My Journey at CSUF: MSIDT Program

My Journey at CSUF: MSIDT Program

Dana Dutiel No Comments
  Everything ELearning



My Dream

My dream of wanting to earn my Master’s degree in Instructional Design has been in the works for at least 10 years (or more).  It seemed that the timing was always a little off for various reasons.  One day, a couple of years before my Dad passed away, he looked at me with his bright and beautiful blue eyes and stated very matter-of-factly, “Dana, you should get your Master’s degree.”  From that moment on, I knew what my goal was and put a plan in place to reach this highly rewarding goal.  Unfortunately he passed away before he could know that I enrolled in a Master’s program, but I know that he is cheering me on, supporting me, and proud of me from afar.

My Selection Process

Once I was ready to take the leap, I had already narrowed my research down to either the MSIDT program and CSUF or the program at San Diego State University.  Both schools continued to appear in my searches as having great Instructional Design programs, and both were local.  The more I contemplated about which school to choose, I went with CSUF for a few reasons:

  • I loved the curriculum and its order displayed on their website (click here for info)
  • Everytime I mentioned the thought of going to CSUF, people could not wait to tell me what a great MSIDT program they offered
  • My online research kept leading me back to CSUF
  • I wanted a local school with a goal of building a network of fellow instructional designers.

I am so glad that I made the decision to enter into the MSIDT program at CSUF.  It has been a rewarding and inspiring experience.  I am halfway through the program and I have learned so much about instructional design that I may have overlooked before.  The curriculum allows you to explore all different areas of instructional design and instructional technologies that are available to help build dynamic and meaningful training courses and programs.

My Career and the MSIDT Program at CSUF

The MSIDT program has provided me many tools and resources to add to my instructional design toolbox.  With those tools, I have already branched out into a consultant/contractor position.  As a contractor, I am treated as an expert, where my clients are seeking my help and asking for advice about all things training.  In my experience, people treat me with a more respectful tone as a contractor than that of an employee.  It is an interesting experiment, and one that I may write about later.

There are two main topics that I have learned within the MSIDT program:

  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research
  • Different teaching strategies from the book, The Strategic Teacher

Topic 1

Qualitative Research: This is a research style that is exploratory in nature.  The researcher will observe a group’s activity in an open non-controlled environment.  Typically the observer or researcher will enter into an environment and record all of the people and activities that take place within that environment, without disrupting the natural flow of things.

Quantitative Research: This type of research is data driven with statistics, measurements, and numbers to show if a hypothesis is true based on the data conllected or not proven beyond a certain threshhold.  This type of research can be done through a simple survey or can be a more complex process where data is gathered through forums, test groups, and pilot programs.

Each type of research is important and necessary to allow us to understand our world better.

Topic 2

The Strategic Teacher is a book written by Harvey F. Silver, Richard W. Strong, and Matthew J. Perini.  It is a refreshing approach to teaching students in a variety of interactive ways.


Even though it is directed more towards teaching strategies in the K-12 classroom envionrments, I think Corporate L&D programs could benefit from these teaching strategies as well.  It offers new research-based teaching strategies to help students think about new content using a critical-thinking approach to new content.  It is a book that I definitely want to buy in hardback vs. the virtual version.

My Advice to future students of the MSIDT Program

In closing, my advice to future MSIDT students at CSUF is to enjoy the journey.  You will experience stress, challenges, and successes, which is all part of the process.  The professors are always willing to offer a helping hand.  They want you to succeed.  Sometimes, you may need to move out of your own way to get the project done.  Sometimes, you may surprise yourself in what you can accomplish.  Oh yeah, and don’t forget to breathe.  🙂





Creating an ELearning Portfolio using WordPress

Dana Dutiel 4 comments
  Everything ELearning Everything MSIDT

Hi there.  Are you an experienced website designer?  Are you a WordPress expert? Then this post may not be for you.  This post is about some of my trials, challenges and successes as a non-website designer while building my personal ELearning portfolio webiste.  This post hopefully meets the requirements of an assignment for my Master’s of Instructional Design and Technology program at CSUF.  My goal of this post is to hopefully inspire or help a fellow ELearning specialist in taking on the challenge of building their own ELearning portfolio website to showcase their work.

