David Noffs

Learning Designer

I have spent most of my life designing innovative learning environments, from my early work with hi-tech mobile classrooms in Australia’s rural communities, to over ten years as an instructional technologist and designer in the Center for Innovation in Teaching Excellence at Columbia College Chicago.

I joined the Distance Learning team at Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies as a Learning Designer in 2017. In this role, I am able to do what I love most; help educators make learning a productive, enjoyable, and transformative experience.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Music from Roosevelt University and a Master’s Degree in Public Heath from Benedictine University. My doctoral dissertation in Adult and Continuing Education from National Louis University is titled “Resonating Frequencies of a Virtual Learning Community: An Ethnographic Case Study of Online Faculty Development at Columbia College Chicago.”

Posts by: David Noffs

Up Up and Away: How Superheroes Can Save Online Discussions

Back to Krypton… In the late summer of 2017, Jacob Guerra-Martinez a Learning Designer and game-design researcher in Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies, pitched an audacious plan to a part-time faculty member in the School of Professional Studies. He wanted to gamify a discussion board so that graduate students could choose between being heroes or villains while debating and supporting opposing views. His mission was to save students from mundane discussions, and he called this idea Discussion Hero. The previous year, I had developed a course on Learning Environment Design for graduate students in the field of Information, Design


NUDL Workshop Reflections

This summer, AccessibleNU hosted their second UDL Workshop series. A cohort of faculty and academic staff, including Learning Designer and IDS instructor David Noffs and Senior Content Specialist Christine Scherer, learned about universal design for learning and best practices to design and teach courses that are welcoming and accessible for all students. The workshop series was packed with information and resources. Here are five of our top takeaways, plus tips on how to start incorporating UDL into your class! Takeaway #: For some, learning is not as easy as it looks. One of the biggest challenges faced by disabled and


What Should I Do With My Slides Now That I’m Teaching Online?

Introduction If you’ve taught face-to-face before, there’s a good chance you’ve developed slides to help give lectures in your classroom. You may even have structured your course around them: ten slide decks for ten weeks of class. There’s no shame there–keynote speakers and conference presenters use slides as an important part of their practice, and when properly designed they can make for engaging in-person presentations. Now you’re designing an online or hybrid class, and you’ve got your slides in hand. These worked great in my face-to-face class, you’re thinking. I’ll just put them online for students to read. But wait!


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