What’s Your “Ideal” Job?

Have you ever been asked to describe your “ideal” job? Sometimes this comes up in a traditional job interview.  Or perhaps you had someone (a teacher, family member, or friend) just ask you about your career goals. Have you thought about what sort of work drives you? Do you know what sort of “job” you are looking for in your field that best fits you? How does work design impact what you do daily? What inspires you in your day-to-day work? How do you prefer to function and perform?
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These are questions I have asked my students for years. We spend a lot of time in the world of work. So, it’s a natural to want to know about goals and purpose as a student discusses courses in an academic advising appointment. And it is even more intentional as I have worked with undecided majors and first-year students (undergraduate and graduate) to help with their career exploration journey. This semester I am instructing LTEC 3010: Personal Development (a scaled up version that I promise to blog about soon), where we dive into these specific issues (follow #LTEC3010):
  • Determining avenues to find a job and planning your career
  • Preparing for the workforce: job search, interviews, resumes, applications, etc.
  • Getting started at your new job: dress, etiquette, digital identity, etc.
  • Being productive: Managing stress and time effectively, & working with others
  • Developing your career: Finding support, connecting to professional organizations, strategies & challenges for moving up the ladder, and seeking out mentorship experiences.
I typically ask my students what their “ideal” job and/or career entails — however until recently I haven’t flipped the tables on myself. After a recent prompt from someone, I decided to list what MY “ideal” interests are for the world of work — specifically targeted towards learning and development.
In general, I am interested in understanding how to build and support the complex learning spaces we work in, specifically, as we consider the connection between formal to informal learning (found among K-12, higher education & the workforce). If I was on a formal job hunt, here are a few items I would be scanning for in the job posting descriptions for, specifically to uncover the culture of an organization:
  • The opportunity to research the challenges/barriers that higher ed faces for our learning landscapes, which includes pedagogy and design of online, blended, and F2F learning. In particular, the issues encounter with HE faculty and staff development, systemic challenges, and student access. Those organizations who are aligned with a similar research agenda, i.e. new ideas of learning, learning delivery, and approaches to educational models impacting us now and in the future, would entice me to apply.
  • The ability to apply research into practice. This means continuing to be active in the field of learning and teaching, through course instruction and/or training & development programs for formal and informal learning. The idea of creating and delivering curriculum to various campus stakeholders who share similar emerging ideas for learning and research is exciting to me.
  • The opportunity for community building and network development to enhance the work of our segregated professional learning organizations that support HE faculty, practitioners, and administrators — specifically distributing knowledge, resources, and issues across these sections of our institutions. I would love to be part of an organization with a broader vision that can offer  t; offering an avenue for social sharing/learning; considering these contributions beyond a space or place (i.e. conference, event, etc.) to allow for on-going dialogues; being a central hub to cross-pollinate ideas and deal with issues
  • Being encouraged to collaborate and support design thinking as a process for innovation within a team across our higher education organizations and/or institutions. In working with a number of talented and thoughtful folks, I have learned the value of incubating ideas to solve problems and work on shared projects. We need to apply this nimble sort of thinking to our learning organization. We need to value both the process and not just the final product, in an environment that values and encourages sharing.

Those are my general thoughts for my future focus for work, and here are a few practical/personal preferences* for my world of work. Here are a few “must haves” for my ideal job:

  • Shared vision with the organization; appropriate cultural fit that supports the above ideas and goals
  • Balance between shared projects and individual assignments
  • Opportunity to continue current research projects and/or contract instructional assignments within higher education and/or learning institutions
  • Flexibility for my work environment, i.e. ability to work within an office and the allowance to be a distributed team member (telecommutes/remote work)
  • Open & available for traveling to consult, work, train, etc.
  • Preference for project-based work vs. a set schedule of hours per day/week, while offering regular updates and progress reports as required
  • Being both challenged and supported on assignment projects and contributions
  • The culture of learning is embedded to the work functions; learning is not just something we talk, research, or do — the organization lives its mandate for all employees (i.e. professional development, mentoring, coaching, etc.)