The Trials

I started learning WordPress off and on for approximately 2 years now.  I would tinker with my website for awhile then take long breaks for weeks or months when I got frustrated or just needed something else to do.  However, I never gave up.  Although, my website still needs some work, I am finally at a place that I can add to the website instead of creating different iterations of the website.  WordPress comes with many different themes, plug-ins, and widgets to choose from that allows you to customize a website that you love. I”m not at love yet, but I am at a solid like.

Trial #1 – Selecting a theme:

WordPress offers many different themes, some are free and some cost money. Unless you are an experienced website designer and know what features to look for, I would highly recommend one of the free themes that is offered.  In my case, I think I downloaded at least 20 different free themes to play and experiment with during my selection process.  Each theme offers different features and options that allow you to customize your website.

It wasn’t until today, that I finally selected a theme that I am happy with (for now 🙂 )

This theme is called Quality Blue

Belive it or not, this is what my website could look like….like I said, I still have a ton of work to do.

Trial #2 – Customization

Once I finally selected a theme, I needed to figure out what I wanted it to look and act like.  I played with many color schemes and some got crazy, like hot pink and dark blue, what was I thinking. However, just like in building ELearning courses I had to always keep in mind my audience.  Who is or will be my audience?  Even with more eye-appealing color schemes, I had to view my website with that corporate professional’s perspective.  Simple seemed to be a good option.  I have also always had my eye focused on some type of blue color palette.  There seems to be many different corporations and organizations that incorporate a shade of blue into their culture, so it seemed the safest color at this point.  As for other customization options that are available based on the image of the template above, there are many other options that I can tinker with along my journey.

Trial #3 – Confidence

My issue with confidence is putting myself out there.  How do I want my website to represent me?  What do I want people to see when they visit my website?  I am still working on the look of my home page, but I am just happy that I only need to worry about building up one page instead of the building of an entire website at this point.  My other issue in this area, is that once I started exploring other ELearning designer websites, I would love theirs, which somehow equated to hating mine (again).  I would get frustrated with the fact that I am not a web designer and am not sure how to showcase my work using others layouts as inspiration.  Some examples that I like are from:  Ashley Chiasson , Tim Slade, and one of my all-time favorites Jackie Van Nice (who I have mentioned in previous assignments.

However, I need to realize two things:

  1. This website is a work in process
  2. My website will improve with content – content is king 🙂

If I could share one piece of advice with any ELearning specialists who are non-website designers out there…jump in, try it out, experiment, and don’t be afraid. I have built my website from scratch a few times now and am no longer afraid to delete or remove or change anything in my website.  If you need to, you can start from scratch.  Sometimes, it is better to start over than try to fix something that is too broken to fix.

The Challenges

The challenge for me was facing some fears and insecurites I had about presenting my work to the world.  The questions that constantly run through my head are; will a view like a course that I created?  Will a potential client be turned off by my ELearning samples?  What types of courses should I build that will potentially motivate a client to choose me?

All of these answers can be summed up with one response that I already stated…Content is King!

The more samples that I display on my website, the more likely that a viewer will find one or more that sells them on my skills.  Currently, I only have 4 samples, but my goal is to create 1 ELearning course per week.  If I stick to this plan, then by the time I graduate from my Master’s program, I will have approximately 24 samples in my portfolio.  The great thing is that I can visit the Weekly ELearning Heroes Challenges to gather inspiration.  I can contribute to a challenge or just view what others are doing in the ELearning world.


There many successes that I have had in developing my own website.  The main success that I have had is in the fact that I built a working website, even if it just a shell at this point.  The other main success is by creating ELearning samples, I can now feel comfortable and confident when discussing my work samples to potential employers and clients.  I know the decisions that I made and why.  It helps to write about the development of your courses, so that you have time to reflect and think about the choices that you made.  Never forget to celebrate your successes is the third and probably most important lesson in this journey.  Happy ELearning.

Thanks for viewing,


ELearning by Dana



Can you say cheese?

Dana Dutiel No Comments
  Everything ELearning

This is an entry for ELearning Heroes Challenge #179 – teach a foreign language.  What better way to communicate in a different language than through food – french cheese to be specific.

