My Digital Identity in a Time of Killing

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Inevitably… I have limited time as I’m working on my professional development over the weekend. I keep trying to keep my mind on the assignment of #Identity in digital spaces for #DigPINs, but I realize…

I… just… can’t… focus….

I’m ashamed to admit that my stance on #guncontrol has been very reserved until the #IfIDieInSchool plague affected a member in my community’s family. Why did it have to take a shooting in my local area to make me wake up? BECAUSE shootings in schools DOES NOT compute in my brain. However, it’s not going away until a real change happens. I know many people who use their guns responsibly, but couldn’t we start with a law that bans semi-automatic weapons. It’s a start.

How long before my nephew and niece experience gun violence in their schools?

#KendrickCastillo Thank you for your big heart, bravery and smarts. May I have the courage you did Kendrick, #IfIDieInSchool

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I work at Colorado School of Mines and recently attended an Active Harmer training (because that is the world we live in). The point of the training is this: keep your hands up when you see the cops, run like hell if someone is shooting and fight only if you are backed into a corner. #KendrickCastillo saw his moment to stop evil and he pounced. He was a phenomenal human being and my heart aches for his parents, family and friends.

I was born here in Greeley, Colorado (though I claim Nebraska for the other half of my adolescent development). Colorado is the birthplace of publicly broadcasted school shootings AND of the #LegalizeIt movement. How will my state reconcile being a such a “violent,” yet “open-minded” state? Perhaps we’ve all become complacent or perhaps we just don’t know how to cope. Let’s all smoke a tree, take a pill or fortify our personal fortresses so we can pretend like nothing is wrong.

I’m pondering my social #Identity in digital spaces right now and I thank #DigPINs for giving me a reason to blog/write today. Otherwise I might have busied myself with mundane, everything’s-fine thoughts rather than taking the time to process a REAL tragedy in my community.

I’m… so… sorry….

As I envision how I wield my social media power today, I must ask, “Who do I want to become?” I would like to be digitally literate enough to affect change in social, political and professional realms.

Tall order, I know.

I love my country and believe in its innate goodness of its #people. I am grateful to have had #access to my grandparents that survived the #GreatDepression and taught me the value of looking out for each other and living within our means. My maternal side homesteaded in Dalton, Nebraska and I find that very grounding.

This is MY country. This is OUR country.

How are we shaping it?

My ancestors took astronomical risks to make a life in a new land.  I believe we are in a time of charting new territory because old paradigms and assumptions no longer work. We need each other more than ever and I believe that we can all help each other to #daregreatly and challenge the norms. May @BreneBrown be proud of my latest attempt to live whole heartedly.

Reflecting the Penn State ID2ID 2018-2019 Program


Penn State Logo in conjunction with the text A Professional Development program for Instructional Designers

By Erin McCully and Susannah Simmons

As we noted in our initial reflection about the Penn State ID2ID Program, we were fortunate to have been randomly paired together in a wildly successful, worldwide program. We would likely never have met given our geographic locations (North Carolina and Colorado), but have learned a great deal through our collaboration. This collaboration grew to include LaDawna Minnis and Sam Coulson, other ID2ID participants, who we connected with via the instructional design community.


The outcome of our multi-leveled collaboration was an accessibility webinar that took place after months of weekly meetings and work with Mike Hess and Ethan Twisdale of the Blind Institute of Technology. These connections have already resulted in an invitation from them for us to present at an accessibility conference in Denver in the spring. Not all of us may be able to attend in person, but there may be the possibility of a virtual component.

Addressing Obstacles

Group meeting times proved difficult given family and other work obligations. There was also the challenge of keeping taskloads manageable for each person. However, the group was able to work through some panic moments. This required clear communication with the team so that others could pick up some of the load. A prime example was when Susannah expressed the feeling of overwhelm about figuring out the webinar platform or lack thereof. The group stepped in to form a work-around plan. We ironed out the wrinkles in how the technology would/should work and created a timeline detailing. By doing a dry run, we were able to find possible pitfalls to avoid.

Future Plans

The accessibility webinar was attended by 14 people and the responses to our follow-up survey generated ideas for topics of future webinars in this series leading up to the Accessibility Symposium.

Erin intends to remain a member of the group and become more active in slack to network professionally with other instructional designers. (This group is a gold mine of experiences, ideas, and tips!)

Susannah will continue to pursue opportunities learning about accessibility in higher education. It seems that accessibility will only grown in importance and could expand into a speciality instructional design role.  

