Uncategorized

Learn/Perform Mixtape Podcast

As I mentioned, I am actively reviewing all things learning and performance to prepare for the first Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (CPLP) exams. As I apply and interview for new opportunities, it has been fun to refresh and review theories, models, and concepts I studied in my PhD program. The CPLP shows up on a number of jobs descriptions and it seems to be sought after within industry for a number of learning design, organizational change management, and other talent development roles. To help me review all the Areas of Expertise (AOE) and sub-topics in the Association for Talent Development Competency Model, I decided to create a new podcast that focuses on workplace learning and performance called the Learn/Perform Mixtape.

Learn/Perform Mixtape – Podcast Trailer
Podcast Art for the Learn/Perform Mixtape

LISTEN & SUBSCRIBE to the Learn/Perform Mixtape podcast: https://learnperform.transistor.fm/subscribe

FFor the 80+ hours of prep, I will be preparing for these exams “out loud” by writing study notes and audio commentary about what I’m reading and reviewing. Processing the concepts and concepts from the ATD Learning System: CPLP Edition + reviewing books and journals in my own library, notes, and experience as individual podcast episodes has been very helpful for me. As a podcast host/producer, I always learn so much recording, editing, reviewing, and writing up the show notes for podcast episode. Since I use Transistor.fm to host my current podcasts, I thought why not share what I’m reviewing about learning and performance for others to hear? [FYI: A subscription to the Transistor podcast hosting platform allows you to to create and manage multiple podcasts with their own RSS feeds from one single account.]

There are a number of suggestions for how to prepare for the CPLP, like in-person workshops, online courses, and creating a local CPLP study group. Knowing myself and the time that is left, I thought the best accountability for me would be to document my progress as I prepare for the CPLP Knowledge and Skills exams. I am a voracious reader and avid podcast listener, because I just I love to learn! As self-directed learner and somewhat of an autodidact, I figured it would be fun to pull back the curtain on my study techniques to share what I am learning and how I am thinking about learning/performance today. I am less concerned about how many downloads or subscribers of the pod I have. Really, the Learn/Perform Mixtape is designed to map out the 99+ sub-sections of the 10 AOE and the Foundational Global Competencies. Also, it offers me another study tool to make these concepts and topics portable and accessible later — in both audio and written format.

Are you studying for the CPLP exams? Let’s Connect! Maybe you can join me to chat about how you are preparing or even discuss one of the AOE topics for a podcast episode. If you are listening to the podcast — thanks! Let me know what you think and share some love by posting a rating/review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe! If you are getting some value or it’s helping you to improve learning and performance for your work, I also welcome gratitude/donations as this podcast is self-sponsored labor of love. Thanks!

#FemEdTech

Reflecting on #FemEdTech Voices: How To Amplify One Another

Last month, with the #FemEdTech network, I was really excited to curate and amplify some of the voices that we know in the field of educational technology — who are feminists, who are proud women, scholars, educators, learners, and more. The purpose was to tweet, retweet, and amplify those in the community and others we should maybe hear about. The rest of this reflection (written; as you can hear it all above) can be found on the femedtech.net website here. Thanks for the encouragement and support Frances, Lorna, and members of the #femedtech network.

#femedtech Challenge: We need to HEAR and SEE more audio and video voices of women in ed tech. These lists are far too share. Let’s amplify women+ in our community, this includes those who identify as women and non-binary, to share our voices! As I was curating the podcasts, episodes, interviews, panels, talks, and presentations of women+, I realized there are few of us in ed tech, specifically in higher ed, sharing audio/video presentation about our work, practice, design, research, etc. If I’m wrong, then please let me know by ADDING to this open spreadsheet #FemEdTech VOICES:

http://bit.ly/femedtechvoices

Here are a few suggestions of what YOU can ADD to the #femedtech Voices curated lists:

  1. Recommended Podcasts for the #FemEdTech Network: This tab of the spreadsheet is curating podcasts that #femedtech network might want to subscribe and listen to. Please include the podcast name, URL link where we can find or subscribe to it online, and the brief description of the pod. We would like to know about podcasts created for/and hosted by women+ involved in teaching, learning, ed tech, academia, or general issues impacting feminism. More ABOUT #femedtech network at: femedtech.net/about-femedtech/
  2. Suggested Podcast Episodes & Interviews: This tab of the spreadsheet is sharing SPECIFIC podcast episodes that the #femedtech network might want to hear. This could be an interesting interview, with a member of the #femedtech network, or perhaps a conversation/topic relevant to this community.  Please include the pod’s name, episode number and direct URL to the SPECIFIC episode. Thanks!
  3. Amplifying Your Talks, Presentation, & Panels: This tab of the spreadsheet is linking us to the audio/video archives of #femedtech presentations. This might be a conference session, workshop, webinar, keynote, panel, etc. Please include the speakers names/Twitter handles, conference/event name, title of the presentation, and link to where this presentation can be viewed (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, Google Slides recording, webinar archive, etc.) Feel free to share where we can hear/watch this presentation online.

