Who We Are
Suzanne Harrison, Director
As the Director of Digital Learning Services, I lead it's efforts in course design, development and delivery with an exceptional team of creative, thoughtful, collaborative and expert Digital Learning Specialists, Digital Media Specialists, Project Managers, and Online Support Specialists. They are the reason I love my job so much.
The most rewarding aspect of my job is when faculty and instructors report that the online course development and delivery experience improved their on-ground classes and overall approach to teaching. The intersection of education and technology is an exciting place to be. Evolution, flexibility, and continuous improvement are essential within this intersection, and a ripe opportunity to learn and grow.
Before joining UC Berkeley, I was a technical Project Manager for a digital publishing company. Prior to that I worked in K-12 Educational Technology as a Director, Program Manager, and Trainer as well a traditional High School English Teacher and an online Instructional Designer for Composition and Literature courses grades 7-12.
Amanda Bradley, Digital Learning Specialist
Growing up in a rural mountain town of Pennsylvania and being a first generation college student made it clear to me at a young age that education possesses the power to change lives. I've since committed myself to helping others receive the education they seek.
The thing I love most about online courses is their ability to reach many, especially folks who otherwise might not have access to an education. Developing engaging online learning environments is my passion and I'm lucky to get to work with such a creative, talented group of people here at Digital Learning Services who share in that passion.
Amy Ahlers, Project Manager
When I was ready to make a career change a few years back, being involved in education was a priority. Online education appeals to me because it’s a new frontier, and I love being a part of a team that is constantly trying to figure out how to do it better.
I am a project manager because I love collaborating with other people, and I have a great opportunity to do that here, with creative, talented, knowledgeable people who challenge me with new ideas and vision. For me, it’s always satisfying to see the finished product—the course!—which is the manifestation of the collaborative efforts, time and expertise of so many. It’s also fun to be at UC Berkeley while I have college- and high school-aged kids of my own because it helps connect me to their experiences and expectations, while informing and shaping my own views on higher education.
Betsy Greer, Digital Media DP, Editor & Producer
Filming instructors in our studio is literally some of the most fun I have, and yet I know it can be a nerve-wracking experience for instructors. So what I really enjoy about what I do is making studio time fun for everyone who comes in - instructors, guests and students. Instructors know the material. And I know how to film a great product. So I see the filming process as a time to overlap our experiences to make a great final product. What makes me smile is when we’re done filming and the person leaves saying, “Boy, that was easier than I thought!”
Courtney Gomas, Digital Learning Specialist
My whole professional life has been consumed by education - being a learner, a teacher, a librarian and an instructional designer. To me, “education” means the process of expanding your knowledge base, even if it’s in informal ways, like watching Youtube videos or reading blogs or listening to NPR. I love when people start a conversation with “I just read this article…” or “I’m listening to this amazing podcast…” I count myself exceptionally lucky to be able to participate in an educational process everyday here at work. I’m excited that my work provides online education opportunities to people who might not otherwise have them.
One of the best experiences I’ve had at Digital Learning Services was developing the “Journalism for Social Change” MOOC with Daniel Heimpel. He is so passionate and renowned for his work to fight social injustice in the foster care system, so helping him to spread the word and educate aspiring new journalists was exceptionally rewarding.
Joseph Feria-Galicia, Accessibility Team Lead
In 1995, at the age of 39, my older brother lost his eyesight. His subsequent struggle to engage in the world was tenuous and directly impacted his will to live. His transition was improved with the advent of computer software that reads content on websites and downloadable documents. This “screen reader” technology not only generated new venues for him to interact with others, but also gave him a sense of hope and possibilities for his future.
Because of this direct experience, I am particularly passionate about developing robust courses that are accessible for all learners. I strive to design and promote ADA compliant content for multiple learning styles and abilities that are easy for screen reader users to navigate. These goals are pedagogically founded and linked to civil rights struggles for historically excluded populations. Digital Learning Services' commitment to these principles is embraced across all of our production and management teams, and I’m proud that my work here can impact the lives of so many people.
Joseph Kearns, Digital Learning Specialist
On my desk is a photograph of an artist’s warehouse studio: a woman sits in front of a paint-splattered desk, an easel propped to the side. A miscellany of tools lay scattered around: notebooks, brushes, a heat lamp, a kettle. Light streams in through large windows. But the woman is not painting—she’s using a laptop computer.
I printed this photograph because I dream of inhabiting a warehouse studio like that. It’s a kind of mini vision board. Every day I would look at that photograph and dream a little more.
One day as I was booting up my computer, I glanced at the image and an insight struck me: in a certain sense I was already there in that studio. My canvas is a 27-inch computer screen, my brush is a mouse, my palette a keyboard. My medium is digital learning—I design and build digital learning experiences. The product of this process is something that teachers and students use to engage in this mystery of communication and transformation that we call education.
