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That's Awesome ID!

That's Awesome ID!

By Leslie Early
Join me as I chat with guests about one thing they think is awesome in the field of instructional design right now. It could be a tool, an app, a learning platform, a book, a blog/vlog, a learning theory, a person they admire, or anything really!

All that matters is that it's awesome!
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That's Awesome ID!

2.5 - That's How to Get the Most Out of Your LinkedIn Profile!
Global Learning Partner and host of the "The Jr. High Dropout" podcast, Elizabeth Fine joins me to talk about the importance of messaging on LinkedIn. Elizabeth share a little bit about her own story and why she is so passionate about helping educators transition into new roles. She shares ways to optimize your profile and the ways in which you might be underselling yourself.  Connect with Elizabeth on LinkedIn. Listen to the "The Jr. High Dropout" podcast here. 
January 18, 2022
2.4 - That's Voice Over Narration Tips!
Voiceover Talent and Host of the "DIY Narrrator" podcast, Josh Risser, joins me to share some tips for getting the voice over narration that you need, regardless of your skill level. Josh shares pointers for absolute beginners and for those who might know a thing or two but still want to improve. He also gives advice on how to source VO talent for your A-list projects that require a higher production value. Connect with Josh on Linkedin. Check out more VO narration tips on the "DIY Narrator" podcast. 
January 16, 2022
2.3 - That's Portfolio Tips!
Instructional designer and founder of Teaching: A Path to L&D, Sara Stevick, joins me to talk about building a portfolio. Sara shares why a portfolio is important, how to come up with ideas for portfolio samples, and what you should be demonstrating to prospective clients or employers.  Join the Linkedin group "Teaching: A Path to L&D". Connect with Sara on Linkedin. 
November 30, 2021
2.2 - That's CGI VR vs. 360 Immersive Experiences!
Senior Learning Experience Producer, Destery Hildenbrand, joins me to talk about the differences between 360 immersive experiences and what most would consider typical VR (virtual reality) experiences. We also chat about some use cases for both types of learning experience, as well as where the technology might be going in the corporate workspace in the near-ish future. Learn more about CGI VR for learning at Connect with Destery on Linkedin. 
November 16, 2021
2.1 - That's Needs Analysis!
Instructional designer and podcast host, Amy Petricek, joins me to talk about needs analysis. Amy shares what the term means to her, how she and her team use it in their work, and the consequences of what can happen if this stage is skipped over in the design process.  Listen to the "Share Whatcha Learned" podcast at  Connect with Amy on Linkedin. 
November 02, 2021
That's a Wrap on Season 1!
That's Awesome ID! will be taking a break this summer. Therefore, to wrap up this season, I put together one more blooper real of some laughs from various episodes over the course of this past year. I've had so much fun talking with all of my awesome guests about all of their awesome ideas. Thank to everyone who has helped make this such a fun and rewarding process. Stay awesome! Connect with me on Linkedin. 
May 12, 2021
That's How to Apply Digital Marketing Best Practices to ID!
Director of Development and Innovation at RedSaberes, Emily Justin-Szopinski, joins me to talk about the overlap between digital marketing best practices and instructional design best practices. She also shares a little bit about user retention models that have been most successful for her company. Spoiler alert: let your learners know there is a human on the other side of the course! Connect with Emily on Linkedin.
May 04, 2021
That's Microlearning with 7taps!
Kate Udalova, founder of the micro-learning authoring tool, joins me to discuss the surprising and diverse ways in which 7taps is being used by course creators. We also take some time to answer crowd-sourced questions about microlearning from members of the Linkedin community.  Special thanks to everyone who submitted questions: Bhavani Nadakumar, Priyanka Wheatley, Chris Karel, Richard Mendoza, Diana Salazar. Try out 7taps at  Connect with Kate on Linkedin. 
April 27, 2021
That's How to Navigate the Gray Spaces of a Liminal Career!