I realized my “ASK” for podcasts and presentations might be a bit more complicated and challenging. I started wondering: “Are women+ creating, making, hosting, or producing audio and video representations of our work? If not why not?” Here’s my take on the barriers for women+ are not leading with our voices:

  • No Humble Brags Given: For women, often they are too modest about their accomplishments or remain silent about the amazing work they are doing. This downplay about our practices is serving no one and does not help anyone advance in our careers. Some may claim imposter syndrome; whereas, most just don’t speak up to highlight milestones and wins on campus or within their field/discipline. Women definitely need to make ourselves heard at work. Literally.
  • There Will be Epic Fails:  You are trying new things, so there is a high chance that you will mess up, make mistakes, and will not get the results you want on the first try. You might be experimenting with new platforms, practices, and tools — but really, these failures will allow you to learn and it might even help you overcome imposter syndrome. Be prepared to not be perfectly polished, find editing audio of yourself awkward, and cringe at the physical ticks only you notice from your video presentations. We all have flaws — that’s what makes us human.  Get over it and share!
  • Developing Skills Take Time: You will need practice and dedicate TIME to get through the above failures — to eventually share your audio/video presentations. Deliberate practice over time will improve your skills. Like any craft, editing and production of audio and video does take time.  I suggest teaming up with a friend or even collaborator to learn and support your skill development, give honest feedback, and perhaps introduce you to a workflow or resource to enhance the podcasts or videos you are creating. You don’t have to do it alone! And, realize you will continue to learn and improve the art of planning, recording, and editing as you go.
  • Digital Tensions: Others have expressed concerns of “presenting” or being “seen/heard” digitally — as it increases their professional/personal anxieties and fears. It is scary to put things out there that you can’t edit (words) or augment (images/slides). Podcasts, videos, and more area digital records archived online that can be discovered, shared, and disseminated to a wider audience. By capturing moving images, verbal/non-verbal cues, and live expressions — you are open and vulnerable to others who stumble upon your work online. Audio and video has presentations not only capture your skills, knowledge, and practice — but these mediums also offer others an impression and digital trace of who you are, how you represent these ideas, and where you reside online (White & LeCornu, 2011).

All that being said, I really do want to HEAR and SEE what other women+ have to say online. I really appreciate and enjoy learning about what we are doing through podcasts, videos, and webcasts. By watching videos and hearing your voice, these mediums offer an intimate connection to you, your passions, your interests, and your ideas. These resonate and linger more for me in audio/video format — and these recorded archives allow a wider audience to stumble upon your work. Moving beyond text or flat visuals, I get some insight into your experiences and I feel a deeper connection to you!

Over the last few years, I’ve been thinking more about amplifying voices that don’t often get heard. This is why I co-host a podcast for/by women (#InVinoFab) and openly share resources for how to get started with podcasting. I hope to encourage others to think about how to “present” ourselves, skills, and knowledge digitally with more explainer blog posts, like  multimodal approaches for teaching/learning, virtual teaming for collaborating, and strategies for conducting interviews. I think explaining our process (e.g. animated explainer video creation) of HOW we create this type of audio/video work might be helpful. So, expect more posts from me that pulls back the curtain to show my process. Finally, I know my 1:1 coaching and work with professionals for conference events (e.g. Pecha Kucha talks), pitch meetings, and keynotes have been helpful as I share resources from a “technical presentation skills” course I’ve taught at the university the last few years. I hope to do a bit more of this with other peers to give them the support they need.

Are you interested in developing your digital presentation skills? Looking for a way to amplify your voice through podcasting or video talks? Let me know — I’d be happy to support and welcome your voice to the conversation online.

Professional Development

Designing Multimodal Approaches for Learning #multimodalLX

There are so many different ways to understand a concept or learn something new. We share knowledge and communicate information in so many ways. That being said, it doesn’t often translate into how we experience “formal” learning in action in education or industry talent development. When I say multiple modes or multimodal approaches for learning, you may jump to say “learning styles have been debunked.”  This is true. There is not much evidence for said things. That being said, what is not part of the conversation is the option to offer multiple ways to meet our learners needs, preferences, or a diversity of choice for how they will learn a skills, concept, or theory.

