Accreditation….and me.

Hand pressing security button on touch screen Free Photo

It is likely that the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “accreditation’ are educational or public institutions. The corporate world does not have to worry about accreditation, right?

If your business has customers, chances are you have or will need to participate in some form of PCI or PA -DSS accreditation. Any business that stores or processes sensitive data and payments needs to comply with PCI security standards.

For some businesses, this means participating in yearly audits that verify that your technology and organizational processes comply with security standards. For others, this also includes yearly employee training to stay up to date on security threat awareness.

Non-compliance with PCI is a big deal and potentially costly problem. If a business is not compliant, they can be held liable for any losses as a result of hacks or other unauthorized access to data. Over the last few years, there have been several high profile cases that have hit the media where large business have been “hacked” for access to credit card data.  Many of these businesses already follow PCI standards, but in these cases they will still need to fight to prove process was followed.

In my industry–Point of Sale software–we are particularly scrutinized. One of the core functions of a POS is to process payment, so for us to remain competitive in the market we must maintain our PA-DSS accreditation. For us to maintain accreditation, we participate in very extensive yearly audits. All employees must also attend yearly security awareness training and any employee that works extensively with the design, development, or configuration of our product needs to attend a more intense advanced security workshop yearly.

In years to come, it is likely that the rules for accreditation will become more extensive. The industry which our POS serves is one of the most vulnerable industries: hospitality. Hospitality is highly vulnerable because outside of big chain businesses, many merchants have older technology which is not compliant with some of the new security standards. However, the technology is only one element–there are a lot of organizational processes that can impede security. Many of these businesses have not had to create or think of these processes in terms of their security risks before. The following is a very interesting article regarding the impact of new PCI legislation on the hospitality industry.

As we grow into a more digital world, it is likely that accreditation will become a word we associate with the business world. As we integrate our lives more with technology, we share our personal data with many sources. To protect us, we will want to ensure the businesses we use have security accreditation appropriate to their organization type. We are not quite there yet, but this is likely the direction we are going.














Another Video

My time in the PID program is quickly coming to a close. Boy it’s been a journey! And I know I’m going to miss it.

I just finished my final video assignment, which I will be sharing shortly.

Once again, I attempted to create my own animations (as opposed to online tools such as Powtoon). The audio was recorded with Camtasia using a Blue Yeti Pro microphone. The video was created and animated in Camtasia, as well. I tried my hand with Adobe Illustrator too to customize some of the images.

The content is satirical–so expect a good laugh or two. Everyone at work is always (jokingly) that I should do training on how to make coffee, so I surprised them with this. Enjoy!

Lecturing Creatively

Polygonal light bulb Free Vector

When I think about the phrase “lecturing creatively”, immediately my thoughts run to graphical or artistic techniques you can add to lectures. Brookfield’s interpretation is much different. To him, lecturing creatively is a strategy to cater to a variety of different learning styles, experiment with different communication processes, model learning behaviours, and are clearly organized to show the lecturers rationale.

Of the techniques that Brookfield outlines there are two that I find particularly engaging.

First is deliberate use of silence. Silence can be powerful in presentations and lectures. It not only gives people a chance to think a bit, but it has a strange engaging appeal. A good example of this is some of the speeches Barack Obama gives. His use of pauses and occasional silence is masterful and feels like it draws you in closer.

Silence and pauses are a hard thing to master. I know I certainly have troubles with it. Whenever I have a platform to speak–be it lecture or even answering a question–I feel like I need to occupy this space with noise. Learning to master silence is a challenge because it feels so awkward. I suppose one needs to find a way to get comfortable in this awkwardness to succeed—something I need to work on!

The other technique is using “Buzz groups”. Last week I had a great experience with this as a student. I recently launched a leadership development program. As part of this program, we are inviting in expert facilitators occasionally. The session we had last week was 100% online administered. It was a synchronous environment—and yes we had buzz groups (we called them breakaway rooms). This was an incredibly engaging technique, not to mention a BIG surprise for an online class!

Whenever creativity is mentioned, people automatically associate this with the arts. I’ve always held the belief that once you reach a certain level of expertise in an area you will demonstrate creativity in how you approach problems. Lecturing creatively is a good example of this.


Ethics in Practise

previewFor anyone who does not already know, Ethics is one of my favourite topics. I studied Philosophy in university and this remains one of my favourite subjects to this day.