I’m obsessed with bringing abstract ideas into concrete manifestation. The tools can vary, but the core instinct remains the same. Every day that I come to work, I get to create something that didn’t exist before.
Laura Hart, Administrative Officer & Media Coordinator
First and foremost, I like to be useful. I enjoy being that person who quietly gets all the nitty gritty little things done around the office that help it function. Sure, HR paperwork and financial reports don’t sound all that interesting, but without it, nobody’s ID cards would work on the electronic locks and we couldn’t purchase that cool new motion graphics software that makes our videos look really kick-ass. So, while I’m not the person helping to design courses or graphics, I enjoy that I make everyone else’s jobs a little easier by making sure that accounts are up to date, orders are going through, and most importantly the kitchen is stocked with Sweet & Spicy herbal tea, which is a high demand item amongst the DLS staff.
Rebecca Farivar, Digital Learning Specialist
One of the first courses I worked on at Berkeley was Counseling Techniques for Educators. The instructors had been teaching the course on-ground for more than 10 years, and the department wanted to develop it as a hybrid course. Since the instructors had a clear vision in mind, we were able to dive right into developing engaging activities and media that translated what they were already doing in the classroom into an online experience.
For example, in the on-ground course, the instructors had students bring links to resources relating to specific issues that would be discussed. With the hybrid version, we moved that activity online, having students add their contribution to an editable spreadsheet. The instructors also had several video clips of different theorists that they would play in class, but had very low production value. They felt that the historical value of the clips made them worth using, so instead of scrapping them, we incorporated them into recorded lectures where the instructors introduced the clip, played it, and then discussed the important points.
The development of this course is a great example of how online technology can actually enhance a course. It’s not about overhauling what is happening in the classroom, but rather examining what is there and considering how technology and creativity can help facilitate and even improve the student learning experience.
Robert Hold, Digital Media Senior Visual Designer & Producer
Taking complex written information and transforming it into simple and easy to understand visuals is a challenge. That challenge is what I enjoy about designing at Digital Learning Services. I get to utilize my expertise and interest in art, design, color theory and typography to collaboratively create graphic solutions that make the courses dynamic and appealing. “Collaboration” can be an overused term, but collaboration and open dialogue are routine processes at Digital Learning Services, and they motivate me.
I like to push myself to go beyond expected and cliché graphic solutions, and try to convey the essence of the course visually. A good example of this is the Race, Class, and Gender course. It addressed many complex social issues, and we created typography, graphics and colors to be clean and casual but sophisticated. Working on the course challenged my own preconceived ideas, and I find that while working on each course, I always glean something from the course content, and frequently learn something new about myself.
Stephanie Mackley, Digital Media Senior Editor & Producer
When I was 19, I flew from Seattle to Atlanta and caught a ride with some friends to a military base in Georgia so we could attend the largest ongoing non-violent protest in the United States. It was a thrilling departure from my days spent reading Sociology and Bioethics in a corner of the library. I spent two breathless days behind a borrowed video camera interviewing people and attempting to chronicle my experience. The quality of the connections I made, the intensity of the conversation—those were the things that hooked me.
Since then, I’ve learned that every stage of filmmaking is a creative collaboration.
When I edit, I get to weave sound and images together, pace to music, anchor everything around that moment when she says the thing everyone needs to hear.
When I produce, the view gets wider; we get to team up to envision the best possible look and feel of the media in your course.
When I direct, we work together to bring the most authentic version of you to the surface, in the midst of lights, microphones and cameras.
All of this comes into the work I do here. I get to collaborate with a dynamic team to tell visual stories that help students learn.
Tracie Allen, Online Support Specialist
I love to exercise. I have intertwined running into my lifestyle since 2003, completing 5K, 10K and half marathon races. Three years ago, I knew I needed to change up my running routine because of a foot injury and also noticed that as I was getting older, my body needed strength training. I’ve always been intimidated to strength train but was invited by a friend to a boot camp class. At first, I didn’t think I could do it, but with the help of my coach and others in the class I now look forward to my boot camp mornings. I still continue to sign up for running races, but now I also attend boot camp class 3-4 days a week and have really enjoyed seeing myself grow in this area.
Much like my coach and peers have helped me to feel healthier and stronger, my role at Digital Learning Services is to enhance and support students’ experience with their online courses. This includes providing an eye on the quality of the courses that we develop. In addition, I’m proud to support students with disabilities by providing them with equal access to our courses. My goal is to remove obstacles that get between students and learning and to insure that they receive the same great experience of learning and earning a degree online as they would in a classroom setting.