“Pole Dynamics” by Mario Paiano is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Sadly, learning delivery, regardless of the industry or sector, rarely offers much choice/variety for learning or training.  Instruction or facilitation is commonly a lecture, presentation format with Q&A, a webinar, maybe a workshop with some activity, or some other typical face-to-face experience. Not surprisingly, there seems to be even fewer instructional approaches when the pedagogy becomes digital (i.e. online, blended, hybrid learning environments). If the goal is to reach our diverse learners, their individual needs, and perhaps their preferences — then sadly, we learning professionals could do better for how to design, deliver, and format learning experiences.

I started thinking about this as I prepped for an online workshop I’ll be facilitating next week on this topic: Designing Multimodal Approaches. As I was editing the modules and developing this introduction, I decided to intentionally model this with my own design. I wanted to engage, construct their own knowledge, and offer a personal way to learn from the start.

Here’s the what mulitmodal artifacts/learning objects I created to represent and communicate the theory of modes of meaning (Kalantzis, Cope, Chan, & Dalley-Trim, 2016) in multiple contexts:

Audio & Oral Meanings

Communication with music, ambient sounds, noises, alerts, hearing & listening and as a form of live or recorded speech, presentation, etc.

MULTIMODAL CREATE: Soundcloud audio recording and screencast with Camtasia of a slide deck with voice over plus ambient music. Audio grabbed simultaneously with Audio Hijack software while recording the screencast.

Writing & Reading Meanings

Textual: writing, notes, reading, reflections, journals, etc.

MULTIMODAL CREATE: Text presented in the slide deck + written instructions on the screen PLUS a full transcript as PDF file available for download from Dropbox,  and text format by sending my audio recording to otter.ai — then editing this transcript with links, e.g. https://otter.ai/s/HCmFi2ZcTRKdQgXgH7TeiQ Beyond these text versions, I also added this transcript to the Closed Captions on the YouTube video and edited it for timing accuracy.

Visual Meanings

Making still and video images. Similar to the “audio & oral” meanings, there are so many learning tools I have been tinkering with to make this visual for learning and to explain my process for research, design, etc.

MULTIMODAL CREATE: I decided to source some CC-BY photos, layout my slides and tabs on my screen, and develop a video with these still images and screen directions moving my mouse around the course, to different tabs, etc. to review the course resources.

Spatial, Tactile, & Gestural Meanings

Positioning oneself in relation to others; Making experiences of things that can be felt; and Communicating through movements of the body, facial expressions, eye-movement, demeanor, style, etc.

MULTIMODAL CREATE: This one can be a bit more challenging in a digital environment; however, I decided to “bring in” my learners by building a rapport, sharing a bit about how I approach multimodal learning in my work, and offer them my personal interests and ideas by scrolling through my Instagram page images, sharing about the podcasts I produce/host, and telling them about the #femedtech network I’m curating this week. Although my learners will not see my physical gestures on this video/screencast, they are able to get a feel for who I am, how I relate to their learning objectives of the workshop, and what experiences I hope we can share as we work on multimodal approaches together.

The things that are not said about designing a multimodal approach for learning, that should be noted:

  1. It takes some creative planning to identify how you can offer learning content in multiple modes and formats, specifically to reach your learning outcomes/goals in a course.
  2. Multimodal levels the playing field — it allows for Universal Design for Learning, accessibility, portability, and choice for how learners can participate.
  3. Multimodal approaches for learning REQUIRE TIME to do it well — so start small. Try re-designing or creating at ONE learning activity, object, or aspect of a course you are instructing.

Do you have advice and suggestions for multimodal approaches for learning design?

Let me know! Over the next week, I have no doubt you will see me tweeting about this workshop using the hashtag #multimodalLX. I strongly encourage and welcome YOUR suggestions, resources, and advice for how to design digital learning experiences in a variety of modes and format.

Reference:

Kalantzis, M., Cope, B., Chan, E., & Dalley-Trim, L. (2016). Literacies, 2nd Ed. Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press

Higher Education, Learning, Learning and Performance, Library, Library Science, Open Education, OpenAccess, Professional Development

Introducing: Open Higher Ed Learning & Development (HELD) Digital Library

There are a growing number of learning networks, online communities, educational resources, and openly shared learning & development (L&D) created for and by higher education professionals. Over the years I have personally discovered a wealth of thoughtful and creative resources that have helped me improve, learn, and grow in the work I do. These open artifacts and digital items are openly shared by a brilliant group of colleagues who work in and around in higher education. This past summer, a course I as enrolled in as a learner prompted me to start this side passion-project to think about how I can best gather these professional L&D resources that best inform my own teaching, research, and practice. This led me to create the Open Higher Ed Learning & Development (HELD) digital library.

OER is sharing is a Flickr image/drawing shared in the Public Domain by Giulia Forsythe

The Open HELD digital is designed to showcase and display open educational resources (OER), specifically resources that provide professional L&D for peers and colleges working in the postsecondary education (staff, faculty, and graduate students). This space is a digital library is always a work “in-progress” as I will continue to edit, update, and add to the collections — you know, all the metadata fun.

