Traci's Blog

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." ~Goethe

Personal Development Plan

Goals

Type of Goal

To improve my written communication skills

Career Development Goal Current Position Goal

To improve my leadership skills

Current Position Goal

To become a better organizer

Current Position Goal Refresher

Developmental Activities

 

Hours:

Funds:

Planned:

Completed:

(1) Attend Writing Course

  • Business Writing

  • Improving Grammar

  • Writing That Works

(2) Get Coached by Assistant Division Chief

  • Shadow ADC

(3) Get Mentored by an Influential Team Lead

(4) Take assessment to determine what

type of leader am I.

(5) Attend Leadership Skills for Non-

Supervisory Specialist Course

(6) Attend Organizational Skills for the

Overwhelmed Course

Rationale for Developmental Activities: Formal education is a major part of my organization. We provide on-site training, and also pay for outside training if said training is mission critical or aligns to your current position. Since my current position as a Instructional Systems Specialist requires me to communicate with both internal and external customers in numerous ways, I would like to improve my written communication skills. In order to do so, I can attend the several on-site training provided by my organization. I consider improving my written communication skill to be a goal not just for my current position, but also for my overall career since communication is a part of everyday no matter what career. To improve my leadership skills, I will take advantage of my organization mentoring program and receive coaching from my Assistant Division Chief (ADC), who has been in a leadership role for over 20 years; and an influential team leader, who was once a non-supervisory specialists less than 3 years ago. Working with my ADC will provided me with extensive knowledge of her leadership experience, while working with a fairly new leaders will give me insight on how he/she became a leader. My organizations Career Resource Center also provide assessments to identify different characteristics and traits. One of their assessments is discovering what type of leader you are and if you are even capable of being a leader. In addition, my organization also offers a on-site course on leadership skills. This course helps promotes leadership no matter where you stand in your organization (leading from where you are). To improve my organizational skills, I will attend my organization’s on-site course on organizational skills. When I first started at my organization, I attended a basic course on organization and prioritizing. Now that I am in a position that keeps me very busy, I need to improve my organizational skills even more in order to stay on track with all of my assignments.

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Making the Case for Employee Development

Planning for a Needs Assessment – Whole Foods Market

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Whole Food’s is one of US’s learning natural and organic food markets. The food market pride themselves on maintaining the strictest quality standards in the industry (Company Info, 2015). The company was founded back in the 1980s by John Mackey in Austin, Texas and has since expanded throughout the US, with more than 360 stores. Whole Foods have even expanded its store to the United Kingdom. Whole Foods has also become a strong force in their environmental involvement.

In planning for a needs assessment of Whole Foods, I would need to perform an organizational analysis. The organizational analysis will determine “the appropriateness of training, given the company’s business strategy, its resources available for training, and support by managers and peers for training activities” (Noe, 2013, p. 114). Whole Food’s motto is Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet, which represents how the company wants to be more than just a grocery store. The company main goal is to help “support the health, well-being, and healing of both people–customers, team members and business organizations in general–and the planet” (Our Values and Mission, 2015). Because of the company’s motto and goal, it is safe to assume that the company will be willing to invest in training as long as it supports their values and mission. So to begin my organizational analysis, I would need to first identify the stakeholders to which I would like buy-in. The stakeholders for the organization includes1 Chief Presidents and Chief Operating Officer, 12 Presidents of the different regions, a 15 Vice Presidents and Executives Vice Presidents, and 1 General Counsel of Legal Affairs. I would interview each of these stakeholder and ask the following questions:

  1. What are the competency gaps identified in your company in which you would like to see a resolve?
  2. Are the competency gaps represented across the regions or just in particular regions?
  3. How did you determine these competency gaps?
  4. What are your expectations from a training intervention?
  5. What have been your success rate from previous training interventions? What type of changes did you see after previous training interventions?
  6. What resistance or conflicts, if any, have you experienced with past training interventions?
  7. Have you tried other interventions besides training?
  8. Will you company be willing to provide resources for this training? If so, what kind of resources?
  9. Do we have any subject matter experts who can help develop the training?

