Insights from the Field: The Inspiration Behind the Solution


Jennifer Rafferty, Director of the Institute, Online Learning Consortium

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Insights from the Field: The Inspiration behind the Solution

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is reaching out to our global community of thought leaders, faculty, innovators and practitioners to bring you insights from the field of online, blended and digital learning.  This week, Jonathan Huer, instructor for the OLC Institute workshop Introduction to Mobile Apps and Tablets, joins us to discuss why innovation is hard to define, why we should pay attention to the inspiration behind a solution, and other topics.

OLC: There are many opportunities to teach online. Why did you choose OLC and which Institute course(s) do you teach for OLC?
I teach Introduction to Mobile Apps and Tablets for OLC. I enjoy teaching for OLC because the learners I interact with have extraordinary diversity in discipline, location, and challenges. In the same workshop, I can have someone from rural Alaska who has very different connectivity issues to overcome than someone in a densely populated city. I enjoy teaching the decision-making frameworks to help everyone overcome his or her unique challenges because there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. I enjoy learning about the various challenges each learner faces and facilitating the sharing of solutions.

OLC: What are the 3 most important things prospective participants should know about the course you teach?
At the conclusion of the Introduction to Mobile Apps and Tablets workshop, participants will:

  1. Have a framework for integrating mobile apps and tablets that you can be applied to any course, whether a current or future course.
  2. Understand the planning and implementation phases integrating apps and tablets into a course. The course doesn’t provide you with a concrete list of “the best apps.” The mobile app world changes too quickly and there are too many new apps out there every day.
  3. Learn the framework and essential understanding to sort through what apps are out there and pick which are best for your learning objectives, your learners, and your learning environment.

OLC: How do you define innovation?
Innovation is tough to define. I think that many examples of innovation go unnoticed and that sometimes, the best innovation occurs when eliminating or simplifying things, not making something new. I often hear the questions: is it different? Or is it better? I think these questions are important because not all innovation turns out to be good in the long run.

OLC: What are the top 3 ways in which professionals in our field can stay current and move ahead?
I think it is a really challenging time to both stay current and move ahead. I recommend the following three ways:

  1. Create a safe place for yourself to fail.
  2. Be able to laugh at yourself.
  3. Recognize that someone put effort into something for a reason. For example, many times, people are very negative about some new software update or new piece of software. I think it is important to ask, “Why did someone put the effort into building this?” Many times, I find that the inspiration may be a better indicator of where things are going than the actual solution.

OLC: What was the last book, journal or article you read that relates to the field?
I read Educause Review every month. I think they do a great job of being optimistic, inspirational, and realistic simultaneously.

OLC: Jonathan, how can our community connect with you?
My website:


About Jonathan Huer

Jonathan Huer

Jonathan is an educator who believes in sharing knowledge so student graduate digitally literate, entrepreneurially savvy, and prepared to tackle the challenges of the current employment landscape. Jonathan has been at Ball State University for the past eight years first as Director of the Digital Corps and currently as Director of Emerging Technologies and Media Development. At Ball State, Jonathan is a strong advocate of collaboration as emerging technology blurs many traditional academic boundaries and the reduced barriers to content distribution create new opportunities for faculty, staff, students, and professional partners.

His work includes creating an interdisciplinary digital media training program with new classes and curricula, creating the first Ball State iPhone app, creating the Emerging Media Living Learning Community, and even leading a student team as part of an immersive learning project to transition the Indiana State Legislature to an electronic paperless process. His staff and student employees have created numerous award-winning media artifacts ranging from apps to videos for both on and off campus clients. One app was even purchased for commercialization by an Indianapolis based company.

Jonathan is a prolific presenter on the rapidly evolving media and technology landscape ranging. He is a frequent contributor to news stories, a member of the State of Indiana Film and Media Task Force and, he is an award winning filmmaker, app developer, and educator. His honors include being named an Apple Distinguished Educator, Adobe Education Leader, Campus Technology Innovator, and “Tech Educator of the Year” for Indiana.

He earned his BA in design from UCLA and his MFA in motion picture producing from USC. He is currently completing his EdD at Lamar University in Education Leadership. His first book, Be Employed When You Graduate, is available in paperback, Kindle, iBooks, and from booksellers everywhere.


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