Training Manager Stacy Salinas joins me to talk about the ways in which instructional designers must navigate a lot of gray spaces to carve out a career path. Inspired by the article "61 Ways to Know You Are Talking to An Instructional Designer", Stacy talks about the ways in which careers in L&D often involve a lot of liminal spaces. We are always navigating the spaces between projects, clients, technologies. We also discuss how instructional design is a growing field and how we are uniquely suited to address future learning needs; needs for jobs that haven't even been invented yet!  Connect with Stacy on Linkedin.   
April 20, 2021
That's Myths About Gamification!
Play and game consultant, Alyea Sandovar, PhD, joins me to talk about some myths around gamification. Alyea has done a lot of research around play and games, and provides consultation on gamification through her company tint hue. Throughout her career she has come across many misunderstanding about gamification, and she shares some of those insights with me. She also discusses the Playful Creative Summit, which is a virtual conference on the importance of playfulness and creativity to many different facets of our lives.  Learn more about the Playful Creative Summit here. Check out Alyea's company at Connect with Alyea on Linkedin or Twitter. 
April 13, 2021
That's Stealth Assessment for Immersive Environments!
Learning Experience Designer Kristin Torrence joins me to discuss stealth assessment, particularly within immersive environments. Kristin has designed learning solutions ranging from educational games, mobile applications, e-learning, Instructor-Led Training (ILT), and virtual reality (VR).  In this episode we talk about what stealth assessment is, the history of its development by Valerie Shute, and why it is the optimal form of assessment for learning within immersive environments. We also talk about the importance of the state of flow for immersion, the future of adaptive learning, and some of the drawbacks of stealth assessment...mainly, it's a lot of work! Connect with Kristin on Linkedin or Twitter.
April 06, 2021
That's How to Successfully Onboard New Clients!
Project Manager Mark Cunningham joins me to share his thoughts on how to go about onboarding new clients to a project in a way that ensures a successful outcome and builds strong working relationships. Mark discusses some of his own process, which involves using empathy to understand your client's needs, and asking the right questions to get a better sense of what success looks like for your client. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn. 
March 30, 2021
Andrea McEneaney and Parker Grant join me to talk about breaking into freelance instructional design. Andrea and Parker are the co-head honchos at, an awesome website dedicated to providing guidance to anyone looking to embark on a freelance ID career. They share some of the motivation for starting IDLance, which is that basically there really isn't another good place to find practical information all in one place. They also share the most beneficial tool a freelancer can have - mindset! You can connect with Andrea and Parker on LinkedIn. 
March 23, 2021
That's Communities of Practice!
Instructional Designer and founder of Learning Carton, Chris Karel, joins me to discuss communities of practice. We talk about what makes a community of practice and ways in which it might differ from a class or cohort. We also talk about how communities of practice might be used to describe different learning communities of the past, and think about how social media applications might enable the communities of practice of the future.  You can connect with Chris on Linkedin.
March 16, 2021
That's Interactive PDF's!
Senior instructional designer Mike Peacock returns to the show to talk about interactive PDF's. Mike shares what motivated him to want to get more out of the training manuals he was creating for his company, not just for his own satisfaction, but also because he knew he could better support his trainers. He gives recommendations types of interactive elements can be added, as well as tools you can use to create the documents. Mike loves his interactive PDF's so much he just got done presenting them at the ATD TechKnowledge Conference.  You can connect with Mike on LinkedIn. 
March 09, 2021
That's How to Manage a Layoff!
Instructional designer Brenda Peterson joins me to discuss how to respond to a layoff. She shares what that process typically looks like and walks through the emotions and considerations that come along with it. She also gives some pointers on how to prepare yourself for what most hope will never come, including building your network, growing your skill set and knowing how to ask for help. Connect with Brenda on LinkedIn, check out her blog at, or find her at Condition Orange Preparedness.
March 02, 2021
That's 5 Awesome ID Resume Tips!
Instructional designer and career strategist, Laura Hoyer, joins me to share her top 5 tips for writing an awesome instructional design resume. We talk about summary statements, keeping things measurable, and finding ways to keep your contact info simple and easy to find. If you'd like to get more career tips connect with Laura on LinkedIn or find her at The Right Fit Career Coaching. 
February 23, 2021
That's Instructional Story Design!
