• Who is James Finder?

    An Introduction.

    Who Am I?

    I possess interdisciplinary knowledge, cross-cultural competency, as well as a commitment and passion for delivering world class content. These skills were born from my experiences abroad, my scholarship at the University of Wyoming, my career experiences and all of the mentors and collaborators in my life. Pursuing my Masters in Instructional Technology will only help me develop my skillset and enhance my reputation as a professional in the field of Instructional Design.

    My e-Portfolio

    This e-Portfolio displays the foundations of my instructional technology and design philosophy. Pursuing this degree has led me to one of my greatest accomplishments, the foundation of my own company, Promethean Learning Experience Design LLC. Promethean Learning Experience Design is a boutique e-Learning Consulting Firm. Our focus is on designing and developing instructionally sound and engaging content.

    My Accomplishments

  • View My Resume Now

  • How People Learn?

    "My model for business is the Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other's kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That's how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people."

    -Steve Jobs ("60 Minutes," 2003)

     

    The Ideal Learning Environment

     

    What makes people learn? I've personally facilitated numerous hours of in-class instruction as well as designed multiple online learning experiences. During the construction and participation of these learning experiences, I have found that every successful experience has had several things in common. First, learners were excited to engage in the challenge at hand. Second, learners were encouraged to engage with their peers, rather than siloing their efforts by working alone. Finally, learners were given a safe environment to actually experience learning, rather than be fed information.

     

    Perrone's research into successful classrooms found that when the topic was presented in a new and interesting way or had a "strange" quality to it, learners were much more successful in learning (Perrone, 1994). Learners who had agency and a voice in their pursuit of knowledge were consistently more engaged and more successful in the classroom (Patall, 2010; Perrone, 1994). In Patall's (2010) research, showed that the perception of receiving autonomy and support from facilitators, increased learner's intrinsic motivation for work. This was due to the learners' perception of receiving choices from their learning facilitator. Patall's research underscores a fundamental truth to the learning experience, to learn you must do.

     

    I've facilitated and participated in numerous learning experiences during my career. I believe and have found personally that true transfer of knowledge occurs when the instructor acts as a "guide on the side" rather than a "sage on the stage" for learners. As a learner, I know that facilitators who created interesting challenges, made me a part of a team, and gave my team the ability to create something together are the instructors and facilitators I truly remember. As discussed above, in order to demonstrate real knowledge transfer, a learner must progress beyond the simple recitation and recall of facts and dates to the creation of rational arguments to support or defend a position. Looking at Bloom's hierarchy of taxonomy, we see that the foundation of knowledge transfer is the ability to remember, but the pinnacle is being able to create and produce original work (Bloom, 1956). Perrone (1994) found that learners got much more out of the learning experience when they did something. Whether it was writing a letter to a politician in a civics class, or participated in a live scientific experiment, Perrone (1994) found that the acts of participation and creation were central to the success, enjoyment, and true transfer of knowledge to the learner. Perrone (1994) also found that student reported engagement was greater when students were asked to create original work and were encouraged to express their knowledge in a unique form.

     

    Empowering learners to succeed by making them confident and accountable

     

    Developing an environment where learners can flourish and succeed is difficult. In order to facilitate great work from learners, they need to feel empowered. Perrone and Patall's research into successful learning environments found that giving learners agency in the classroom led to significant improvement in learner engagement, participation, and success in creating and retaining knowledge. This sounds great in theory, however where Perrone and Patall's research falls a little short is the description of the amount of effort required to create this authentic learning experiences. It takes a considerable amount of time, money, and effort to create activities that engage learners. During her research Julia Minson, a psychologist at Wharton School of Business found that the creation and execution of a collaborative learning environment was very costly, in terms of financial capital as well as a significant time commitment (Association for Psychological Science, 2012). All this time and effort will be wasted by the facilitator if the learner does not understand why they are doing it. There needs to be a sense of accountability in the classroom. But how can we create this sense of accountability?

