I am the Director of Learning Design at Western Governors University. In this role I am responsible for creating and delivering an outstanding next-generation learning experience for students (work in progress).

Prior to my role at WGU, I was the Director of Learning and Innovation at Area9, where I design and develop adaptive learning software. In this role I focus specifically on designing and implementing new learning features, STEM tools, and instructional design for questions and learning resources.

I propose, improve, design, mockup, spec, build low-fidelity prototypes, manage, test, and document new software features. I follow new features and improvements from conception to completion and write a little code here and there.

When I left higher education, 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.

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.

Twitter: busynessgirl

LinkedIn: mariahandersen

Email: busynessgirl at gmail dot com