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.
highered, Podcast, Research

The State of Higher Ed Podcasts in 2019

Over the last couple of years, I have been looking at the landscape of podcasting within higher education. Today podcast and audio listening now has 50% of the US ear (The Infinite Dial 2019 report), as we witness some exodus from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.  With the options of audio streaming platforms and increased ownership of smart speakers, I was not surprised to see the increase in weekly audio online listening:

As someone who listens to, creates, hosts, and enjoy podcasts, I have been following how my college and university colleagues have been involved in developing their own podcasts for the past couple of years: https://higheredpodcasts.wordpress.com/ Thanks to iTunes U, universities found a way to share their audio and video lectures, lessons, and student-produced podcasts. Now, we have innovative colleagues willing to share about their scholarship, offer suggestions for teaching, and tell more about their own practice on campus. I have shared shared some of this research and training materials in a previous blog post: Pod Save Higher Ed: Resources for Podcasting.  Over the Spring Break, I completed a review and update of the podcasts my peers are making. There are a number of additions, updates and archives, especially as more higher ed professionals are finding accessible ways to create and stream their audio productions.

For the purpose of my research, I am investigating podcasts that share about the higher education professional (graduate students, staff, and faculty) experience. These specific types of podcasts may offer a new way to learn, offer professional development, share a story, and/or improve to our practice in teaching, research or service. My review is to look at the genres, topics, audiences, issues, and ideas being shared in the higher ed podcast land. Here is the list of podcasts I’ve curated and I am currently examining in 2019 [also shared http://bit.ly/higheredpodcasts]:

If you have a podcast I should include in this review of podcasts in 2019, please let me know! Here is how I am defining a “higher ed podcast” for the purpose of this study:

  • the podcast content is created and shared to support professional development, learning, and/or information distribution
  • the podcast has a target audience which might include graduate learners (e.g. masters or doctoral researchers), professional school students (e.g. social work, medicine, etc.), staff/administration, and/or faculty in higher education
  • the podcast is in an audio and/or video format that can be subscribed, downloaded, and/or streamed from an electronic device (e.g. computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile)
  • the podcast is a program, show, broadcast, and/or episodes with a specific purpose or topic focused on the higher education domain
  • the podcast includes original content development intention: it was designed for a podcast, e.g. recorded college/university lectures, conference panels/presentations, professional learning webinars, recorded meeting, etc. (unless it was edited to fit into a podcast)
  • the podcast can be active or archived (no production since 2017)
Podcast, Professional Development, Training & Development

Pod Save Higher Ed: Resources For Podcasting

This month, I have found myself sharing more and more about how we can think about social, digital tools to tell our stories in higher ed. There are many ways to share our experiences and highlight the amazing things students, staff, and faculty are working on at and beyond our institutions. I have found podcast hosting/producing to be a very rewarding experience to support my own learning and development. There is no shortage of knowledge I have not learned from podcast guests, the research of topics, and the notes for each episode  I have hosted – thanks @BreakDrink & #InVinoFab podcast!

Digital storytelling has the potential to cultivate agile learning and kick start creativity in our college/university pedagogical practices and research projects. With a growing population tuning into podcasts (at least 44% have listened to a podcast, and 26% are monthly listeners in the US in 2018), this storytelling medium is on the rise. Podcast creation and listening has increased for a variety of reasons: access and portability to listen on a variety of devices, a way to fill the daily/work commute, the growth of smart speakers, and the increasing mention of new and interesting fiction and nonfiction series that have reinvigorated podcast listening (thanks, Serial, Season 1).

Podcasts offer both information and entertainment outlets for listeners to tune in anywhere, anytime they want. This on-demand, audio content allows the media to be streamed or downloaded, and offers listeners a way to participate in the slow web movement.  Instead of a quick like, comment, or post we typically experience on social media or online, podcasts provide a longer form, intimate experience and connection with the hosts and ideas shared. This longer media format often offers deeper insights, showcases personality and personal styles, and helps to interpret current projects and experiences from this audio narrative. With a wide variety of creative formats (e.g. interviews, commentary, panels, storytelling, etc.), podcast episodes can vary in time, style, and approach. The audio medium of the podcast lets you decide the frequency, distribution, and how you will produce the topic. Additionally, you can include resources for listeners to access further information through episode details, resources, show notes, and transcripts.