     

    The learning environment must be a place of nurturing and caring, where learners are encouraged to take risks, and whether successful or not, their achievements and hard work are celebrated. Kotter's 8 step model of change can be applied to successful learning outcomes(Kotter, 1996). The facilitator creates a sense of urgency, not through high stakes testing, but by presenting new, challenging ideas or new problems to be solved by the learner. Then the facilitator facilitates coalition building by providing the tools and platform for groups to be created, either by design or naturally. As the learning group forms and a vision to solving the problem at hand emerges, provide source materials and relevant support tools and scaffold to support the learner. Show learners where the tools to create and record ideas are and how to use them. Give learners a sandbox to play in, to experience the tools. Once familiar with the tools and resources available to solve the challenge- facilitators need to allow learners to experience the challenge. Learners are there to learn, not given answers to recite. Sahlberg's (2007) research into education policies outlines how a productive, risk taking learning environment can be created. Sahlberg (2007) found that successful environments were created when schools were allowed to experiment with creative problems and challenges. When teachers allowed students to take risks while seeking to reach their goals, often-positive outcomes occurred. When taking a risk, that means something can be lost. Putting that something to lose, that "skin in the game", and coming out the other side intact is what makes learning happen. The experience, not the textbook. By celebrating the experience of learning, whether the outcome was positive or negative, learners can sustain and adopt new behaviors and attitudes regarding learning.

     

    As a facilitator of learning, I want to make sure that I acknowledge the experience of the learners, whether that be clients, students, or colleagues, and be able to clearly articulate my goals for the learning experience. I firmly believe that learning is a synergistic process. Learning doesn't occur alone, and neither does success. The learner and the facilitator want to succeed. By following Kotter's model in my facilitation, I believe that I can empower my learners to collaborate and find success, both inside and outside of a classroom.

     

    60 Minutes [Television series episode]. (2004, November 10). CBS.

     

    Association for Psychological Science. (2012, March 6). Two heads are not always better than one. ScienceDaily from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120306131533.htm

     

    Bloom, B., Englehart, M. Furst, E., Hill, W., & Krathwohl, D. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York: Longmans, Green.

     

    Patall, E., Cooper, H., & Wynn, S. (2010). The effectiveness and relative importance of choice in the classroom. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(4), 896-915. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0019545

     

    Perrone, V. (1994). How to engage students in learning. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb94/vol51/num05/How-To-Engage-Students-in-Learning.aspx

     

    Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press.

     

    Sahlberg, P. (2007). Education policies for raising student learning: The finnish approach. Journal of Education Policy, 22(2), 147-171. doi:10.1080/02680930601158919

  • Course Timeline

    M.S. Instructional Technology

    Spring/Summer 2013

    ITEC5070: Trends: Ethic Legal Soc Issues

     

    EDRE5530: Introduction to Research

    Fall 2013

    ITEC5020: Tech & Distance Education

    Fall 2014

    ITEC5030: Introduction to Online Teaching

     

    ITEC5550: Theory of Change

    Spring/Summer 2015

    ITEC5010: Instructional Technology

     

    ITEC5160: Introduction to Instructional Design

     

    ITEC5120: Media Workshop

    Fall 2015

    ITEC5560: Developing Instructional Systems

     

    ITEC5870: Seminar In Instructional Technology 

     

    Spring 2016

    ITEC5320: Message Design 

     

    ITEC5350: Multimedia Development

     

    Spring 2017

    Capstone Defense

  • Goal Summaries

    Educational Foundations

    Goals focused on developing a solid foundation in Instructional Technology and Project Management

    Developing the bedrock philosophies for my professional career has been truly challenging. Throughout my tenure at UWYO, I have kept 2 phrases in mind- "When you see an opportunity, take it" and "Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true." These two phrases push me to challenge my professors and myself to doing more than I thought possible. It has also guided me to finding the the project and career skills that work best for me and my style of Instructional Design.

    Learning and Development 

    Goals focused on developing my knowledge of the theory and practice adult learning and training development.

    I worked collaboratively with a group to develop a complete project management/implementation/evaluation plan for based on a real life example of integrating Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in a school wide environment. 

     

    Our tasks include developing learning plans and strategies for participants in the upcoming transition from an older system to GAFE. My goal was to test a variety of learning theories in find the most effective strategies for adult learners.

    Technological Understanding

    Goals focused on sharing my knowledge of the best in breed tools in Project Management, Instructional Design, and Courseware Development.

    I've made a concerted effort to introduce my MSIT cohort to ASANA, a SaaS Project Management Software.

     

    In addition to being a resource for ASANA, I am providing my classmates with my candid experience as an independent contractor. What truly works in the field and what does not. I am also honing my skills as a Courseware developer by developing and designing for Articulate's E-learning Heroes Challenges.

    Research and Scholarship

    Goals focused on studying what is required to get "stakeholder buy-in" in a corporate environment.

    Getting the critical "buy-in" from all stakeholder parties is a requirement for project success. A team that has not bought into the vision of the project leadership, the project is doomed to failure. Studying the most effective ways to create buy-in will lead to the completion of successful projects.