The interview would be the ideal technique for the organizational analysis so I can get more details to my questions, explore unanticipated issues and modify questions as needed (Noe, 2013). To help support my questions, I would like to examine supporting documents such as previous training materials, evaluations, and any documents that lead to management believing their was a competency gap and something should be done about it. If management believe employee or customer relations is being affected by a particular competency gap, I would like to see the supporting documents.

Next, I would need to perform a person analysis. The person analysis is need to help identify employees who may need the training. In order to determine if an employee needs the training, I would have to determine whether an employee’s performance or expected performance indicates a need for training. In order to determine any performance problems, I would need to review any supporting documents such as a performance plans, performance appraisals, write-ups, and any documented incidents. Since Whole Foods have 360 store throughout North America and in the United Kingdom, this will be a big task to tackle. Interviews every employee would not be a good idea; so instead I could interview 1-2 general managers for a store in each region. I could pick the 1 store that have the most successful employees and 1 store that have the least successful employees. To reach out to the employees in the stores, I could use electronic questionnaires, observe employees at select stores, and do a focus group for each region with select employees. The questions I would ask would be the following:

  1. Have you ever been cited for a performance infraction? If so, would you mind sharing what was the nature of the infraction?
  2. Which skills in your current position would you like to improve?
  3. What would you like to learn that you currently don’t possess the knowledge that you think would be beneficial to your career at Whole Foods?
  4. Do you see yourself at Whole Foods within the next year? 3 years? 5 years?

Lastly, once the company determines that a training intervention is necessary, I would perform a task analysis; which would detail the work performed by the employees and the skills need to perform this work. When upper management chooses the competency to which a gap exist with their employees, I can then determine which duties to analyze. For example, if one of the competency gaps is communications, then I would analyze the communication between the employees and the customer, the employees with management, and the employees amongst each other. I can analyze the task in which a competency gap exist by talking to employees that perform the task and the management that oversee the task. By talking to these two group of people, I can “identify both what employees are actually doing and what they should be doing” (Noe, p. 137) and then understand why a particular competency need to be developed.

References

Noe, R.A. (2013). Employee training and development. (6th ed). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Whole Foods. (2015). Company Info. Retrieved from http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/company- info

Whole Foods. (2015). Our Values and Mission. Retrieved from http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/careers/our-values-and-mission

The Truth About Training

Tell the Truth

“Why is training important”, you may ask. “Training is time consuming and not cost effective”, you may think. Well I am here to tell you the truth about training; and how it can benefit you and the organization to which you work.

For the organization, training is important for contributing to its competitiveness. When an organization has a competitive advantage, that organization will have the “ability to maintain and gain market share in an industry” (Noe, 2013, p. 6). Training helps an organization grow and improve customer service by providing employees with the knowledge and skills needed to reach business goals and objectives. Training plays a strategic role in supporting your organization.

Now for you, the employee. As previously mentioned, training gives you the opportunity to expand your knowledge base. “The goal of training is for employees to master the knowledge, skills, and behavior emphasized in the training and apply them to their day-to-day activities” (Noe, p.8). When you are successful and efficient, so is your organization.

It is important to understand that you, the employee, is one of your organization’s most valuable asset. Your knowledge and skills is an intangible asset. Because of your value, it is important for your organization to invest in their employee. Employees should be provided effective education and training in which such training interventions would result in better organization and individual performance.

References

Frost, S. (2015). The importance of training & development in the workplace. Retrieved from

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-training-development-workplace-10321.html

Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill

Analyzing Scope Creep

Scope Creep

Since recently being promoted from an assistant to a Human Resources Specialist in the training branch of my organization, I have been given the task of revamping our New Employee Orientation. Since I have been at my organization, the orientation has transformed from being 2 full days long, to only a day and a half. The length of the orientation was changed based on constant complaints that it was too long. Now, we are faced with the issue of inefficiency. Not only do our new employee’s and stakeholders feel that orientation is too long, but they also believe that the time allotted is not being used properly, the information is causing a cognitive overload, and/or the presentations are either not needed or not giving the new employees the information desired. As being one of the facilitators before the promotion, I was faced with these complaints frequently; and was happy in my new role to have the authority to do something about the problems.

