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Sara McNeil


I teach classes in three main areas: instructional design, multimedia design/development and the visual representation of information.

My teaching philosophy

My statement about Innovative Technology Use

Design Theory Courses

Multimedia Design & Development

Visual Design Courses

CUIN 6373, Instructional Design is a graduate level course about using a systematic process to design instruction.

Everyone in some way designs instruction. From the parent teaching a young child how to tie shoes to the person training a dog to heel, these instructional designers analyze the needs of the audience, determine the goals and objectives, create the instruction, and evaluate how it all turned out. But instruction is not created equal, and careful planning and design are critical factors in the outcome. The heart of this course is the use of a systematic process to design instruction in which every component - the teacher, the learners, the materials, and the learning environment - is integral to successful learning.

We begin this course by examining the history of instructional design and by laying the groundwork for a comprehensive understanding of what instructional design is and how it can effectively be used to design learning materials. We then begin learning a systematic design model used to translate general principles and instruction into plans for instructional materials and learning.

Finally, students utilize their own experiences and interests to create effective, stand-alone instructional units that are materials-centered rather than teacher-mediated and can be shared and used in real educational settings.

Students will:

  • demonstrate a personal understanding of the instructional design and development process;
  • demonstrate understanding of the major theory bases and the ways in which they have contributed to instructional design practices;
  • identify and summarize the major elements commonly included in the majority of instructional design models;
  • develop a meaningful vocabulary used in the instructional design process; and
  • demonstrate the following competencies involved in the process of designing instruction:
    • identify an instructional problem;
    • plan and implement an instructional needs analysis;
    • analyze the characteristics and instructional needs of the learner, the specifics of the learning task itself, and the characteristics of the situation in which the learning will take place;
    • specify learning objectives and determine goals;
    • select appropriate instructional strategies;
    • select appropriate instructional media;
    • construct functional diagrams such as flowcharts;
    • prepare appropriate assessment/testing instruments and procedures;
    • plan and conduct formative evaluations;
    • summarize and use data received from evaluations; and
    • present the results of their work in a professional manner

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CUIN 7305, Courseware and Presentation Tools is a graduate level course about designing and developing multimedia courseware and presentations for instructional settings. It is a research-based experience for students who want to learn more about designing, developing, and evaluating educational presentations.

Students will:

    • plan effective presentations;
    • design effective presentations;
    • deliver effective presentations; and
    • evaluate effective presentations.

CUIN 7317, the Visual Representation of Information explores the design and development of computer-generated instructional graphics. Students will explore and evaluate the design and creation of graphical, iconic, and metaphoric information in interactive visual learning environments.

During this course, students will participate in readings, discussions, and hands-on explorations of the following topics:

    • Appropriate visuals for instructional content and the intent of the instruction
    • The role of visuals in facilitating learning
    • The relationship between learning theory and visual perception
    • Research on visuals in instruction and the resulting instructional design principles
    • The concepts of visual design and communication in computer-based instruction;
    • Paper and electronic documents such as storyboards, design documents, flow charts, etc.) which convey accurate descriptions of visuals to production units (illustrators, artists, videographers, photographers, etc.)

Students will:

    • Develop a personal understanding of design principles for computer-developed media;
    • Be able to apply design principles to situations involving the creation and evaluation of both static and animated graphics using technology;
    • Develop a meaningful Visual Vocabulary that extends to other environments outside of this classroom;
    • Be able to use creative brainstorming to develop instructional graphics to solve problems and communicate effectively;
    • Be able to communicate and share ideas for graphics effectively; and
    • Have a thorough knowledge of basic and intermediate Photoshop techniques.

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CUIN 7321, Information Design is a gradaute course that covers a wide variety of topics related to information design and creating dynamic online instructional materials. The primary purpose of this course is to enhance students' ability to conceptualize, design and develop materials that support and enhance active teaching and learning. Although the primary focus of this course is the effective use of information design in instruction, the concepts can be applied to the design and development of printed materials and presentations as well.

This course blends theoretical and research issues related to the use of information design in instruction with production competencies. Students will explore and evaluate the design and creation of online information in a variety of technology-based learning environments. Another purpose of this course is to enable students to get in-depth, hands-on experience with a two commercial software programs - Adobe Dreamweaver and Cold Fusion.

The course topics focus on the structure and use of relational databases and using Abode ColdFusion development platform to develop Web sites that interface with databases. Students learn how to set up and manage the ColdFusion development environment, how to use the ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML) to store and output data, how to define Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) drivers to interact with databases, how to build queries that present, insert, delete, and update data dynamically, how to use client-side validation functions, and how to use variables to keep track of a user's information. Students will also be exposed to good development practices such as reusing common code, search interfaces, and security procedures.

Students will:

    • discuss and evaluate the latest developments in information design, a new, emerging technology;
    • create an example of information design in Adobe Cold Fusion software to demonstrate proficiency in information design;
    • critically evaluate situations in which information design would be helpful and implement plans to design information structures to be used for curriculum development. These structures will be available in an online format for use in distance learning contexts; and
    • use emerging technologies such as Adobe Cold Fusion, to create information structures that support professional development and will model the use of these tools for their peers.

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CUIN 7327, The Collaborative Design of Multimedia and CUIN 7357, The Collaborative Development of Multimedia are graduate level courses about designing and subsequently developing multimedia courseware. It is a research-based experience for students who want to learn more about using authoring software to design and develop multimedia instructional products. Interactive multimedia is defined as a combination of text, graphics, sound, animation, and video delivered by computer or other electronic means. In this course, students will investigate the basic elements of instructional design and the development of interactive multimedia.

The main objective of the courses is to enable students to experience working as part of a multimedia design team to produce instructional software for a client. The software will be designed in CUIN 7327and developed in CUIN 7357. Students are expected to enroll in both courses in sequence.

During this course, students will participate in readings, discussions, and hands-on explorations of instructional systems design, multimedia theory and design, multimedia design teams and group dynamics, and assembling and delivering a multimedia project

Students will:

    • demonstrate an understanding and actual practice for new and emerging technology tools in multimedia development;
    • design and develop developmentally appropriate learning activities for diverse learners using a variety of development tools and incorporating available resources;
    • design and implement leaning strategies that support curriculum and maximize student learning with a student-centered approach;
    • apply instructional design strategies to create effective assessments in their multimedia programs;
    • use technology to communicate with other students and especially with their multimedia team members;
    • follow copyright laws and fair use policies when creating multimedia projects;
    • create multimedia projects that support classroom instruction; and
    • form partnerships with other students and with community organizations in order to create effective multimedia instructional software.