Open Higher Ed Learning & Development (HELD) Library

https://openheld.omeka.net/

This digital library shares open L&D materials with an open license as an OER object via Creative Commons, the Public Domain, and/or via permission of the creators/authors/editors for each item. As you browse this digital collection, you will find open L&D items to enhance your instruction, help with student support/advising, and improve your scholarly work with teaching, research, and service. I hope this digital library is helpful for you to find and learning with these resources. I encourage you to share this digital library with other postsecondary peers and colleagues.

If you have an open L&D teaching, learning, research, or service resource to share with higher education professionals please let me know. It would be great to share and showcase your resources/items. The Open HELD library collections currently include: books, journals, reports, podcasts, Twitter chats, drawings, pictures, videos, webcasts, team/personal blogs, and websites. I welcome links to URLs, uploads of files/documents, images, and more. Also, I welcome expanding this to share relevant whitepapers, course syllabi, presentation slide decks, program/teaching handouts, and more. These collections can be augmented, expanded, or added to.

Do you have an OER L&D item to add to a collection? Please feel free to submit your contribution to the Open HELD library here: https://forms.gle/SF8LCPVJ3ehS6XnQA

Also, as the Open HELD collections are a living and evolving library, I welcome your questions, comments, feedback, and suggestions for how to improve current collections and or corrections for an items already housed in this library — please feel free to send me an email at: techknowtoolsllc@gmail.com Thanks!

Library Science

Introduction to Digital Libraries

This summer I’m enrolled in a couple of courses in the UNT Information Science department as part of the Digital Curation and Data Management certificate. For those of you who know me as a “secret librarian,” I am now diving into some of the practices, techniques, tools, and concepts in library sciences. Introduction to digital libraries is the first course I am in, and this introduction reminds me how much of the internet has emerged from how we organize, collect, and represent objects for users to access online. I hope to share some of my course work and learning experiences (by blog, of course), and perhaps even put out a few visual examples or request for the new platforms and spaces I am experimenting/creating with this term (e.g. GIMP, Omeka, etc.).

Although information can be gathered and curated online, this does not make it a digital library. Library and information scholars have been thinking about the theoretical foundations, technical infrastructures, digital objects, online collections, and organization/representation of information long before the existence of the web. Today, it might be a simple click to find information online; however, these search engines are built on some of these procedures and considerations involved in digitizing objects and planning for access of these items, services, and systems online.

“Consider a future device … in which an individual stores all his[/her/their] books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his [her/their] memory” (Bush, 1945).

The Digital Library Initiative (DLI) I and II were heavily influenced by a number of computer science and STEM organizations, specifically National Science Foundation (NSF), continued work with the ARPANET with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with ARPANET, and progress of information retrieval systems between 1965 and 1990 from computer/information scientists. The DLI in 1994 launched what digital libraries are today, which also represents the following terms: electronic library, virtual library, hybrid library, and library without walls (Calhoun, 2014). These digital library initiatives were based on the information science infrastructure development to support technical issues for operating these systems on computer networks to include “interoperability, portability, data exchange, scalability, federation, extensibility and open network architectures” (Borgman, 1999, p. 236). The move toward automation and digitization of library institutions and services (e.g. libraries, museums, and archives) could not have been completed without these advancements in computing and development of interfaces to interact with networked technologies.

The Digital Library (DL) offer digital services and distributed knowledge to meet the needs of users in electronic format. Early DL initiatives were initiated within developing nations to offer access and meet the needs of organizations (Isah, Mushewa, Serema, & Kenosi, 2014).  Digital libraries (DLs) provide open systems and services to advance
knowledge and culture; organize collections of digital content and objects; and use an architecture that supports a repository accessible by search with services to connect users to resources through user-friendly interfaces (Calhoun, 2014). DLs will curate items within a set scope and have specific requirements for items they include within a collection.

One example of a DL is the Digital Public Library of America (https://dp.la/) that hosts a wealth of information, archives, government documents, and primary source sets online. A recent addition to their online collection is the Mueller Report, which is available for all to access digitally. Typically, DLs provide electronic resources that are constructed, collected, and organized by and for a community of users (Borgman, 1999). Based on suggestions from Candela et al. (2007), here are a few of the attributes of a DL:

  • Virtual organization of electronic resources
  • Organization of digital library collections
  • Preservation and management rich digital content
  • Specialized community support for digital objects/collections
  • Digitization of library objects in digital format for books, journals, music, art, museum collections, etc.
  • Access to library resources over a distributed network
  1. World Digital Library. A source for manuscripts, rare books, films, maps and more in multilingual format.
  2. Universal Digital Library. A collection of one million books.
  3. Project Gutenberg. More than 33,000 e-books to read and download.
  4. Bartleby. An immense collection of books for consultation, including fiction, essay and poetry.
  5. ibiblio. E-books, magazines, academic essays, software, music and radio.
  6. Google Books. More than 100,000 books for consultation, download or on-line purchase.
  7. Internet Archive: The largest digital library for downloading e-books and audio-books for free.
  8. Open Library: More than one million e-books of classic literature to download.

