Digital Project Sneak Peak

Hello everyone,

For the first time in forever, I am taking a full two week vacation from work. What’s even stranger is I am not travelling anywhere!

This has left me with quite a bit of time on my hands, so I am planning to finish my digital project for a course even thought it’s not due until early February!

Recently, I also got a new course authoring suite, so I will be using this to build my project. Self-directed learning for the win!

Here’s a sneak peak:

The course authoring suite I am using is Articulate 360. I’m thinking I will be using the Rise platform to present the material while building out some components using Storyline.



Please see the below video that a fellow learner created on the teaching strategy Kahoot!

This is a great outline of a way to introduce gaming to the classroom.

In a workplace training environment like my teaching context, this would be a very easy strategy to organize and implement because it takes away some of the ‘cons’ indicated in the video. In a workplace environment, you typically have company supplied devices, like phones or laptops, and usually wifi connection. Additionally, it is likely that you would have a shared communication tool, such as skype for business or go-to-meeting. These programs typically have polling features built it, so setting this up would be as easy as scheduling a meeting.

This is also a great way to engage remotely located learners. When you are training remotely, it can be difficult to gauge whether learners are understanding the material. If you’ve ever attended a conference call, I’m sure you can empathize with the doozy feeling you get from listening and watching a screen that just does not progress fast enough. Or on the flip side, the frustration of screens that move too quick and comments that make you feel like you missed the first half of the meeting. Using polling or “Kahoot” can be a way to keep remote learners engaged AND feel like they are part of the team!

Harems. A place of education?

This weekend I finished reading a book I’ve been meaning to read for awhile: “Harem: The World Behind the Veil” by Alev Lytle Croutier.

One of my majors in university was Women’s Studies, so I am attracted to topics about women in history. The discourse surrounding the “veil” was also a very popular topic when I was studying and I am generally fascinated by the complexity of the intersections between feminism, religion, orientalism, and oppression in the debates.

As one would expect, the “harem” was a much more complicated place and concept than just being a physical location were women lived. The image most of us have in our minds of the “harem” are an orientalist fantasy that was produced by western travellers. Growing up in a feminist home, I am just as guilty as I immediately think of oppression.

These are very narrow views. The fact is there was much diversity in how harems worked and were run. Some times this varied by Sultan or Sulatana. Some Sultanas had a lot of sway in politics.

Education too greatly varied. In many ways, harems were places for women’s education. Sometimes this was limited to learning ‘female’ tasks or the arts like dancing and being appealing for the female gaze. Other times, this would include language. Not just writing and reading, but also learning foreign languages. The residents of harems after all were often a mix of different cultures.

To much controversy, the first lady of Turkey recently commented that harems were a place of education:

While I would not go to the extreme to state that these were mini women universities, there were definitely points in history where women enjoyed higher levels of education in harems. But there is no doubt that oppression also existed.

This really reflects the core of human attraction to learning and self-directed learning. Even in an oppressive institution like the harem, women found ways to learn new things.

Focused Conversation Model

A while ago, after a few courses requiring the use of the focused conversation model for reflective writing, I wanted to learn more as it seemed to me that it would have some interesting workplace learning applications.

What I did not expect to find was that is actual a model that was designed for the workplace! The main reference book on this topic is:

Stanfield, B., & Canadian Institute of Cultural Affairs. (2000). The art of focused conversation: 100 ways to access group wisdom in the workplace. Gabriola Island, B.C: New Society Publishers.

This book is a great reference guide to facilitating discussion and meetings using the focused conversation model. Along with a clear outline of the different stages (eg. Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, and Decisional), it also outlines the different roles of stakeholders in the discussion. It offers guidance, tips, strategies, and advice for facilitating in a wide variety of different workplace contexts. As a reference book, it offers a sample of 100 different types of workplace conversations with suggestions on how to facilitate these conversations with the model.

I have not personally used this model in the workplace yet, but I think it would be a vary efficient way to structure meetings, particularly those meetings where some type of learning needs to occur. I think this would be very useful for analyzing the success/failure of a project. So often when we examine these situation, the focus is on facts only. The reflective component of this model allows for reactions and emotions, which as much as we try, cannot be avoided. The interpretive then allows for both the facts and emotions to be synthesized to an integrated position, with the decisional being a result of this synthesized view.

Ethical Dilemma

Here’s a link to one of my classmate’s digital projects:

I love the additional of a seasonal theme to this project.

This is a very interesting topic and technique. It is one of those techniques that on first thought I think I’ll never find a way to use it in my teaching context. I mean I work in software. Ethical issues seem to be few and far between.

But on further thought I can see many great applications in my teaching context. For an example, our software does interact with payment processing so we do need a higher level of security knowledge. This would be a perfect technique to address the process and scenarios that can happen surrounding information security.

Also, we are a customer centred company. Many of our departments have customer facing roles and all of us interact somehow with our product and customers. This technique, with a few alterations, could be a good customer service training tool. For an example, instead of it being an ‘ethical’ dilemma it could be a customer service scenario than challenges the balance in customer facing roles between being a customer advocate and company advocate.

On Introversion

I’ve confessed this many times before, perhaps not on this blog, but I am a proud introvert.