The first task I decided was to call our sister agencies to find out how they conducted their new employee orientation. I discovered that we were the only agency, out of five under that branch of government, who had a 1.5 day long orientation. The other agency’s orientation were only a half day long because they only focused on what a new employee wants to know on their first day at a new organization, which all included knowing the following:

    • How am I getting paid?

    • How am I getting to work?

    • What are my benefits?

The agency’s added to the above list what they believed new employees need to know, which is:

    • What is the organization?

    • What is mandatory for a new employee to complete (i.e. training)?

After discovering this information, I thought I was well on my way to solving the problem and delivering a more efficient orientation. However, my supervisor changed that around for me.

My supervisor, once presented with the way our sister agencies conduct orientation, was on-board with conducting our orientation the exact same way as our colleagues in other agencies. This changed once she started informing everyone of our project and literally EVERYONE had a say-so in what should be covered in our orientation and how it should be done. My supervisor, being the people pleaser that she is, wanted to included EVERYONE’S ideas, even if they were conflicting with each other. She argued that we have to include our stakeholders in our project and keep them informed; however, because of this, she completely changed our original path and turned it into a maze without an exit.

Maze

I was at a lost of what to do about the situation. Should I follow my supervisor and let the new orientation be just as bad, or worse than the current; or should I say something about it? I decided to try to get the opinion of others in my branch who have either facilitated the orientation, facilitated other courses at our agency, or were skilled in the design and development of courses. After explaining the entire situation to these group of people, they all seemed to lean towards our original idea. I then decided to conduct a meeting with these people and our supervisor so we can all voice our opinions. After the meeting, my supervisor agreed with the consensus but still wanted to find away to appease the other stakeholders. We have all talked to the stakeholders about our ideas to make orientation more efficient. What help us win them over is showing them how our sister agencies conduct orientation and the complaints we receive on our evaluations from new employees.

The project is still in the works, and we occasionally have issues from my supervisor who comes up with ‘another bright idea’ that she probably received from a stakeholder. I have to constantly remind her of what we are trying to achieve and what we agreed upon. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I am still trying to figure out how to deal with this situation, as in just last week my supervisor had a meeting with one of our stakeholders who had another brilliant idea that she seems very adamant on incorporating in our orientation.

FaceI think the main problem here is that we didn’t plan for anything. I don’t think we planned on this being a huge project; and just thinking a quick fix to the problems would rectify everything. But as the old saying goes, Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail. We should have prepared for our stakeholders by identifying who are the drivers, supporters, and observers; and deciding when and how to involve the three (Portney, et. al, 2008, p. 280). All of this could have been identified in the planning phase. We should have also set our goals and objectives in writing and received approval. By doing so, we could have stayed the course and not allow scope creep. If we all shared the same understanding of the project’s vision, we could have controlled scope creep (University Alliance, 2014, para. 13).

References

Portney, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., & Sutton, M. M. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

University Alliance. (2014). Managing scope creep in project management. Retrieved from http://www.villanovau.com/resources/project-management/project-management-scope-creep/#.VITzXOl0yM8

Communicating Effectively

communicate

In the multimedia program ‘The Art of Effective Communication’, we are presented with a communication scenario in which Jane is communicating with Mark through three modes of communication (Email, Voicemail, and Face-to-Face). Jane is trying to retrieve important data from Mark for a project they are working on. If Mark does not deliver the data to Jane is a timely manner, it will effect the deadline of her own assignment. After receiving the message through each modality, I am reflecting upon the effectiveness of the communication

How did your interpretation of the message change from one modality to the next?

The email sent by Jane was clear and concise. Although she states the urgency of receiving this date, I didn’t sense the urgency in the tone of the email. In the voicemail, you can sense Jane’s concern through the tone of her voice. However, the face-to-face communication, to me, prove to be more effective. Not only do you get the same content and can hear the concern in Jane’s voice, but you can also see it in her face. “In face-to-face communication, we rely heavily on non-verbal information like facial expression, body posture, gestures, and voice tone to interpret and predict other people’s behavior” (Swink, 2013, para. 2).

