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David Sharrard Noffs

photo by William Guth

Who am I?

I grew up in the land down under. And, as a youthful Sydneysider, it took more than a few skills to help me get by. I learned many of them when my father took up his career-defining mission at the Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross and we moved to Sydney’s eastern suburbs. 

The moss covered piers by Double Bay were etched in my young mind along with the small skiffs, or VJ’s as we called them, sailing out into the harbor. Across the waters my brothers and I could see our favorite Clark Island, lying just west of its bigger brother, Shark Island. There, the two of them seemed to call out to us young explorers,

“Come see me…
no, land on me…
no, land on me first.”

We always thought they were magical, and they probably were. Many nights we looked out from the Double Bay pier and wondered what mysterious events were taking place on those mystical islands beneath their luminescent blankets of fog and salty air. At night they seemed to disappear and reappear like magicians performing tricks. By day, they stood stark, each like an oasis, beckoning adventurers to come their way….and we did.

The shores and islands of Sydney Harbor offered limitless adventures for youngsters to explore and hone their survival skills. Outside the headlands, which stood like godly bookends, lay the great Pacific, that awesome blue mass that wraps itself around the vast land down under, forbidding any frivolous encounters with other cultures. You must want very badly to get into or out of Australia. The British certainly knew how to pick their prison colonies.

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David Sharrard Noffs

I have spent most of my life designing innovative and experimental learning environments, from my early work with hi-tech mobile classrooms in Australia’s rural communities, to over ten years as an instructional technologist and designer in the Center for Innovation in Teaching Excellence at Columbia College Chicago. In 2015 I began teaching Learning Environment Design at Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies and then joined the Distance Learning team as a full-time Learning Designer in 2017. In this role, I am able to do what I love most; help educators make learning a productive, enjoyable, and transformative experience.