Not only do I prefer quiet, independent activities, but some of the most extreme versions of it. I can sit alone and stare at a wall for hours, just thinking. Some of my best ideas come to me this way.

Many people close to me know this. Strangely, those I work with and those I teach are often surprised that I am an introvert. This is because I have worked hard to manage the extrovert world. I can point out my quirks–such as haven’t you noticed my frequent walks or how my eyes wander after 10 minutes of direct eye contact in one on ones?

While I pass well as an extrovert, does this mean I’m ashamed of my introverted side? Absolutely not. But I love that extrovert side too. I love that I can take control of a room sharing stories, jokes, lessons. Occasionally, I can even be the life at a party! Just in moderation…

Introversion is part of who I am and I swear it has lead to a lot of my success in life. I love observing. I spent a lot of time doing this as a child. I think this is what has made me a good leader and teacher. I feel I can pick up on the energy of a room and sense individuals state of mind. This ‘talent’ has allowed me to adapt and address issues before they become problems both in the workplace and the classroom.

While my hobby of reflective thinking while staring at walls may be boring to some, it allows me to refuel and organize my thoughts. I love this time.


Getting the Most out of Mistakes: Radical Candour

Radical Candour is one of those new catchphrases in management. The technique is not new. We all have feelings and want to say what we are thinking to people we care about. However, in professional contexts we often refrain from saying what we truly think. We do this to avoid hurt feelings or avoid creating conflict. But this habit can lead to not providing critical feedback even when it is important.

The Radical Candour movement/catchphrase was popularized by Kim Scott. This video gives a great introduction to the framework of radical candour:

While many of the examples and advice is geared towards leaders, I think this applies to educators too, particularly in business or corporate environments.

As Scott discusses, there is an intersection between caring personally about another person and challenging them directly. Too much on any one side can lead to the avoidance or too much critical feedback.

I really like this framework. And it makes sense! Think of those times one of our best friends sits you down and offers you some hard life advice. Those can often be more meaningful and lead to more positive actions. This framework captures this with it’s emphasis on caring personally.

I can think of many times in my professional career where I have either been surprised by feedback I would have loved sooner or I myself have avoided giving this feedback. It is frustrating! And its UNFAIR. One of the things that Kim Scott points out that I LOVE is that it is our moral obligation to offer this feedback when we have it.

This is valuable to learning too. If we do not offer critical feedback, our students do not have the opportunity to improve. To do this we need to challenge them directly. Additionally, the critical feedback will be heard and digested better if we can demonstrate that we care personally about their success or failure. Together, this demonstrates that we are invested in their learning, which in turn ought to be mirrored on their learners end.

Getting the Most out of Mistakes: After Action Reviews

Have you ever been involved in a multi-departmental project that did not go as planned? In the days following, did you feel the frustration of fingers pointing? Did you also feel that this was a great learning experience except that there was no way to synthesize the lessons learned?

After Action Review look to solve this!

After Action Reviews were first introduced by the US army as a way to evaluate and learn from actions (successful or unsuccessful) to improve future actions. Since then, this methodology has found a home in many organizations as a way to integrate view of multiple stakeholders and improve organizational processes:

There area many different ways to perform an After Action Review. Some organizations develop their own structures, forms and paper work to guide users how to hold a review.

If you are new to this process and would like a few guiding principles, the following is a great article that offers a start:

This is a methodology I am looking to implement at work. In the past few years, we’ve had successful rollouts and implementations and some less successful. This can offer us a way to examine our successes to optimize this going forward.

Jigsaw Presentation

Here is an interesting digital project from one of the students in my PIDP 3250 course:

There are a couple things that stick out for me. First, I was not familiar with the Prezi platform. There are just so many digital options out there–each really do have their own look and feel. I really liked the look of Prezi here. Very professional looking sideshow platform.

Second, I think Jigsaw is an absolutely under utilized strategy. Because of it’s focus on not only on becoming an ‘expert’ on a topic but also how to best teach it to others, it really targets the highest levels of learning.

While this could be a difficult strategy to use in some teaching contexts–for an example if it is a single meeting workshop–some out of the box thinking could work.

For an example, in my training context, I accidently implemented jigsaw to train our support team. Our Support Team is 24/7 and it is often difficult to have more than 2 members off their phones at once. Training the whole team efficiently can therefore be difficult. One of the best and easiest ways I found to deal with this was to nominate a few employees as “product matter experts” who would attend these sessions, then communicate back and train the rest of the team. This role would rotate through the team and we typically choose 1 senior skilled and 1 moderate/new skilled person to attend so that all perspectives are covered.

The team often has a lot of fun doing training this way. It also builds into our philosophy of having everyone contribute to our peer reviewed company knowledge base.

Great Blog!

Hello everyone,

I was looking through my PIDP 3250 class blogs and was struck by one in particular:

This blog is well organized and developed. It is truly appealing because of the effort that has been put into it’s organization. One thing I really like about the blog was the number of outside sources that it links to. It is truly a resource.

This is what I am looking to get out of the blogging experience–to create a learning and development resource that I and colleagues can use to learn and continue the discussion outside of regular course work and teaching experiences.

While I often link to articles and videos within individual posts, I will be taking this inspiration and trying to create more resource pages!