I think MORE of my college and university colleagues should consider exploring podcast creation to share personal stories, thoughts, and reflections on the work we do. For higher ed, the podcast medium allows for hosts/producers to extend knowledge to a campus community, academic discipline, and practitioners who want to engage deeply on specific topics, ideas, trends, and/or issues. To plant the podcast production seed, I thought I’d share a few podcast planning/development resources I’ve been curating from a recent workshop I facilitated, called Pod Save Higher Ed. Here is the podcast planning and brainstorm resource guide to be downloaded (as a PDF file) shared under a Creative Commons license:

https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7228223.v1

I wish I had a quick “how to,” accessible guide to for higher ed podcast hosting and producing when I first started in 2010 (as Jeff and I lamented about in a past BreakDrink episode). This is a quick OVERVIEW of useful curated podcast resources, tools, tutorials, and suggestions I hope will help you if you are currently podcasting and/or considering to start your own podcast:

http://bit.ly/podsavehighered

There are SO many ways to produce a podcast these days. This open document is a space to SHARE and LEARN about HOW higher education professionals create, make, produce, and host their own podcasts:

http://bit.ly/behindthepodcast

Take a LISTEN to podcasts for and created by higher education professionals who want to share resources, ideas, and aspects about their own work:

http://bit.ly/higheredpodcasts

The time for higher ed professionals, practitioners, graduate students, researchers, instructors, administrators, and more to gain a share of the podcast ear. Higher ed hosts and producers, it’s time to raise our mics and let our tales be told through podcasts. Go ahead and launch the podcast you have always dreamed of creating now! I hope to listen to your pod story soon, @LauraPasquini

p.s. Be sure to share your podcasting story and let others know how/why you started your own podcasts OR how podcasts help you in your professional life in higher ed: #PodSaveHigherEd

Reference:

Pasquini, L. A. (2018). Pod Save Higher Ed: A Resource Guide To Inspire Storytelling & Podcast Making in Higher Education. figshare. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7228223.v1 and http://bit.ly/podsavehighered

#AcDigID, #EdDigID, #HEdigID

Being a Higher Ed Professional Online (#HEdigID) Is Complicated: Join the Conversation?

A growing number of practitioners, professionals, and administrators in higher education engage and share their professional practice in digital spaces. There is no surprise that these educators are social, networked, and keen to learn from one another online. These non-traditional spaces offer ways to share resources, access professional development, and learn from other professionals beyond their institution or even functional area of work.  Other higher ed professionals also seek out spaces for personal support, issues on campus, and communities that connect to their social identities, values, and/or beliefs.

This week I’m facilitating the Online Learning Consortium online workshop: Developing Your Social Media and Digital Presence for Higher Ed Professionals (#HEdigID). This 7-day, workshop was originally created to help faculty and staff in higher education craft an online presence; however, there are more issues about “being” online in today’s digital network. The goal was to introduce digital and social ways to connect, learn, and present yourself and work in online spaces. With the shift and scale of a number of social networks and online platforms, I’m not so sure everyone needs to be everywhere online. Some might need an academic persona … whereas other college/university staff may not or might be struggling with their digital, professional lives. Being a higher ed professional online is quite complicated. Asking and learning about professionals digital selves unpacks the complexity of living our individual networked experiences. Being a digital professional might differ based on the culture of the institution, support (or lack there of) from peers and/or a supervisor, ability to participate (or not) based on geographic location, and the social identities that travel with professionals via online platforms. The decision to “be” a professional online is not a simple or straightforward “how to” guide. And, I think it’s something that often gets overlooked or not really talked about it among higher ed faculty and staff — so let’s change that. Let’s talk about it!

Learning Objectives

  • Evaluate social media and digital platforms for professional development and connected learning.
  • Establish effective strategies for developing an online digital identity within the open, networked higher ed community online.
  • Outline the benefits and challenges of open and digital practice in higher education, specifically with regards to social media and other networked platforms.

