Instructional Design

Web Based Tools

In my lesson on Indigenous land acknowledgements, I curate two interactive map tools and use them as the basis for the assignment. Students have the opportunity to visit each map’s website and engage with the interactive map, exploring to find the information they need, before they complete the assignment by writing (on their own blog/website, in a document, or in a response box on Canvas) their own Indigenous land acknowledgement.

My only concern in using these tools is with accessibility. Because of the complex nature of the maps, they are likely totally inaccessible to people with impaired vision. My next step with this assignment will be to find and accessible alternative web tool.

Instructional Design

My Experience So Far

The most challenging and the most valuable part of this course so far has been taking the time to appreciate the processes that I practice, in theory, every day. I have been using backward design for almost eight years, but I have never taken the time to complete the strategy map in full, until now. I have been mindful of accessibility for a long time, but rarely do I prioritize accessibility over my own style preferences, until now. I have been quick to add the things I learn to my teaching practice, sometimes too quick, and this course has been an opportunity to think about what I do and why.

One of the early lessons I took from ONID was the usefulness of domain of one’s own. For a long time, I have favored using posting course material on my website or a stand-alone course website, instead of or alongside the prescribed LMS. When I was teaching developmental math in Alaska (2015-19), this made some sense. The Blackboard LMS that we used was not the easiest for my students to access on mobile devices or with limited bandwidth. Setting up a section of my personal WordPress site to post links and materials made things more accessible for them. When Google sites became easier to use, I started making a Google site for every class I taught. This past semester, teaching developmental math again, I had a Google site alongside Canvas LMS. Now that I can set my Canvas courses to public and organize them efficiently, the Google site has become redundant. Student access issues (even with the low bandwidth here in the rural Upper Peninsula of Michigan) have largely been eliminated. By the end of the semester, I realized that the stand-alone course Google site was redundant and unnecessary. I was using it only because I like it.

I have struggled to engage with this course, in part because of personal issues and in part because the material is so familiar to me. Much of it feels like busywork. Having engaged and reflected, though, I see that the value in this course for me has been in assessing and adjusting my own approaches to instructional design.

The work in this course helped me see that. I had originally planned to make a Google site for my final project, but I found that the reasons I had for choosing a Google site over a Canvas module were lost. A well-built Canvas module offers a platform with built-in accessibility tools along with all of the other benefits of a LMS.

Instructional Design


As I build my learnig module, I am keeping accessibility front-of-mind for all its elements. I have used graphics sparingly, but on this page, it made sense to include a large image as part of the lesson.

As with all of the pages in my unit module, this one follows the heading structure to facilitate screen reader use, and all web links are labeled with their titles. I chose Canvas as the platform for my learning module in large part because of its built-in accessibility features, including a native screen reader and two accessibility checkers that separately check each page for me as I work. On this particular page, the image is included with alt text.

Screenshot of the gender identity lesson page, including a large image. Image links to page.
The gender identity lesson page includes a large image with alt text. It also uses a heading structure and named links.
Instructional Design

Reflection on Learning: Original Graphic Assignment

I put this assignment off for a long time, because I hate making graphics. Other teachers (like my wife) tell me to try this or that website or app, because they make the graphic easier or prettier, and I am always frustrated and disappointed with my product. When I got the inspiration for the graphic I made, I did it without going back to the assignment first, so I forgot to look for and try new tools, and I chose to use something familiar.

Normally for projects like this I use Apple Pages, but because this assignment will be part of a larger project that I am building in Google Sites, I chose to create my graphic in Google Drawings. Google apps are familiar to me, and they are generally easy to use, although they tend to have comparatively very basic functionality. I knew that this would likely save me some trouble in the short term, even if it caused some frustration; but it would save me even more trouble in the long term, because Google apps will play well together. I ended up exporting my graphic as a jpg file for easy portability, but I could just as easily publish and embed it in the final product.

As a learning experience, this was not particularly valuable to me. I discovered that my vision for the graphic was possible with a very simple drawing tool. I discovered that I could put something like this together with very little effort, and I may begin doing that more often. But this was not an exercise in exploration. As a lesson about learning activities with minimal instruction, I see that I default to what is familiar or minimally novel when given minimal guidance. If I want students to learn a new skill, I need to accompany them, or else they will meet my requirements with the least risk and the least learning.

Instructional Design


This assessment correlates with the objective,

Create identity statements, properly using gender pronouns
and Indigenous land acknowledgements.
(self-knowledge, application, perspective)

Students will be asked to show understanding by writing about what they have learned in the form of a professional blog post, which they will submit either by posting it publicly on their blog or by emailing to their instructor in a Google doc. This assessment will address only one part of the objective; there will be a separate assessment for the remainder of the objective.


Create a long-form Indigenous land acknowledgement to post (either as a post or as a static page) on your professional blog. After viewing the resources included in this lesson, research the region where you hope to take the next steps in your career.

  • Who are the Indigenous people of that region? There may be more than one answer.
  • What name do the people of the Indigenous group use for themselves?
  • Is the region where you will work ceded or unceded territory?
  • Is there a particular treaty (or more than one) that governs that territory?
  • What is the current state of the Indigenous group? Do they live on the land or on a nearby reservation? Were they removed?