What factors influenced how you perceived the message?

The factors that influence how I perceived the message is the delivery, the content, and the tone of the message. For delivery, anything excruciatingly important should be delivered live. According to Communicating with stakeholders, important communication is best delivered live and in-person (Laureate, n.d.). For the content, towards the end of the communication Jane says to let her know when he (Mark) thinks he can get the report sent over to her (Jane). I don’t sense the urgency in this statement, and it is also ambiguous. Jane could have given him a deadline to which he could have the report to her, by saying ‘Can you please have the report to me by COB tomorrow?’ and ‘if you do not agree with this deadline, please contact me first thing in the morning so we can discuss a more suitable deadline’. For the tone of the message, as previously mentioned I did not sense the urgency in the message itself. Tone in the email could have been conveyed more appropriately through word choice, letter case, or syntax; just as well as vocal inflection in the voicemail.

Which form of communication best conveyed the true meaning and intent of the message?

The face-to-face communication , to me, conveyed the true meaning and intent of the message. In addition to the content, you can sense the importance and urgency on the message through Jane’s facial expression and vocal tone, which could not be conveyed through email and voicemail. In addition, I do understand the need to document all communications. So in this situation if I were Jane, I would try to communicate with Mark first face-to-face, and follow up with an email. If Mark was unable to be reached in-person, then an email and a follow-up would suffice.

What are the implications of what you learned from this exercise for communicating effectively with members of a project team?

For this exercise, I have learned that communication is not just words but is also how the message is delivered. Communication is important in project management because it allows for your project team to “exchange and share information with one another, and influence one another’s attitudes, behaviors, and understandings” (Portney, et. al, 2008, p.357). Project managers are responsible for different types of communication that should take place within a project team.

Resources

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Swink, D.F. (2013). Don’t type at me like that! Email and emotions. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/threat-management/201311/dont-type-me-email-and- emotions

Learning from a Project “ Post-mortem”

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I work in an office that serves as the Training Branch for our entire organization. We offer 95% of competency based training to our employees in our organization, and we make pay arrangements to pay for employees’ college course as long as the course is mission critical and applies to that employee’s current position. When an employee takes a college course in which my organization is paying the tuition, the employee is responsible for providing my office with their grades so that we can update their electronic training history. The employee has to receive a grade of C or better for undergraduate course, or a grade of B or better for graduate course. If an employee does not successfully complete a course, they will have to reimburse the organization’s money. Employees also sign a contract before starting the course agreeing to our organization’s terms.

In 2011, my office was presented with a 300+-page report of employees who took college courses that were not updated in their electronic training histories. This was a big problem for our organization since there could have been millions of dollars that needed to be reimbursed. At this time, my organization was feeling the effects of the financial hardship that was plaguing most federal agencies. My office was asked to contact the students on the report and request a copy of their unofficial transcripts. If the student did not successfully complete the class, we would then construct a reimbursement letter that would be processed by our financial department and deducted for that employee’s pay.

The 2011 project was not successful and was reintroduced to my office again in 2013. Now in 2014, I am reflecting upon this project and have realized that it could have been successful if certain aspects of our organization and resources were considered in the planning stage

First Mistake: Our organization has a system in which internal classes are offered, training histories are updated, and reports can be organized. The report that was initially brought to our office in 2011 was incorrect. Not only did the report contain the training histories that needed to be updated, it also included training histories that were already updated. We received the report from upper management and assumed that the report was correct.

Second Mistake: In 2011, my office was extremely short staff and overworked. Because of this, we only had one person dedicated to completing the tasks for this project. This one employee had to email all the employees on the report to request unofficial transcripts. After a month of no response from the employee, a second request was sent. After 2 weeks of no response, my office would send a third and final request giving the employee a week to respond. If the employee still did not respond, a final email is sent informing the employee that we are processing a reimbursement letter and would be contacted by finance to arrange the repayment. The one dedicated person for the project was often no able to send these second or third request because that person was still swamped with their own day-to-day workload.

