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.

Experience:

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:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

References:

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!

The Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching

Brookfield presents 4 core assumptions of skillful teaching:

  • “Skillful teaching is whatever helps students learn”
  • “Skillful teachers adopt a critically reflective stance toward their practise.”
  • “The most important knowledge that skillful teachers need to do good work is a constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teachers’ actions”
  • “College students of any age should be treated as adults” (2015).

What I find interesting about these is the acknowledgement that our learners should be treated as adults. While it seems obvious, I think sometimes it is easy for us to forget. We may find an interesting teaching activity and want to try it out in class because it looks like fun, but may make learners feel uncomfortable as it could be interpreted as juvenile.

To me, this seems particularly acute in workplace training. In addition to being populated by adults, there is professionalism also runs high. This can sometimes dictate which learning activities are appropriate, as if the activity is perceived as a game, it could be perceived as a waste of time. After all, learners in the workplace are taking time away from their job and livelihood to attend training.

In my own practice, I often find it difficult to move beyond demonstration, lecture, discussion, simulation, or project based learning. I do this because I fear the blank stares that may appear as I introduce a new activity, such as Team Jeopardy. While I work in a casual office, it still seems to me that many learners may see such activities as juvenile.

Adult learners are unique. There are tons of books on teaching but many times these are not specific to adult learning. While there are common themes in both pedagogy and andragogy, we cannot lose sight of the differences. For our learners to be perceptive and welcoming of learning, they will need to feel like they are being treated like adults.

 

 

 

Teaching Perspective Inventory

One of the aspects I’ve been wanting to explore more and more recently is how my teaching perspective has changed since beginning the PID program. So I took the Teaching Perspective Inventory test.

I have not taken this test before, but did take a similar test in 3100. While I identify a lot with critical pedagogies, initially I did not feel these applied to my teaching context. The more I reflect, I do see how there is value in my teaching perspective.

In 3100, I was firmly in the Humanistic or Transformative areas of teaching. After taking the Teaching Perspective Inventory today, I can see that it appears little has changed. My distribution is very differentiated and my highest scores are in Development and Nurturing. What did surprise me is that there has been little movement over all, particularly with social reform.

For sure, I am development focused. No question about it. I see learning as an incremental process that not only teaches learners about a specific topic, but also about themselves as learners. Part of the fun of learning for me is making connections to everyday life and reflecting on new knowledge to combine in new ways. Nurturing too rings true as I strongly believe that fostering a safe and positive learning environment is as the content.

One of the limitations I see though is how social reform is presented. It’s always applied broadly, with verbiage like social change, societal impact etc… This makes it hard to apply tot teaching contexts that often do not deal directly with people or the broader public. For an example, I work for a company that produces technology for restaurants. It’s a big jump to see how social reform could ever have anything to do with our work. But it does! Technology can create new modes of communication or ways of working that change how we interact with each other. It can create  new jobs, enable people to share ideas, broaden awareness AND enabling learning. However, one is unlikely to see these directly as one would in the human sciences.

As with all evaluation, there are limitations and items can be interpreted many ways. TPI is no different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome PIDP 3260 viewers!

A new class means more content for my blog. While I have made it my commitment to continue this blog beyond the classroom, this means my posts will be more frequent than weekly–YEAH!

For any new viewers, you can learn more about me in the About/Brief Bio section. I also encourage you to read my previous blog posts, as most of the posts relate in some capacity to this course. I try to update this blog outside of the classroom, relating every day events to learning or education–hope you enjoy it!

This is my second to last course in the PID program, which is in itself exciting. Although, this course excites me because of the content–Professional Practise. Ethics, dilemmas, reflection are all aspects of educational practise that I enjoy. And with my Philosophy background you only need to mention ethics to get my attention. There are also a few personal philosophical questions about my own educational philosophy that I want to reflect on more analytically as I enter these last months of the program. Specifically, looking back to PIDP 3100 and where my philosophy stood, I feel I am moving more toward identifying with critical pedagogies, with an increasing interest in feminist pedagogy. While these ideas have always appealed to me, my initial thoughts were that they did not apply to my practise, as my content is mostly technical. I’m starting to realize this is not the case and these philosophies can apply to my context and many more.

Anyways, enjoy my blog!

Speaking of Memories…

<rant warning–but I promise it will connect to learning>

So every time it snows, like it is in the Lower Mainland right now, I’m semi-traumatically reminded of my 16th birthday present from my grandmother. It was a cherub box and I was seriously disturbed as to why my grandmother was giving me a box with naked winged babies on it. It had a lock on it, so I eventually found a use for it to hide cigarettes or whatever contraband I needed to hide from my parents.

It was not just this disturbing box. The card was equally disturbing. She used a quote about driven snow to launch into a talk about abstinence. I wish I could remember the exact quote, but it had something to do with choices being like footprints in snow. Basically, the choices you make cannot be erased.