Workshop Schedule

This is an asynchronous, week-long online workshop which will begin on a Monday (May 14th) and end on the following Sunday (May 20th). If you want a look at the #HEdigID workshop agenda, here is the outline for short-course:

  • Why Does Social & Digital Identity Matter in Higher Ed?
    • Getting started, digital identity development, and state of postsecondary practitioners and administrators online
  • The Tools of the Digital Professional Trade: Social Media
    • Twitter, hashtags, blogging, podcasting, LinkedIn, and more for creating and sharing online.
  • Being a Connected and Digital Practitioner
    • Digital research impact and influence: Slack, websites, YouTube Live, ORCID iD, ResearchGate, etc.
  • Openness in Academia: Benefits & Challenges
    • Working “in the open” and the tension between benefits & challenges of digitally engaging.
  • Building Your Social and Digital Presence Online
    • Creating your own space and place for your professional work and sharing among practitioners.
  • Developing Your Digital Academic Identity
    • Bonus: Ways to aggregate and showcase your digital, professional self and the work you’re doing on campus.

Dates Offered: May 14-20, 2018; Registration Page (to sign up)

Join the Conversation?

If you can join us in the actual course — great! If you are not able to commit to this short course — but you’re interested in this TOPIC and DISCUSSION, here are a few ways you can engage in the Higher Ed Digital Identity (#hedigid) Workshop this week:

  • ADD TO THE TWITTER LIST: Are you on the“Academics Who Tweet” Twitter list? I would like to get a variety of folks from academia from all disciplines and functional work areas in higher education. Let me know (comments or directly on Twitter) if YOU or someone else should be added.
  • USE the #HEdigID Workshop HASHTAG this week to introduce yourself, say hello, share resources, or offer advice. I am encouraging learners to follow, read, and use this same hashtag during the week of May 14-20, 2018.
  • PARTICIPATE & TWEET during the #HEdigID Twitter Chat: Join us for the Twitter chat on Friday, May 18th for the ALL DAY conversation. Using the workshop hashtag, #HEdigID, I will moderate a chat over the course of the day to dig into the questions, challenges, and ideas/suggestions for being a networked professionals. I will be posting the questions and reminding y’all about the chat in a couple of days BEFORE Friday. Learn more about the #HEdigID chat here and how YOU can sign up to moderate a future conversations online: https://techknowtools.com/twitter-chats/hedigid/
  • TELL YOUR #HEdigID STORY: Interested in joining an online, synchronous conversation to share about your own #HEdigID experience? Want to tell a story about how being a networked scholar/practitioner impacts your work in higher ed?  Want to tell the workshop participants about a connected community you are a part of in these networked spaces? Let me know – happy to have you join during our #HEdigID Online, Synchronous Meeting this FRIDAY, May 18, 2018 from 12-12:40 pm EST. [Drop me a DM on Twitter: @laurapasquini or a comment]

Being online and living in the network impacts our personal and professional lives. What it was to be connected or sharing in the network looks and feels much different in 2018. What does it mean to be a networked professional now to you? How has your participation changed, shifted, or grown in these social networks? What questions or considerations are you making about your online self to preserve your digital identity? Join the conversation to reflect and discuss what it means to be a higher ed professional in digitally connected spaces.

Collaboration, Higher Education, Horizon Report, K-12, Learning, report, Research

#FOECast: Ideation Week for the Future of Education

What project should we create to grasp the future of education and technology?

This is a big, bold question that is being explored and discussed in facilitated conversations via Bryan Alexander this week for:

Future of Education & Everything Community (#FOECast) IDEATION WEEK: February 26-March 2, 2018 

For those of you who know me (or are just getting to be acquainted), I am all for a grassroots initiative to discuss and dig into problems by and for a community. The idea of this week is to encourage “ideation” in an open, accessible way to explore how we’ll investigate/understand the future of learning, education, technology, and probably more. This is an exciting endeavor instigated by Bryan (and more!) to crowdsource where the Horizon report might go — or even expand into areas it did not reach. The goal (or dream) is: “to create something bold and new, a project drawing on the middle of the 21st century. This is a public and open process, through which we hope to get as broad and diverse a set of perspectives as possible.”

 

JOIN the LIVE Online Sessions to CONTRIBUTE!

