Jacob Guerra-Martinez

Learning Designer

Before moving to Chicago from a small town in Texas (right at the southern tip), I worked as an Instructional Designer for almost eight years at a local community college. That role allowed me to collaborate with faculty members in the development of online courses for various programs, thus expanding the educational opportunities to students of all types throughout the region. I am excited to be here as a Learning Designer for Northwestern University, where I hope to assist in creating more opportunities for people who wish to begin or continue their education.

Prior to the journey that is online learning, I was a Special Education Teacher for five years, where I taught high-school students with learning disabilities in the subjects of Math and English. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Radio-Television-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, and then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Computer Education and Cognitive Systems from the University of North Texas. That program is where I got my first taste of distance learning, and from then on I was hooked.

One of my passions outside of education is writing, which is why I decided to complete an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Texas Pan-American (now the University of Texas – RGV). My focus was on screenwriting/playwriting, and one day I hope to finally build up the courage to have one produced. I also love to blog, especially when it comes to television shows. In fact, you can often find me relaxing on the couch watching everything from Dancing with the Stars to Orphan Black, with a little Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (or Agent Carter) thrown in.

Posts by: Jacob Guerra-Martinez

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


GamiCon Reflection- My Top Three Takeaways

This past weekend I had the pleasure to attend the first ever GamiCon conference, which was a co-located event hosted here in Chicago by Sententia Games and Training Magazine’s Online Conference. This conference was specifically for those who design and deliver Gamification for a variety of audiences, including corporate and academic programs. Along with the sessions, I, and fellow Learning Designer David Noffs, had the opportunity to showcase an exciting project we developed at SPS-Distance Learning called Discussion Hero for GamiCon’s Gamification Throwdown. It was a lot of fun, and we’ll share more about Discussion Hero in later posts. But


Knowing Your Users: A Important Piece of the Gamification Puzzle

As educators, we know that not everyone learns the same. That is why different learning theories and styles exist. These theories allow faculty to adapt their courses to fit the various styles of their students in order to give them the best and most beneficial experience possible. The same can also be applied to game players, or users. I’ll explain in a bit why we will use the term “Users” instead of “Players”. If you are thinking about gamifying your course, it is important that you get to know the different types of users exist, since each one expects to


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