The fine folks over at ttc Innovations were inspired by Cammy Bean‘s The Accidental Instructional Designer to ask me (and all other IDs) how I (we all) got here. History proves I can be goaded and challenged into any number of things (note my extensive Articulate Challenges activity) – and this Twitter tactic worked perfectly.
Just One Problem
The only thing is I don’t have a great “accidental” story. The only accident was when I discovered, after taking a whole lot of college German because I loved it, that the only way to continue that particular romp in the park was to get a grad degree, and that involved teaching German if I wanted the university to pay for it.
Instructional Design as a Survival Tactic
After playing through the terror in my head – (“I’m not a public speaker!” “My colleagues are native speakers of German!” “I’ve never taught anything and I’m starting by teaching real classes that real students really pay for at a real university?!”) – I just did it.
Four things ended up making me incredibly successful:
- The terror. My response was to be the best-prepared human who could walk into that classroom. I’d spend 4 to 6 hours every night – 5 days a week – designing the next day’s lesson, using methods nearly identical to what I now use to create e-learning.
- The University of Oregon’s wise move to require classes on instructional education before allowing just any fool to start teaching their classes. This was my intro to instructional design and I loved it.
- An outstanding and extremely forward-thinking textbook. It provided a good framework for teaching the specifics of the language, but the real focus was on creating a fantastic environment for endless creativity and real practice.
- My adoration of the topic. I’d just returned from a year of grad school at the Universität Konstanz in Germany and my enthusiasm for learning German, traveling, and being an exchange student was literally inescapable.
I didn’t realize how well classes were going until the students coming in for the class after mine began stopping me to ask what the heck I was doing in there. All they could hear were rounds of intense group concentration, roars of laughter, and sustained cheers and applause (for their peers!) – followed by happy chatty people exiting at the end. I guess that wasn’t what the class after mine was like. Crazily, I never even heard all of that because I was so intensely in the moment of what we were doing. It was awesome.
Then There Was More Stuff
After that there was more education and more teaching and lots of other stuff (it would take at least 20 blog posts to get through it all), but in the end I decided I just wanted to be an independent ID, which is what I wrote about here.
Share Your Story, Too!
I hope that’s what ttc Innovations had in mind when they took to Twitter to call me out. I suggest you play along too! Share your story by visiting their blog and/or blogging then tweeting using the hashtag #MyIDStory – and have fun!