During the online, synchronous meetings, these will be the four questions/prompts to guide the conversation:

  1. What needs did the Horizon report meet?

  2. What forecasting methods should we consider?

  3. What shape should a new effort take?

  4. What scope should this cover?

If you are not able to make a time/meeting, please feel free to participate in this organic and growing discussion. You can comment by tweeting and follow the #FOECast hashtag. Add your comments and responses to this open Google doc that continues to grow and be annotated (love it?).  Join and contribute to the ongoing Slack channel (find the direct URL here: https://beyondthehorizongroup.slack.com/). Additionally, you can post your own thoughts/ideas to the four questions (above) on your own blog, video, or other digital media of your choice. I have no doubt the community of futurists, instigators, designers, and then some would welcome all contributions … well, maybe not smoke signals (yet).

I expressed my sentiments about the NMC Horizon Report and the value it offered in the doc:

1) What needs did the Horizon Report meet?

I think the horizon report helps to bring together multiple stakeholders have contributed to the different entities in education come together (K-12, higher ed, and libraries) and the professional organizations/affiliations of practitioners and researchers. The horizon reports offered information, knowledge sharing, exemplars/examples, and practical experiences collected in one hub. Related to that, we started to bridge into other geographic areas and branch into the needs of industry. This cross-section of representation started to pollinate ideas and encourage people to move beyond a role or institutional focus into what is possible for the future of education. Does the horizon report need to be exclusive to technology? Should we be focused on the education landscape as a whole? This could be the changes in demographics for learners, educators, practitioners, and organizational trends/needs.

I’m stilling chewing on these questions… and thinking out loud (out blog?). I hope to join the conversations and be part of this collaborative discussion and threads on the interwebs. If you too care about the future of learning and have a thought of two — do join in. This is important and we need ideas from all around the education/learning table. What do you think about the future of learning, education, and technology?

 

An UPDATE on March 4, 2018:

After participating in a couple of conversations, watching the online discourse, and critical contributions in the shared doc/slack spaces, I thought I should finish up my own contributions to all that is shared and where this #FOEcast conversation might go. Here are my responses to the last 3 questions posed for the week:

2) What forecasting methods should we consider?

I am not sure about forecasting methods; however, I am not sure we do a decent job actually aggregating the data, research, and current practices in a comprehensive manner. There are a number interesting and creative pedagogical practices that rarely get reviewed or researched. Additionally, there is rarely many findings or research implications that are shared well with practitioners for teaching/learning/training. I would be more interesting in considering how we bring these information sources we currently have to understand the broader landscape. Perhaps this involves bringing different entities, stakeholders, organizations, etc. together to process and review learning practices in a few different pockets and industries. With criticisms of integrity withing the educational technology research and critiques of past NMC briefs, I am not sure how the past reports were developed always expressed the trends of teaching/learning/training around the globe. Who gets included or excluded with a Delphi panel? Why is there a focus on technologies and tools, rather than solving problems? How can future trend reporting truly reach and cover a broad spectrum of how learning and development is evolving with “innovative” or forward thinking pedagogical practice? Those would be the questions I would want answered for predictions and pathways forward for research methods to develop a new report.

3) What shape should a new effort take?

Perhaps going from the original Delphi model of “ask the expert” + community to curate a report of the “state of learning” (or training or development — per Stephen Downes above) to tease out the original PDF report and present it in multiple ways that interests and engages multiple audiences (e.g. educators, researchers, designers, admin, training, L&D, etc.). A digital showcase of applications beyond a webinar or webcast could include bit-sized examples of testing and experimenting with learning design, a technology in application for learning, or other via a podcast+show notes, video demonstration, testing exemplar of a concept, team blog of experimentation in progress, or a “behind the curtains” look for how to apply pedagogical practices. There is no shortage of how to share knowledge that allows it to cross into different industries, learning/educational areas, and could engage multiple professionals (not just K-12, higher ed, workplace learning, library, etc.) — this could be shared with those who are willing to test/try/experiment in learning. Perhaps focusing on the issues, concepts, and problems will help bring a broader audience and interest to the findings in these future of learning reports AND help us to connect the nodes between professions, practitioners, and a variety of industries. Let’s start encouraging play in other professional sandboxes!

4) What scope should this cover?

