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Note: From July 31st, my services are moving to the Office of Faculty Development and Teaching Excellence (OFDTE), where I will assist the entire University in instructional-design efforts. Click here to learn more.

Welcome to geolawsdesign.com, home of my instructional-design services at Augusta University. Whether you are browsing or searching for something in particular, this web resource offers you a wealth of information!

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Want a video tour of the site?

When you need me, please use my top-of-the-line online scheduling system to book appointments with me—which you can do any time of day and night, from any computer or mobile device.

As you go through the site, I encourage you to share thoughts back with our learning community here at Augusta University. Enjoy!

Welcome to the Summer 2017 Semester!

The summer semester is here. For the faculty members taking the summer off – hope you have a great vacation! For those who are teaching this summer – I am here for you with online course design and teaching training & support. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me as needed!

As a reminder, my website contains my services and scheduling system. You are also welcome to visit the self-help D2L tutorials on my website.

And now let’s go over some tips for effective online teaching:

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Happy Earth Day

On Aprill 22nd we celebrate Earth Day.

Do you and your family have any Earth-Day traditions? In my family, we plant something – a seed, a flower, a shrub, or a tree. Our son is always delighted to play with dirt and watch a plant slowly come to life over a couple of days.

If you do not yet have an Earth Day tradition, consider starting with planting a seed.

I will leave you with Seventh Generation’s motto:

Every day is a new opportunity to care for the next seven generations. One of the best ways we can all do that is by protecting and caring for the environment and natural resources all around us. [1]

Introducing Essential Course Vitamins

If you go to your primary-care physician to have a conversation about how you can reach optimal health levels, you’ll most likely hear that you need to take your vitamins. The human body needs Vitamin A for vision and immune support, B vitamins for energy and red blood cell support, etc.

I’d like to make the radical proposition that if you were to go to your course’s “primary-care physician” (a.k.a. your instructional designer) to have a conversation about how to keep your course “healthy”, you’d also hear about essential vitamins.

So what are these essential course vitamins? What effects do they have on courses? And how do you “give” them to a course? For these answers and more, check back in with my blog.

Spotlight on My Instructional-Design Services

Dear faculty,

As 2017 begins to unfold, I want to remind you of the four main ways in which you can rely on me for instructional-design assistance: curriculum, course design, course post-production in D2L, and course teaching.

But before I do that, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the tremendous job you are doing educating today’s students for tomorrow’s health professions! I know this is a very demanding job — not only from a pedagogical and subject-matter standpoint, but also given the challenges that globalization and rapid growth in scientific discovery & technology bring.

Thank you for your leadership and excellence in teaching. You are enriching the lives our students, helping them achieve their educational and professional dreams, meeting the needs of a vital workforce, helping the economy grow, contributing to our nation’s health and, to bring it back home, helping our institution confidently advance toward our vision of being a top-tier university and a destination of choice for education, heath care, discovery, creativity and innovation.

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End of Fall 2016 and beginning of Spring 2016 in Instructional Design

Fall 2016 is quickly coming to an end and Spring 2017 is just around the corner. As you move through the end of one semester and beginning of the next, I hope these resources will come in handy!

This article will go over topics such as:

  • troubleshooting muddy instructional points
  • posting final grades in D2L and Pounce
  • accessing your Spring 2017 D2L courses
  • crosslisting and/or sharing courses
  • course start dates
  • syllabi
  • D2L course setup
  • teaching with D2L.


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Spotlight on an Advanced D2L Class-Management Feature: Intelligent Agents, an Early Warning System

Blank white diamond shaped warning vector traffic sign mockup. Empty road sign template.Most likely, you are familiar with D2L’s basic instructional functions, such as presenting content, actively engaging students, assessing learning, communicating with students, and grading. (If you are not, consider these short video tutorials and/or schedule a D2L Tool Overview appointment with me).

In what follows, I am going to shed light on an advanced D2L class-management tool that may soon become your favorite: Intelligent Agents. Although this tool sounds like something out of a James Bond movie, it is simply meant to help you easily identify students at risk of failure in your course. Continue reading

Preparing an eLearning Feast

As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you find some inspiration in the eBook that Allen Interactions put together, titled “14 Tips for Preparing an e-Learning Feast”. In this eBook, Ethan Edwards, the chief instructional strategist at Allen Interactions, draws parallels between preparing an eLearning course and preparing a feast.

You can download this book for free at http://learn.alleninteractions.com/14-tips-for-preparing-an-elearning-feast or by clicking the image below.


In what follows, I am going to add some commentary of my own as to what factors lead to a successful eLearning course.

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Using D2L to Capture Program-Level Competency Data

My esteemed colleague, Dr. Amanada Barefield, and I have just given a presentation at the 2016 National Distance Learning Week conference (#2016NDLW) organized by the University of South Carolina at Aiken.

In this presentation, we spoke about our use of D2L to capture competency data for the Health Information Administration program with a view to its accreditation based on the newly instituted doubling of competencies.

Handout: Using Your LMS to Capture CBE Data for Your Online Program’s Accreditation

We are now in the second half of the first pilot, teaching both the old 49-competency curriculum and the new 102-competency curriculum through the amazing efforts of our core faculty — Ms. Lori Prince and Dr. Amanda Barefield — as well as a handful of other wonderful faculty members.

