Meet Your DEU Instructional Designers

JR Dingwall, M.Ed.


Looking for a high-level overview of my education and experience? My LinkedIn profile is for you.

I have a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) from the University of Saskatchewan and began my career as many young graduates do, as a substitute teacher. I had the privilege of working in many communities, mostly teaching math, industrial arts, and science. When it came time to have a classroom of my own, I primarily taught industrial arts and media production. Through my time in public schools, I regularly found myself in the position of learning technologies consultant for both students and colleagues. This led me to pursue a graduate degree (M.Ed) focusing on Educational Technology and Design.

As a lifelong learner I seek out opportunities to learn new skills wherever I can. From participating in online communities, enrolling in MOOCs, volunteering with the Canadian Association of Instructional Designers (ACCP-CAID), acquiring a certificate in User Experience Design (OCADu), and even traveling to Finland to learn about teacher education abroad (Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki). Outside of higher education contexts, I direct my passion for learning towards judo and karate.

Since completing the M.Ed program in the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan, I have had the opportunity to serve in a wide range of roles in a variety of contexts and organizations that fall into two main categories: instructional design, and educational development.


Whether I am teaching, consulting, learning something myself, or working as an ID, my approach is rooted in the foundational principles and ideas of instructional design. I enjoy collaborating with subject matter experts to plan, implement, and evaluate instruction. Whether designing larger projects (e.g., courses and books), or small targeted instruction (e.g., job aids, videos, and interactive learning objects) I begin with investigating the problem, and determine whether and how instruction can be of use. I have applied this process in face-to-face and blended learning environments, but my real passion, and most of my experience, resides within online learning. Whether it is self-paced, cohort-based, synchronous, or asynchronous, I find online learning contexts the most interesting for creating instruction.


Are you working on a teaching and learning project? Just a few examples of how collaborating with me can help you to achieve your goals include:

  • Online course development – whether you are developing an entire course or adjusting a particular element, I can help you to work through the tasks, process, and technology needed.
  • Open textbooks – drawing on my experience as an author and designer of a widely distributed open textbook, I can help you to plan and publish your open textbook including designing interactives and assist with using USask’s OpenPress publishing platform.
  • Interactive content – opportunities to practice and receive timely, specific, and actionable feedback is critical for learning. From simple activities, to scenario-based learning, I can help you through the process and with the technology needed to create interactive learning activities.
  • Reviews and recommendations – if you have an online course or activity and feel it could be improved but don’t quite know where to start, I can provide an initial review and recommendations. From there we can create something that achieves your goals

    Kristine Dreaver-Charles, M.Sc.

A Bit About Kristine Dreaver-Charles

I am a member of the Mistawasis Nēhiyawak, so I live and work in my treaty territory. I grew up in Prince Albert and my connection to the University of Saskatchewan first began with earning my B.Ed. degree here. I spent the early part of my career teaching in northern Saskatchewan and later teaching online. I have a M.Sc. in education in instructional media from Wilkes University. For almost 8 years, I have been working at the University of Saskatchewan as an instructional designer. I am currently a PhD candidate in the College of Education at USask, focusing on decolonization in distance education.

My Instructional Design Practice

During my time as an instructional designer at USask, I have come to realize the enormity of knowledge within our campus community. I enjoy the opportunity to build relationships with faculty and learn more about their disciplines as we work together to design their courses. Working with an instructional designer is a very collaborative process and it is always good to reconnect with faculty after we have finished designing a course. As a first-generation graduate student, I am fortunate to work where I study. I have benefited from meeting and spending time with faculty who will often check on my progress, offering their experience and support.

What are the essentials of good design

Honestly, less is more, and consistency is key. Here are a few ideas to consider

  • A course needs to meet the needs of the professor and the students.
  • Having basic pieces in an online course like a home page can sound insignificant but it establishes an online space that is the home for your course.
  • The nomenclature you use in a course needs to be consistent throughout. Keeping a quick list of the standards you’ve established, and formatting details can be a good reminder to refer to throughout the term.
  • Keep students in mind when designing courses. For example, using the available university supported technologies alleviates the potential need for students to have to effectively use many different web conferencing systems in one semester for their online classes.

Jordan Epp, M.Ed.

A Short Bio

I came to Instructional Design from an atypical path. My BFA is in Film & Video Production with a Minor in Film Studies from URegina (2000) and I completed additional media training at the Australian Film Television and Radio School while living down under between 2003-2005. I worked as a documentary filmmaker through grant funding for 5 years before starting work with Media Production at USask in 2005. I completed my M.Ed in Educational Communications and Technology in 2009 from USask and at the same time started working for the Distance Education Unit (DEU) as an ID. I’ve taught as a sessional instructor for both the College of Education and the College of Arts & Science over the years both online and face-to-face. Outside of work my family and I spend most of our time in the woods and establishing an off-grid property in the Thickwood Hills area.

