Creative Solutions
Creative Solutions


  • all
  • Articulate
  • Education
  • Educational Technology
  • eLearning
  • Graphic Design
  • Instructional Design
  • Personal
  • School Board
  • Storyline
My CPLP Story
In late 2017, as I began reflecting on past achiev...

In late 2017, as I began reflecting on past achievements and planning out my path for the future, I knew that I was looking for a professional growth opportunity. Through my social network, I learned about the Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (CPLP) credential through the ATD Certification Institute.

I was seeking not only to prove my worth and be confident in my knowledge/experience as an Instructional Designer, but I also
wanted something more comprehensive and linked to business and performance improvement to satisfy my professional needs and enrich my career.

The Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) is broad based and measures a talent development professionals’ competency in 10 areas of expertise (AOEs) with a focus on global mindset as defined by the latest ATD Competency Model.

My journey toward certification was approximately one year, although admittedly I wasn't studying continuously throughout the year. I passed the Knowledge Exam in June 2018 and the Skills Application Exam (Instructional Design) in November 2018. I'm fortunate to have passed both exams on my first attempt. And, while this may imply that I have some secret recipe for success, I assure you - I do not! I think it all boils down to knowing yourself as a student. Do you need a comprehensive study plan? Do you need to pace yourself slowly, or do you perform well when you essentially "cram" for a test? Would studying with a group be helpful, or do you prefer to study on your own?

I utilized the CPLP Learning System as well as a few other resources shared by other candidates in the CPLP Candidate Prep group on LinkedIn. There is an extensive amount of material to cover, so pacing is important. It was beneficial for me to allow a week prior to examination to go back through the learning system to answer all of the quiz questions at the end of each chapter. Additionally, I used that time to take the practice test a couple times. I found this valuable for assessing and identifying any areas of focus.

One of my favorite podcasts is "Why Not Now" with Amy Jo Martin, where the premise is "you know that thing you've been thinking about doing? ...why not now?" If you've been thinking about pursuing the CPLP credential from ATD, then ask yourself, "why not now?" (and if you need a few reasons to do that in 2019, read this!)

Creating Experiences with Ceros
Having just recently been introduced to a new desi...

Having just recently been introduced to a new design tool, Ceros, I've been eager to design my first "experience". One of my favorite playgrounds, to try out some new design ideas is the Articulate E-Learning Challenges. While I don't always have the time to participate weekly, the challenges are always open, so you can pick one that inspires you, and start designing.

For the latest challenge, it's all about using the 2019 Pantone Color of the Year, Living Coral.

This being my first design experience, I opted to start with a template to familiarize myself with the Ceros Studio content creation interface.

It's actually quite intuitive, especially if you are already comfortable in the Adobe suite. Let me know what you think of my first project...

Comic Book Theme E-Learning Template
This week's challenge is to share a comic book sty...
This week's challenge is to share a comic book style course starter template that contains at least six slides. I've shared the menu of this course in a previous post, so I decided to strip the content and turn it into a course starter template. Here's a link to the live demo.  The source file is attached in the comments section.
Using Subtle Animations and Transitions
For the Using Subtle Animations and Transitions i...
For the Using Subtle Animations and Transitions in Your E-Learning Courses #201 challenge, I just had to try the morph transition that Mike Taylor shared in this post! I thought it'd work great for timeline/roadmap content.

Delightful Drag-and-Drop Interactions
Evolving my timeline from an animated transition t...
Evolving my timeline from an animated transition to a drag and drop for this challenge. Give it a try. (Source file attached in the Review site comments).

Using Progress Meters in E-Learning
I got this GUI some time ago and wanted to try it ...
I got this GUI some time ago and wanted to try it out, so let's see what you think about this demo for the Using Progress Meters in E-Learning #60 challenge. It's just a quick build, so you know there could be refinement for hover states, sounds, etc. The "progress meter" would be the progress screen if you click on the STAR icon on the start page. I wanted the state of Level One to change from Incomplete to Normal when Level One is complete, so I used a variable, going from False to True. However, it won't change to normal. I'll keep working to figure it out, but you can get the idea here anyway.