If you are interested in the stages of the project, please refer to our handout, where we describe the evolution of the project in terms of the ADDIE model: analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate. Also feel free to ask us questions about this endeavor at any time.

This project has been presented to several state and national audiences. We’ll continue to share information as the project unfolds.


National Distance Learning Week 2016: Nov 7 – 11, Free Conference!

ndlw-logo-no-year-or-dateBetween November 7 and November 11, we celebrate the national distance learning week, a USDLA (United States Distance Learning Association) initiative.

The National Distance Learning Week (NDLW) is an annual virtual conference centered on distance learning developments. It is also an opportunity to showcase excellence in teaching, technology, and/or research. In the spirit of advancing eLearning, all NDLW conference sessions are free of charge and there is no registration fee!

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Prayers Needed


Update: we are out of the hospital by now and Martin is slowly but surely recovering from the massive heart attack. He’s now at 40% heart function and going through cardiac rehab. We’ll know more in early December 2016. Thank you so much for your prayers!

On Wednesday, August 31st, 2016, my husband had to go to the ER (the photo attached here is from that day) and has been hospitalized since. His cardiac function is down to 25-30%. Each day his condition is getting more and more critical. I know he is in great hands at our university hospital’s CCU. Nevertheless, please pray for him to make it through this!

More details at Martin’s Got Heart.

With love and gratitude,


August is Adaptive and Authoring Software Month @ Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG)

The following message is adapted from a communication by Mr. Jeff Galant, ALG program manager:

August is Adaptive and Authoring Software Month for Affordable Learning Georgia! This free web event series:

  • is intended to support the new Textbook Transformation Grants category for interactive course-authoring tools and software
  • involves both the creation of new materials and radical transformation of existing OER.

The companies are as follows:

See full schedule of events @  http://www.affordablelearninggeorgia.org/events/adaptive_authoring

See archived and upcoming events  @  http://www.affordablelearninggeorgia.org/events/training

An Essay on Independence Day and Living Fearlessly

Source: https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3107/3686613741_3aa70644ba_z.jpg?zz=1
Source: http://bit.ly/29j7kkY

Today, as we commemorate our nation’s signing of the Declaration of Independence, claiming our independence from Great Britain (ironically – a nation about to claim its own independence from the European Union), I feel deep gratitude for the privilege of being a citizen of our great United States of America.

There are many kinds of independence but the one I’ve been contemplating lately is independence of fear. When I moved to Augusta to take my current job, a friend had sent me off with the advice to live fearlessly. I did for a while and then forgot… As I was trying to recapture what it means to not be afraid (so that I may remember it for myself and pass it on to my son and hopefully inspire those around me), I found threefold inspiration this 4th of July weekend.  As the proverb goes: ask and you shall receive! Continue reading

New appointment duration

Daylight Savings Time sketch
Daylight Savings Time sketch

Due to the high demand for meetings to work on the transition from this semester to the next, and drawing inspiration from  daylight savings, I am temporarily reducing the base duration of meetings from 1 hour to 30 minutes.

This will allow me to see more faculty clients in a day. If you feel we need more meeting time, you have the option to add 30 or even 60 minutes to our 30-minute base when you make the appointment.

I hope you will enjoy the prompter service. Let me know what you think!

Smart Textbooks – Say What?

E-book. E-reading. E-learning.
Once upon a time, textbooks consisted of printed pages bound between two hard covers. Then textbooks became digital, with rich media and interactive elements. Then publishers started adding digital assets to the digital textbooks, in the form of PowerPoint presentations, glossaries, exercises, and exams. Can there be more? Yes, a new type of smart book is emerging. One that can think for itself.

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GALILEO: High Quality Resources, No-Cost to Students

Through Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG), the University System of Georgia (USG) aims to provide affordable textbook alternatives to distance-learning students. These electronic alternatives are low cost or free (most typically in the form of open education resources), and build on GALILEO and USG library resources.

Recently, ALG shared information about how you can use GALILEO resources within your D2L course. Let’s have a look at what is available to you and how it can benefit our students.

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MOOCs: Fresh from the DLA conference

I just got back from the Distance Learning Administration (DLA) conference and let me tell you… it was fantastic. Hosted at the historic Jekyll island club hotel, this conference attracts eLearning administrators, faculty, staff (including instructional designers, technologists, and librarians) from many educational institutions around the nation. One of the topics discussed in multiple presentations was massive online open courses or MOOCs for short.

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Course-Development Plans

Fig. 1: Course Planning

As a designer and/or instructor, I am a lot more accurate and efficient whenever I use course-development plans. What do I mean by “course-development plans” you ask? In a nutshell, such a plan specifies what happens in the course, in what sequence, and for what purpose. This document is built early on (in the instructional-design stage in the ADDIE model) and acts as a guide the course production and post-production. Continue reading

What Makes a Successful Online Discussion?

Image retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/qbwdoh3

Research shows that active discussions among online learners are essential to cognitive gain as well as student satisfaction with and perceived learning from asynchronous online learning [1-10]. But how can faculty teaching online courses ensure that students do not engage in shallow participation, but actively engage with the subject matter and peers, use critical thinking, and  create new meaning? What goes beyond knowing and gets students to do something with their knowledge? In other words, what makes a discussion successful?
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