*Note: I am sure I have other preferences (wants & needs) for a job — but let’s just start with this list and see what is out there first.

Can you describe your “ideal” job? If so, please share!

Thank Your Mentor Day!

Happy THANK YOUR MENTOR Day! January, with January 17, 2016 being International Mentoring Day, was proclaimed National Mentoring Month by President Obama. This mentoring campaign is targeted at supporting youth and mentoring IRL (#MentoringIRL).

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Although my youth is behind me, I can definitely say a number of people helped to get me where I am today. A mentor can listen, teach, guide, and coach. Can you think about the mentor(s) in your life? Where would you be today had it not been for their support?

Here are a few simple ways the National Mentor Campaign suggests to THANK your mentor:

  1. Contact your mentor directly to express your appreciation;
  2. Express your gratitude on social media; (#MentorIRL)
  3. Pass on what you received by becoming a mentor to a young person in your community;
  4. Make a financial contribution to a local mentoring program in your mentor’s honor; and,
  5. Write a tribute to your mentor for posting on the Who Mentored You? website.

You can download a Thank you card from the Campaign Marketing Materials page.

As a thank you to all the mentors who have supported me and the mentees I have learned from, it would be only fitting to introduce this research study on this topic; however now I am interested learning how mentoring supports professionals and the field they work in:

Exploring Mentoring Programs in Professional Learning Organizations

Have you been part of a mentoring experience? Tell us about it. I am grateful for the informal and formal mentoring experiences, and I would not be interested in this study if it weren’t for the formal mentoring programs I have been a part of (shout out to ACPAgrow & NACADA ELP).  If you have any formal or informal mentoring experiences, please take a few minutes to share by filling out this survey:

http://bit.ly/ExploringMentoring

More about the research study: https://techknowtools.wordpress.com/mentoring/

1st Happy Hour Broadcast: Women Who Wine in Education (#3Wedu)

Did you ever have a great conversation at a conference, training event, or networking break about education over a glass of wine? If not, you have missed out. I am grateful that I have a few (of many) ladies who I  share this sort of chat with on a regular basis. Enter the following conspirators — Jess (@jlknott), Tanya (@tjoosten), Nori (@nononi28), and Patrice (@Profpatrice) — who wanted to expand this conversation further into a monthly podcast series for 2016 about higher education over a glass of wine:

Women Who Wine in Education (#3Wedu)

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In planning for a conference proposal, this fine group of ladies discussed a few ideas and issues in higher education that need clarity for the women who work in the field. Collectively, we decided it would be a good idea to discuss these topics further, specifically to:

  • understand the value of women leading innovation in higher ed
  • overcome gender barriers or challenges women may experience in our field
  • enhance the support of women in leadership roles through mentoring and coaching
  • empower women from all levels and disciplines (junior and senior)
  • support women doing amazing things and to provide better recognition for said things

There is no doubt that big ideas often get shared in podcasts. I have been fortunate to be part of a fine podcasting gang in the past [shout out to BreakDrink], and I am looking forward to the future chats with the #3Wedu posse. As Tanya said, we hope to bring forth ideas to banter, share, debate, discuss, and then some on the topics of education over a glass of wine. If you are interested in similar topics, or want to learn what we are sipping out — you should probably join in.  So, grab a beverage of your choice (wine or not), and join the discussion! Our first broadcast is happening here this Wednesday, January 20th from 5 – 6 pm CST as we discuss The Culture of Work* in higher education:


Google+ Hangout event page 
and, of course, join the backchannel conversation:

*Note: Our podcast backchannel notes, tweets, and broadcast will be updated here and on the YouTube channel post-show. Please let us know what you think, and chime into the vino chat. Missing this LIVE version, but want to tune in next month? Save the Date:  Wednesday, February 17th @ 3 pm PST //  5 pm  CDT // 6 pm EST for #3Wedu broadcast #2!