  • Beliefs and Foundations

    1. When you see an opportunity, take it.

    When embarking on my studies in Instructional Design in 2012, I was an English Language Trainer in South Korea. While a trainer, I soon realized that the formula for teaching and training my students, coworkers, and Korean friends was fundamentally flawed. The system was designed to test memorization, not application. I saw the UWYO program as an opportunity to improve a flawed system. While my efforts to "change the system" were often hampered by communication and cultural barriers, it ignited a fire in me. From my instructor led experience, I knew that I had the ability to make curricula that was fun to teach, easy to access for students and a blast to develop. When I was exposed to an extremely powerful tool in Articulate's Storyline, new opportunities presented themselves. I was able to begin developing online assets and apply what I'd learned in my classes (ITEC 5320 in particular) in order to develop an online module on the Theory of Cognitive Load that has been extremely well received in the online Learning and Development Community as well as my cohort.

     

    When I returned from South Korea to Denver, I was faced with a dilemma. With the experience I had, I was qualified to become an ESL teacher but lacked the conviction and passion for working in the field of Education. I was burned out. I was sick of being "hammered down" by leadership and no longer wanted to be told "No, we don't do it that way." In June of 2015, I founded Promethean Learning Experience Design, a boutique e-learning consulting firm. This has not all been smooth sailing. From clients dropping off the face of the earth to fretting over how I am going to find a project to pay my rent, things have not always worked out for the best. However, going through the crucible of starting PLExD has given me the confidence to take another daring opportunity, starting Cannabis Integration, a training platform for the cannabis industry. Wading into an uncertain field (cannabis) with the potential for explosive growth has been an absolute roller coaster. Navigating these confusing times has been possible only with the confidence I've gained from living abroad, returning to the US after an extended period away, readjusting to life in the US, and starting my own businesses. I truly believe that taking the first step; applying to UWYO to complete an MSIT set me on the road to success that I'm on today.

    2. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true.

    The focus of this goal to recognizing what has and hasn't worked in my professional and educational career. While working on my Masters' my life has changed significantly from where I started to now. When beginning courses, I was living in South Korea, teaching and training English as a Second Language, with my sights set on becoming a higher education professional. Now, I am the owner of my own Instructional Design firm as well as a co-owner of a cannabis Training Platform as a Service company that is poised to become a disruptive force in the cannabis industry.

     

    While studying at UWYO, I have had an opportunity to explore a variety of different applications of Instructional Design. and Educational Leadership. I truly value this opportunity to explore, not be constrained by a narrow graduation requirements. With this variety of experience, I've been able to test multiple methodologies of learning analysis, change management and project management. I've seen some work well, some not as much. I've been able to see what works well in the corporate space does not always work as well in education and vice versa. In EDAD5650, I was able to test my public speaking skills, with inquisitive small group discussions as well as a whole class "defense of my company". In ITEC5550, I challenged myself and my organization to really study how a proposed change would be implemented and enacted. I was tested, and I succeeded.

     

    In my professional career, I've had several experiences where I have had to test my judgement and have come away with valuable knowledge that now guides how I operate my business and conduct contract and project negotiations with new and returning clients. Having a client "go dark"(no email/no calls) for several weeks and figuring out ways to not overreact, find a balance, and determine the best course of action was a big test for me during my first year in business. Having to negotiate the times of plenty(more contract work than hours in a day, deadlines upon deadlines, meeting client expectations, to name a few of the challenges), but also the times when there was little project work and having little idea of what to do in order to make sure my rent was paid. These experiences challenged me, tested me. I have succeeded so far.

     

    I am grateful for the the experiences that have taught me what I know to be true. There have been several academic and professional challenges in my tenure and I have faced them all. Some I've succeeded, some I've passed, some I've failed. However, from each experience, I've taken something from it. Whether it be how to manage a team of people whose mindset is completely different from my own or new language that needed to be inserted in to a client contract, I've been able to take and learn something from it. For this I am grateful.

  • Learning and Development

    Conceptual analyses of human development, learning theories, principles, practices, and/or models that apply to knowledge or skills acquisition.

    Goal: To investigate what has worked well when developing media for instruction.

    Developing "engaging" e-learning is what my business is centered around. My clients are looking for away to transform expensive in person trainers into cost effective e-learning, usable anywhere. When developing modules, my team and I are asking "how can we make this learning 'stick'?" We're constantly considering what's going to promote learner participation and engagement. How are we going to engage with the subject matter experts to get the information for the learners to learn? How are we going to synthesize the year's of experience that the SME brings to the project and transform it into consumable content that will actually impart knowledge?