I think FOECast has the potential to go beyond the original Horizon Report. It could be more than a function of educational sectors or even geographic locations discussing the trends for technology + {Library, K-12 education, Higher Ed, etc.}. The new version looking at the future of education (or learning/development/training), could provide a pathway to discuss critical issues, contemplative ideas, and thoughtful pedagogical practices. Some of these trends may include technology; however, the focus could be on the issues or problems the collective wants to solve in teaching/learning/development. I would hope these reports (or open ideation events or whatever shape this takes) continues to involve an integrated community of practice to engage, question, think critically, contribute, and challenge one another to do better work (teaching, researching, designing, etc.). What are the questions we should be asking? What are the practices we could be testing or piloting? What are the nuances for teaching/learning?

I am a big fan of how Kay Oddone shared this diagram below and reflected how connected learning principles emerged out of the FOEcast week of brainstorming/ideation:

Project_FOECast_through_the_lens_of_Connected_Learning

I agree with this, and further push this idea to embrace how connected learning often drives professionals to contribute to a networked community of practice. The FOEcast week reminded me how an organic group of people can support and contribute to moving an idea forward. The community is vested in a common purpose and many want to not just talk, but also contribute to how we can shape our future practices, with regards to formal and informal learning. With formal education institutions (K-12, higher education, etc.) and professional associations/organizations there seems to be a tension of how to balance innovative ideas and approach future-oriented projects due to structural barriers or workforce constraints. This process allows for more freedom and willingness to connect the nodes to share knowledge and involve those who might be interested in a problem/issue or topic. What is great about this designed experience is the potential to move this conversation (and future actions) beyond a particular professional role/title/function, across institutional/organizational boundaries, and involve others who have not contributed their voice yet. This is critical, as sharing at the intersections of what we do in learning/training/development will help to truly advance our pedagogical practices.

There was so much thoughtful discussion and critical thinking shared on the live chats, hashtag and open Google doc (go see for yourself). Thanks for instigating this needed conversation, Bryan, and to all the contributors — it has been a real delight to read your ideas and hear your thoughts in this open dialogue.  I hope this process of thinking, talking, and doing something for the future of everything continues. I’m interested… count me in! This might be the wrap up blog post for the #FOEcast week, Final push: Create!, however; this conversation and community contribution seems to be just the beginning: https://www.foecast.net/

#LTEC6040, Online Learning, Research, SoTL

#LTEC6040 Asks, “Why Online?”

This academic semester I am fully immersed in online/digital scholarship of teaching and learning. This should not be a surprise, as I teach online and I’m often trying to figure out how distance/technology impacts learning. This year I am exploring HOW TO research digital teaching/learning practices in the courses I instruct and for the scholarship I’m drafting. According to Storify (soon to R.I.P. in May 2018), we’ve been talking about how to best define/label distributed learning for a while => here’s a Twitter thread captured from 3 years ago:  “State of ______ [insert: digital, online, etc.] Learning.” Under the umbrella term, distance education, comes a variety of ways to teach and learn. Additionally, the technological landscape in education has offered a number of ways to discuss, research, and design distributed learning. It’s complicated and challenging as the titles/labels for this type of teaching/learning hold many monikers in the empirical research: educational/learning technologies, networked learning, online education, blended learning environments, hybrid models, flipped learning, e-Learning, virtual environments, and more! Some technologies have the ability to design a flow of distributed learning that is seamless; whereas other digital facets create barriers and challenges.

Our learning spaces have a number of ways to infuse technology into distance education. With this comes even more ways to research and study these pedagogical practices for digital learning.  Regardless of the app, platform, or tool, we seem to have some aspect of “digital” infused into how we both teach and learn. As the options and variety of this online teaching/learning scholarship is broad, I am looking forward to supporting doctoral researchers who will identify one aspect of digital learning in our LTEC 6040: Theory and Practice of Distributed Learning (#LTEC6040 ) course. If you read this blog or connect with me on Twitter, you might see a few posts/shares using this hashtag to signal ideas and offer resources for these early career scholars as they work on investigating one piece of this distance/distributed learning pie.