Creating Labeled Graphic Interactions for E-Learning
This week, the e-learning challenge is to design a...
This week, the e-learning challenge is to design a labeled graphic interaction for e-learning.  I typically do this in Storyline using the built in markers or by creating custom markers and/or hotspots.  I'm pretty familiar with utilization the many options of creating interactions in Storyline, so I thought it best to use this opportunity to familiarize myself with this content type in Articulate Rise. Additionally, the challenge landed in my inbox on National Cookie Day, so I used that as my inspiration for my submission.  Click on the image below to view/experience the live interaction.

Custom Feedback and Results Slides
My latest entry for the Articulate community's E-L...
My latest entry for the Articulate community's E-Learning Challenges was inspired by our World Series champions, the Houston Astros! I live in a suburb just northeast of Houston, so it probably goes without saying that we are Astros fans.  So, of course, I had to incorporate them into a challenge submission at some point. Admittedly, this design is not too out-of-the box; however, it did require a bit of customization, particularly on the results slide.   I wanted it to closely resemble a baseball card, since that provides the stats on the player, and the results slide displays the user's quiz results.  I'd need to spend a little more time programming the table on the back of the card, so that it aligns with the actually quiz results.  For this challenge, I just displayed a static sample, to give the viewer the general idea.  It may be nice to also program in a way for the user to print their "trading card", if you were going to use them for some type of motivation factor in the release of the course. So, here's a look at the slides, which include the title slide, two quiz slides, two feedback slides (correct and incorrect), and a results slide. You view a live demo here.
Construction Theme E-Learning Template Design
Last week's E-Learning challenge asked course desi...
Last week's E-Learning challenge asked course designers to share course starter templates for the construction and building industry. Examples include content slides, quizzes, interactions, photo layouts, and more! You can view some of the submissions in the recap, but I'm sharing here about my submission. After looking at some of the submissions, I felt I should create something that is a little more subtle with the construction theme.  In some instances, you may want to use a design that simply has a construction "feel" to it, but doesn't need to have the industry props and bold "construction colors".  When I first considered the challenge, I thought I may want to use a "sketch" or drawings theme, which I still may explore later.  But what really stood out to me were the many materials used in construction and that's when I decided to use steel as my inspiration for my design template. Having just upgraded to Articulate 360, I wanted to explore using the features of Storyline 360 or Rise, to familiarize myself with these applications.  I started a new course in Rise first, and couldn't immediately see options for much customization, so I decided to go with Storyline 360 instead.  I have much more to learn in Rise, so I'll save that for another project and/or challenge. I gathered some assets to use (backgrounds, textures, graphics, font, etc) and started a new project.  I begin by editing the Master slide with the background and font I want to use in my layouts. Next, I determined what layouts I wanted my slides to be (one of the challenge requirements was to include at least six slides).  I chose to create slide layouts for Title, Objectives, Section Title, List Layout, Infographic, and Tabs Interaction. For these challenges, it is only necessary to use placeholder images and text, which saves a great amount of time if you are creating something new.  One great feature of Storyline 360 is the content library, which makes searching for and inserting assets (photos, characters, illustrations, etc.) quite simple.  Another time-saver is to use the random text generator.  If you are new to Storyline, or don't know this trick, it is easy to insert sample text by using the =rand(p,s) or =lorem(p,s) function, where p equals the number of paragraphs of sample text and s is the number of sentences in each paragraph of sample text.  So then the formula =rand(3,4) would generate three paragraphs of sample text with 4 sentences in each. Here is the design template I created:      

Click here to view the live presentation.

Click here to download the Storyline template.

