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Monday, July 28, 2014

5 Things to Do This Summer (Professional Development)

Summer time is definitely a time to get out and enjoy the weather but for many learning professionals in the traditional education setting it also means (possibly) a break in employment. I'm a firm believer that education and learning can happen any and every where so here are five things you can do this summer (or any time) to help advance your skills and include Professional Development in your down time.

1. Advance your Network. Social media and new media literacy is becoming a must for all employees.

  • Update your Social Media by changing your profile, refining your about me section or adding new contacts. Check out HubSpot for great marketing tips and trick on how to sell yourself. You can start by adding me :)
  • Become involved in Learning Communities (like, follow, share and become a member) to contribute and lead discussions on topics that affect your work life.
    • SALT
    • IPSI
    • eLearning Guild
    • Articulate eLearning Heros
    • Lectora
    • Training Magazine
    • L&D
  • Introduce yourself to Others. Remember the days when you actually spoke to someone face to face? The next time you notice someone who seems to have something in common with you strike up a conversation to hone in your communication skills and get interactivity that doesn't include emoji's.
2. Build up a Skill. Take advantage of your free time to work on projects you've been wanting to do but haven't had the time. Not sure where to start?
3. Read. Magazine, books, ebooks, whatever; reading has multiple benefits including:
  • Mental Stimulation
  • Knowledge
  • Reducing Stress
  • Vocabulary Enhancement
  • Memory Improvement
  • Stronger Analytical Skills
  • Improved Focus and Concentration
  • Better Writing Skills
  • Tranquility
  • Free Entertainment
4. Write an article, blog post or just put pencil to paper. Writing has multiple benefits including:
  • Remove stress from mind, place on paper
  • Sweep Your Mind
  • Keep Your Writing Skills Sharp
  • Make Some Pocket Money
  • Turn the Noise Off
  • Enhance Your Communication Skills
  • Know What You Want
  • Develop Your Analytical Skills
  • Get Away from Technology
  • Meet Yourself All Over Again
5. Create/Update your Portfolio/Publish Your Work. Get your work out there for recognition and to pad your resume with publications.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Road to Becoming an Accidental ID

Have you watched, read or heard about a new book "The Accidental Instructional Designer: Learning Design for the Digital Age"? Written by Cammy Bean the book talks about getting started in eLearning.  I was moved by the title and relevance of the story so I figured I would share my Accidental Instructional Designer story with you....

In 2006 I gave up on my lifelong dream of teaching. In between the crappy economy, an unplanned pregnancy and general dissatisfaction in the University and their program provided  I choose to stop going. I found myself with a useless Associate degree, a beautiful child and feeling like I was trapped in a never ending tunnel of employment and schooling options. I went back and forth from being a stay at home mom and working jobs that I found unsatisfying.

After three years, a job assignment ending and with another baby on the way, I decided that if I was going to back to college now was the time. I started a Business Administration Associates degree after loving an accounting position I took through a temporary employment agency.  I used many of the credits I had previously received to complete nine courses in two semesters. I had to sign a waiver that said I was limited in time, money and the courses I could take.  The whole time wondering if I made the right decision. I struggled with the idea of going back reminding myself how it felt to leave education behind. I would have to remind myself every so often that Business Administration is stable, there are so many avenues to choose and the success latter is pretty straight forward. I was almost done when I found out that my financial aid ran out and I was forced to walk away with only one course remaining.

After having my second child, I took a part time job as a receptionist at an Educational Center. During this time, I worked closely with HR to get teachers and therapists ready for the school year, maintaining safety for children and staff, creating documentation on processes and policies and setting up professional development opportunities. It was at that moment when I realized that Education and Business could intersect.  That I could combine Education, which I loved the most, with Business, the one that I felt stable.

I started seeking employment hoping to go from part time to full time when I came across a job opening from a local college. The title was listed as a Content Assembler and I was stumped.  I tried googling the title and looking up information on what that meant or how it worked but came up with nothing. The posting was cryptic and had foreign words to me like course authoring, Lecotra and SCORM. Something on the page was screaming at me. Something felt right. I decided that this is where I needed to go next and submitted my resume hoping that I wasn’t packing boxing or stapling papers all day long.

After clarifying the tasks in the interviews, I was ecstatic.  This is what I was looking for! The position ended up being an eLearning developer contract position for a Fortune 50 company. I learned course development software, techniques and theories, graphic design and honed my professional skills. I dove in deep learning anything and everything I could: self-teaching myself to teach others.  I soon branched into the concept of translating material volunteering for a new service to be provided. I learned process life cycle and the importance of documentation while building relationships with other employees. Finally, through hard work and dedication I rose to a half time Instructional Designer position that opened up the opportunity for me to work with SMEs, review courses and implement Instructional Design best practices and theories into every day development and process.

I knew that I wanted to continue my skills and unfortunately, the position did not offer any more advancement or professional development opportunities. So I began looking locally.  After a conversation with my sister about her considering moving to Denver, I turned to my husband and asked why we couldn’t move out of state.  The pros outweighed the cons and we decided to open up the search to include the whole United States. I started researching companies and softwares and reading reviews and doing geographical research and checking into school districts and creating spreadsheets, and overall becoming way to over whelmed with finding a company and location we liked. 

Finally, I started submitted resumes over the course of months until one day I received an email.  I’ll never forget what it said….”You do realize this job is in South Dakota, right?”. “Yes”, I replied eagerly.  “I’m looking to relocate and came across your company.” We set up an over the phone interview and then an in person before I finally got the call.  “We’d like to offer you an Instructional Designer position. Let me know if you’re interested.” My hard work had paid off.  Within a month, we moved 900 miles. The company I’m at encourages my growth, offers a new business sector and a developing Learning team.

By accidentally stumbling into ID I have opened up opportunities, the globe and most importantly my confidence. I feel committed and ready; as if I finally have a professional purpose. Now I just need to talk myself into getting a Bachelor’s degree…..

How did you get here?  Do you have an Associates, Bachelors or Masters Degree?  Are you an accidental ID?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Life Lesson: Sharing

Me on my wedding day three years ago

I didn’t forget about you! Monday was my wedding anniversary and I thought about taking the week off from posting but then I realized I’m on vacation this weekend. So fear not, here is a list of things that you might find interesting that I’ve shared on social media this week (what you're not following me? Don't forget to follow, like, share, comment and tweet me by clicking on the headings):

Anyone else hating on Facebook this week?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Graphic < 100

Taking hints from the eLearningUncovered eLearning Tips in 140 character or less Twitter campaign and HubSpot’s (In Under 100 Words) blog series here is my definition of a graphic (in relation to eLearning) under 100 words.

A graphic is a visual representation of a concept or process that when placed in a course provides value.  A graphic can be created using design software, document creation software or a camera.  Images can be purchased or found on stock photography, commons or free graphic websites. They can take the form of an image, animation or digital art. The addition of the image should help to represent/organize/rationalize/interpret/decorate/support a message/process/feeling. To provide value to a course the graphic should follow the principals of design (balance, proximity, alignment, repetition, contrast and space) and maintain a consistency through the course.



What does the graphic in this post represent/organize/rationalize/interpret/decorate/support? What is the message/process/feeling? Hint: It has nothing to do with this article.  Did you find it distracting?