Third Mistake: Some of the employees who took college courses did not know they had to submit their grades to my office, claiming that they did not sign the contract agreeing to our organization’s grade standards. Other employees who did sign the contract just did not know they had to give their grades directly to my office, and instead gave them to their supervisors.

Fourth Mistake: Because of the incorrect report, we received several complaints from employees who were receiving what they considered “threatening emails” requesting grades that they already submitted. Some of the complaints were coming from upper management who did not understand our process, the contract, or why would request something extra that interfered with their busy schedules.

The employee working on this project eventually left our office, and the project was not picked back up until 2013. There are a few ways my office could have overcame the issues in 2011.

First Solution: During the define phase, the supervisor of my office should have asked where the report originated, who organized the report, and what fields in our system were add to create this report. I am assuming my supervisor was the project manager since she was the one who received the project from upper management, and assigned the roles and the tasks. A PM must be informed about every aspect of the project, especially when they were not involved in the conception phase. “The first task for these project managers is to revisit the thinking that led people to decide that project was possible and desirable during the conceive phase. At the least, the project manager should become familiar with all existing information. If people overlooked important issues, the project managers much raise them now” (Portny, et. al.. 2008, p. 80).

Second Solution: The PM should have announced the project to the organization. By doing so, we would not have experienced so much resistance. Employees would not have been surprised by the emails, and there would not have been any misunderstanding. A detailed project plan could have gained support from others in the organization and could have illicit volunteers (Geer, 2010, p. 7).

Third Solution: During the define phase, the PM should have taken into consideration that my office was short staff and recruited other people in our organization. If the PM was going to recruit from other areas in the organization, then a project plan would have helped in those efforts. If the PM would have received the support from the project plan, a project sponsor could have emerged to help the PM acquire more people.

Fourth Solution: The PM should have announced the project to the organization. By doing so, we would not have experienced so much resistance. Employees would not have been surprised by the emails, and there would not have been any misunderstanding. Also, by announcing the project to the organization, managers would have known to relinquish the transcripts to our office, and employees thinking about taking college classes would now know the procedures.

In 2013, the project was tackled again by three dedicated employee’s (including myself). I managed to get an accurate report, which was 200 pages long rather than 300. The three of us divide the report and was able to get it done within 6 months. We received support from multiple branches who encouraged their employees to cooperate with our request. This project also created a discussion among upper management to re-evaluate the tuition reimbursement contract and how to ensure every employee signs it before we process payment for their college classes.

References

Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: just enough pm to rock your projects! Laureate International Universities.

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B.

E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects.

Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Future of Distance Learning

Post_Infographic_Evolution-of-distance-learning_teaser

Distance learning has came a long way in our society. From correspondence study to online learning, distance learning has revealed diversity and ongoing change in the past 160 years of its existence. “The history also shows that advances in technology have promoted key changes in distance education” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, Zvacek, 2012, p. 58). Indeed, technology has propelled distance education to its famed glory by making it accessible at any place and any time. As technology develops and expand even further, distance education will continue to grow and continue to be a formidable format of delivering education.

Perceptions of Distance Learning in the Future (5-10 years)
In the next 5 or 10 years, I believe distance education will be more accepted by naysayers because they will be less intimidated about technology and the physical separation of the instructor. Distance education technology may seem “to be unfamiliar or difficult to learn for many students, so they might not be enthusiastic about participating in online activities” (as cited in Tao, Ramsey, & Watson, 2011, para. 4). As more of the younger generation grow up in this technological world, they will come more accustomed to new technologies. Based on the Diffusion of Innovations theory, I believe the younger generation will become innovators and early adopters of technology (McLean, 2005). Innovators are individuals who are willing to take the time and energy to learn and use new technologies. Early adopters are individuals who are considered leaders and recognize the potential of innovation. I also believe that the older generation will be less enthusiastic about new technologies, and would be labeled as the late majority or the laggards from the Diffusion of Innovation theory. The late majority are individuals who are skeptical to change and often adopt technology only when pressured. Laggards are individuals who simply resist technologies.
In 5-10 years, I see the late majority and the laggards becoming more enthusiastic about technologies because the younger generation will be more prevalent in society. Technological fluency is becoming a requirement in schools and the corporate world, which could increase the adoption of technology and future propel distance education in the lives of people in society.