Choose Your Own E-Learning Adventure
In the interest of removing my "Participate in eLe...
In the interest of removing my "Participate in eLearning challenges" task from my location-based alerts, I'll finally get back into the swing of these weekly challenges by sharing my submission for the "Choose Your Own E-Learning Adventure #181" challenge from last week.  (I did post a submission for ELH #182, but it was just a simple post that I provided a link to). What I'm sharing for this challenge is an excerpt from the annual compliance training I created for our organization this year.  In the past, we have had to create/update four separate courses and assign them to a learning path for each employee.  Everything was very linear and locked-down, so the user didn't have much control at all.  Additionally, we were not allowed to offer an advanced option, for those that may be familiar with the content from previous years.  This year, I was given much more flexibility in the design, which was great news, since the content didn't change much.  I wanted to make it at least LOOK new, haha! First, I was able to combine all four courses into one, and apply a theme!  Since we use resources from the eLearning Brothers library, I started my search there for an appropriate theme with lots of supporting resources.  As an avid fitness junkie, I immediately gravitated to the cross-train resources and decided we would go with the training theme.  Putting four courses into one, would require one level of branching, to allow the learner to select their "workout".  Then, it would be necessary to track completion of all workouts, so the learner would not be able to get credit for only completing one part of the training. Next, I was also given permission to allow an advanced route for three of the courses (or, workouts), so that added another level of branching.  Once the learner decides what workout to do, they would then select their "fitness level" and that would branch them to either the content, or straight to the quiz.  Here's a look at the branching for the course: The custom menu for the course was a "workout log" from which the learner selects the workout they want to complete.  I added triggers at the end of each workout scene on the results slide that would mark the workouts as completed once they return to the workout log.  After all workouts were marked as complete, a  link to the course acknowledgement appeared and the results of the course acknowledgement is what the LMS uses to mark the course as completed. Progress is saved for the learners, so they are able to complete as much as they can in one setting, and return at any time to continue.  As you can imagine, our employees were thrilled with the choices they were able to make in their learning path. Most employees that have been with the company would select the advance route and complete the training in a shorter amount of time than those that were new and selected the beginner route. One additional level of branching that I added was "hints" to some quiz questions that would lightbox a content slide. That was pretty easy to do, and helped the learner not have to start from the beginning if they just needed a hint or two to advance. We'll be continuing this way of designing and delivering our compliance training next year based on all of the positive feedback. The question for you is, what should the theme be?
Combining Text and Images in E-Learning
Last week's E-Learning Challenge #152 was combinin...
Last week's E-Learning Challenge #152 was combining text and images in eLearning. I saw a link to the recap posted on Twitter, so I spent a little time looking at the many examples to gather ideas for my own projects. One idea that I didn't see shared yet was using a gradient mask as an alternative technique to set transparency over images and provide some screen real estate for text. I recently used this technique in a deck for a safety presentation on slips, trips and falls, so I decided to submit that slide for the challenge.  Here is a snapshot of the slide: ELH 152 I did this one in PowerPoint, since that was the medium used for the safety presentation.  It's actually harder to do the gradient in PowerPoint than it is in Photoshop, so my preference is to layer the gradient mask in Ps and then bring it in to PowerPoint or Storyline as the background image.  In PowerPoint, I did a linear gradient on a rectangle layer, adding a few stops and adjusting the transparency of each: Gradient mask   It  looks decent but not nearly as smooth as in Photoshop.  Here is a great tutorial on creating image fades by Destery & Mark:   I hope you are able to utilize this technique in your projects.  Share your examples in the comments. 🙂
Life After Whole 30
What is the Whole 30? Well check it out all the de...
What is the Whole 30? Well check it out all the details for yourself at Basically, it is a nutritional reset, eliminating the most common foods that have an undesirable impact on your health (or relationship with food). After 30 days without certain food groups, you slowly reintroduce them back into your diet, one at a time, to determine how they affect your life and your long-term health. I did my first round of Whole 30 last year and it changed my life (how I feel, how I cook, meal-prep, etc.) for the better.  This year, I decided to join the #SeptemberWhole30 challenge to be a part of the group challenge and benefit from all the support from the organizers and participants. You can see what I ate during my #SeptemberWhole30 on my Instagram account. Whole30 So, what's next? How is #lifeafterwhole30? Since I've done the slow-roll reintroduction on the last round, I already have insight into which food groups negatively affect my health.  I've been thinking about what I may be missing in my diet throughout the 30 days and the only thing I've truly missed is my stevia drops!  I don't see any reason to reintroduce anything I haven't really missed.  Yet! Another tool I have to evaluate my food choices is Melissa Hartwig's newest book, Food Freedom Forever, that was just released yesterday.  I started reading it today and I can already see that it will offer great guidance for helping me stay in control of the foods I eat (and, therefore, how I feel). Thinking of doing Whole 30?  Let me know and I'll share my favorite tips and inspirations.
My First Spark Page
Somehow, I recently stumble upon Adobe Spark and ...
Somehow, I recently stumble upon Adobe Spark and decided to watch a quick tutorial before trying it out for myself.  It's quite simple, actually.  Here's my first Spark Page featuring all the grands... Spark Page
BizCom – Making Your High School the Information Hub
In Humble ISD, the district and Chamber of Commerc...
BizCom1 In Humble ISD, the district and Chamber of Commerce host BizCom meetings that attract high-influence stakeholders. Without these events, many stakeholders might never have a reason to step onto a campus. BizCom fosters favorable impressions of public schools, while serving the information and networking needs of the business community. BizCom also nurtures a small town, neighborly feel in Humble ISD although the district is fast-growth. BizCom 2This weekend, I presented at the TASA/TASB Conference along with fellow board member, Robert Sitton, and Humble ISD Public Communications Director, Jamie Mount. Together, we shared tips for implementing powerful, community-building gatherings.

