Everyone Has a Plan ’till They Get Punched In The Mouth.

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Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.

— Mike Tyson

I finally listened to an online info session that I missed last week about my upcoming research paper. As of January 22nd 2017, I’ll begin working on my final paper, which is due June 4th 2017 (I can’t wait! đŸ™ŒđŸœ). After listening to the info session I missed last week, I realized that half of 2017 will be spent in my basement reading, writing and reflecting
 pretty much the same way I spent half of 2015 and the entire year of 2016. 😜

For some odd reason I thought the next six months would be easier than the past year and half… I thought I’d have time to complete my paper at my own pace, actually spend some time with friends, maybe plan a couple “weekend getaways” with the family… WRONG! (Insert punch in the mouth here đŸ„Š) There’s schedules to be made, milestones to attain and deadlines to be met. It’s suggested that 200 hours of effort be put towards our research in order to complete a 10,000 word/45 page research paper. 😰 I’ve already began to plan a weekly agenda, outline my tasks and also allot time for research, writing and synthesizing my findings
 (there I go again with that word “plan”).

Even though it seems like there’s a lot to do, it can be done. Yes, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed (as usual) but who wouldn’t be? It’s normal. Especially when expectations are so high and time is limited. There’s a lot to be done over the next six months but I’m learning to practice what I preach and â€œtrust the process”, stay focussed and enjoy the experience.

#6Months2Go

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Higher Ed’s Digital Skills Gap: Faculty & Students — Online Learning Insights

“Digital technology is an ally for higher education” —Professor Mary McAleese, Teaching and Learning in Irish Higher Education (2015) Most educators today possess the digital skills needed to function in academic life. There’s the basics—managing email, using the Learning Management System (LMS), uploading papers to plagiarism checkers among others. Yet some faculty still struggle with [
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via Higher Ed’s Digital Skills Gap: Faculty & Students — Online Learning Insights

This is What Writing a Thesis Looks Like?

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So it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a blog entry. I’ve been pretty busy over the last few months with school, work and freelance
 oh ya, and those people that live with me; I think they’re my family. Even though I’ve been consumed with work, I’m excited to begin my research paper. I’ve finally chosen a research topic and wrapped my head around where I’d like to focus my research.

I finally left my basement after 4 days… and this was just a rough draft… 😰

I’ve only begun working on my introduction this past week but I’m anxious to see how my paper develops. Fleshing out my ideas have taken longer than I expected but I think I’m on the right track now. It’s only the beginning of my writing process but I can see light at the end of the “Masters tunnel”.

#7monthsToGo

To Be or Not To Be Connected? Is Technology Needed To Be Educated?

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When reflecting on recent readings for my International & Global Distance Education course, the theme of providing education for all (Bates, 2013) and the need technology (specifically, Internet access) in developing and underserved countries caught my attention. While the shift to remodel learning environments and equipping them with modern technology; therefore spawning new and innovative teaching methods seem as logical solutions for those living in a modern society (Gulati, 2008), I have become conflicted with the notion that our biases and presumed need for global access to a connected world is necessary to provide education for all. I agree the use of technology can produce positive outcomes such as creative learning and efficient productivity, access to an abundance of web tools and information etc
. However, what good is a connected world without affordable access to technology that enables others to become connected and participate? What benefits does a connected infrastructure provide to people who cannot afford the devices to connect? What benefit is a connected device if the user is unable to operate the device or maintain it? Could the idea of establishing a globally connected world without providing affordability, opportunity and access to contextually appropriate information for the people increase the educational divide within developing countries and underserved societies?

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I’ve been wrestling with what the term ‘education’ means to those who provide it versus those who receive it. Are we educating or indoctrinating others to adopt our ways of learning, producing and innovating through the use of technology? With these biases of a connected tech savvy utopia, I wonder what other biases and influences will be passed on to societies with differences in culture, language, economy, etc
? How will these biases and influences affect what is learned? What will the side effects of online or tech-based learning produce in the future? Will this form of connected education sustain a population’s current cultural identity alongside the information delivered through the use of tech-based education? How would that conformity change a cultures perspectives on innovation and alter their creative ingenuity that their cultural identity has provided the world to date? To presume that education and the models that deliver knowledge is a one-size-fits-all approach is to assume that education processes like the very machine that we believe will provide education for all and improve learning. Education is not as absolute as an algorithm. If so, It possesses many if and then statements with infinite loops.

There are so many complex factors (other than providing broadband internet) involved in order to provide education for all and improve learning in developing countries and underserved populations. I hope to discover and contextualize these factors upon further research as I move forward into our future readings and discussions.

References

Anon – Not Sure If (2016). I2.kym-cdn.com. Retrieved from http://i2.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/437/437/a19.png

Bates, T. (2013 June 23).  MIT, learning technologies, and developing countries: lessons in technology transfer.

bmo GIF – bmo AdventureTime anxious GIFs. (2016). Tenor. Retrieved from https://www.tenor.co/view/bmo-adventuretime-anxious-nervous-scared-gif-3561125

Gulati, S. (2008). Technology-enhanced learning in developing nations: A review. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(1).

