This is the final part in a series of blog posts to highlight the work of our Teaching & Learning Innovations team. Each team member was asked to write a post about the work of one of their colleagues.
The Real Wonder Woman
Hollywood depicts superheroes as larger than life super-humans endowed with special powers enabling them to leap tall buildings, dodge speeding bullets, and ultimately save planet Earth from certain doom. Exciting? Yes! Entertaining? Perhaps. Believable? Likely not. However, here at CSUCI, Wonder Woman truly does exist. No not, Diana Prince, but a real life Wonder Woman, Dr. Lorna Gonzalez, the newest Teaching and Learning Innovations (TLI) Team Member, School of Education Lecturer, and Instructional Designer for CODEL.
In all seriousness, Lorna, to our team at TLI, is an authentic Wonder Woman. Lorna’s career in education began with seven years in K-12 Education teaching English Language Arts and eventually as an Academic Technology Specialist. As a doctoral student at UCSB while continuing to work in K-12, Lorna taught first-year writing composition and worked as an Instructional Design consultant. In 2013, Lorna shared her talents with CSUCI, teaching as a lecturer, both face-to-face and online for the School of Education, while continuing to teach and pursue her doctorate at UCSB. In addition to her professional roles and doctoral studies, Lorna and her husband welcomed the arrival of two sons, now ages 2 and 6.
Faster than a speeding Brain Wave!
This past December, as a wife, mother, lecturer and instructional designer, Lorna traded in the role of doctoral student for doctor of philosophy, defending her dissertation, Aspects of a Literacy of Infographics: Results from an Empirical-Qualitative Study, and completing with no revisions! Yes! Wonder Woman in the flesh!
In August 2018, we stole her away from UCSB and Lorna joined TLI full-time as the Instructional Designer for CODEL, an online doctoral program shared between CSUCI and Fresno State.
What is Instructional Design?
With the prominence of online education and the unique demands of teaching in a digital space, instructional design has emerged as a professional field in both corporate and educational sectors. More than teaching and technical support, an instructional designer, as Lorna has defined it is, “Part-muse, part-project manager, part-designer, part-instructor, and part-action-researcher, an [Instructional] Designer designs high-quality learning experiences for students and faculty alike–experiences informed by learning theory, relevant research, and proven practices.” Instructional Designers play multiple roles in support of faculty including coach, researcher, sounding wall, instructional technologist, graphic designer, and the list goes on.
Able to leap tall buildings …
However, Lorna’s role in CODEL is even more complex. CODEL’s online courses present unique design challenges since courses are only eight-weeks and students progress through the three-year EdD program in cohorts. While cohorts afford students the opportunity to build a strong support network and peer community, program administrators, staff, and individual faculty engage the cohort at different points in the program, which, if not carefully designed, can result in disjointed and disconnected learning pathways. In other words, educational doom! Enter Wonder Woman! Other than the students, Lorna is the one person who touches every aspect of the educational program. A responsibility she does not take lightly:
“Perhaps most importantly, this role has a bird’s-eye view of the learning pathways students take through their three years in CODEL, which helps keep course and program design consistent for students.”
Clearly, Lorna’s vast skill-set makes her an invaluable asset to the program’s and students’ success.
Perhaps that’s why faculty in the program marvel at Lorna’s superpowers and super heart:
“Lorna is simply put, “An incredible asset to CODEL”. She’s a teacher, so she understands our needs from an instructional perspective.” – Dr. Donald Wise, Fresno State
“Lorna’s experience is so deep that I can ask about different issues that I think students are having and she has a suggestion that is always successful. I’ve had to send a few desperate SOS messages (always prefaced by “please answer ONLY when you have time). She might call me or email me after she reads bedtime stories to her sons or even from a family vacation. She is so responsive and helpful.” – Dr. Elizabeth Quintero, CSUCI
“Her exceptional interpersonal skills are a tremendous asset and […] a real key to the success of the program. Lorna is a wonderful addition to the staff and a true instructional designer in every sense. CSUCI is lucky to have Lorna Gonzalez.” – Dr. Bernard Luskin, CODEL Faculty
“She is fabulous working with others, and has endeared herself to faculty, students and staff for her insightfulness and expertise in solving whatever problem they might be facing […]. She has contributed greatly in perpetuating a positive, human-centered program culture for CODEL […] She captivates audiences and achieves her objectives with a great deal of poise, well-articulated facts and expertise.” – Dr. Gary Kinsey, CODEL Director
A Force to be Reckoned with
Lorna’s drive and dedication are unparalleled. At any one time, Lorna is supporting at minimum of six instructors at various stages of course development and facilitation.
In addition to faculty support, Lorna is also responsible for managing the annual Qualifying Exam, facilitated fully online. Most recently, she ideated, planned and facilitated faculty presentations of best practices at the annual CODEL Faculty Convening, providing a conference-like atmosphere in which peers engaged with peers. Additionally, working with Kristi O’Neil-Gonzalez, Lorna surveyed CODEL Students, innovatively leveraging survey results to engage faculty in discussions around course accessibility and student needs.
In her spare time, she manages to locate and share current research and tools pertaining to teaching and learning, authors blogs for Teaching and Learning Innovations, submit peer reviews for journals, and consult for the CSUCI Course Review Team. No wonder she has to start her day at 4:00 AM!
Undoubtedly brilliant, innovative, and resilient, Lorna is undeniably one of the most humble, kind, and compassionate people you will have the pleasure to meet. She is an incredibly gifted professional, integral team member, and a caring friend. In preparing to write this post, I asked those that know Lorna to sum up their thoughts by submitting ‘one’ word that best described Lorna. The image that materialized is no surprise.
Hollywood prefers flash and dash, but it’s educators like Lorna, that make it possible for so many to thrive! If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Lorna, you should stop by the FIT Studio; however, you may have to wait your turn to work with the real Wonder Woman!
*** Image Credit
Wonder Woman Logo by By DC Comics – This vector image was created by converting the Encapsulated PostScript file available at Brands of the World (view • download).Remember not all content there is in general free, see Commons:Fair use for more.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66007805