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

Using Game Concepts to Create a Gamified Online Course Template

We hear the word gamification a lot, however it still remains quite a mystery to many educators. As I have mentioned in past posts, Gamification is not simply adding games to courses, but is instead the utilization of gaming concepts in courses. So where exactly do you get started when creating a gamified online course template? My last post suggested that you think of your students as heroes and use their journey to come up with materials for your course. But you can also take things one step further and use game components (instructions, story, levels) to make your gamified


Applying “The Hero’s Journey” to Course Design

As I have mentioned in some of my previous posts, Gamification is the utilization of gaming concepts and theories into courses. Ideas such as advancing levels, increasing challenges, implementing rewards and providing instant feedback can be worked into an online course for a more robust learning experience. So if you are thinking of your course as a game, where do you start? It all begins with the hero’s journey. Before I begin, I must reiterate another point: just because you are using gaming concepts does not mean your course has to be turned into an actual game. While you can


OLC Innovate Reflection

During the week of April 4th through April 8th, I was able to attend the OLC Innovate Conference, which took place in New Orleans, Louisiana. I was there to present alongside Dr. David Noffs for our presentation “Game On: The Practical Application of Game Elements in Online Graduate Courses.” Not only did we present our ideas on gamification, I also attended sessions that expanded my view of how gamification can be applied to different courses. Both focused on the narrative aspect of gamification, showing ways that story elements assist in course design. The first, “What’s Your Story? Creating Narrative in


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