This month, we’re spotlighting our newest full-time staff member, Instructional Technologist Antonio Ortega! In the blog post below, Antonio tells us more about his work with Distance Learning.
How long have you worked here? How did you come to join the DL team / get involved in distance education?
I joined the DL team on August 1st, which would make four months this December. I was an elementary school teacher that enjoyed learning and applying educational technologies in my classroom. This came in handy when the pandemic forced schools to close and move to a remote learning format. I used my knowledge and curiosity to create various educational activities using the educational software and resources provided by our district. I also trained fellow teachers on best practices for remote learning in our transition to remote teaching.
The sudden transition to remote learning was difficult, but I enjoyed creating educational technology and media for my students. This is what led me to eventually researching and seeking out a position that would allow me to do what I enjoyed doing. I am excited to be part of the team and to add my knowledge and perspective to this role.
Describe your typical “Day in the Life.”
In the morning I have an IT stand-up meeting with the DL team. We discuss our tasks and meetings for the day and share any updates or questions we have. I have time in between to answer any teams or emails and start any tasks for the day, and then have several course development meetings scattered throughout the afternoon. I cook a quick bite for lunch and may exercise if in the mood (usually I am not).
Throughout the day I am working on any projects or tasks that may come up. From developing student guides, to creating graphics, to editing and mixing audio in creating a podcast episode for a course, the types of projects and tasks are refreshingly varied. I may contact fellow instructional technologists for advice or assistance—the team is very collaborative. I also tend to research and explore any new technology if I have time. Near the end of my workday, I finish up any remaining tasks and prepare for the next day’s meetings or tasks.
What’s something about your job that might surprise readers?
I did not know that there would be an entire video recording studio in our office. It is small but it is a space that gets the job done!
What’s your favorite resource or tool that not many people know about?
I feel like all these new resources and tools that I have access to are all exciting to me. As a teacher, I had access to very few resources and had to work with what I had—any other software and programs I did have I would pay for with my own funds. Now I feel there are so many tools. Which one do I start with?
Right now, I really enjoy learning about Perusall. I feel like it will make class discussions more interactive and engaging. I’m looking forward to seeing how it is implemented in Econ 201 with Professor Sidonia McKenzie.
What’s the most unusual job you’ve ever had? Did it give you any interesting takeaways?
I once worked on a factory loading dock for a month before the start of my undergraduate studies. I realized right away that physical labor was not my forte. I dedicated myself to my studies and was the first in my family to graduate from a university. Here is my family at the graduation ceremony.
The Distance Learning team is part of the Northwestern School of Professional Studies (SPS). To keep up with news, staff spotlights, online education insights and more, subscribe to the new DL newsletter (The DL Digest) and check out the rest of the Distance Learning blog!