Wednesday, January 10, 2018

When Does Your Workplace Discuss Professional Learning Goals?

Some organizations have scheduled, yearly employee reviews, and others have a less formal approach. The less formal ones might fall into the ongoing-conversations category. As a manager and employee, when do conversations about professional development occur in your workplace?

As a manager during either reviews or conversations, I could bring up two subjects—what professional development is expected for current organizational progress, and what personal learning goals the individual has set. The best of both worlds shows a convergence between the personal goal and the organizational development. In listening to the employee talk about personal goals, a manager has the opportunity to respond in a way that motivates the employee plus making the connection between the personal goal and the larger organization. Even when an employee’s goal is not supported by professional development policy or dollars, having heard the person’s goals is another way of getting to know what matters for that person, knowledge which may connect to a future opportunity.

In setting my own employee goals, I would pay attention to my workplace’s learning needs or expectations that have been expressed in meetings or memos. Smart money would say I would mention I’m ready to participate in those learning opportunities. I’d also think about explaining my personal learning goals—either for expanding my current skill set or expanding my skill profile.

From searching on this question, there’s evidence a number of organizations do consider these discussions and here are their thoughts on how those discussions can drive personal engagement and organizational results:

Once these goals are defined, there are many learning formats for going for it! They might be informal, like reading a book, shadowing someone, or taking a free online course such as a MOOC. Others might be in a face-to-face format or online. Links to UGotClass and Ed2Go at the left provide connections to the online offerings of two long-time providers.

In considering which choices are a match for  the learning, these earlier posts address related topics:

What Instructional Objectives Tell the Learner and Instructor (Helpful for knowing whether a course is worth your time):

Getting the Most from Off-the-Shelf Workplace Learning:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What Instructional Objectives Tell Learners and Instructors

The following three minute video explains instructional objectives. It is focused on instructors and uses the word students rather than learners. In some ways, it's a reminder piece. Whether it's old or new news, Common Craft's short video reminds us of the value of intentional learning expectations and assessment.

Instructional objectives are statements that name what a learner will know or show as a result of the learning, in observable terms. Other related terms you may come across are performance objectives and competencies.

On the instructor/design side, instructional objectives remind the instructor to focus on key support material (not everything and the kitchen sink), and to assess the the learning in ways described by the objectives.

What is the value of this video for the learner? If I am starting a course or looking to take a course, looking at the performance expectations/instructional objectives helps me orient for success with the learning experience. If none are stated, I might ask the instructor what the objectives are, so I can determine whether the match is close enough to my learning want or need.

Here’s to clarity and valuable learning!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Getting Social in Real Time with Online Learning

I recently visited with an organization’s HR members about how employees there were responding to some online learning courses. Some of the employees had enrolled in Spanish and some had enrolled in sign language. Their feedback was

One employee said she had made flash cards to rehearse the various sign vocabulary, but when a person who had also taken sign gestured to her in sign, she found herself fumbling to communicate back. When she heard that others had signed up for the course at a future date, she resolved to contact them, share her flash card technique, but also practice with them in real time.

Having heard this great example, HR could also share this idea with employees who were also enrolling in the Spanish courses.

The insight made so much sense, especially since these are applied communication courses. The rehearsal sessions could even be done over lunch, for that matter.

The rehearsal strategy could also be used with Skype or Google Hangout if other learners in the course were not on site. A learner might ask the vendor contact to help them find another enrollee who might be interested in such a strategy.

Looking for some related communication courses? Possibilities await you with Ed2Go and UGotClass at the right margin.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Project Debriefing: Valuable Lessons To Carry Forward

Today is the day a client and I will meet to debrief a workplace learning project (online compliance training game) we’ve delivered yearly for the past five years. It occurred to me in year 2 or 3 to create a lesson’s learned document, given some bumps in the road in the first years of the project. I’ve come to refer to the prior year’s lessons learned as the first step for a new one.

My document covers these items: 
  • Software choice and content strategies
  • Completion numbers  
  • Evaluation numbers, rating average, and specific reviewer remarks
  • Support feedback (two IT groups are involved), and
  • Questions for the HR members in the meeting.
Additionally, here are a few sites that provide some solid tips to focus your own project debrief:

“Four Questions to Ask When You Debrief on a Project”:

This site provides four basic, helpful questions, beginning with whether the goal was reached, then moving on to successful or unsuccessful spots, and ending with evaluating which practices should be kept and which should go.

Jason Womack’s “Three Tips for Boosting Productivity with Project Debriefing”:

In addition to providing questions to consider, this author provides tips on communicating the debriefing content for different communication styles.

Sometimes there will be remarks to add from the HR participants in the meeting. I've come to appreciate how the de-brief document facilitates the meeting's discussion and closure on the given project.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Borrow from your Library or Buy?

April is National Library Month. And here's a tip: By adding the Library Extension to  Chrome, you can see if your local library has titles you may have looked at in Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Good Reads:

Find the extension/app in the App Store, and install it on your Chrome Browser as directed (The site says, the extension for Foxfire is forthcoming.) Select a local library or libraries in the extension to connect their catalogs with Amazon or Good Reads.

Next, if you see a title in Amazon, click on the title, and it will activate the search in your library.

I have been very happy with the results--I can see the number of copies available in our local branches, or where it might be loaned from if an interlibrary loan is needed. I can put a hold on the book with my library card number. The first time out, the book I wanted did need to be loaned from another library, and my own library notified me in a few days that it was available for pick-up.

As an added note, I've had an exchange with the developer. He is a programming professional and created the app to speed up his own search process with his own library. Great contribution.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

How Tech Developments Impact Our Definitions, Our Curricula, Our Knowledge

Yesterday I delivered a work for the the 37th Valley Visual Art Show. While there, a printmaker arrived to deliver her work and what ensued was a discussion about giclee and inkjet prints, and whether they constitute reproductions of an original piece of art.  I went home to do some more research to better understand the effect of digital methods on the print continuum. As an educator, I am also interested in how developments in a field impact knowledge, practice, and in this case, definition.

And in addition to giclee and inkjet, a term relevant to this discussion is digital art, which is “art made or presented with digital technology”(

Both giclee and inkjet are methods for reproducing/ making a copy of a previously existing work of art. Giclee typically is printed on archival papers (or canvas) and inkjet can even be produced by desktop and the inks are of much lesser quality. Both giclee and inkjet prints differ from printmaking methods that are the means of creating the original artwork itself (seriograph, lithography, monoprint, woodcut, silkscreen), since the artist is creating the work on the plates/surfaces.

In contrast to giclee and inket copy methods for reproductions is digital art. Digital art is the use of technology to actually create an original work.

A prime example of 2D visual art is the use of a table and drawing program by David Hockney. He creates/draws the image using the screen as substrate, then prints the final work with a printer. His artist’s statement also says, These prints “are not reproductions” ( (See also:

All of the above methods are different from collage or mixed media, as collage and mixed media might incorporate images. A distinguishing feature of collage and mixed media is that these works ultimately create new works with the images they bring together.

That said, galleries might want to clarify whether copies (reproductions) or original works only will be accepted for exhibit. And artists might consider how the varying productions and reproductions invoke different responses from viewers. #art

Friday, December 9, 2016

Why Digital Literacy Matters

Common Craft has created a following because the authors explain concepts in a very understandable way. This three+ minute video defines literacy, and talks about how digital literacy depends on both our knowledge of various technologies and how their use for specific purposes defines our ability to interact in today's world:


To view the wide range of Common Craft videos and subscription terms, visit their site at