The end of the begining… ADLT 602 Program Planning

It is sincerely hard to grasp that I have been out of my undergraduate for an entire semester now. More importantly I cannot believe that I have already completed one entire semester of graduate school. I was actually extremely nervous, for the confident student I have always been, at the beginning of this semester. Program Planning was the class in particular that I was most excited about as I had gotten some exposure to training and development at JMU.

I can truly say that I have learned more than I could have imagined this semester. First and foremost I learned a ton about myself as a student. Both courses that I took this semester have allowed me some space to determine how I saw assignments turning out. My undergraduate turned me into a student who lives by a syllabus and a person who gave professors exactly what they asked for in order to get an A. This semester I have spread my wings, and have begun to question the status quo. The new found freedom has been quite a liberating experience for me as a student.

Graduating from JMU everyone was already pretty shocked when I told them I wanted to go into Training and Development. Most people were so shocked that I already knew where I wanted to end up that I begun to question myself. Now more than ever I have truly found a field that I feel challenged and rewarded with. The program design project was extremely useful for me. For the first time I was able to create something that was not hypothetical and could absolutely be set in motion. This made me realize how much I had yet to learn and more about the realistic nature of program planning.

I feel proud of myself with my final program design. The reaction on my supervisor’s face let me know that I received an A+ from my company. It is an overwhelming feeling to realize how much of what I am learning will allow me to effect change. I know I have a long road ahead and look froward to every up and down my graduate career has in store. I complete this semester feeling accomplished, enthused, and confident in my blogging skills.  Until next time…. or next semester….

The Home Stretch..

Since Thanksgiving I have focused on tackling and finishing my final paper and project for the semester. Winding down another semester seems to be more difficult then I’d remember it being. I have absolutely learned so much this semester and I am finding my self wanting to capture everything in my final assignments. I realize this is an impossible wish, but I feel as if I am being pulled in 300 different directions.

None the less I am working on the final drafting stages of my paper and project and look forward to the final product. It is hard to believe that I have almost completed my first two graduate level classes. I am extremely excited about what I have learned and accomplished over the semester and am hoping to have many more semesters like this one.

Educating Rita…. or should I say Megan.

The movie Educating Rita, articles on transformative learning and class discussion made a significant impact on my semester. It would be a lie if I suggested that I could not relate to Rita. I fortunately do have a college education and realize how lucky and fortunate I am to have graduated from a good institution. All of that said and to be completely honest, I can truly say that I frequently question myself and my knowledge much like Rita.

“We think we are being free” was a statement made in class last Thursday. This is where the epiphany for me took place, yes I have graduated from an accredited university and yes I received a praise worthy cumulative GPA, but what really did I learn? I learned how to write like my professors expected, I learned to study and memorize what was required of me, but I did NOT challenge the status-quo. I thought I was being free, expanding my horizons, and becoming a more educated individual, but I truly feel I missed out. My fear of being accepted and receiving A’s kept me from asking the tough questions.

Graduate studies at first made me feel a little uneasy. Classes and assignments were structured, but allowed for much interpretation. This was an element that I was not familiar with nor did I know what to do with. Luckily, like Rita, I have begun to “transform.” The sense of power that comes with freedom of exploration has allowed me to step outside the box and take my education into my own hands. Until next time…

Thoughts from an accommodator…

My experiences with personality tests have been extremely limited. Pegged as an outgoing kinstetic learner early on by my mother, the teacher, I had come to accept this as my personality/learning style. The Meyers Brigg test is something that I repeatedly stumbled upon during my undergraduate career, but have never applied to myself personally. Dr. Muth’s resistance to the categorization made me question the validity of my appointed “group.”

I must say upon immediate observation I was very comfortable with my placement. Honestly, I found the personality and learning traits of the accommodator to be in sync (not the band) with my underlying preferred learning approach. Once Dr. Muth and others challenged the placements I begin to wonder if maybe I was becoming to complacent with my category. It is true that frequently I am an accommodator, for example at work. I then begin to think of myself in other environments, such as the graduate classroom, where I feel more like a converger. What I have decided, after much thought, is that Dr.Muth was right when he said it is important to constantly be pushing yourself into other categories. Although I may learn best under the accommodator umbrella, some of my most successful experiences have been a direct result of my ability to step outside of my own little box.