Story designer, author, and speaker, Rance Greene joins me to talk about instructional story design. Whether you are brand new to story design, or whether you've been doing it a while, Rance shares his tips for using stories to engage learners. He also shares reasons why stories are so engaging, and answers the question, in what learning situation would story design not be a good option?  Rance is launching the Instructional Story Design Roundtable where people can meet and discuss their questions and experiences with instructional story design. You can find out more at 
February 15, 2021
That's Gamification: Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics!
Moe Ash joins me for the second part of our two-part series on gamification. In this episode we dive a little deeper in MDA, which stands for Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics. MDA is a formal way of thinking about game design, development, and criticism, and offers more depth and breadth to the gamification conversation, expanding it beyond the mechanics of points, badges, and leaderboards (PBL). Check out Moe's ebook on gamification in a nutshell here. Connect with Moe on LinkedIn. You can also catch him at Gamicon21V this year, where he will be presenting his gamified learning experience "The Oracle".
February 09, 2021
That's Gamification: What It Is and Isn't!
Learning architect and gamification enthusiast Moe Ash joins me for a special two-part series on gamification. In this first episode we discuss what gamification is and isn't, and how it differs from game-based learning, game-based pedagogy, and serious games. Connect with Moe on LinkedIn. You can also catch him at Gamicon21V this year, where he will be presenting his gamified learning experience "The Oracle".
February 02, 2021
That's Higher Ed ID: Expectations Vs. Reality!
Instructional designer Alex Mitts joins me to discuss his transition from a position in educational technology to higher ed instructional design. He talks about his expectations for a what an instructional design role might be and those differ from the role he currently has. He also talks about his strategies in preparing for his transition, including brushing up on tools Like Storyline, and expanding his network. Alex also shares his thoughts on whether he thinks it's easier or more challenging for educators to transition into corporate or higher ed ID.  Connect with Alex on LinkedIn, Twitter, or check out his website at
January 26, 2021
That's The Next Step: Life After Teaching!
Instructional designer and founder of The Next Step: Life After Teaching, Sara Stevick, joins me to talk about her passion to help educators transition out of classroom and into the world of instructional design. Sara shares a little about her own journey and her motivations for wanting to provide resources and advice to current and former teachers.  Follow Sara on LinkedIn, join the TNSLAT LinkedIn group, or visit
January 20, 2021
That's 5 Augmented Reality Project Ideas!
Betty Dannewitz of the "If You Ask Betty" podcast joins me to talk about what she knows best -- augmented reality. In this episode Betty talks about her journey into becoming one of the leaders in using AR tech in the field of instructional design. She gives some awesome ideas for AR projects that you can make right now using Zappar, and how to pitch the tech to your boss or your client. She also gives a special shoutout to her student Anuradha (Ann) Gopa for her creative AR Employee Rewards Card. You can connect with Betty on LinkedIn or at 
January 11, 2021
That's Realistic Gamification!
Instructional designer and CEO of Anchored Training, Vanessa Alzate, joins me to chat about ways to realistically incorporate or pitch gamification in your ID projects. Vanessa is no stranger to keeping things real. In fact, it's one of the core values of her freelance instructional design business. Vanessa's advice for keeping gamification realistic is to start small. Another big tip is to consider your audience. For instance, not everyone responds well to a leaderboard, but sales people might love it!  You can connect with Vanessa on LinkedIn, find her on Youtube, or listen to her Anchored in Learning podcast. 
January 06, 2021
That's Our Best Advice on Starting a Podcast!
Fellow instructional designer and podcaster, Heidi Kirby, joins me to share some pointers on how and why to start an instructional design or L&D podcast. Heidi is the Instructional Design Manager at Verasana, and runs The BLOC (Building Learning and Organizational Culture) Podcast. We talk about reasons why we both started our respective podcasts and discuss the many lessons we've learned along the way, such as the importance of having a plan and establishing a posting schedule that you stick to.  You can connect with Heidi on LinkedIn, or listen to The BLOC (Building Learning and Organizational Culture) Podcast here. 
December 23, 2020
That's Sales Enablement!