A library collection is defined as “an accumulation of information resources developed by information professionals intended for a user community or a set of communities” Lee, 2000, p. 1106). A major function of a traditional library collection is to facilitate information seeking by providing its users with convenient access to relevant information resources (Buckland, Gorman, & Gorman, 1992). These resources might be books, reference documents, serials, rare books, government files, special collections/artifacts, and/or media objects. A collection is the complete accumulation of books, materials, objects (physical and digital), that are accessible within the library.

To preserve items within library collections, archives, and museums it is necessary to reformat these objects through digitization, that is, to create digital objects. The 1990s saw the emergence of this digitization standards, principles, and practices for how to digitally reformat texts, books, pictorial images, collections, and other projects and the field of digitization specialization has expanded beyond libraries and into cultural heritage organizations/communities. To ensure a set of principles for the digital libraries’ preservation role, managed collections require that digital objects selected are accessible and available for long-term resource needs (Deegan & Tanner, 2002, p. 22).

Digital objects now broaden this term, as tangibility and ownership offer the opportunity to provide digital collections for library users. Now information and items are directly accessible in electronic format, so the term collections now apply to digital collections. Lee (2000, p. 1106) believes the function of collections needs a fresh examination to determine the access means in context to the user’s point of view to further understand and better support how collections facilitate information seeking. These digital collections are often a set of digital and multimedia resources that can be owned, accessed, curated, and/or shared within a digital library, that have organized digital object using metadata to describe the individual objects and the overall collection details. Based on technological advancement and possibilities with digital collections, a library collection often reflects the characteristics and interconnectivity of the information world to ensure information-seeking as contextual and interactive with a user-centered design approach (Lee, 2000, p. 1111).

Collections in Digital Libraries: these are a set of digital and multimedia information resources which are building blocks that consist of an organized assembly of digital information objects, metadata describing those objects, and metadata describing the overall collection. These group of objects that are not necessarily physically owned and sustained by the library in a collection; however, they have “a group of information resources, a defined user community, a collection development policy statement, and an integrated retrieval system” (Lee, 2000, p. 111). The digital collections are a balance of the user and institutional interests that typically reflect the priorities and impact these collections might have for sustainability over time (Miller, 2015). To build a good digital collection with purpose, you need to provide an overview of the major components and activities; identify existing resources that support the development of practices; and encourage community participation for ongoing development to build the collection (NISO, 2007, p. 1).

Here are a few of the “library” listed books I am reading or I recommend to read:

  • Biblio TECH by John Plafrey
  • The Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know
  • Ways of Curating by Hans Ulrich Obrist
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  • What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly

What books about the library or library/information science recommendations do you have for me? Please share!

BONUS LISTEN: from a recent 99% Invisible podcast, Episode No. 354: Weeding is Fundamental, I recently about Collection Management: “Collection size and scope, as determined by holdings counts, particular strengths, and unique materials, were formerly understood in relation to institutional mission and programs” (Horava, 2010, p.142). Johnson (2009) notes how collection management was designed to include the development practices and support for collections, specifically with regards to the decisions about reviewing, retention, and evaluation of a collection e.g. weeding, cancelling serials, storage, and preservation.

References:

Borgman, C. L. (1999). What are digital libraries? Competing visions. Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/7c55m1xf

Buckland, M. K., Gorman, M., & Gorman, M. (1992). Redesigning library services: a manifesto (Vol. 19). Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Bush, V. (1945, July). As we may think. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/

Calhoun, K. (2014). Emergence and definitions of digital libraries. In Exploring Digital Libraries: Foundations, Practice, Prospects. ALA Neal-Schuman.

Candela, L., Castelli, Y. I., Ross, S., Thanos, C., Pagano, P., Koutrika, G., … & Schuldt, H. (2007). Setting the foundations of digital libraries. D-Lib Magazine, 13(3/4), 1082-9873.

Harmon, E. (2015, October 19). When you work in the open, everyone can be a collaborator. Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/10/when-you-work-open-everyone-can-be-collaborator

Horava, T. (2010). Challenges and possibilities for collection management in a digital age. Library Resources & Technical Services, 54(3), 142-152.