However, does my background uniquely prepare me for the ethical challenges in teaching and business? In a word, no. If anything, I think it’s a disadvantage as I over analyze problems, so there is no such thing as a quick decision.

When it comes to ethics in my practise, there is one issue that makes me lose sleep at night. Power!

As instructors, we make decisions about learning goals and these influence and shape our learners goals. We are also authority figures. No matter how much we try to personalize and show vulnerability, we will always be viewed by our students as having power. We have the power to evaluate. We have the power to limit autonomy, rights, freedoms ( at least within the confines of our classroom). This is something we should take seriously! We know the bad results and uses of power–we fight the bad memories of our learners everyday!

Ok so power–what exactly does this have to do with ethics? As adult educators, we understand that our learners are self-determining and autonomous. Almost all of Knowle’s assumptions of the adult learner is based on this. So we have an obligation to exercise our power legitimately. What does it mean to exercise legitimate power? To put it simply, we must ensure we have a very good reason for interfering with our learners rights, freedoms, and autonomy.

How can we accomplish this? Much of the guidance in Brookfield’s book applies here. Being an aware and reflective practitioner is a good start. We need to put ourselves in our learner’s shoes and think how we would feel or respond to our classroom activity decisions.

But there is an even better idea! This one is right up my alley as it applies Political Philosophy to the classroom (and can even be used to teach a particular theory). Social Contract theories vary by theories, but the aim is that power originates when individuals implicitly agree to the conditions of society. Depending on the theory implicitly could mean voting or even just existing in society. (we could justify that students implicitly agree to our power by enrolling in the class but I’m not going to go there!).

We can apply the social contract to the classroom by working with the class to create a classroom contract. Here’s a short and sweet article on this:

Brookfield suggests very similar strategies as well. I really like this idea as we are working together with our learners to develop rules (and legitimate uses of our power) of the classroom. Definitely something I will be looking to implement.






Resistance to Learning

Sad woman with an apple in one hand and cake in the other Free Photo

When most of us think about resistance to learning, I think an image of that rebellious kid in highschool comes to mind. Teens are still developing and often do not see the long term value in education, so it can seem common place. But adults are different, right? They know where they are going, see the value in life-long learning, and would never waste an educational opportunity…right?

I wish! While adults may not be as explicit with their resistance to learning, it’s there. Sometimes I even think we’re more stubborn than our adolescent counterparts.

Brookfield identifies several ways we can address resistance to learning in our practise. My favourite is one that is quite low tech. I am a strong believer in learning communities and mentorship, so it is also a technique that is right up my alley.

Brookfield suggests that inviting past students (particularly the resistant ones) to class near the start of the session for a Q&A session can give current students someone to identify with in their struggle. By sharing their stories of their past experiences, current students may change their opinion and withhold their negative judgement until they give the course a shot.

One caution is that this activity should not appear staged or forced. To address this, Brookfield suggests introducing the guests to the class, but then leaving the class so that the discussion is kept anonymous. This will allow resistant students to open up more if they think the professor will not find out.

I often use a similar technique. If I find a resistant learner, I often try to team them up or work with a previous learner who was also resistant. As my context is mostly on-the-job training, I can facilitate these types of mentorship relationships. Often these type of team ups become the best mentorship experiences, as the mentor can be more candid regarding any negativity or resistance that pops up.









Teacher Talking Technology

Hello Everyone!

I just finished another video–this time about course authoring programs. This video was made with two different course authoring program–Articulate Storyline and Camtasia. It even features videos of me making interactive content out of the video as I was making it!

Check it out and let me know what you think!


My Career in Learning and Development

Image result for career development

One of the topics for this week is to talk about our career.

I’m new to the Learning and Development field, so the decision to pursue this new career and possible trajectories is still quite fresh.

When I think about the areas of development needed to thrive in this new career I see three distinct themes: Continual Professional Development, Experience, and Community.

Continual Professional Development:

I teach and train others, so it is important to also be a good student. One of my commitments is to continue along with my own education, both formally and through self-directed study.

I’m already shopping for graduate programs. With my technical background, I would like to focus on educational technologies. It is likely that I will be enrolling in a Master’s program shortly after completing the PIDP.

I am also very interested in Leadership and Organizational Development. I am already an avid reader in these areas and this is something I commit to continue throughout my career.

