About

I am the principal consultant at Edge of Learning and the cofounder of an educational software company (details to come later).

I am taking a self-imposed break from a full-time job to pursue a few passion projects (like writing a book and building a software company). While I do this, I can consult in the following fields: adaptive learning, ed tech, learning design, instructional design, educational game design, faculty development, digital learning platforms, educational software development, math curriculum, math technology, STEM education, competency-based learning, eLearning, and the future of education.

I can also provide facilitation of workshops, faculty development, product analysis, and authoring of white papers.

My focus is on the design and implementation of effective learning, whether it is in eLearning, informal learning, or face-to-face experiences. I rely on learning research, platform data, and learner observations to make decisions that engineer better learning experiences.

In my past positions I have:
– prototyped new features usability improvements in learning platforms
– worked directly with engineering teams to implement features and improve software
– designed and written hundreds of feature specs
– created quality assurance policies for all courses
– written release notes, documentation, and instructional design tips for learning software
– worked closely with a remote team spread across many time zones
– developed and implemented quality assurance policies for eLearning
– designed educational digital games (e.g. Algeburst, Algeboats)
– led more than 400 hours of workshops for faculty, instructional designers, and college administrators on a variety of topics related to digital technologies and learning
– taught more than 10,000 students including online, hybrid, and blended
– designed and taught a MOOC on Social Media (find it at http://learn.canvas.net/courses/1)
– designed processes, features, and curriculum practices for competency-based education
– given more than 100 hours of talks and keynotes at conferences

When I left higher education (the first time), it was to be the Director of Learning and Research for Instructure (they build Canvas, the best learning management system out there). At Canvas I managed the Canvas Network MOOC platform and worked in the Product Department. Before I moved into the learning software industry, I spent ten years teaching full-time at Muskegon Community College (in Michigan).  Mostly I taught Mathematics, but I have also taught Intro Chemistry and Social Media.  While at MCC, I was the Learning Futurist for the LIFT Institute and I coordinated faculty professional development for several years.  I am an author, a speaker, a blogger, a game designer, and a learning futurist.

From Instructure, I went on to work in the adaptive learning industry at Area9, which built adaptive products for McGraw Hill Education (and was then acquired by MHE). During this time, I proposed, improved, designed, wrote specs, built low-fidelity prototypes, managed, tested, and documented new software features. In 2015, I was asked to join WGU as their Director of Learning Design with the mission to improve the student learning experience. In this position I learned a great deal about the world of CBE and developed new processes and tools for constructing intentionally-designed curriculum. After several months of internal struggle between what I was doing and what I wanted to be doing, I left WGU to pursue a dream of having time to write and reflect on everything I’ve learned and running my own company.

As an instructor, I consider myself to be a learning coach. Whether I am coaching college students in my math courses or academics who are embarking on new adventures in learning, I try to give learners the tools, ideas, and confidence to learn on their own. I believe that self-directed learning and engagement are now the most important issues in education. When content begins to teach itself (and it will), instructors will need to be ready to shift into the role of learning coaches. Technology will “instruct” … we will need to “engage” learners in applications, discussions, and explorations of the learning ecosystem of our subject area and leverage digital tools to enhance learning. My philosophy of teaching and learning can be summed up in one quote:

“Learning is the brain having fun.” – Raph Koster

I have always been a voracious learner and when I encounter a problem, I think about it until I have found a viable solution. I guess you could say that I’m a learning engineer/futurist who is oriented towards actionable visions. I may not always be able to build or implement the solution myself, but I seek to find viable (and hopeful) solutions and visions for current issues. If you have a few minutes, please read “The World is My School: Welcome to the Age of Personalized Learning” and you’ll see my vision for the future of learning.

I love to play with technology (when it works properly) and think about how it can be leveraged to improve learning.  But just because it is new and shiny, that doesn’t mean technology is worthy of use.  It’s got to have a sound pedagogical purpose.

I try to share just about everything I learn about (that doesn’t have a conflict of interest with my current work) and I hope you’ll do the same. That’s pretty much why I write this blog and maintain this site. Hope you find the resources useful!

– Maria H. Andersen, Ph.D.

P.S. If you’d like to send a “tip” to appreciate the work I do, consider a book. Here’s my wishlist.

Twitter: busynessgirl

LinkedIn: mariahandersen

Facebook: iBusynessgirl

Email: busynessgirl at gmail dot com