Innovation for Learning: Submit Your Ideas for the #OLCInnovate Solution Design Summit

I have been thinking about innovation for a while. What does innovation mean to you? How does “innovation” play into your world of work and learning? The word INNOVATE feels very much like a buzzword when it comes to learning. It may even be as a prime contender found on one of my #edtech bingo cards used for education meetings and conferences. Now the word, innovate, has been placed as a conference title and I agreed to support the planning for this event => Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Innovate. These facts only means I have been reading and reflecting even more about innovation and what this term means. Here are my current ponderings and ideas…

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Flickr photo c/o Missy Scmidt

A number of organizations are increasingly being influenced or impacted the eagerness to “solve” problems with technology. Last year, George Steele suggested the book, The Innovators, in a conversation about the culture of change in higher education (a HUGE topic I will save for another blog post). This was a well-timed referral and read for me. Isaacson (2014) describes how groups of individuals ingeniously cooperated to innovate in the real world. Say what? Tell me more!

Thinking, designing, and employing innovation for learning is complicated. The story of the collective successes (and failures) of many innovators need to be shared, and continually drafted as there are “far fewer tales of collaborative creativity, which is actually more important in understanding…how today’s technology revolution was fashioned. It can also be more interesting” (Isaacson, 2014, p. 1)

Although The Innovators shares the history of computing, technology, and the Internet, and it really spoke to my inner collaborator and WHY I dabble in the applied inquiry to understand more about online/blended learning technologies and workplace L & D. The collaboration emphasis resonated throughout this text, and I do believe that “no one individual…has truly achieved anything alone.” I concur.

By definition, we always appear to be “innovating” in learning, right? With formal education institutions (K-12 and higher education), professional associations, and learning organizations there seems to be a tension of how to balance innovative ideas or approaches due to structural, pedagogical, and workforce challenges in the real world. We want to think innovatively, but sometimes our organizations or “the system” rarely allows this process to unfold with constrictions of our job portfolios/functions, institutional divides, or designated project timelines. As Martin Weller put aptly put it: “the rhetoric for the need for innovation is rarely backed up by practice that will encourage it.” Let’s change that narrative. Why don’t we try to play with a few innovative ideas and concepts together?

For OLC Innovate, there are a few new (I won’t say innovative, just yet) program features that are atypical of a traditional conference format. One of the goals the #OLCInnovate steering committee set out: Let’s have less “talking head” presentations (education sessions, lectures or plenary talks), and more conversations, fun social happenings, places to share, and opportunities to solve REAL problems for online/blended/F2F learning. <<Segue>> THAT being said, here’s a new feature of the #OLCInnovate program I hope you will consider:

The OLC Solution Design Summit (SDS)


Video trailer production credit to Kyle Johnson

The general call for program proposals is now closed (with the peer reviews completed, expect to see the full program online next week); however the call for TEAM Proposals is OPEN for the OLC SDS until February 10, 2016 [Deadline Updated to extend the call for proposals on 1/26/16]. Thanks to the 2015 #et4online unconference banter, the OLC SDS Team (Mike Goudzwaard, Patrice Torcivia, Kyle Johnson, Adam Croom, & Michael Atkisson) decided it was about time to offer a program feature that was less about product and more about process. Together we carved out space in the #OLCInnovate schedule to offer a space for design thinkers, tinkers, and leaders to assemble in order to propose and solve challenges we encounter in learning (in K-12, higher education, and industry-L & D), such as:

As we know innovation takes time and it is a team process. For this CFP we have a broader timeline for this program and we and different expectations for this call for submissions. We are not looking for an end solution. Our team is more interested in WHO is at your interdisciplinary team table and the potential problems you want to work on together. Solutions might appear, but regardless this will be shared opening before, during, and after the #OLCInnovate 2016 conference ends:

Before the Conference

  1. Prospective SDS participants submit a challenge proposal by February 10, 2016: Abstract about the problem, team, and potential solution.
  2. Acceptance notifications will be sent out to teams by February 16th. [Confirm acceptance of your team by 1/22]
  3. Those SDS teams with accepted challenges will submit a solution pitch video for public review on the OLC Innovate 2016 website, by March 11, 2016 (due March 4th).
  4. Experts and OLC Innovate attendees will be invited to view and comment online to provide feedback on the video pitches March 21 – April 1.
  5. SDS teams will meet via an online web conference for 30 minutes to debrief and plan before the with the SDS facilitators in early April, before the #OLCInnovate Conference.

