Welcome to my ePortfolio website. My name is Tom Smalling, and I’m a career designer. Initially, I began my career as a graphic designer, then transitioned into web development. However, over the past ten years, I’ve been working in the classroom educating adults about graphic design. In this time, I have developed an appreciation for the design of learning. I have re-focused my attention to learning about the design of instruction, and I am currently developing ways to apply my design skills to educational products.

Education Philosophy

My education philosophy is based on building a growth mindset in learners. It’s essential to encourage learners to approach learning with a positive can-do attitude. Studies have shown “positive emotion and lower stress foster better brain functioning for optimal learning” (Tang, 2017, p. 8). 

So how can I help learners approach learning positively? One approach is to help learners find their motivation to succeed. Learning new skills involves a certain level of stress and discomfort. Through careful designing of learning experiences and events, I can help learners develop competencies and increase their confidence. This confidence helps the learner build feelings of satisfaction, which stimulates the reward systems of the brain. The goal is to encourage students to find a flow state in the projects and activities provided by the teacher. 

Along with a positive approach to learning, I feel a constructivist approach to learning is vital. Learners continually build and revise their knowledge based on their foundations and experiences. Each learner brings a unique vantage point to the classroom, and it’s essential to consider these viewpoints when developing learning experiences. Some of these experiences may be experiential, providing opportunities to connect the learning to real-world applications. I feel this connection is a vital, sometimes overlooked, part of the educational experience.  

Tang, Y.-Y. (2017). Brain-based learning and education: principles and practice. San Diego: Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-810508-5.00002-X

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