Angela Gunder | Full Story
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Full Story

Chapter One

Of Oceans and Deserts

My favorite stories have always been the ones that come full circle – my lifelong passion for design has proven to be one such story.  I was one of the many that fell into their love of design through a series of seemingly serendipitous events. Long hoping to be a geneticist, I spent my freshman year of college balancing my science classes with work on freelance websites for clients back in D.C.  It took a full year (and my best friend’s urging) to focus on web design as my new academic goal. At a time when web design was not offered as a major, I cobbled together a strong foundation for my future work with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Studio Art.


After completing my B.S. in Computer Science and Fine Art from Fordham University back in 2003, I translated my love of programming and photography into a career as a web designer in DC and NYC.  I spent the next decade helming large-scale (1K-20K page) site production as webmaster for The City College of New York, the honors college at ASU, and Northern Virginia Community College. Throughout the years, I spent much time assisting faculty with the application of education technology within their courses in exchange for the guilty pleasure of working on course design.  Eventually, I backed into instructional design as my vocation, and earned my M.Ed. in Education Technology from Arizona State University. The skills acquired over the years working as a webmaster in higher education have directly informed my instructional design practice, particularly interpersonal communications, visual design, usability, and accessibility.

Chapter Two

The Circuitous Path to Instructional Design

In my position at ASU, I quickly realized that I’d spent the past decade as a “secret” instructional designer.  I chose to surface these efforts into a career as card carrying member of the ID community, returning to Northern Virginia Community College where I began my career, but this time as an instructional designer.  I fell in love with the profession rather quickly, and in two short years, moved back to Arizona to take a position as a senior instructional designer for The University of Arizona. 

Over the years, I have had the fortuitous opportunity to combine my love of digital learning, design, and organizational leadership within several instructional design positions, quickly moving from an instructional designer to the Director of Instructional Design & Curriculum Development for the Office of Digital Learning, managing and mentoring the team that builds the fully-online programs for The University of Arizona. The team grew from 4 team members in 2014 to almost 30 people and almost 1000 fully-online courses (and growing!).  In 2019, my team was recognized by UPCEA with the Strategic Innovation in Online Education Award for our work transforming the entire university through innovations in online education.

I currently serve as the Chief Academic Officer and Vice President of Learning for the Online Learning Consortium, a global non-profit dedicated to advancing access to quality online, blended, and digital learning internationally. In this role, I am responsible for gathering, curating, and leveraging the intellectual capital created by and disseminated through OLC, leading a team of AVPs and Directors that oversee the OLC’s institute for professional development, research center, global events, online engagement, strategic partnerships and consulting, and grants. My decades-long career as a designer for higher education informs my instructional design practice, where I leverage my expertise in web design, usability, visual communication, programming, and standards-based online learning.  I am an Associate Editor for the Teacher Education Board of MERLOT, and the recipient of the 2018 MERLOT Distinguished Service Award, the organization’s highest honor.  I am also the recipient of two Online Learning Consortium Effective Practice Awards for the creation of a framework for personal learning networks, and for the creation of exploratory installations of education technology, respectively. In 2019, I was humbled to be named an OLC Fellow for my dedication to service, innovation, and scholarship in support of student success in online learning.  My research focuses on open educational practices, digital literacies, digital learning equity, narrative in online course design, and emerging technology for second language acquisition. I hold a B.S. in Computer Science and Fine Art from Fordham University, a M.Ed. in Education Technology from Arizona State University, and a Ph.D. in Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies from The University of Arizona, where in 2020 I was named an Erasmus Scholar by the College of Education for my commitment to the college, the university and to the community. I’m humbled by the accolades, but far more grateful for the connections I’ve made cross-institutionally in dedication to student success.

Chapter Three

On Locavores and Insomniacs

I do manage to eek out some free time to give into my passions, most of which are design related.  A voracious culinary nerd, I spent over a decade working out my stress composing, cooking and photographing original recipes for my food blog, Spice or DieMy current paraprofessional pursuits sit within the liminal space of design and storytelling, and I work with a small community of practice examining and writing on narrative practices in digital learning, gameful learning, and the importance of visual design. This has manifested itself in the form of paintings, photography, analog and digital games, and other creative publication formats, all meant to bring people together around the connective power of stories.