School District Provides Facilities

Hold meetings at each high school to give every high school exposure. For example, we alternative between four high schools which allows us to meet just about every month but rotating locations.  Additionally, each location has a different chair that is in charge of setting the agenda, securing sponsors, etc.

Partner with another organization to lead the meetings

We partner with our local chamber of commerce, which helps attract a new, more varied crowd than if the school district leads alone. The chamber sends communication to business members and posts on social media. Involving a partner expands the school district’s audience (pastors of local churches, realtors, non-profits) and does not place a lot of new work on school district staff; for example, the chamber handles online registration and at the door. Meetings are more interesting with multiple interests in the room, which also helps generate ideas for future meetings. Attendees also get exposure to events/opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise hear about. We share a common interest: everyone wants the community to be prosperous, safe, and caring.

Keep it fast-paced for busy people

Agenda set by chair of each BizCom group, not the school district. Meetings are one hour with a complimentary box lunch if an RSVP is made. Have appropriate signage placed at the campus to direct attendees where to park and enter the building. Schools can utilize student groups (student council, ROTC, etc.) to welcome guests. Typically, there are about six presenters allotted around 7 minutes each, including questions. Therefore, it is importance to alway have a timekeeper to keep on schedule.  Example Topics
  • New construction: Insperity’s new center, new campus for private school, hospital expansion, new restaurants, new subdivisions, new movie theatre, new H-E-B
  • Transportation: Updates on impending road construction or long-term plans to improve mobility (county commissioner or rep, city councilman or rep,...)
  • Quality of Life: Parks and trails, golf tournaments, the Rodeo, town center
  • School district: Trustee Superintendent Search Process, Head coach update on football season
  • Non-profits: Pastor presentation on church-sponsored tailgating event, mental health awareness campaign
See for yourself what it's like to attend a BizCom... BizCom video
Recruiting, Inducting and Retaining the Next Generation of Educators
At this year's TASA/TASB Convention for our state ...
At this year's TASA/TASB Convention for our state school board association in Houston, I had the pleasure of presenting "Recruiting, Inducting and Retaining the Next Generation of Educators" with classmates from my 2016 Leadership TASB class. Ours was selected from several groups in our class to be presented at convention. As school board members, we are all faced with making decisions every day that are crucial to the success of the students we serve. In this session, we called participants to action on one of these critical areas and that is the future of our teaching force. While the urgent need to fill teaching positions does create a labor crisis, it also presents an opportunity to transform K-12 education in America—by recruiting our nation’s brightest students to the profession. And that's just what this presentation was about - understanding the characteristics of GenZ students and thinking differently about how we recruit, induct and retain the next generation into the education profession. Intro Slide You can view the entire presentation here or by clicking on the slide below.  The presentation was the result of our group's research throughout the year-long leadership program. Given that we had the opening day 7:30AM time slot, I was quite pleased with the crowd in attendance.  I think we are all eager to find new ways of attracting great talent into our classrooms and competing with our neighboring districts.  Ideally, we wanted to produce a resolution or legislative recommendation that we could all get behind as board members.  With over 1,200 public school districts in Texas, we could be quite influential if we all came together as one voice. TASB2016 NextGen Educators   One of the best things we can do as districts is to try and "grow our own" teachers. This article points to two driving statistics: 34 percent of new teachers nationwide are hired for their first jobs by the school districts where they attended high school, and 84 percent of teachers get their first teaching jobs within 40 miles of their hometowns! So, it’s important to develop programs within districts for aspiring teachers in high schools to learn about education, join clubs, and offer them incentives to come back to their hometowns to teach. Without enough individuals committing themselves to educating our nation's children, we are certainly staring down a crisis in the education profession.
Leadership Lake Houston
Last night was the opening reception for the Leade...
Last night was the opening reception for the Leadership Lake Houston program.  I've been selected as one of 24 community leaders for the 2016 class and I'm really excited about this opportunity to grow and develop as a leader.   The program includes eight monthly sessions learning about such topics as “Quality of a Leader,” “Business and Economic Development,” “Government,” “Justice and Public Safety,” “Education,” Healthcare” and “Social Services.” We'll meet again for our leadership retreat in September at Camp Cullen.  I'll keep you posted...    