Johnson, P. (2009). Fundamentals of collection development and management, 1st Edition. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Isah, A., Mushewa, A., Serema, B., & Kenosi, L. (2015). Analyzing digital library initiatives: 5S theory perspective. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 21(1), 68-82.

Lee, H. (2000). What is a collection? Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 51(12), 1106-1113. doi: 10.1002/1097-4571

Mills, A. (2015). User impact on selection, digitization, and the development of digital special collections. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 21(2), 160-169.

Higher Education, Learning, Learning and Performance, Library, Online Learning, Professional Development

Why Can’t Learning in the Analog and Digital Just Get Along?

It’s the end of the academic term (well, almost, I’m still wrapping up my grading), but I have been thinking a great deal about learning, how we learn, and the modes of learning for both my students and professionals this semester. Back in March, Joshua Kim posed a series of questions related to the higher education conference learning that goes on, and questioning how we might need to rethink our own professional development for learning:

  • What if the way we think about professional development for learning professionals is actually holding back the learning profession?
  • What if what we really need is to create new knowledge?
  • What if what the learning profession really needs is original scholarship?
  • What if the resources, time and energy we devote to attending large professional conferences would be better spent in small-scale convenings, where the goals of scholarly productivity are foregrounded above all others?

These questions resonated with me, my friends/colleagues often ask if I will be attending an upcoming conference or event so we can meet up. As a professional with minimal funds for travel and also little interest in attending conferences during the academic term (I teach A LOT of learners during the two long semesters – Fall and Spring), many are surprised to hear I am not going to be at these events as I value professional learning. In the last few years, I have notices that I am not learning very much at conferences on site at these events. To clarify — I DO participate in valuable discussions, debates, and banter with peers at these events, but I’m not sure the format of a typical 2-3 day conference with keynotes, workshops, lecture presentations, academic papers/posters, etc. in a 2-3 day format is not how I WANT to learn.

Sure. I miss the connections and socialization within the profession at these conference events, but really, my learning and development is on-going and more tailored to what I need and want to learn about. These days, I think there are SO many ways to engage with professionals and gain the knowledge I am looking about — that I have not been interested in figuring out how to build a budget for one event. Sometimes I follow and read through a conference backchannel if I can’t physically attend; however, lately, I’m not sure I’m really missing out on anything. I think the biggest loss of not attending might not actually be the learning, but the networking and professional socialization that comes with the analog format of most conferences.  Also what is often lost in these large learning events, is the knowledge creation and sharing beyond a time, location, and date to a broader audience — that comes with “the common is a faith in the power of convening. And, in particular, a faith in the power of convening at scale” (Kim, 2019).

I think there are SO many ways professional to learn, develop, and gain knowledge in higher education. I typically find ways to learn from my peers and gain insights into my field through:

  • Books I borrow from the public & university library – I read A LOT!
  • Hashtags I search/follow/chat with on Twitter based on topics I’m interested in
  • Peers and colleagues work I follow — especially those who tweet, podcast, blog, and share in open access ways online
  • Journal articles and conference proceedings (ones that are publish)
  • PODCASTS! Like books, I listen to and learn from a wide variety of episodes, including the growing number of higher ed-focused podcasts, available on-demand, for download, and/or streaming. I guess I also create a couple to learn from as well e.g. @BreakDrink & @InVinoFab
  • LIVE/ARCHIVED web stuff: Webinars, web-events, broadcasts, YouTube live, Virtually Connecting sessions, etc.
  • Local events and happenings around DFW — at my campus, at other campuses, and general MeetUps or events. This even includes things posted on my local neighborhood network, NextDoor.
  • Subscriptions to learning, like this yearly membership I have to MasterClass.com
  • Open educational resources (OER) — e.g. MOOCs offered by FutureLearn, Coursera or edX and other OER repositories
  • Listservs and Google Groups — yeah, I still learn news, information, and find opportunities on these emailed spaces.
  • Library or research workshops at UNT Library like Software Carpentry for R and Python to tool up on a skills, platform, or research method.
  • Formal university courses. I take advantage of that staff/faculty discount at my own institution to take a non-degree course (I’m working on this certificate now).
  • Friends, colleague, and peer suggestions for learning and training — they just know I like learning, and what might peak my interest, in general. So I welcome referrals and suggestions for any of the above — and I get these often.

Beyond professional learning conferences, this sentiment also present with the work I do in the online teaching/learning domain. At our colleges and universities (at least in the US), there seems to be more value placed on the analog vs. the digital work we do on campus. If I am not physically “present” somewhere, how can the work I be doing the same as my colleague? What does a lecturer do who does not actually lecture? Good question, let me tease this out a bit as a couple of recent reads around digital minimalism and revenge of the analog has peaked these thoughts.