Another step I plan to take is to certify with the Canadian Institute for Performance and Learning.  The process of certification focuses on the development of core competencies vital for professionals in the learning and development field. While there are other similar organizations that also certify, I selected this organization as it is Canadian. Not to say I am not interested in International Opportunities because I am 100% (if a recruiter reads this pretty please! travel is my friend). Rather, I prefer the idea of a tight knit community with more mentorship opportunities.


One of the most important things is to gain experience! Get out and practise the valuable skills the PID program teaches. I work for a great company who has been very supportive throughout my transition. They even created the Learning and Development role for me when I expressed my interest. Being the first, allows me to gain experiences that may not be readily available for me at other companies with well developed Learning and Development departments, which is super cool.

Experience is also a vital component of the certification process at the Institute for Performance and Learning. With completion of the PIDP (this reduces the experience requirement by 1 year), I will need 3 years of experience to certify.


Community I also feel is very important for career development. We’ve talked and created a community of learning throughout the PID program. This is an important part of being an educator who is looking to continually grow and improve.

The institute of performance and learning offers many community offering. Membership gains you access to local meet ups and mentorship opportunities. They also have a yearly conference in Toronto, which I’m hoping to attend regularly going forward.

Another great community I am involved in is E-Learning Heroes. This is a community that was set-up by Articulate, which creates e-learning course authoring solutions. I am an avid user of this product suite (and LOVE it). The community is one of the reasons I selected this software over others on the market. It is a place you can share work, get feedback, post problems, and seek solutions. My learning curve in this industry would have been much steeper if it did not exist!

Finally, I want to give back by creating learning content online. I want to continue building this blog, as well as my video library. The fact that learners can create their own content is one of the concepts that fascinates me the most, so I want to continue to study and share my journey with others.


















Brookfield and Diversity and Teaching about Racism

765One of the things that impresses me most about Brookfield’s “The Skillful Teacher” is that he devotes so much time to diversity in the classroom. In addition to the explicitly labelled chapters on diversity and teaching about racism, these themes appear throughout the book. I truly appreciate his focus and self-awareness on these issues. Being aware of the diversity of our students AND our biases is an important part of our practise.

I think the most potent idea for me that Brookfield presents is modelling and being open, even admitting your own biases to students. This can be an incredibly hard task to do even alone, let alone publically. I think it’s easy for most of us to assume our biases are not that bad, so we don’t need to worry about racism or sexism. While there is generally loud disagreement with overt acts of racism or sexism, microagressions are common and often unnoticed. These continue to impact our relationships with people who are different than us. Being self-aware and admitting that we have biases is an important step towards overcoming our biases.

Story time! I have never been a huge supporter of using politically correct language. There are some things you should never say–that I think is true–but being completely rigid with the language we use I thought sweep the true issues–biases–under the rug. After the last US election, I changed my thoughts. During the election and since, we see so much overt racism or sexism in the media from individuals and groups of people. Almost every day I read something about anti-racist or anti-sexist protesting again overtly racist or sexist groups. To me, it seemed that over all we have become complacent with racism and sexism such that it was now entering our news daily. It got to a point where I began to reflect on my own actions–how was I different? Is there anything I did that could have contributed to this complacency? The answer was language and not speaking up against the use of  non politically correct language.

I have since changed my language policy. I do not allow non politically correct language around me. I don’t use it and correct others around me when I catch them using non politically correct language. This does create the odd conflict, but this conflict create a new learning opportunity for teaching about racism.


Brookfield, S. (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom (3rd   ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.










Another Swing at Video Making

I think I’m starting to like making videos!

In fact, I have been coming up with all these great ideas for a regular VLOG. Similar to Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars getting Coffee”, except learning and education related. Maybe one day I will find the time to do this.

Until then here’s my latest digital project called “Facilitator talking Feedback” on 360 feedback.  Hope you enjoy!

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

This is an amazing TEDtalk!

Helene Polatajko is an occupational therapist. I know what you’re thinking–what could this possibly have to do with education?

As  Polatajko discusses in this video, the perspective and starting point for many therapists and even expert teachers is to observe what a student is doing wrong when trying to learn a skill. This is often unsuccessful.

Instead of starting from a point of looking for what’s wrong, we should acknowledge the differences. The task then becomes about learning–How can we accomplish the same thing in a different way? This teaches the student to learn how to learn and they can often progress faster and continue to develop with less assistance.

It’s an interesting take on learning, check it out!