Staff Interview – Dan Comins

Instructional Designer Dan Comins

As an instructional designer, I help faculty plan effective methods for instruction, particularly when it comes to integrating technology in a classroom setting or developing an online course. Most of my time is spent working on the UC Online Instruction Pilot Project, helping faculty convert their classes to online formats. I am also available to talk with other UC Davis faculty about ideas and opportunities. I view my role as both a partner to and a “technical translator” for faculty. Faculty come to me with ideas, and I help flesh those ideas out and determine the technological logistics with which I or another member of ATS can assist.

What do you like about your job?

I love learning and am interested in a wide variety of subjects. I also think it’s fun to come up with interesting new ways to teach concepts to students, especially as more and more education moves online. Having been an online student in a graduate program, I know firsthand how isolating online education can be. I also know that online tools and communication mechanisms are improving all the time and it’s quite possible to have a collaborative and social experience with online peers. Developing methods and assignments to foster that is exciting.

What project are you working on now?

One of the more exciting projects I’ve been put in charge of is developing an eLearning Workshop/Studio for faculty to use. We’re making use of the Video Conferencing room in Olson Hall; my job is to design a way for faculty to record videos of themselves, aka “talking heads,” while going through a lesson (for example, going through a set of PowerPoint slides). This involves taking a number of pieces of recording equipment, lights, and a computer, and making it all work together so that a faculty member can use the room with minimal training. I have a strong background in video production and I like the challenge of trying to make something complex simple for people to use, so I’m looking forward to working on this project.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our faculty readers?

I like working with faculty and I like brainstorming solutions for instruction and technology. I am happy to provide any support and advice I can, so feel free to get in touch!

So, enough about work. What do you do for fun?

I enjoy reading, cycling, playing and watching basketball (go Kings!), going to the theatre, spending time outdoors, and hanging out with my friends, family, and fiancée (3 months until the big day!).

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