Perceptions of Distance Learning in the Future (10-20 years)
In the next 10-20 years, I believe distance learning will become more accepted by everyone because of advances in technology and the adoption of this technology. Growing acceptance of distance education will be due to increase online communication, practical experience with new tools, growing comfort with online discourse, and the ability to communicate with diverse global groups. (Laureate, n.d.). As previously mentioned, as technology fluency becomes more of a requirement, the use of distance learning will increase. “Ubiquitous technology may continue to increase the options available for distributing distance education to more people in a scalable fashion, especially if it is accompanied by technological fluency” (Howell, Williams, Lindsay, 2003, para. 44). Distance learning may become more acceptable and more prevalent than tradition classroom learning.

Advocating to Improve Societal Perceptions of Distance Learning through Instructional Design
As a future instructional designer, I believe I can improve society’s perceptions of distance learning through designing exceptional online instruction. One of the disadvantages of distance education is a lack of attention to educational quality (Aggarawal, 2007). Distance education should provide equivalent learning experiences to that of traditional classroom learning. Quality should not suffer because the delivery method is different. Some of society view distance education as lacking because of the separation of the student from the teacher. Because of the traditional classroom setting, society is dependent on the teacher presence. I believe society has lost confidence in their ability to control their own learning. Distance education is student-centered, in which the learning takes place through student activity ( Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, Zvacek, 2012, p. 44). There is a pedagogical shift with distance education, “moving from a transmission model to constructivist, sociocultural and metacognitive models. These models use computer-mediated communication and emphasize students’ responsibility for their own learning” (as cited in Howell, Williams, Lindsay, 2003, para. 32 ). As an instructional designer, I would like to design student-centered instruction that will not only foster knowledge, but build the confidence in the student to further engage in their own learning and contribute to the community of knowledge.

References
Aggarwal, D. D. (2007). Future of Distance Education. Sarup & Sons
Howell, S.L., Williams, P.B., & Lindsay, N.K. (2003). Thirty-two trends affecting distance education: an informed foundation for strategic planning. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. 6 (3). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall63/howell63.html?ref= %C4%B0lkSexShop.com
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
McLean, J. (2005). Addressing faculty concerns about distance learning. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. 8 (4). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/winter84/mclean84.htm
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.
Tao, J., Ramsey, C., & Watson, M. (2011). Using blended learning to prepare future distance learning: a technology perspective. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, 8(1). Retrieved from http://www.itdl.org/Journal/jan_11/article04.htm

Converting to a Distance Learning Format

Scenario: A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.

In the scenario, the training manager wants to convert face-to-face training session into blended learning, which consist of both face-to-face and online instruction. The need for blended learning was considered by the training manager due to his frustration with the quality of communication. Blended learning could improve the quality of communication because it requires the students to become active and interactive learners (Watson, 2008, p.5). Blended learning is a shift form lecture to student centered instruction, which will increase the interaction of the student with the instructor, other students, and the content.

As with any course, face-to-face, online, or blended; a greater emphasis should be placed on the planning phase. Blended learning should have equivalent learning outcomes to that of the face-to-face and online learning. Based on the Equivalency Theory that the more equivalent the learning experience, the more equivalent the outcomes of the learning experience (Theory and Distance Learning, n.d), the same planning used for the face-to-face instruction should be used for the planning of the blended learning experience, i.e. identifying audience learning outcomes, objectives, goals, and constraints; and creating lesson plans and activities.

However, the training manager would have to consider what portion of the face-to-face learning should be added online. What may work face-to-face may not work online. The training manager have to take into account the differences between the two platforms (Kelly, 2012, para. 5). Activities and applications are the heart of an online course; so a determination has to be made between what works best online than in person (Facilitating online learning, n.d.). Activities should provide ample opportunities for online learners to explore on their own (Planning and designing online courses, n.d.). In regards to the scenario, the training manager can use the online format strictly for activities and application, and use the face-to-face portion for the actual lesson plans, lectures, and/or assessments.