LRNT 513 – Learning Journal: Leading Through Fight or Flight Conversation Styles. Entry #4

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My Observations

During Assignments #4 and #5, I explored complex challenges that impacted leadership in a community based youth program for gaming and web development. I discovered much more about the challenges faced by leaders within the program by asking powerful questions, and suggesting applicable solutions based on what I had observed during an informal learning interview. I conducted a synchronous interview with the cofounder of the program individually and later within a team dynamic. Both experiences were valuable as they required similar but yet different skills and processes to execute a successful and meaningful interview with positive outcomes. In hindsight, while conducting the interview individually, my personal and unconscious biases surfaced versus my approach when placed in a team dynamic. Allowing others to contribute to the process allowed me to externalize my own beliefs and accept the perspectives of others; whether it be culturally, geographically and experiential. Leading a team allowed me to experience and view the role of leadership through various perspectives. In addition, my initial assumptions; in respect to ‘what makes a good leader‘ were affirmed as some of my initial characteristics of a leader were practiced during this experience. The biggest takeaway from these experiences were the effectiveness of our team conversations. I decided to take the fight or flight approach in communicating this time around in our team assignment. In order to arrive at suitable solutions for our client, as a collective, our team conducted a series of conversations while accommodating to the strengths of each member, which lead to some tangible ideas that would become possible solutions for our client’s long-term challenges. Allowing each member to contribute their thoughts and perspectives while voicing their ideas made for a positive learning experience and outcome.

My Reflections

Cross, (2007, p. 122) defines the fight and flight conversational styles as “The fight conversational style is competitive; a “win” conversation. The flight style is accommodating
.” During our first meeting, we decided to have an open forum and presented our preferences for communication, contribution deadlines and had a conversation about our teams strengths and learning opportunities. This initial form of communication provided our team with a foundation for conducting a positive virtual working environment and an engaging learning experience. It was important to voice these concerns and be transparent with members of the group; as I found that we developed a mutual understanding of responsibilities, roles and team goals.

Lessons Learned

My approach to initiating an accommodating flight conversation style allowed our group to identify team strengths and learning opportunities that helped us develop a strong team dynamic that produced meaningful conversations and resulted in positive contributions from all members of the group while keeping them engaged in the process. Wheatley, (as cited in Cross, 2007, p. 124) said it best when describing the cultivation of change through human conversation, “I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again. Simple, honest, human conversation. Not mediation, negotiation, problem-solving, debate or public meetings. Simple, truthful conversations where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard and we each listen well”.

References

Cross, J. (2007).  Informal learning: Rediscovering the natural pathways that inspire innovation and performance.  San Francisco CA: Pfeiffer.

LRNT 513 – Learning Journal: Constructing Powerful Questions for Innovation and Change. Entry #3

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The linguistic architecture of powerful questions diagram [adapted]. The Art and architecture of powerful questions. Vogt, Brown, & Isaacs (2003, p. 3).

My Observations

I’ve attended and held many meetings surrounding the topic of change, innovation and professional development over the past 10 years as an instructor and program coordinator in media studies. In the past, many decisions that were made to initiate change within our department, program and courses were dictated by management without consulting staff and or faculty. Decisions were frequently implemented without consensus among our team and lacked insights and contributions from experienced members. Newly devised and implemented plans or strategies usually fell apart because these decisions were not thought through or simulated with input from experienced members or industry collaboration. Throughout my Leadership, Learning & Technology course I have learned that leaders—instead of delegating a plan of action—should be more inclusive when developing ideas and strategies for change, innovation and professional development.

“Questions open the door to dialogue and discovery. They are an invitation to creativity and breakthrough thinking. Questions can lead to movement and action on key issues; by generating creative insights, they can ignite change”
— Vogt, Brown, & Isaacs, 2003, p. 1

My Reflections

During Unit 3 of the course, I explored how to construct powerful questions to foster authentic and meaningful conversations. Cross, (2007) refers to this process as The World CafĂ© and references insights maintained by Brown and Isaacs (2005) publication, The World CafĂ©: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter. As I began to reflect more about the process of The World CafĂ©, I could imagine implementing this process during staff meetings or even during student feedback sessions. I then discovered that constructing powerful questions to provoke creative thought for innovation should start with a focused goal in mind. Giving clarity and context to challenges through the use of real-life issues and questions would allow participants to engage in collaborative, in-depth exploration and innovative thinking (Cross, 2007, p. 115). Vogt, Brown and Isaacs (2003) maintain that “Questions can lead to movement and action on key issues; by generating creative insights, they can ignite change” (p. 1).

Within ‘The Art of Powerful Questions’ article, Vogt et al. (2003) present the three dimensions of formulating powerful questions. Construction of a Question, The Scope of  Question and The Assumptions Within Questions. Discovering these dimensions has been very enlightening for me in my role as a program coordinator; as it has allowed me to think critically about the underlying challenges that my program, students and staff are faced with on a daily basis and within our industry. These formulas gave me a different perspective on the various system archetypes within our cluster of certificate and diploma programs and courses. In the past, I would experience questions that would evoke a defensive response, were too broad in scope or had presumed assumptions about a challenge. “When constructing powerful questions, queries should stimulate reflective thinking in order to spark deeper conversation” (Vogt et al. 2003, p. 4).

Consider the following questions and view how they move from broad in scope to becoming more focused in structure:

  • Are you satisfied with our program?
  • When have you been most satisfied with our program?
  • What is it about our program that you find most satisfying?
  • Why might it be that that our program has had its ups and downs?

Lessons Learned

Considering these new insights regarding the three dimensions of constructing powerful questions,  I now have a solid foundation to help my team clarify the scope of complex challenges while creating an environment for inclusion, deeper thought, and creative solutions. “As with any new skill, the best teacher is experience, and the best coach is a thoughtful listener” (Vogt et al. 2003, p. 6).

References

Vogt, E., Brown, J., & Isaacs, D. (2003). The art of powerful questions: Catalyzing insight, innovation and action. Mill Valley, CA: Whole Systems Associates.

Cross, J. (2007).  Informal learning: Rediscovering the natural pathways that inspire innovation and performance.  San Francisco CA: Pfeiffer.