Boom! I finished the Whole 30
After visiting a nutritionist a couple months ago ...
After visiting a nutritionist a couple months ago and analyzing my health, I decided to commit to complete the Whole 30 program.  The results of my blood composition test indicated that I had a lot of inflammation.  Having no other issues, it seemed the best thing to do was analyze what I've been eating and how that effects everything from energy and mental clarity to skin issues and digestion. Whole 30 is basically an elimination diet.  You remove all of the problem "foods" for 30 days and then slowly re-introduce them back, one at a time, to evaluate how things like dairy may effect your weight, mood, skin, energy, etc.   Luckily, my husband wanted to join me on this journey.  Even my teenager welcomed the delicious meals.  Now the hardest part of being successful is taking the time to plan and prep, but that is part of the learning process.  I realized it really doesn't take that long to prepare a delicious, healthy meal.  I learned how to read food labels and that there is added sugar in nearly everything on the grocery store shelf! We decided to "practice" for a couple weeks before we actually started Whole 30, which helped us to start analyzing everything we ate and sort of get in the mindset before committing. Now we are in the reintroduction phase and I've never felt better. If you decide to try it, make sure to build your social network to support you throughout your journey.  I found the constant inspiration, recipes, positive messages, tips for meal prepping, etc. so be invaluable.  
DIY: E-Learning Icons
Having just browsed the recap of the E-Learning He...
Having just browsed the recap of the E-Learning Heroes challenge #78, where participants are creating and sharing their own icon graphics, I just had to give it a try.  It certainly seemed easy enough.  After checking out a few of the suggested resources, I decided to create mine in Powerpoint, making it easier to share. Since our local election is coming up, I went with the political theme and here is what I came up with: ELearning Icons Political                                     You can download the template here.
Using Toys for Storytelling
This week's eLearning Heroes challenge is an oppo...
This week's eLearning Heroes challenge is an opportunity to substitute our usual eLearning graphics and characters with toys! Now that is truly mixing work with play. Believe it or not, one of my favorite toys as a child was a huge set of army men, so that's where my mind went first. I could think of a lot of courses that could use the green army men either as "props" to demonstrate something or even as a host or facilitator of the course.  I went with USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act) since we address this regulation in some of our training for supervisors. I only mocked up the title slide here, but I think you can imagine the many possibilities.  Enjoy!   USERRA Screenshot
Oddest eLearning Course Title
The latest challenge from eLearning Heroes comes i...
The latest challenge from eLearning Heroes comes in the form of a cover slide design for an odd or silly title for an eLearning course.  Head on over there to check the hilarious submissions thus far.  Here's my attempt at a little workplace humor: Cubicles
Creating a promo with PowToon
While working with a client on a product demonstra...
PowToonWhile working with a client on a product demonstration course, they mentioned sending a "coming soon" type of email to the intended audience for the training to start to generate some excitement about the new product they will be using to create their essential report. I mentioned using a brief video to accomplish the same purpose.  It will get more views than reading a lengthy email and the music and colors will make it more fun and exciting so they will anticipate the launch of the new tool. The client agreed to let me mock up a quick sample. I chose PowToon because they have quick and easy templates to start with. In less than 30 minutes, I had the full promo video ready to share.  With only a couple tweaks, the video was approved.  I continue to get emails about how well the video was received.  Some departments have even signed up for accounts of their own! 🙂 How do you use PowToon?  
Design a Comic Theme Challenge
Just minding my own business this morning, checkin...
Just minding my own business this morning, checking Twitter and saw this post by David Anderson: Comic Tweet           Well it just happens that I did a mock-up a couple weeks ago for a client when proposing a few design options for a course on HR Fundamentals. So, I published my sample and posted my submission to the E-Learning Challenge #11 so I can get feedback from others. I remember reviewing some of the submissions by others when I was thinking of the comic layout as an option for this course design. If you haven't taken a look yet at the submissions, head on over there and you'll be inspired like I was. I designed few intro slides for content on the role of a Supervisor and then I present a "menu" of scenarios that a supervisor would encounter.  I mocked up the Hiring Practices scenario for the SME to look at.  Take a look and let me know what you think (click the image to launch the demo)... Comic Title ScreenshotComic Screenshot  
An Hour of Code with Tynker
#hourofcode Yesterday, I had the privilege to join...