At work the four Kobalt learning styles are alive and well. In a technical atmosphere training has a constant presence. Nothing drives me more crazy then to not be able to touch and try the equipment myself. Others in many of my classes need the strict lecture and scientific explanations. Unfortunately this is one area that I feel my company lacks. There is little accommodation for different types of learning, which I frequently see result in the failure of information absorption. Although I have my own preference I do believe Kobalt has made me more accepting and aware of my co-workers learning styles. My job requires that I give and receive knowledge daily with my colleagues.  Being aware of my own needs, as well as others, I am able to more effectively distribute and obtain the necessary information for my job.

ADLT 601: Research

It’s been a while since I have worked on a research paper. I had forgotten how much I enjoy the research process and examining what is out there. I am excited mostly about the broad topic I have chosen for my paper, English as a second language or ESL. Mostly I feel as if my job has increased my interest in the topic. I actually spend several hours a week on the phone with a translator explaining phone functionality to a customer. As frustrating as it is for me, I can only imagine the effect that this is having on our customers. I am excited to see what I find about the historical methods that have been the ground work ESL education over the years. What I have found so far, leads me to believe that it will result in an interesting and eye opening paper.

ADLT 602: Field Interview

I would first and foremost like to say that I was truly excited about the assignment to interview a professional in the training and development field. Immediately I knew that I wanted to interview one of the people that I have come to admire and a large influence on my choice for this career path. For her confidentiality I have chosen to call her Dr. Smith

Dr. Smith is not only a professor of organizational training and development, but she is also a full time corporate trainer. Companies who choose to outsource for their training needs frequently turn to Dr. Smith.  She is certainly a veteran in the field and has been working in program planning roughly twenty years. With plenty of experience under her belt she has had share of non-traditional adult learners. One of my favorite things I enjoyed about her class was the real life stories that she would share in the classroom. I remember her always saying “now it’s easy to talk about and analyze the training process within these four walls, but it’s a whole other ball game when you get out there in the field.” As a result I knew this would be a very enjoyable and enlightening conversation.

What most surprised me were the plentiful training horror stories she described to me. One in particular was when she was first assigned to create training program and was given no indication that she would be working with multiple adults who had a variety of disabilities. This particular classroom included someone who was completely confined to a wheel chair and someone who was legally deaf. Even the smallest things for example, were affected by these limitations. In this particular incident her program included activities that required individuals to stand up and move around and use fine motor skills. Unfortunately many of them could not participate in these activities and she had no plan B or C.As a result she said she has never felt more unprepared or utterly embarrassed in her entire life. At this point in the interview she expressed the extreme importance of knowing the context and limits of the environment and of your participants.

The most significant thing I gleaned during the interview was the importance of flexibility in the program planning field. The interview stressed the magnitude of being able to “roll with the punches” as she was not always aware of every non-traditional learner that would be included in her programs. Also, I was educated on how imperative it is to the success of a training program to know your audience and plan everything with them in mind.

Over the years Dr. Smith has become increasingly popular in creating programs that focus on business etiquette. As a professional in the field, Dr. Smith is known for several areas of expertise such as: dealing with difficult co-workers, generational differences in the work place, and general business etiquette. As a result she has multiple programs that she reuses for multiple organizations. She explained that even though she uses the same program idea over and over, no one program ever resembles another. She is forced to manipulate activities and learning approaches to the needs of her audience. Dr. Smith has more specifically dealt with adults confined to wheel chairs and those diagnosed as legally deaf. In particular she explained that many of her activities she is unable to use with disabled adults due to movement restraints.

As for the deaf individuals that she has trained, she presented the biggest barrier being the interpreter. First, she said programs tend to run longer than expected when an interpreter has to relay everything that she says. This is just one instance in which she must alter the program to meet the needs of her audience. Another interpreter that she has encountered is for those learners who do not speak English. Here, she is typically worried about meaning translation and understanding. Her worry is that her participants may be missing out due to translation issues. Again when discussing this topic she reminded me of the importance to remain flexible during the process and prepared for alterations at a moments notice.

As for evaluation, Dr. Smith has limited evaluation tools. Since she is outsourced by the company the only major feedback stems from her reaction surveys. Another way she is able to judge whether the program was successful or not, is how frequently she is asked back to an organization. Personally I couldn’t imagine doing program after program with no in-depth evaluation tools to determine my success. She takes it with strides and accounts her popularity to her programs’ success.  

One of my favorite parts of the interview was the time spent discuss the source of her ideas. She explained that typically they come from her participants and things she observes. She insisted that she has learned as much from her classes as they have learned from her. “Some of my most successful and popular activities and programs have come from previous programs and even the students themselves.”