Instructional designer Jennette Skaggs joins me to give a brief overview of her role as a sales enablement specialist at Progress. If you are anything like me, you may never have heard of this role before, but once you know what it is, you will see sales enablement job postings everywhere. Jennette shares a little bit about her day to day, and the ways in which sales enablement crosses over with a traditional L&D role.  You can connect with Jennette on LinkedIn. 
December 16, 2020
That's Become ID!
The Chief of Awesomeness Alexander Salas joins me to talk about his new program, Become ID, a budget friendly program which aims to provide guidance and assistance to folks who are trying to transition into instructional design.  Alex shares a little bit about the conception of the program, what it entails, and how it differs from other courses that are offered through  He also takes some time to talk about his own journey in the field of instructional design and why sharing his knowledge is such a passion.  You can learn more about the Become ID program at 
December 09, 2020
That's the Ever-Evolving World of Learning Tech!
Instructional designer turned customer success consultant, Erin Peterschick, joins me to talk about the constantly changing and evolving world of learning tech. Erin discusses what's been most surprising about her new role at Totara, the company behind the award-winning learning experience platform. We also talk about the challenges of implementing increasingly newer and more complex applications in the workplace, as well as the fallout of our society's churn and burn culture. Erin shares how she has personally had to become more agile with new technology this year as she took her in-person, local learning conference "Learnapalooza" fully online within six weeks! Erin and her partner at Skillsleap will share more about how they made that transition possible at the upcoming Tech Fest.  You can connect with Erin at or through LinkedIn. 
December 02, 2020
That's an Intro to Higher Ed ID!
Instructional designer and program manager Dr. Luke Hobson joins me to chat about what instructional design looks like in the higher education setting. He gives a brief overview of the day-to-day of what a higher ed ID does, and lists some pros and cons about higher ed versus a corporate ID position. He also gives some advice to any people looking to transition into higher ed from a K-12 background, and emphasizes the need to have a firm grasp on both tools and processes.  You can find out more about Dr. Luke Hobson, his podcast, and his Instructional Design Institute at
November 25, 2020
That's the Flipped Episode!
In this special episode, I hand over the reigns to newcomer Amy Petricek, and let her interview me about my journey from the world of education to instructional design. Amy is a naturally inquisitive person, so I knew she'd make an excellent guest host! We talk about how we first met, how I first got interested in instructional design, the importance of sharing your learning journey, and the secret to success in my career search. SPOILER ALERT: it was people!  You can connect with Amy on LinkedIn, or take a look at her portfolio at
November 18, 2020
That's How to Engage Adult Learners!
Learning experience designer Cheryl Oberlin joins me to discuss the unique challenges that face adult learners in the corporate setting. We discuss why some adult learners may be reluctant to even engage in continued learning once they are out of the academic setting, and some ways to engage unmotivated learners.  Connect with Cheryl on LinkedIn. 
November 11, 2020
That's the Awesome ID Blooper Reel!
I wanted to take a moment to pause and reflect on what an awesome journey this has been so far. Thank you to all my guests, listeners, subscribers, and cheerleaders. I didn't know if I'd continue past a few episodes, but you have all inspired me to keep going. As a thank you I've put together a blooper reel of silly moments from the first nine episodes. Enjoy! If you have enjoyed the show so far, please consider heading over to iTunes to leave a rating and review. It will help get the word out.  Here's to the next ten episodes!
October 28, 2020
That's Cognitive Load Theory!
Learning experience designer Chris Syracuse joins me to discuss Cognitive Load Theory. Coming from a technical communications and visual design background, Chris is particularly interested in how the theory of cognitive load might inform better learning design decisions. We talk about schemas, the power of seven plus-or-minus two, and why too much interactivity might actually be putting learners into the extraneous cognitive load zone. Chris also mentions a few things you should avoid using in your own visual design. SPOILER ALERT: drop shadows and gradients are on the list!  You can connect with Chris on LinkedIn.  You can also check out his portfolio at
October 21, 2020
That's Augmented Reality with Zappar!
Instructional designer Mike Peacock joins me to discuss the ways his company has used augmented reality as both a marketing and training tool. We geek out about audio production, Zappar's new AR headset, the ZapBox, and the challenge of learning development applications like Unity. Mike also shares his personal philosophy to "focus on the art of possibility" and how that applies to trying out new things, including new technologies.  You can connect with Mike on LinkedIn. 