#hourofcodeHour of Code

Yesterday, I had the privilege to join a 5th grade class at Pine Forest Elementary during their "Hour of Code". During computer specials time with teacher Sharon Diaz, students are given an introduction to programming to demystify computer science and show that anyone can learn the basics. The Hour of Code is organized by to make computer science more accessible in schools.  

U.S. Economy and Job Growth

According to stats from, Computer Science is a top paying college degree and computer programming jobs are growing at 2x the national average!

Removing Barriers

Currently in half of the states in the country, computer science doesn't count for math and science graduation requirements, but rather as an elective. Texas does allow CS to satisfy graduation requirements for math or science, but we need to do more to raise awareness and develop the interest of students in the early years. I think the Hour of Code is a great start and something that we can build on each year.


tynkerDuring my hour with these students, Ms. Diaz had us use the online tool, Tynker to first go on a Candy Quest (to learn some basics like simple commands, loops, and if/then statements).  We then created animated cards by dragging and dropping blocks of "code" into a sequence and playing the result. Of course, the students were eager to get to their computers and start "coding". I enjoyed watching how each student tackled the same task a little differently, but ultimately coming to the same result for the Candy Quest. There were certainly no complaints and no-one was "off-task" during the hour. I'm certain this hour of code accomplished it's purpose and I look forward to seeing how we offer more opportunities for students to do a little more "tynker"-ing!

IMG_4085          IMG_4086          IMG_4089

Did you participate in the Hour of Code?

How To Survive the Holidays
In this week's e-learning challenge (#ELHChallenge...
In this week's e-learning challenge (#ELHChallenge), we are to help our fellow community members survive the holidays. As you know from your past holiday experiences, that can be a challenge in and of itself. I chose to focus on a few Healthy Holiday Tips for you to keep in mind as you celebrate the season.  Hope you like it!ELH Challenge 62
Who the hell are YOU?
Yea, I'm finally joining all the bloggers out ther...
Yea, I'm finally joining all the bloggers out there. It's about time.  I've been collaborating virtually with others in educational technology, distance learning, eLearning and Instructional Design for quite some time, but I haven't taken the time to organize my contributions in any way that would not only promote more interaction, but also cause more reflection on my part. So, who the hell am I, anyway?

I am a wife

Troy and I are happily married and love spending our time fishing (and camping) together. We are both working full time, but definitely "practicing" for retirement.The Catch

I am a mother (and step-mom)

Before I had kids of my own, I got to practice my motherly instincts with two wonderful step-children, who are now both grown (and employed)!  My 18-year-old daughter is now a freshman at the University of Texas and my 16-year-old son is a junior at Kingwood High School.IMG_0644

I am a GiGi

Not only do I have two gorgeous grandchildren from my step-daughter, but my husband brings six grand-children to our marriage!  I could create a blog dedicated specifically to these adventures.Grandkids

I am a Trustee

I am currently serving as Parliamentarian on the Humble Independent School District Board of Trustees. This is my first term on the board and I chair the Technology & Data Governance Committee and sit on the Audit Committee and Superintendent Evaluation Committee. Humble ISD Board of TrusteesSo, that's about it for me.  Tell me,... who the hell are YOU?