During the Conference

  1. SDS teams participate in a two-part pre-conference workshop session the morning of April 20, 2016. This will involve sharing the challenge and potential solution.
  2. Building on the feedback from the pitch reviews before, the design-thinking workshop on day 1, and comments from the workshop (via educators, edtech experts, researchers, exhibitors, and other SDS teams), you will further develop your challenge statement and solution design “pitch” to present during a concurrent session.
  3. SDS teams will present their solution in a 15-minute (10-minute presentation & 5 minute Q & A) time slot during an OLC Innovate session for all conference attendees.

Post-Conference Winning Team Benefits

  1. The winning SDS team members will each receive a one-year OLC Professional Membership (limited to a maximum of 5 team members). Current OLC members would receive a 1-year extension to their existing OLC Professional Membership.
  2. The winning SDS team members will receive complimentary future OLC 2016 or 2017 conference registration (limited to a maximum of 5 team members, not applicable to OLC Innovate 2016).
  3. The OLC Team will engage the winning team in a conversation of how best to showcase their solution through OLC.  Examples may include a webinar, membership dashboard interaction, OLC social media promotion, etc.

Now that you know the details, I encourage and instigate ALL of you to REVIEW the Solution Design Summit CFP and SUBMIT your team application NOW! Please feel free to share with your colleagues, and instigate innovation among your peers as well. Do you have questions about the OLC SDS? Email our team: sds@onlinelearning-c.org or follow up with either Mike or me. Thanks!

References

Isaacson, W. (2014). The innovators: How a group of hackers, geniuses, and geeks created the digital revolution. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

#OneWord2016: Focus

With a couple of weeks away from blogging, fewer messages posted in 140-characters or less,  and really unplugging from most things digital over the winter break — I have finally selected my #OneWord2016 to direct my resolution-less new year:

Focus

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Flickr image c/o Mark Hunter

My previous #OneWords the past two years were now and simplify, so word focus seems to be on track. Over the past few weeks, I have taken time off “the grid” for some R n’ R. This practice helped me to turn down the noise, and dedicate my time to particular interests and people in my life. I have formed a steady practice with this developing habit, which includes putting my phone on silence, removing notifications, checking email less, and reading less of ALL.THE.FEEDS!! By designating time to specific digital tasks and directing my attention to specific projects, I am able to participate in a type of deep work and by removing the distractions. Not only has this focused practice improved my productivity and decreased my procrastination tendencies, it has also made feel more balanced and pleased with my personal/professional progress.

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Moving forward in 2016, I will continue this focused habit. There will be an increased amount of focus on the important things — and this is not just work/research related. Focus on friends, family, and loved ones. Focus on learning fun things. Focus on being curious with my inquiry. Focus on what is going on the now now now. Focus on new opportunities that are ahead. Focus on health and well-being. Focus on contributing to my community. Focus on the things that matter.

What’s your #OneWord2016? Tell me about it.

Time to Unplug

Dear TechKNOW Tool Readers & Friends,

For those of you who teach, learn, research, and work with technology ALL THE TIME, you know it is always nice to take a step back to disconnect. I’ve mentioned the benefits of taking a tech-cation before, and it’s about that time of year where I will do it again. As of this post, I will be going “off the grid” and unplugging from the interwebs until next year. I hope you and yours have a lovely holiday and/or just a break from the daily grind. I am so grateful for the brilliant adventures  and opportunities 2015 has presented. I am so very fortunate to be able to team and collaborate with some amazing folks this past year. Thank you all SO MUCH!  I am looking forward to what lies ahead for 2016 after a little R n’ R. You should probably do the same. Until then… be well and happy holidays!