The central focus of the #LTEC6040 course is to encourage doctoral researchers to define their own theory of online learning/teaching in context to:

  • Outlining empirical literature that supports (or refutes) their personal online learning/teaching theory
  • Identifying appropriate research methods to collect and analyze data connected to this personal online learning/teaching theory (small scale study)
  • Describing the ethical considerations and practices for this research study (e.g. IRB, recruitment, sample population, etc.)
  • Drafting an academic article manuscript for an appropriate publication outlet related to their field of inquiry in online teaching/learning

If you are so inclined, I would encourage you to join in the conversation and offer advice, resources,ideas, and readings for these scholars — as a number of you hold some invaluable expertise in a variety of areas we’ll be exploring for distributed learning this term [To see potential topics, see page 6 of the LTEC 6040 Course Syllabus]:

#LTEC6040 Blogs
https://jennie6040.blog/
https://nitiesite.wordpress.com/
https://jackimberly.wordpress.com/
https://crossingboundariesmedia.wordpress.com
https://osbornemarks.wordpress.com/
https://notlostnotyet.wordpress.com/
https://rickwoods2018.wordpress.com/
https://ltiwithme.wordpress.com/

We are just beginning to define what it means to examine online instruction/learning and unpacking distributed educational environments. In the initial conversations and class blog posts, most are still working on how they DEFINE and OUTLINE what it means to learn/teach online from their own experiences and expectations from the theories they are learning about in our program. Distance education research in higher education is fairly “young” (in comparison to other disciplines) and I am grateful I am surrounded by some fantastic colleagues and their respective departments/units/centers/teams who continue to find value in sharing digital teaching/learning scholarship resources. Here are a just a few (of many) examples:

Beyond these databases, reports, and resources, I am curating other digital learning materials and discourse to prompt discussion, debate and inquiry. Please feel free to share articles, blog posts, media, and more that might be suitable for diving into online teaching/learning research. Please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments below, if you have any. If you tweet, share what you think is critical for investigations in the digital age of learning using the course hashtag: #LTEC6040

Book Review, mentor, mentoring, Professional Development

#BookReview: Mentoring Programs That Work

One of my research projects I am currently working focuses on professional mentoring, specifically mentoring experiences for professional learning and development offered by professional organizations/associations. Over the past couple of years, I have been fortunate to speak with a number of higher education professionals who have been part of a formal mentoring program, either as a mentor or a learner (a.k. a. mentee, protege, or leader). It has been great to learn about their how mentoring has met their professional development needs, helped to meet career goals, and navigated both personal/professional situations faced in the workplace.  As I finish a few more interviews, I hope to wrap up data collection/analysis to share findings/implications of mentoring experiences later this year — I promise. Part of this research design includes understanding how professional learning organizations/associations structure and administer mentoring programs for its membership. In speaking with mentoring participants and coordinators from a variety of mentoring programs that serve higher education professionals (Thank you: NACADA ELP, ACPAgrow, OACUHO, and NASPA Candid Conversations 365), I hope to offer insights and practical implications based on these mentoring experiences.

In my literature review, I stumbled upon, Mentoring Programs That Work by Jenn Labin, which was recently published by the Association for Talent Development. Based on my own thread of scholarship, I wanted to review and learn what suggestions this author had to provide based on her experiences in mentoring programs in a variety of industries.Although each mentoring program will have its own objectives and unique needs for participants, one constant component across all programs is the need to form connections to support an effective mentoring relationship. Mentoring relationships will be the cornerstone for skill development, personalized learning, and knowledge acquisition within any professional domain. Unlike typical educational training programs or professional development/learning, mentoring programs are more uniquely tailored for talent development needs. That being said, I am not sure we put the time or effort into preparing mentors and learners who enter this type of learning and development program.  I agree with Labin’s sentiments: “Mentoring programs are important.” Mentoring is an individual, learner-driven experience where proteges work with mentors to create a learner-focused solution. Mentors can support learners to acquire a specific knowledge domain, scaffold professional work situations, and develop tacit skills required to advance in their career field. Labin (2017) believes most mentoring programs fail if their goals are not aligned to talent/professional needs, inability to scale and sustain initiatives, and/or as a result of little stakeholders involvement or championship. I am sharing this brief overview of this book, as I think it has practical solutions for managers or program coordinators who want to develop (or improve) a successful mentoring program, while also supporting the mentoring experience and empowering mentors with tools they will need for this type of professional learning.