With this self-autonomy from online activities, the trainer will then becomes a facilitator for the online learning. The facilitator is not teaching in this student-centered platform, but rather providing guidance and encouraging the students to engage in the online experience, i.e. online communications like discussion boards. Facilitators should show learners that they care about their success (Facilitating online learning, n.d.), which may lead to students being more likely to engage in the online experience. The facilitator can also help the students build class community by encouraging interaction with their peers through discussions or group activities. Research has shown that there is increased satisfaction toward online learning when there is a student perception of community (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek, 2012, p. 72).

So in regards to the scenario, blended learning can prove to be effective towards the training manager’s goal of increasing communications and interactivity amongst the trainees. The training manager would have ensure that he/she use the proper training method for the for the correct format.

References

Kelly, R. (2012). Blended learning course design mistakes to avoidRetrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/instructional-design/blended-learning-course-design- mistakes-to-avoid/

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Facilitating online learning [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Planning and designing online courses. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Theory and distance learning. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu 

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Watson, J. (2008). Blending learning: the convergence of online and face-to-face education. North American Council for Online Learning.

The Impact of Open Source

Open-source-software-development

A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a web-based course offered at no additional cost to large populations of online students. “Although MOOCs don’t always offer academic credits, they provide education that may enable certification, employment or further studies” (Rouse, 2013, para 2).

I reviewed an open course called Learning to Teach Online, offered on Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/course/ltto). The course was created by professors at The University of New South Wales. Before entering the course, Coursera offered very detailed information about the course and its instructors, the length of the course and the number of hours a week a student should expect to work, the course format, recommended background, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and the course syllabus. This information was very important for students to make the determination if this course would be truly for them. After registering for the course, which was only required 3 steps, I was then asked to take a brief survey that asked me questions about myself and why I decided to take the class. The survey also consisted of a Honor Code promise that you will have to agree to, such as academic integrity and ethical standards. The survey is a way for the instructors to get to know their students. According to Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education, “Knowing the students in a class provides the instructor with an understanding of how to best approach instruction to ensure an optimal learning experience for all” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 219).

The course is very well organized. The navigation panel consisted of the 8 modules for each week of class; a course resources section that links you to the class resources at the library and the video list; a “my learning” section that consisted of sub-sections for my goals, my recommendations, my assignments, and discussion forms; a community section that consisted of sub-sections like meet the instructors and Meetup; and a general section for announcements, twitter feeds, getting started, FAQs, and technical issues forum. One interesting feature of the course is that it offers a section about the course design. I have never taken an online course that provided explanation for the way the was course designed, an explanation for the learning outcomes, and explanations for the activities and assignments chosen for the modules. The instructors also gives you an overview of the website and an explanation of each link on the site. The contribution of this section makes me believe that the course was carefully pre-planned and designed for distance learning.

The course also followed the fundamentals of teaching online, as outlined in Teaching and Learning at a Distance. The course was organized and the requirements were made clear to the students through the getting started link; the students are constantly kept informed through the Announcements section; the course learning outcomes are defined; the students’ knowledge is assessed throughout the course; the instructor integrated the power of the web into the course and extended the course readings beyond the text by having a link to an outside library, suggested readings, recommendations, and utilizing Meetup; and the students are trained on the use of the course through the course design section, the FAQs section, and the technical issues forum.

Another great feature of the course is that each activity for each module promotes self-reflection, knowledge, and strategy. In fact, the overview of each activity explains how each portion of activity will support self-reflection, knowledge, and strategy of what was learned in the module.

MOOCs are a great way for providing higher education courses and training to those not capable of receiving it the tradition way. Open courses “permit educators and a global network of learners to participate in research, learning, and sense-making around a given topic” (Cormier & Siemens, 2010, p. 6). Students are able to add to a vast learning community and contribute to the growth of knowledge worldwide.

References

Cormier, D., & Siemens, G. (2010). The Open Course: Through the Open Door–Open Courses as Research, Learning, and Engagement. Educause Review, 45(4), 30.

Rouse, M. (2013). Massive open online course (mooc). Retrieved from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/massively-open-online-course-MOOC

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

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