Click here or the image to enjoy



Feedback Tips – Drag N’ Drop

Dana Dutiel No Comments
  Everything ELearning


This courselet was inspired by Articulate’s E-Learning Challenge #178, keep it or toss it using the drag N’ drop interaction option.

Instead of keep it or toss it, I went with a example that could be part of a bigger course during a leadership development program.

My focus for this course was the design element.  I love to play with color.  I wanted this course to have hints of vibrant color along with a natural handmade feel.

You can click the image or click here to enjoy the course.






Lesson 3, Visual Communication

Dana Dutiel No Comments
  Everything Instructional Deisgn Everything MSIDT

This is an assignment where I developed a lesson about Visual Communication.  This is a link to a video summary done in Storyline 2 about this lesson.

Lesson 3, Advance Your Communication Skills

You can also click on the image below to start the course:


Space Wars: The Customer Service Challenge

Dana Dutiel No Comments
  Everything ELearning


Are you ready to test your customer service skills in this space wars challenge.  There are three battles that you must win in order to prove that you are a customer service rockstar.

I wanted to create a course that is inspired by gamification.  I am only hitting the surface on this one.  The third challenge was the most enjoyable for me to create.  I wanted to create a game that felt like it came from a 1980’s video arcade.  Good luck and may the stars be with you 🙂




Dana (

Interview Steps, easy as 1, 2, 3

Dana Dutiel No Comments
  Everything ELearning


I wanted to create a course that people may need when they are on-the-go. that they could quickly scan on their mobile phone.  A quick and easy micro-learning course about how to have a great interview seemed like a great topic.  An interviewee could review the contents in this course right before the interview or anytime during the interview process.  Click on the image below to get ready for your next interview.


For the design, I wanted was inspired by the geometric trend that is happening in graphic design for 2017.  I was also inspired by a second graphic design of using big and bold typography.  Here is a link to more graphic design trends for 2017.

Here is what I used to create this mobile course:

  • Background provided by 123RF
  • Typography: Britanic Bold and Railway
  • The Adobe Typekit tool
  • Storyline 2
  • Content Resource: Job Interview Tips

What I learned while creating this course:

  1. How to work with the Adobe Typekit tool (super easy)
  2. How to create custom checklist options in Storyline 2
  3. The graphic design trends of 2017

Thanks for checking out this article.

Dana (


What about instructional design as a career path? Do you want to know more?

Dana Dutiel 2 comments
  Everything Instructional Deisgn

I feel the winds shifting.  Can you feel it?  This is an amazing time for instructional designers.  With the help of multimedia tools, social networks, and the multitude of resources available, now is a great time to explore this exciting and rewarding career path.

I am very passionate about the role of ID and the part that it plays within an organization.  The goal of this article is to share with you my thoughts about instructional design.  After reading this article, you will hopefully gain some insight of what it is, what careers are available and suggested next steps to get you started.

What is instructional design?

Very simply, instructional design helps people learn content and processes through design, theory, and practice.  I realize that this is a very simplistic definition of a more complicated process.  However, if you want to help people learn and you like to help people learn then instructional design might be an optional career path for you.

A more complex definition might be that ID is a blended discipline of art and science to help people learn, improve, and enhance skills with the use of instructional design theories, tools, and processes.  What are your thoughts about ID?  How would you define ID?  If you are truly interested in this topic and would like to learn more, there are tons of resources about instructional design online.  What is your favorite go-to online resource?  Mine is Articulate ELearning Heroes.  It offers a wide variety of tips and tools on the topics of ELearning and Instructional Design.

What careers are available within Instructional design?

There are many different directions that you can go within this profession.  Whether you are interested in working in an educational setting, corporate environment, or not-for-profit type of atmosphere, there are many opportunities for instructional designers.   As an instructional designer, you will be instrumental in planning learning events and training programs that benefit all participants.  It just depends on who you would like to help.  Do you want to help develop content for children K-12?  Do you want to help employees within a company or professional organization?  Do you want to help build learning opportunities for volunteers within a not-for-profit organization?  Once you answer the question of which learner you are interested in helping, then my suggestion is to explore job postings to get a general sense and understanding of the role within a real-world environment.  Since you may be new to the world of ID, you may not understand all of the responsibilities listed within a job description, but I think it will provide you with some insight into this career option.