Erin’s Personal Reflection

I am so very grateful for the ID2ID program – while the original plan to get an instructional design mentor through this program didn’t work out, being paired with an instructional design “buddy” was wonderfully helpful. The ID2ID program has provided me with connections and free professional development that has already helped me grow as an instructional designer. I look forward to assisting with more accessibility webinars as well as other projects ahead!

Susannah’s Personal Reflection

I no longer fear the word accessibility. Hearing about schools getting sued for accessibility issues has had a haunting effect on my work. Faculty often looks to me as an expert, but I’m learning alongside everyone else. However, this experience has removed my fear. The more I talk about accessibility with other designers and pursue new skills in this arena, the less intimidated I feel. Like with anything else, it’s a matter of deciding to learn and following through. The accessibility webinar was a fantastic opportunity to learn directly from an expert as well as expand my network to include those I would like to emulate.

Penn State ID2ID Program: Reflecting on our accomplishments and challenges thus far


By Erin McCully and Susannah Simmons

Initial thoughts on the Penn State ID2ID program

We really didn’t know what to expect when starting the ID2ID program, but one thing was clear. We were fortunate to have been randomly paired together in a wildly successful, worldwide program.

The open structure of the ID2ID program has allowed us to choose our own topic of interest. We decided to explore accessibility online education and set the lofty goal of hosting an accessibility event that focused on the “how” of accessibility, rather than the “why.”

As an added benefit, Susannah introduced Erin to an online ID community named Their slack group connects instructional designers across the country and helps IDs discuss current challenges and offers an outlet for brainstorming new solutions with like-minded professionals. This was particularly helpful for Erin because her work could sometimes feel isolated.


We have determined the type of event we will host, the date, and the audience for the event. We have also teamed up with another ID2ID team, La Dawna Minnis and Sam Coulson, while Susannah has made connections with Mike Hess and Ethan Twisdale from the Blind Institute of Technology. Ethan will be our guide in creating an accessible Word document that can be read by a free screen reader.

Next Steps & Progress

We need to do the following:

  • Determine the roles each of us will take during the event
  • Create and distribute marketing materials
  • Find a webinar platform

Unanticipated Obstacles

It isn’t always easy for the four of us IDs to get together once a week via Zoom, but we are managing! We originally thought one of us would have access to the Zoom webinar feature, but that is not the case. We are currently looking for a webinar solution.

Might the ID2ID program be able to help us find a webinar platform?

Addressing Obstacles

We are currently reaching out to members of the group to see if someone has access to a webinar platform for our event. There must be someone out there who can share their resources, especially for such an important topic. We will keep shaking trees until we find a platform and the event isn’t until November 15th, so have through October to secure a solution.

Future Plans

We will continue to meet at a regular weekly time and whoever is unable to be present can catch up using the slack channel or the shared Google doc. We are hopeful that this first session with Ethan may turn into a series that will help instructional designers and others become more familiar with how to create accessible materials and address other issues of accessibility in education.

The Right Design Solution Isn’t Always the Most Glamorous One

For my instructional design internship, I worked with the nonprofit, Project C.U.R.E. in the analysis and planning of a warehouse operations manual. It was a bit of a reality check after steeping in an educational technology master’s program where creativity is king. In the real world, practicality rules. However, I must say a job well planned and done is highly satisfying.

Although an operations manual was not my first choice for real world experience, I relished the opportunity to work with Denise Farrar. She has her doctorate in instructional design and I managed to pick her brain on our industry whenever possible. Denise’s management of the massive project from an instructional design perspective was both practical and inspiring.

To learn more about my experience, check my internship website below. The internship report details my experience from start to finish.

Openly Presenting at COLTT

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The sole purpose of my presentation at the 2016 Colorado Learning and Teaching with Technology (COLTT) conference was to see what instructional designers and teaching assistant technologists thought of the idea of an online community created specifically for them. In this article, I will attempt to share my experience akin to the notion of teaching in the open. The practice of openly sharing one’s experience in teaching, annotating, or “insert verb here” is important for the larger community to learn from one another. I will walk through the planning, delivery, and key takeaways from presenting at COLTT.

EdTech Tools

Since the conference focused on education technology (edtech), I assumed that all participants would be utilizing Twitter as a main edtech tool. However, this was not the case and I found this to be a huge lesson in edtech tooling. The tools are vast and the best analogy I can make is considering all the tools required to build a house. To achieve my goal of discussing the value of, I had many tools to choose from: a paper survey, open discussion, Monkey Survey, Twitter chat, or any other edtech survey tool out there. I chose what I thought was the best tool for the job.