October 14, 2020
That's An Awesome Career Transition!
The multi-talented Cheryl Cooper joins me to talk about her transition from a career in chemical engineering to learning and development. She shares the many lessons she learned over the course of her transition and offers advice to others who may be interested in a career as an instructional designer or eLearning developer. We also chat about how generous and awesome the L&D/ID community is on LinkedIn and the value of helping out those who may be coming up after you by sharing knowledge and resources as you go.  You can connect with Cheryl on LinkedIn or check out her portfolio at
October 07, 2020
That's The eLearning Designer's Handbook!
Instructional designer and author Tim Slade joins me to talk about the new release of his book "The eLearning Designer's Handbook". He graciously allows me to fangirl over the layout, design, and content of this book because I think it's just so neat. He also explains the inspiration for the book and gives advice on how to make eLearning that feels more like a learning event than a training. Finally, he shares his last minute idea to create companion notebooks to go along with the handbook so that eLearning designers can stay organized during their design process.  You can find "The eLearning Designer's Handbook" as well as the companion notebooks on You can connect with Tim at or on LinkedIn. 
September 30, 2020
That's Designerly Thinking!
Instructional designer Elisabeth Huber discusses the concept of designerly thinking as a key trait that instructional designers should possess. I had never heard the term before, so naturally I was intrigued. She talks how she came across the term in her graduate studies and fell down the research rabbit hole to learn more. We also chat a little bit about our respective instructional design grad school experiences so far and ask the important question, "Where are all the e-Learning examples in instructional design programs?" Connect with Elisabeth on LinkedIn or visit her portfolio at References: Boling, E., & Gray, C. M. (2015). Designerly tools, sketching, and instructional designers and the guarantors of design. In The design of learning experience (pp. 109-126). Springer, Cham. Lachheb, A., Boling, E. Design tools in practice: instructional designers report which tools they use and why. J Comput High Educ 30, 34–54 (2018). 
September 23, 2020
That's the Association for Talent Development (ATD)!
Senior instructional designer Samuel Apata joins me to talk about the Association for Talent Development, a.k.a ATD,  a talent development organization that offers courses, trainings, seminars and more to L&D professionals. Not only is Samuel a member, he is also the Vice President of Marketing of the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter. We talk about the benefits of joining an organization like ATD, and the benefits of continuous development in general, whether that be by attending learning conferences or by participating in the eLearning Heroes Challenges.  You can find examples of Samuel's work at, or connect with him on LinkedIn.  To find out more about The Association for Talent Development, visit 
September 14, 2020
Instructional designer Veronica Celina Dominguez joins me to discuss the genius simplicity of, a website that contains endless project ideas for instructional designers. She walks listeners through how to use the site as a jumping off point for creating professional portfolio pieces, or as a way for people who are curious about ID to get their feet wet. We also discuss different thought leaders in instructional design, including Cara North, Alexander Salas, and Nyla Spooner.  Check out for yourself and get some new ideas for your own portfolio.  You can connect with Veronica on LinkedIn.
September 07, 2020
That's the SOFLA Framework!
Instructional Media Designer and former TESOL instructor Sharon Tjaden-Glass joins me to discuss the SOFLA framework for virtual flipped learning. SOFLA (Synchronous Online Flipped Learning Approach) is an 8-step framework that guide instructors in the creation of virtual  learning experiences that replicate some of the benefits of the flipped classroom model and was developed by Helaine W. Marshall and Ilka Kostka, PhD.  You can learn more about the SOFLA framework here. You can connect with Sharon on LinkedIn.
August 31, 2020
Ed tech coach and instructional designer Erica Zimmer joins me to talk about eLearning Launch, an online instructional design academy started by Alexander Salas. We talk about Alex's supreme hustle skills, his teaching style, and the ways in which his courses differ from other self-paced courses out there.  Check out eLearning Launch at You can also follow eLearning Launch on LinkedIn. Find Erica's podcast The Learning Journal - From Teach to LXD wherever you listen to podcasts and connect with her on LinkedIn. 
August 24, 2020