My Approach to Instructional Design

My favourite thing about working as an Instructional Designer is the variety of curriculum I get to engage with from different disciplines across campus. I appreciate opportunities to find creative ways to deliver learning materials that make online learning meaningful to students. I prefer deeply collaborative approaches to instructional design and development where a course author and I can work to find these solutions together and adapt what they do effectively in the classroom into the online environment with a variety of teaching technologies.

Coming from a media-based background I’m often looking to find the narrative within learning materials and supporting instructors to tell a story through their courses. This approach often helps not only organize the content into a “storyboard”, but helps scaffold the learning in such a way that develops a beginning, middle and end to content topics that students can relate to as they construct their understanding.

Some Cool Stuff I’ve Worked On

There have been so many great Instructional Design projects that I’ve had the privilege to work on since starting work at the University in 2005. Here’s just a few that resonate with me.

  • Early in my career with Media Production I was asked to produce and direct an 8 part documentary series on the Creative City residency program during Saskatoon’s designation as Canada’s Culture Capital in 2006.
  • Working with Dr. Marguerite Koole to establish the College of Education’s ETC Makerspace and to contribute to her research in several publications was definitely a highlight that expanded my perceptions of Instructional Design and how we, as teachers, create conditions for invention.
  • Supporting Lisa Krol in the redevelopment of ECUR 291 made me truly appreciate the power of collaborative development processes as we designed and developed interactive, student lead, online opportunities for peer interactions that ultimately lead to winning the CAUCE Program Award in 2017.

Julie Maier, M.Ed.

A Short Bio

I am a USask alumna, having earned an M.Ed. (Educational Technology & Design), as well as a B.Ed and B.Sc (Biology). In 2017, at the tail end of my graduate studies, I joined the Distance Education Unit in my current ID role. Previously, I worked in Adult Basic Education as a math and science teacher, and as a Graduate Teaching Fellow and seminar instructor in the College of Education. In my spare time I keep busy as a musician, occasional music writer, and Golden Doodle walker.

My Approach to Instructional Design

My favourite thing about working as an Instructional Designer is the relationships I get to build with faculty and instructors (or “SMEs” – subject matter experts), and collaborating with them to make their best ideas for their online courses come to life. I also really enjoy de-mystifying educational technologies and answering questions related to “what tool to use?” and “how to use it?” Overall, I really like to “grease the wheels” of a course development in whatever way necessary so that the great teachers I work with can more simply do what they do best – teach.

When working on course developments, I often consider myself as a proxy for future students. I’m looking for potential spots of student confusion or frustration in the various elements of the course – the content, learning activities, assessments, and navigational scheme – and can recommend ways to remove those issues or barriers before students ever see them. I consider this an extension of my role as a student advocate – I am always looking to empower learners with more flexible, user-friendly, interactive, and socially-engaging online learning experiences.

Some Cool Stuff I’ve Worked On

I’ve had the opportunity to work on some very interesting and unique projects in my time at DEU. A few that come to mind are:

A portrait of DEU Instructional Designer Derek Fenlon

Prior to starting my current one-year remote contract with USask, I worked in various course design roles at Queen’s University in Kingston. I started at Arts & Science Online in a role that focused on the technical processes of course production. A few years into this experience, I jumped back into pedagogy, starting my M.Ed and pivoting to instructional design. I recently completed a contract with the Smith School of Business, designing content for Commerce faculty, the Career Advancement Centre, and the Queen’s HR department. When I’m not working out of my home office, I might be found tending my teeny urban garden or rambling around downtown Kingston.

There is so much that I love about my job. I reflect a lot on my own student experiences, both good and bad, to help inform my course design processes. Assessments were a particular source of either joy or anxiety. Here are some approaches I use to make assessments more joyful and less anxiety-inducing:

  • Focusing on finer details: chunking instructions into discrete steps to make them more digestible; editing for conciseness and consistency to reduce confusion; creating evaluation tools like checklists and rubrics to make grading transparent
  • Looking at the big picture: offering authentic assessments; offering a diverse selection of assessments; offering differentiated assessments; scaffolding assessments throughout a course

Honestly, quality assessments are hard to design, and it can sometimes take several course offerings to “get it right”. If you want to chat about assessment designs, entire course designs, or what’s “Hip” in Kingston, let’s connect!