Over the past five years, as a full-time non-tenure track faculty member, I have been involved in a great deal of teaching/learning as a lecturer (who might not actually lecture). My work involves instructing face-to-face (F2F), online, and blended learning university courses and also designing learning/training on digital platforms AND within new physical teaching spaces. This has been fun, as I try to apply what I’m learning and discovering in my own research/learning (see list above) to re-tool how to best design these educational experiences digitally (like others who move to online teaching). That being said, when talking to some colleagues, I do notice the embedded bias for the “traditional” teaching methods (e.g. sage on the stage, chalk n’ talk, talking-head expert, etc.) for what it means to be present on a campus as a faculty or staff employee.

Looking back, I suppose most of my own experience as a learner involved F2F means of instruction, student support, and interactions. Before finishing my PhD, I had a number of F2F and blended courses I taught or had been enrolled in myself. Part of the assumption of online teaching comes with the culture on campus and the expectations of what an online course will entail for the learner. For F2F courses, I think there is less pressure to have your entire curriculum prepared, available, and online at the start of each semester. A professor or instructor can just show up and talk (on or off topic) based on what might be loosely included in the course syllabus or schedule that day, often without any concern for lecture capturing, archiving, and transcribing media (audio or video) of their presentation. As a F2F instructor who teaches on campus, there is no need to be explicit in detail for assignments, or itemization of instruction on projects, tasks, or activities for learning. Students attending these courses on site can ask immediate follow up questions before, during or after scheduled class time. Additionally, students feel a rapport or social presence with the in-class instructor that is different those educators they might have online (not always, but it often it is so). These interactions to learn with peers or through impromptu discussions in class, does not require a script, plan, or set outline of pedagogy when comparing it to the defined structures of an online course.  Then there are other F2F learning experiences when faculty stick to the scripted presentation/lecture with minimal interaction or engagement.

Since my faculty role has primarily involved designing and delivering online learning, I have been a fortunate to lecture and capture lessons on video/audio, augment how I offer student support in office hours, create useful learning materials beyond a textbook, create social presence for myself and learners in these courses, and be mindful of making my educational resources accessible in a variety of different formats considerations for multiple formats. This reflection of my teaching online is constant and helps me to improve how to make concepts and learning relevant for my students.

For learning, it does not have to be a THIS or THAT debate. When it comes to the digital or analog practices, I think there is value in both. Like making a mix tape of music or playing a vinyl record, I take the skills of searching, listening, finding, and curating my music on Spotify playlists digitally. I don’t think I could do one well without the other. The skills for learning design offline apply to how I think about my online curriculum. Both should exist — it’s not an either or when it comes to the analog and digital experience for learning. Our college/university campuses and our professional associations could use a healthy smattering of both. We need educators, administrators, instructional designers, and student support services that are versatile in both digital and analog practices. I think teaching online, over the past few years, better informs my pedagogical preparation and considerations for how I design and deliver learning. Whether it is an in-person conference workshop or an online week webinar, I think the pedagogical experiences help to merge my digital and analog practices. It’s marriage of both skills sets to reach a variety of ways to gain knowledge and learn.

We will never change how we create and share knowledge, or learn new ways to do things, unless we change our professional practices. The model of conference learning is fine to socialize and network with the select few who can afford to attend the conference; however, I would challenge the number of professional associations I am/have been a member of to think about how to BETTER share and TRULY scale knowledge in a manageable way, specifically:

  • How are these learning artifacts archived beyond the dates and locations of these events?
  • Are there ways to share knowledge and learning that we need to start modeling for professional learning, training, and development of our own?
  • How are professionals who do not attend engaged and encouraged to understand the value-add of these learning experience or resources shared from the in-person meetings?
  • What was can data be managed and learning objects be curated to organize what was shared, learned, and presented at these events?

I don’t have the answers to these, but I think this is worthy of further discussion and consideration. I know I would be willing to support and work with professional associations/organizations who would like to consider how to effectively organize their own digital libraries for learning, knowledge sharing, and advancement of the field. Let’s chat.

Career, Job Search

Engineer Your Career Passion

Most people want to be satisfied and fulfilled by their work. What we do for work and thinking about our career is a central focus for most of my learners, colleagues, friends, and family. And why not? Our jobs take up our time, focus our priorities, or at least have our attention — as we spend  an average of 13 years of our life at work. Asking individuals to find their “career callings” is a stressful task. How can you find great work you love, when really you need a job to be functional, realistic, and something you can obtain? Finding a “job you love” may not pay the bills, support your needs, and be something you can do at the moment. Work can be fun, but not all work is. And, sometimes a job is just a job — it might be a job to support yourself and family, that is in the right geographic location, be the first step in your career, or just something you’re doing right now while you try to figure out the next steps to take in your professional life.