You may not need to include the answers to all of these questions in your land acknowledgement, but you do need to identify the Indigenous people of your region and be clear about the status of the land. Offer gratitude. State your relationship to the land and, if appropriate, to the people.


You may post your land acknowledgement on your personal/professional blog, or you may email it to me in a Google Doc for feedback before you post it.


All feedback from me will be constructive and conversational. If you post your land acknowledgement on your blog, I may comment on it there. Otherwise, I will offer feedback by email or our preferred method of communication. Since this is not part of a class, there is no grade.


Indigenous people namedLand acknowledgement correctly names the Indigenous people of the region in question.Indigenous people misidentified
Treaty statusLand status (ceded, unceded, etc.) and treaty are correctly stated.Land status or treaty incorrect or missing.
GratitudeGenuine gratitude is offered.Gratitude is absent or ingenuine.
Personal relationshipA personal relationship to the land is stated.No personal relationship to the land
Instructional Design

Learning Objectives

I have chosen to work with the enduring understanding,

Professional identity and presence can be leveraged
to benefit society, especially those who are less visible.

This is the understanding that led me to add this unit to the Career Services website that I am creating. I was attending a virtual conference on Zoom with some of my students, and one of the conference hosts introduced himself with his pronouns. The student sitting across the large table from me leaned over and asked me what that was about. I explained briefly why pronouns are thing and why people share them—including people whose pronouns match their appearance.

I want my students to understand, as they leave college and go out into the world, that their professional presence has a moral dimension to it, and that they can choose to use that for the common good. These learning objectives will, I hope, give evidence of that understanding.

Learning Objectives

Interpret identity statements, such as gender pronouns and Indigenous land acknowledgements, and respond to them appropriately. (interpretation, perspective, empathy)

Create identity statements, properly using gender pronouns and Indigenous land acknowledgements. (self-knowledge, application, perspective)

Evaluate the practice of identity statements in terms of which identities are stated in what contexts. (interpretation, perspective)

As I composed these objectives, I had the Six Facets of Understanding (McTighe & Wiggins) at the front of my mind, but I quickly recognized that the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (Krathwohl) is better suited for writing active objectives. Since I used both systems in the formulation, I included the facets that I intend each objective to uncover with the objective.

Instructional Design

Enduring Understandings

I originally planned this unit to come at the end of a college course where students will think about their career plans and goals and how to present themselves to prospective employers. The first half of that course would be about exploration and direction, and the second half about presentation.

I’m not teaching that course this semester, but I am building a website with career resources for my students. A conversation with one of them told me that this unit belongs on that website. That changes the delivery a little bit: it will be self-guided and self-evaluated, with strongly encouraged one-on-one interaction with the instructor.

The big idea for this unit is that a career is as much about cooperation as it is about competition. After so much discussion about self, it is time to put it all into a positive relationship context.

Enduring Understandings:
(These have been edited in response to feedback.)

Professional identity and presence can be leverageed to benefit society, especially those who are less visible.

Connections can be made and networks built through activites (i.e., service) outside of employment.

Professional community is part of professional identity.

Instructional Design


This is not my first time mapping my personal learning environment. A previous incarnation can be found discussed here and here. Looking at the diagram from 2018, I am a little surprised how much has remained, despite moving across the continent and going back to a job with an office. (I was a stay-at-home dad then.) I wanted to do something different this time, instead of the circular structure I’ve used in the past, so I thought I’d place it over a tree and group the four parts. I see now that my understanding of a PLE is kinetic: in the 2018 diagram, I used the metaphor of a wheel, with information clodding on and spinning off, maybe sticking long enough to be reflected upon; in the 2021 diagram, I am following the course of sap in a maple (or birch) tree.

Sugar is made by photosynthesis in the leaves. That’s connection. Sap (sugar water) moves down through the branches and the trunk. That’s collection—for the tree. Sap accumulates and is stored in the root structure of the tree for the winter. That’s where reflection can happen (not that a tree reflects on anything, but then there’s this). In the spring, sap goes back up the trunk to power leaf formation, and some of it is tapped off by humans. That’s sharing.

Here are two earlier drafts. In the first, I included app icons for some of the tools I use and media I consume regularly. That looked cluttered to me, so I deleted them. From the second to the third, I changed the location of the SHARE section, to better illustrate sap flowing out, rather than only back up, and to be a little less symmetrical.

Much of my PLE is mediated by my iPhone, especially in the Connect realm. Collecting and sharing happen largely on my laptop. Information comes in by email, on radio and podcasts, from Google and Wikipedia, among other sources. It goes out by email, Zoom and FaceTime, and social/professional/educational networking apps.

My reflection is hard to identify right now. As I looked at my old blog posts, I realized that I am listening to much of the same music, and I am still washing diapers, but these things do not have the same reflective effect for me that they did three years ago. And now that I work from home, due to the pandemic, my daily walking commute has been replaced by baking bread and cookies, but that is not as conducive to focused reflection. I can’t believe that I have no reflection in my PLE; but it is not focused in a way that I can identify.

As I was working on this, my wife asked me if I have an internal monologue. She had just read an article on a science website about people who have no voice in their head. My internal monologue is never silent—never. Perhaps that is my reflection, and perhaps that is why I cannot identify it.