     

    Role-play and scenario based training have been the most effective types of training, as well as the most enjoyable to develop as a developer. Being able to engage the learner by placing them into a story, a scenario, is much more effective than a presentation with a monotone narrator and bullet points faded in and out. This has been borne out of both educational and professional experience.

     

    Artifacts:

     

    • Does Media Type Really Matter?: This critique of the contrasting views of Kozama and Clark's in regards to the importance of the type of Media used when designing instructional material.
       
    • Gamfication and its Effectiveness: There has been a rush to find the next greatest way to make learning better. One buzz word that has been found through the e-Learning profession is gamificiation. I took a look at the distribution of gamification as well as hard look at the effectiveness of this current trend in instructional design.
       
    • Book Review of The power of role-based e-learning: Designing and moderating online role-play: This has been one of the best books I have been exposed to during my tenure at UWYO. It's been a valuable professional resource.
       
    • ITEC5320 Portfolio: This before and after portfolio incorporates critiques from peers regarding several design choices when developing digital media for instruction.
  • Technological Understanding

    The conceptual analyses of information access, technological skill, literacy, and/or procedures for use in Instructional Design.

    Goal

    To make the design and development process of creating organizational development and training materials and activities as collaborative as possible.

    My team was asked to design and develop a program management plan for the integration of Doctopus and Goobric in a Google Apps For Education eco-system. In order to facilitate an effective project management environment, I created an ASANA work space for the team. I was the technical point of contact for my team as well as the team designated project leader, responsible for the coordination of a five member team. This was a very challenging project for us to complete, as many of the group were unfamiliar with ASANA as a project management tool. It was not the smoothest implementation. Even though we decided to move to a different project management software, it was a great learning experience as team and project leader. I was able to effectively navigate team member's personalities, schedules, and technical abilities in order to overcome several roadblocks, and get the team to deliver the project on time.

     

    Artifacts

    Goal

    To become an expert in designing and developing using Articulate Storyline. 

    Articulate Storyline has become a best in class Rapid Authoring Tool for e-learning. I have dedicated significant time and energy in to becoming an advanced user of this tool. It has been vital to my livelihood as well as a source of consistent challenge and education. I've been consistently challenged by my classes, my clients, and the e-learning community as a whole. By participating in the ELH Challenges and posting on the ELH Message boards, there have been multiple benefits, both personally and professionally.

     

    By participating I have;

    • Actively developed my skills, going from a basic user to an advanced user. My portfolio has examples of advanced trigger states, animations, variables, text and data input, and scoreboard calculations. In doing so, I have made myself a valuable commodity to organizations looking to work with consultants on their development of e-learning content.
       
    • Networked with the best in the e-learning design and development space. I am able to reach out and contact leaders in the e-learning field such as David Glow , Melissa Milloway , Alexander Salas, and David Anderson
       
    Artifacts
  • Research and Scholarship

    Original Research I have conducted, synthesized, and disseminated.

    Goal: Study what is required to get stakeholder buy-in in a corporate environment.

    Throughout my corporate and educational careers, getting "buy-in" from all stakeholder parties is the most critical juncture of any project. If the team has not bought into the vision of leadership, or if management doesn't sell the benefits of a change to stake-holders, than the project will be a failure and often times a waste of valuable time, money, and learning resources.

     

    I've had a wide range of experiences working on teams as a student and as a professional. The results have not always been positive, but, the teams I've been a part of have allowed me to take a critical look at my own performance. Did I take full advantage of the talents in my group? Where was Commitment, Capacity, and Ability lacking? How could I have facilitated more buy-in from the group? Being able to reflect on my actions as well as the actions of others only helps me to become a better leader.

     

    Artifacts:

     

  • Personal Evalutions

    A thoughtful reflection regarding my performance to date in the the University of Wyoming Master's of Instructional Technology

    When first applying to the University of Wyoming's M.S. in Instructional design, I had originally intended to focus on developing instructional technology geared towards English Language Acquisition and Teaching English as a Foreign Language. My goal was to work in a foreign country developing ESL applications and remain in the field of English as a Second Language. As I see graduation coming closer and closer, I couldn’t be in a more different situation.

    As I have progressed through the program, my goals and focus have shifted dramatically, from pursuing a career in education to becoming a small business owner. I am the founder of an elearning development company as well as the cofounder of one of the first Learning Management Consultants in the growing cannabis industry. It’s been an absolute wild ride. I have experienced some real highs and lows during my tenure as a business owner. During my studies while concurrently owning a business, I've developed several key skills that will only help me succeed throughout the course of my career. I’ve developed project management skills, the ability to deliver critical components to a team on time and above expectation, as well as the ability to interact with peers seamlessly online. These three skills have served me quite well, both in academia as well as the professional space.