Much love,
Laura

p.s. This includes a pause from our #Ginvent (our the advent calendar o’ gin tastings… if you’ve been following) posts. We will continue these gin-tastic updates in the new year. Slainte!

unplugFlickr photo via nyoin 

Developing Writing Habits with #AcWriMo

Woah. It’s December 9th … where did the time go? It feels just like yesterday that I logged in to post my November #AcWriMo goals.

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Here’s me reporting back after the month (Note: this month was extended as I took a bit of a hiatus over American Thanksgiving & #Friendsgiving) on my #AcWriMo GOAL(S):

1. Finish manuscripts in progress for journal submissions:
(a) ICS-Shared resources in CoP
(b) ER – Remedies for learners in MOOCs
(c) Cdn institutions use of Twitter
(d) IHE – social media governance
2. Edit and submit final version of NDSS chapter
3. Complete a draft of the full article for #edusocmedia SOTL systematic lit review publication.
4.  Draft of #advtech data & article on NACADA Clearinghouse/figshare.
5. Research methods & IRB for formal mentoring research project.
6. Outline article for peer review in MOOCs
7. #FashioningCircuits – data for another manuscript outside book chapter

Not bad, eh? Who knew that I just need to hone into #AcWriMo Rule No. 3:

Draft a writing strategy. Plan how to accomplish your goals. Organize your schedule for your uninterrupted #ShutUpAndWrite time. PLAN TO WRITE IN ADVANCE!

It’s SO true. If you don’t plan to write, you won’t actually write. Here was my overall strategy and plan for the month:

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To make sure it happened, here are the strategic ways I ensured enough time to write:

  • Write EVERY day. This is hard. You are not always motivated to #AcWri every day — but it really helps you build a writing habit (21 days, right?). I am sure there are other items you can work on to fill the writing time, e.g. editing a manuscript, literature review search, organizing analysis, setting up project task lists, or organizing writing/research materials for your co-authors.
  • Determine the best time of day to write for you! For me, it was first thing in the morning between the hours of 6-10 am. These chunks of the day were for my “quiet writing” time. It could be late at night, or just after lunch. You decide.
  • Don’t check _______ before you start writing. For me the blank included e-mail, text messages, mobile, calendar invites, Twitter, RSS feeds, Facebook streams or news. I went right to the #acwri project that was up for that morning.
  • Block #ShutUpAndWrite time on your calendar (personal and work). Make it for 1 to 3 hours. Make appointments with yourself to write and KEEP THEM. I do this to reserve time on my calendar. This is a meeting for your writing productivity. (I do this with running & yoga as well — also very important appointments I keep).
  • Be an #AcWri Project Manager. Break your writing projects into smaller tasks. This will allow you to check off pieces of your writing, and motivate you as you make progress through your #acwri and research “to do” lists. (Bonus: Need a visual? Put it on a whiteboard in your office or remind yourself on your browser tabs – thanks Momentumdash!]
  • Log Your Time. This can be in your calendar notes, in a journal, or even an excel document — just to note the time in and out of writing. This helps to track when you were most productive, and what you worked on over the past week or month. If you need peer pressure, you could continue to log it here: #AcWriMo PUBLIC Accountability spreadsheet
  • Take A Day (or Two) Off. If you were VERY productive earlier in the week, it’s okay to break from the #acwri habit. Don’t burn yourself out from the writing flow. Or maybe come back to it later in the day if you’re not feeling it. #TreatYoSelf

The good news is I am still making progress on the #acwri goals not crossed off the list from November (and then some). Now that I’m armed with my #acwri plan, I will keep this writing pattern going strong for the winter break. With  ALL THE GRADING complete, nothing can stop me now. [Well perhaps a beach holiday might for a while, but I’m just adhering to #AcWriMo Rule No. 5]. Write on!