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That being said, many people seek meaning and purpose in their world of work. Which might be something that may never happen. Maybe we’re putting too much emphasis on this job fulfillment. Whether it is millennial burnout or workism as our professional identity, there seems to be no shortage of folks discussing and writing about the topic careers and work life these days. I appreciated how Elizabeth Gilbert breaks down how we think about our careers in a Hello Monday interview, specifically how we might confuse these four aspects of our life when it comes to reflecting on our work life:

  1. Hobby: Is something you do because you enjoy it and you don’t need anything back for it. It’s fun and you delight in it.
  2. Job: A thing you have because everyone has to have one. It doesn’t need to fulfill your emotional needs because it’s there to pay the bills and you have a life outside your job that is more interesting (e.g. family, hobbies, pursuits, etc.)
  3. Career: Should be something you are passionate about (mostly). A career is a job that you deeply care about.
  4. Vocation: A sacred calling of something that is very holy to you that is the center of your life that can never be taken away from you no matter what.

This framework presents ideas around careers vs. callings, specifically outlining what you do and how you do. In the span of your work life, you might find yourself in anyone or all four of these areas to find fulfillment OR to support your career planning.  Listen to the full podcast episode HERE.

Sometimes how we craft our work and leisure time leaves many professional unsatisfied by not answering their career callings and leading to professional regret (Berg, Grant, & Johnson, 2010). This synopsis by Gilbert is not entirely wrong. Our job attitudes and meaning-making at work is highly predictive of how individuals thrive and contribute to their organizations of employment (Wrzesniewski, 2003), specifically when job crafting in service of purpose is encouraged and supports the well-being of the employee (Tims, Bakker, & Derks, 2013). Each semester I teach a course in personal/professional development, where my learners go through modules to figure out their own trajectory for their academic and career path. Some are first-generation, first time in college students; whereas others have years of experience in their profession and are looking to finish a 4-year degree to advance, transition to a new career, and more. I know that identifying career callings and directions are challenging. So I typically do NOT give the traditional advice to “find your passion.” I think passions are often developed and created as we gain employment experience, learn more about ourselves, and find opportunities for discovery in the wold of work.

I know that I am not alone in this thinking

Listen to the recent WorkLife with Adam Grant podcast: The Perils of Following your Career Passion that shares how the “do what you love” is often terrible career advice.

What will your future work self look like? Do you know what you want to be doing? What can you do now to get you there? Your first job might not make you happy or your next career move might not be your “dream job” — but what will help you learn, grow and enhance YOU for the next step in your professional life? How can you develop your talents and build upon your skills, interest, and abilities? These are the questions I pose to my learners each semester. That is, to really think about what drives you into action and to identify how to these interests to individual skills and talents for work.

In studying unconventional career paths of “dark horses,” Rose and Ogas (2018) found that the pursuit of fulfillment requires work:

“Following your passion takes little effort. Engineering your passion, on the other hand, is a more serious undertaking. It requires that you diligently pursue a deeper understanding of yourself. Engineering passion is hard work-but the benefits are enormous” (pp. 76-77).

I think we all could put more effort into designing and building the career we want. Passion might be part of it, or we might decide this passion is something we do alongside our work life. There is no one standard formula for how our hobby, job, career, and calling exist with one another. Here are a few big questions to consider if you want to start engineering your career passion to create a fulfilling work experience and to support your future work self:

  • Legacy:
    • Where do you want to make a difference in the world?
    • What do you want to leave behind?
    • How can you start moving towards these goals?
    • Would your 10-year-old self be proud of what you are doing?
  • Mastery:
    • What sort of actions/skills put you into a state of flow?
    • What is something you can focus on for hours?. e.g. you might forget to eat, lose sleep, etc.
    • What knowledge, skills, or abilities do you want to learn?
    • What ways are you challenging yourself to actively improve, practice, or develop?
  • Action:
    • What are you doing (or not doing) today to move your career goals forward?
    • How are you honing your optimal skills and talents for the next job or career transition?
    • What ways are you making time to grow and develop your future work self now?
    • Who might you reach out to to support/advise/mentor with your career development in your organization, industry, and/or professional field?

References:

Berg, J. M., Grant, A. M., & Johnson, V. (2010). When callings are calling: Crafting work and leisure in pursuit of unanswered occupational callings. Organization Science, 21(5), 973-994.
Rose, T., & Ogas, O. (2018). Dark horse: Achieving success through the pursuit of fulfillment. HarperOne.
Tims, M., Bakker, A. B., & Derks, D. (2013). The impact of job crafting on job demands, job resources, and well-being. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 18(2), 230-240.
Wrzesniewski, A. (2003). Finding positive meaning in work. In K. Cameron & J. Dutton (eds.) Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, pp. 296-308.