Original Plan

The Twitter chat option allowed for the discussion to span beyond the walls of the classroom. Pedagogical experts and guests, Remi Holden and Maha Bali were kind enough to offer their insights and wisdom during the chat. My co-presenter, Brad Hinson, was going to run the Twitter chat, while I facilitated participants in tweeting answers from their devices. Responses were then going to be projected on the wall for everyone to see. Our plan was solid and golden.

Think Again

Nine participants attended the discussion and only two or three had participated in a Twitter chat before. Brad and I could have stayed the course, forcing everyone to engage in the manner I had chosen, but the vibe of the room seemed really reluctant to the Twitter chat option.

Adapt or Die

Brad had set the chat to post questions every five minutes in case we were both needed to run a group discussion. Thank goodness for Brad’s forethought, however, I really hated the autopilot idea. This meant that was going to post questions every five minutes and not facilitate the online discussion. I did not get to control that aspect of the discussion and that was really uncomfortable for me. When I looked at the projected chat on the wall, this is what I saw at any given moment.

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Openly Presenting

That’s the thing about “open” anything. Open teaching, open annotating, or open presenting requires the person who is in “control” to release the reigns a bit and trust that all the planning and careful thought will be absorbed, spun, and embellished upon by the participants. Findings

During our quick half hour discussion, I thought there was very little participation, but after combing through all the tweets, there was more participation than I realized in the moment. After introductions, we probably had only 20 minutes left for four chat/discussion questions. Here is a list of who participated:

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The projection of live tweets was really hard to follow in real time while talking to the room, but I noticed several interesting findings after the fact. Three people in the classroom took a stab at participating in the chat, one person was in another COLTT session while joining in the chat, and one person in the classroom really embraced the chat and promoted conversation. In the TwXplorer snapshot below, you can see that @chubbynbubbly was one of the most active participants with 10 combined tweets and retweets.

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In the classroom discussion, @chubbynbubbly was very quiet. I had no idea she was so “vocal” in the chat. I learned firsthand how participants prefer different avenues of communication.

In the spirit of letting go of control to be surprised by the group, one of the participants suggested a collaborative effort after everyone had left the room. As one of the brave participants to take a stab at the chat, she later when on to post the following tweet to me (@thelearnersway) about presenting at her organization’s upcoming conference.

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 3.19.59 PMCollaboration is an important, if not essential, aspect of I am excited to see what ideas the Metro State edtech community has for and what is possible for the Teaching and Learning Technology Symposium (TLTS). Open thinking, processing, and collaboration are all welcome at


The Origin of


The idea of an online community dedicated to elearning developers, instructional designers, learning experience designers, education technologists and the like was Brad Hinson‘s brain child. There are many phenomenal elearning communities out there, but the original idea of was not to attach to any one educational technology. Staying open or software/edtech agnostic has not been done before.

While working as a teaching assistant/instructional technologist for Brad, I worked on as a side project. Then I realized I could expedite both the formation of and the completion of my masters in Information and Learning Technology at the CU Denver through as an independent study course.

We have been gathering information about the needs of potential participants through #pedagome twitter chats. Our initial chat was July 26, 2016 and our larger chat will be held August 3, 2016 at 1:45pm MDT via the COLTT conference. Next steps include analyzing the data collected from both chats and summarizing the results. is a grassroots effort to meet the needs of the ever-expanding elearning world. We are constructing the site from the ground up and it is a great time to get involved. You can follow @Pedagome on Twitter, connect through’s sign-up form, or all of the above. Hope to see you online! Not just another online ID community


Time July 26, 2016 from 6:30-7pm MST
Location #pedagome
Guests Brad Hinson @bradhinson
Lisa Dise @peachey_pie
Topic Not just another online ID community
Goal Discuss what has to offer as an online community. What will make it thrive?


The following chat questions have been provided in advance in order to allow guests the time necessary to provide thoughtful, engaging, and connecting responses.



  1. What is your favorite Sci-Fi movie? #pedagome
  2. What would make @pedagome different from all the other instructional design communities out there? #pedagome
  3. (Show the quote of Toffler.) How can @pedagome help instructional design thinkers learn, unlearn, relearn?#pedagome
  4.  Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 10.22.12 AM
  5. How do we ensure that stays weird and agile? #pedagome