This book presents practical ideas and examples to outline the AXLES Framework for developing mentoring programs. The AXLES approach is similar to the ADDIE model for designing learning solutions, which will be familiar to my instructional designers or training industry colleagues. Labin introduces the components of AXLES in the introduction chapter of her book (2017, p. xv-xvi):

  • A = Align to Purpose: define the intention/goals of the program; identify critical questions for program success, and establish strategic partners within the organization to support the mentoring program
  • X = Design the Experience: identify the mentoring program structure, schedule, participant matching, and expectations; what are the deliverables, outcomes, and lifecycle of the program you want to design?
  • L = Launch Your Program: this is the implementation of the mentoring program (initially or annually); Will you have an orientation meeting, agenda, or focused platform/communication method to get the program going?
  • E = Evaluate Effectiveness: What will be the types of measures or metrics for the mentoring program?; identify program success from both narratives of participants and potential data collection with milestones and participant input
  • S = Support Participants: design and develop resources, webinars, videos, or other performance support aids to scaffold mentor-learner interactions; these could be a participant playbook, monthly meeting agendas, or even conversation guides/resources for discussions to encourage connections for these mentoring relationships

Mentoring is defined in a number of different ways, and the approach for a mentoring experience will be individual and unique depending on your organization/institutions needs. Chapter 2 helps to identify both the direction and talent development gaps you would like to address within your own mentoring program. This foundational chapter requires readers to identify the purpose, success measures, and the focus of the program by examining both the learners’ (protege) benefits and mentors’ benefits for involvement. A mentoring program could be developed to meet technical needs or to transfer institutional knowledge, or it might be created for talent development/growth of professionals within your organization. Identifying the objectives, purpose statement, and the “role of mentoring” will be a critical phase for those constructing this type of training design.

Chapter 3 offers suggestions for mentoring program designs. For the practical organization of a mentoring program, you are encouraged to outline questions for planning the program structure, identify the program schedule, consider how to conduct participant matching, and describe how learners and mentors will participate in the program. The considerations for “cultural alignment” were addressed early in this chapter, as this type of professional development might be executed differently based on the organizations need and its learning culture. A mentoring program structure type could include traditional or 1:1 mentoring, reverse mentoring, mentor-led (group mentoring), peer-led (mentoring circles), or a hybrid of any of these formats.  Additionally, this section of the books helps readers to consider the schedule length, entry, and programmatic features, such as the matching process for mentoring and potential technology solutions for support. The last stages of design decisions required for planning mentoring programs involve the learner and mentor engagement, specifically participants entry and exit into the program and outlining operating directions, guidelines, and expectations to create successful mentoring experiences.

Chapter 4 and 5 offer insights and practical suggestions for launching and evaluating a mentoring program, respectively. I appreciated the potential suggestions for professional learning opportunities, such as communication preferences, setting goals and development plans, skill-building workshops, and other resources that could be curated for a mentoring program (e.g. icebreakers, readings, teambuilding activities, conversation topics, etc.). For evaluation purposes, Labin (2017) mapped the Kirkpatrick Four Levels of Evaluation for review of a sample mentoring program and offered strategies for how qualitative and quantitative data might offer measurement insights during a program review. Potential metrics for success could be conducted by observation of performance improvement/changes, case-based examination of the mentoring relationship, individual development plans/goals met, reflections or narratives shared in milestone reports, and engagement of mentors and leaders within the organization.

Regardless of the industry or occupation, I think mentoring program administrators/coordinators will find Labin’s book both informative and practical for designing a comprehensive mentoring program that supports productive mentoring experiences. There are a number of suggestions for defining effective mentoring behaviors, onboarding participants, engaging in regular skill building and/or learning activities, and considerations for how to engage participants throughout a mentoring program experience. Administrators of mentoring programs will gain a number of valuable ideas for communication planning, participant recruitment, mentor-learner pair matching, supporting mentors in their role, potential ways to report and offer metrics for program measurement, learning material development/maintenance, dealing with issues, and supporting participants throughout the mentoring program cycle. I appreciate how each chapter offers applied examples of mentoring perspectives from learners or various industry leaders, and the end of each chapter offers key insights, exercises, and questions for individual reflection and potential team discussions. Additionally, there are a number of support resources and example materials in the appendices of this book to help guide mentoring program development.

Reference:

Labin, J. (2017). Mentoring programs that work. Alexandria, VA: Association for Talent Development Press.

*Full disclosure: The book, Mentoring Programs That Work, was sent to me by @ATD Press to read and review. As this is a valuable contribution for mentoring program development to support professional learning and development, I am more than pleased to offer this review on my blog. Thank you!”