What are suggested next steps

Do your research.  Explore the topic of instructional design using the multitude of resources available.  Everything from YouTube videos, Blogs, Online ELearning communities, and other online social threads are filled with topics on instructional design.  Have fun exploring this topic.  Feel free to share a resource in the comments that you enjoyed reviewing and that you think might help others.

Thanks for reading,

Dana (ELearning by Dana)

Creative Tabs Interaction

Dana Dutiel No Comments
  Everything ELearning

My goal for this course example was to use the Storyline 2 slider as a tabs interaction.  I selected leadership as the main topic because I thought I could have fun with the vibrant graphics that I had in mind for this course.  Once I figured out how to manipulate the slider using states, triggers, and variables, it was all about the graphics and the font.

Here is what I used to complete this project:

  • Storyline 2
  • 123RF for graphics
  • Photoshop to create the LEADERSHIP graphic on the title slide
  • DaFont website for the font American Captain

For the front screen that you see below, I wanted to play with the word LEADERSHIP as the graphic.  I also had seen in various media where supporting words create the background for the main word.

You can click on the image to see the course in action:


I selected bright colorful action graphics that featured hands as a main theme.  I felt the theme of hands complimented what leaders do each and every day.  Great leaders offer enouraging and helpful hands to individuals and teams to reach successful outcomes and build extraordinary teams.


I really enjoyed playing with the slider and explore creative ways to present a course using the slider offered in Storyline 2.  I think using it for tabs interactions is an interesting way to present the various sections of a course.

What I learned from this project:

  1. Sliders can be customized in any way, shape, or form to reach a desired results
  2. Sliders are easy to manipulate with states, triggers, and variables
  3. The format > change picture option in Storyline 2 comes in handy, especially after you have everything set-up exactly the way you want it.

Thanks for visiting,

-Dana (

Are you ready to flex your brain?

Dana Dutiel No Comments
  Everything ELearning

The ELearning Heroes (ELH) challenge this week is all about brain games.

I remember hanging out in the living room with my older brother solving the puzzles within the latest Games magazine.  That was my all time favorite magazine as a young girl.  Our favorite puzzles to solve together were the Cryptograms.  For this challenge, I decided to create a quiz style course using The Stroop Test as my inspiration.

Click here or on the image to get started:


This puzzle was a brain-teaser in itself to create for me.  I wanted to create a simple course with simple variables.  My objective was just to practice setting up variables that would continue throughout the rest of the slides using conditional triggers.

Once I designed the main framework for the course, I started to flush out the triggers and variables for each slide.  Here are the steps that I took to create the triggers and variables.  I created five separate number variables, 1 per question.  Then, I adjusted each variable with an assignment value of 1 or 2 (1 = correct selection, 2 = wrong selection).  Lastly, I added the conditional triggers to tell the variable exactly what to do and when.  In this case, when the timeline starts on a specific slide, the trigger is set to show a checkmark or “x” in its normal state, based on how a learner responded to the previous question on the previous slide.  Here is a link to learn more about variables.

I wanted the variables in the Your Results window to change based on how a learner responds to a previous question.



What I learned by creating this course:

  1. Variables are easier to create than you think
  2. There are many ways to create variables and triggers.  In this course, I could have set up the variables with True and False.  However, I wanted to practice with the numbers variable and get familiar with how they work.
  3. Test, Test, Test…Test your course many times to ensure that the learner will experience the course as you intended.  For each test, you should click on different buttons to make sure Your Results are displayed correctly.  Then, test a few more times just to make sure.
  4. Most importantly, don’t be intimidated by variables, variables are your friend.

Thanks for visiting

Dana (ELearning by Dana)

Dana Kocalis

ELearning Specialist

I am an ELearning Consultant.  I can help you build custom crafted ELearning for you and your company.

I have over 25+ years in learning and development roles.  I understand the corporate learning enviornment, how to work with SMEs, decision makers, operations leaders, and compliance to provide you the right course for the right reasons.

My expertise in the most popular authoring tools, allows me to build right course and deliver it to you in the right format for your LMS or internal website.