     

    That’s not to say I haven’t faced significant challenges during my tenure at UWYO. Procrastination, balancing the need to make money with school priorities, facing down the specter of managing student loan debt are challenges I’ve been faced with, just in this final semester alone. I know that there are areas that I need to continually improve on. My communication skills, being able to both give and receive constructive feedback, are constantly being examined and improved. Taking Dr. Stock’s class on Educational Leadership was a great opportunity to do that. Having crucial conversations is something that requires constant practice, and isn’t something you always get right.

     

    My professors have been extremely knowledgeable when I've had questions, as well as extremely supportive of me when I've had my doubts about being able to complete the program. I’d like to personally thank Drs. Shepherd, Stock, Persichitte, and Dousay for their consistent support. They have provided me with the opportunities to network, intern, and develop valuable professional connections that I’m sure will pay dividends in the future. I would recommend all students in the program to connect with their professors. Make them an active part of your education. The connections, cumulative experience, and knowledge base accessible to you is extremely valuable- USE IT.

     

    As this semester and program end, I look forward to the future as well as cherish the knowledge and skills I’ve learned to help me in my career. I see a bright but challenge filled future ahead of me. Using the skills, leveraging the professional connections, and most importantly, harnessing the confidence I’ve gained from completing a rigorous program of higher education will guide me to personal and professional success. I hope that the relationships I’ve developed during the program with my professors continues to be mutually beneficial. I plan to continue investing myself in my businesses and pursue leadership opportunities in the growing cannabis industry. As April 9th, I have submitted my application to become a member of the Human Resources Committee for the National Cannabis Industry Association. I believe this is where I can really begin to take a leadership role in an industry I truly care about.
     

  • Program Evaluation

    A thoughtful evaluation of the Prorgram's Performance to date during my pursuit of a M.S. in Instructional Technology at the University of Wyoming.

    As I stated in my personal evaluation, I don't believe I would have been able to reach the level of success I have had personally in the program without the support of the faculty and adjunct staff. Drs. Shepard, Dousay, Harbour, Stock and Persichitte have all been excellent resources for me. Dr. Shepherd as my adviser has been extremely helpful guiding me during the development of my e-portfolio as well as my final case study report. He’s also been very supportive when I had my own self-doubts regarding my ability as well as the usefulness of the program. Dr. Dousay has been an excellent professional resource for me. She was instrumental in facilitating the internship with Mountain West Farm Bureau Insurance as well as a great sounding board for ideas when developing my own personal brand and website. Dr. Persichitte has been a fantastic resource for general knowledge as well as a helping hand and resource to talk to. Dr. Harbour's class Trends: Ethics in Education is what kept me in the program. This was my first experience in the program and it was fantastic. It really prepared me as well as got me excited for the course work ahead at the time. Dr. Stock’s Educational Leadership class was an excellent opportunity for me to develop my communication as well as critical thinking skills. I’m sure I’ll face a challenging conversation in the future, and I’ll have “the tools in my tool-box” to handle the conversation.

     

    During my time in the program, I have found several areas, that for me, have been a real hindrance or drawback. The focus of some professors on the number of responses posted versus the quality of posts posted on a topic. I’ve found that requiring a certain number of posts can lead to people posting for the sake of posting, rather than contribute to the conversation at hand.

     

    The program’s narrow focus on the field education. The field of instructional technology is a wide one, from improving organization development through content analysis and development to the use of authoring tools such as Adobe's Captivate or Articulate Storyline. It seems to me that many of the participants in the program come from a K-12 background, and as a result the program caters to teachers. While this is not necessarily a problem by itself, I believe the lack of diversity of student career backgrounds may hinder future classes. I would highlight classes ITEC5550, EDAD5650, ITEC5320 as great examples of classes that can be applied to a variety of disciplines outside of the education space.

     

    A lack of practical application of authoring tools or other software. It is essential for success in the field of Instructional Technology. I have had few opportunities to use or even investigate the tools essential to become an exceptional instructional designer. I believe giving students more of an opportunity to use the tools necessary to be successful beyond the classroom. I believe that a concerted effort to empower students with the tools required to be an a professional ID rather than just the theory behind Instructional Design. I have seen Dr. Dousay implement the use of SaaS tools during her ITEC5320 class and this could be a model for other faculty to developing engaging courses that develop the skills needed for today’s Instructional Designer.

  • View my Storyline Portfolio