Other than this memory being a demonstration of how we process memories (ie. episodic memory is powerful and we forget details as we age), I think this quote that I can’t remember is a great discussion point for learning.

While it’s wonderful, albeit disturbing for me, that my grandmother tried to give me the ‘talk’ for my 16th birthday, the quote was all wrong. Snow can be erased. It melts, it gets shovelled, or others tread on top of your treads. Learning can change your snow patch.

This was definitely not what my grandmother wanted me to get out of that quote. She was hoping for scare tactics to keep me away from premarital sex and teenage pregnancy. While I succeeded in finishing high school without, this was not the result of learning or my grandmothers attempt at teaching.

Learning from mistakes is a powerful thing. These learning events often become defining moments in our lives, as they change us on a deeper, more involved level. These learning events often produce strong episodic memories, as we can recall how we made the mistake and the process we underwent learning from it.

While I cannot recall this silly snow quote that led to my association between my grandmother and snow, I can remember in detail many great learning experiences from that era that we’re the result of teenage mistakes.

Our lifelong learning journey, not choices, are like footprints in snow. We can rub them out, we can build on them, we can shovel them, we can melt them down. It’s really up to you and the opportunities you seek.

 

 

New Learners and Visitors–WELCOME!

Hello!

It has been a few months, but I am back!

If this is you’re first time visiting this blog, please take a tour. You can find a brief bio in the “About Me” section. Chances are if this is your first visit you are enrolled in PIDP 3250. Feel free to check out my previous blog postings as some of them relate to themes in this course as well (such as motivation).

I have developed this blog a little further by adding an “Additional Resources” section and linked to how you can follow me on other social media sites. Please check out the VCC School of Instructor Education facebook page (linked in additional resources), as they link to very cool projects and opportunities for other learners.

More to come soon!

 

Preparing for Instruction 4: Right vs Left Brain Myth

Most of us have probably heard at one time or another that people are either right brain dominated or left brain dominated. Righties are supposed to be more creative and/or in touch with their emotional side, while lefties are supposed to be more analytical. How much of this is true?

Very little!

http://www.livescience.com/39373-left-brain-right-brain-myth.html

In this article, the right vs left brain myth is debunked. The root of the myth appears to date back to research done by Sperry in the 1960’s, where he studies patients who had damage to the corpus callosum (the structure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain). In his research he did find peculiarities of certain preferences for one side in patients. This was misinterpreted by popular media to the myth we know today.

Many researchers have since tried to reproduce the results. While brain scans show that there is some grounding to certain types of processing taking place in a particular hemisphere (such as analytic tasks originating on the left side, creative tasks on the right), it is the connection between these two hemispheres that allow us to interpret and make meaning of most tasks.

What does this mean for Learning and Teaching?

As reflective practitioners, I think we need to be aware of these myths and more importantly how these inaccurate popularized myths can affect learners. This is just one example of how analytic and rational thinking gets privileged over creative or emotional thinking. We need to be aware of these dichotomies, as they can affect learner’s self esteem. For an example, someone who is creative might have been labeled a right brainer, so the learner may be uneasy around highly analytic tasks because right brainers are not supposed to be good at them. By being aware of these myths, we help debunk these myths in learners by supporting learners through tasks they may be uncomfortable with.

For further debunking of this right vs left brain myth, checking out Neil deGrasse Tyson speak on this issue:

https://braindecoder.com/post/neil-degrasse-tyson-elegantly-debunk-right-left-brain-myth-1120713524

Learning Partner Discussion

 

One of the challenges of online learning is creating the sense of a community of learners. Unlike in a classroom, students have to actively seek this community and the level of engagement they wish to have with it. My experiences, few students engage beyond the core assignment requirements in online classes. This is a true shame, I think. Sharing ideas and perspectives is one of the joys of learning.

For this week’s assignment, we were asked to do just that—engage and learn about industry and adult education trends with our learning partner.

My learning partner already works in a University, so she has quite a bit of exposure to the trends in education and adult learning. What was really interesting was to learn that her experiences with education were much different than mine. Her university focuses on Blended format, as opposed to the traditional lecture only in class format. I was not aware that there were schools actively practising these different methodologies on such a organizational level, especially locally.

Some of the big trends she mentioned were gamification, simulation, and other technology based supplements to the classroom. I found this very interesting as these are also trends I’ve seen recently in management. Gamification is being used to engage employees and enhance performance in the workplace, so it is interesting to find out that educators are also finding way to apply this to the classroom.

Even though we are in quite different industries, we found quite a bit of overlap. Similar to gamification, we also both have an interest in soft skills development. She is working on development a program to specifically teach soft skills—perhaps in schools or workplaces. We discussed the link between certain non cognitive skills and employment variables—such as empowerment, performance, and engagement. As these skills seem to be on the low focus in recent generations, we both agreed that this should be a growing area of research and interest.