Finally, we spent a large portion of the time discussing some of the things that have surprised her over the years. The topic of disconnect was something that shocked and puzzled Dr. Smith. She explained that above all else she deals with executive level individuals who seem to be completely disconnected from their employees. The stake holders in the organizations typically provide her with expectations and guidelines before the program planning stages. “Once I get into the classroom I often think to myself do they even know their employees, this can often leave me feeling extremely frustrated.” We ended discussion of this topic with Dr. Smith saying, “fortunately the good and rewarding experiences have far out weighed the bad.”

Fortunately for me I was able to interview an individual who has worked with multiple non-traditional adults in a corporate field. Overall I have gleaned significant insight from this experience. Number one, the importance to always remain flexible, secondly the value in planning with your audience in mind, thirdly to learn from your previous programs, and finally to cater to your adult learners’ needs as much as possible. I would like to quote Ms. Smith with something that I feel sums up what I have learned from the interview, “I have never delivered two identical programs, and am proud of that because if I did it would mean that I was planning for myself and not my audience.”

 

ADLT 601: Debate

I have never considered myself one who initializes or participates in debating. Not that I do not think it is a worth while experience, it is just simply something I prefer to admire from an audience seat. Class on Thursday forced me to reconsider the value and effectiveness of defending and debating a particular point of view.

Not that I am not interested in andragogy, but I certainly do not feel strongly one way or the other about the topic. As a result, it was rather difficult for me to take a side and especially the pro side. What I did learn from the whole experience is how strongly I feel about flexibility within adult education. In our philosophy of practice paper I accepted and pointed out that there is not one theory that could possibly encompass all that adult learning entails and requires. After our debate in class on Thursday I again realized how impossible it is to define adult education under one lens. For the field, there is value in every theory of practice as well as in andragogy. We are able to pick and choice ideas and philosophies and apply them to particular scenarios.

Finally, I think it was a successful activity that got ideas and thoughts flowing. It has most certainly made an impression on me and I hope to apply to the adult education classroom in my future endeavors.

Thoughts of a Feminist…ADLT 601

I have always considered myself a feminist. After exploring famous feminists over the ages I can’t but wonder how deep my feminism runs. Of course I am a young woman who is attempting to shatter a glass ceiling at my place of work. Currently I do not feel any major rush to get married nor have children, although I look forward to one day having a family of my own. Thursday’s class simply got me thinking. Just because I would consider staying home with my children once married, does that result in oppression?

On another note I can’t but help feel affected by the recent feminist issues in politics. I find it absolutely ridiculous that as women we would choose to not vote for a candidate on the basis that we think she should be at home with her child. Women I know have honestly admitted that they would not vote for Palin solely on the fact that they believe she should be home with her baby. All politics aside, I am shocked and appalled by this idea and the direct oppression I think it results in; however, I believe that since it is my choice to stay home once I have a children, I am not affecting my own oppression. So where do I stand in this sticky topic? The answer is I am not sure……. My thoughts were rambling and incomplete, but honestly this is where I am in the decoding process. Lastly, what implications does feminism have on adult learning and the classroom. When does it begin to exist as a barrier?

ADLT 602: Thoughts on my program.

I had a pretty cool experience today. I was working with a customer who had a ton of questions about her phone and its features. She was asking me a lot of questions about the smartphone and even her mother’s phone. At the point she sat quietly and finally said, “I wish you guys had a class or something. There is just so much to learn about technology and many of us feel lost. My mother has no idea how to even see her missed calls. I am sure there are tons of people who are in the same boat as us.”

I knew from the beginning that the “Getting Smart with Smartphones” data class would be extremely useful for customers, but this interaction made me feel that much more confident and excited about the possibilities. When I told her of my plan, she insisted that it was a fabulous idea and that she would be more than willing to pay for it. Of course I would never consider charging my customers for the class, but just the fact that she would be willing to pay said a lot to me. It is exciting to see how effective my program could be and how positively it would impact my consumers. Until next time…

ADLT 602: September 17th

Clarity is a wonderful feeling. Last class I experienced quite the learning experience. I felt a sense of clarity in the readings I had done for the week and begin to have a revelation about many of the terms covered in class. Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Skills was unfortunately something I have never studied prior to this course. I can’t help but wonder why in my undergraduate career I never encountered Bloom’s ideas. These five cognitive skills seem to me to be very critical and helpful in creating not only program objectives, but also evaluation. I sincerely feel that this would have been extremely useful in ascerning participant needs and would have increased the success of the previous programs that I have created. I walked out of class feeling refreshed and excited to have a stronger grasp on program objectives and a new tool to reference when creating my wireless information program.