schenkler, Lisa Robbins, Anna Leach, and me 🙂 The food was great, the conversation was even better, and this picture the best


All in all, Day 1 was a HUGE success.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow, the first day of BUILDING! There are some Storyline and Camtasia sessions in the horizon and I’m really excited for them!

I will continue to live tweet what I can during the conference using #learningdevcamp but so far it doesn’t seem like this is a crowd that are heavy Tweeters.  I’m happy to provide content but the backchannel would be so much more robust if all sessions were shared.

If you aren’t at this conference and are reading this, consider checking out TLDC. It’s a weekday live show about learning and development.  Being a part of this community has really help grow my PLN and I can’t recommend it enough!