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 site designs 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.  I currently serves as 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.  Our team has grown from 4 team members in 2014 to almost 30 people and almost 1000 fully-online courses (and growing!).  In 2019, we were recognized by UPCEA with the Strategic Innovation in Online Education Award for our work transforming the entire university through innovations in online education.


I’m passionate about the propensity of online education to remove barriers to access to education, and have served as an Associate Editor for the Teacher Education Board of MERLOT (one of the largest databases of open educational resources in the world) since 2013.  In 2018, I was awarded their Distinguished Service Award, their highest honor, for my work helping educators remove the cost of course materials for students across the globe.  I also regularly volunteer for the Online Learning Consortium, and was honored to serve as Program Chair of their Spring conference in 2017, and Conference Co-Chair in 2018 (which was camp-themed and they let me wear a ridiculous counselor outfit on stage!).  I owe the OLC a debt of gratitude for their connecting me to my current network of researchers and friends, in that my current scholarship and collaborations (like the Squad Goals Network and Monomyth Online, to name a few) would not have happened were it not for the organization.  In 2016, my colleagues and I received an OLC Effective Practice Award for our creation of exploratory installations called The Technology Test Kitchen.  The Annual OLC Quality Scorecard Effective Practice Awards recognize and honor innovation in online learning around the use and implementation of the Quality Scorecard.  In 2018, we won a second OLC Effective Practice Award for #SquadGoalsNetwork for our work on a framework for remixing personal learning networks.  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

It’s just my husband and I (not even a pet), so 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 tend to work out my stress composing, cooking and photographing original recipes for my food blog, Spice or Die.  I also podcast with some of my work friends on the topics of design thinking, experiential makerspaces, instructional design, and digital literacy.