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Life in a new role

November 9, 2009 2 comments

I’m a learning designer. Most days I’m creating a design doc, writing a storyboard, researching new learning approaches, reviewing developed courses, facilitating client meetings.

The projects are always different, but the work is fairly similar.

Until about six weeks ago.

I started on a new project as a project lead for the content management portion of a portal implementation/migration.

It’s not a huge stretch. As a learning designer I often have to manage content: sorting, reducing, generating, categorizing. Even the project management component wasn’t a big leap from my production management responsibilities on a project.

I was excited and nervous.. ok petrified.

The thing that was enormously different was the team I was on. Even working with clients the IBM team I work with (project manager, client execs, developers, editors, etc.) know me. They know what I can do and what I can’t do. Just like I know them. And we supplement each other in terms of skill. It’s a wonderfully symbiotic relationship and truly benefits the client. They get all the strengths and few of the weaknesses.

However, it makes it more challenging to grow. One has to be very agressive in one’s career development to push past the expectations.

This project was going to be different – I hadn’t worked with anyone in this division of IBM before. So, I’d have to rely on my own skills, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses to get me through.

I’m only 1/2 way through the project. There have been ups and downs. Mistakes and successes. Questions, research, answers, and exploration. And along the way I noticed that I’ve been able to pick out what MY strenghts are and what MY weaknesses are. With no team (that knows me) to compensate for the areas of project management that I struggle with, I’ve noticed where I need to build my skills are lacking and where I excel.

Experiential learning is always promoted as an excellent way to learn. We enable students to learn by making mistakes, trial and error, basically by experiencing the new skill or knowledge.

I’ve designed it, but I’ve never fully experienced this concept. Working through an experiential learning opportunity feels a little bit like working one of thos American Gladiator sets – I keep get whacked upside the head my a large foam bat. I keep going because I know that eventually I make it to the end of the gauntlet.

This experience has shed some light on a few things for me:

1. It’s hard and humbling to take advantage of the support systems in place. I think we need to make it easier and friendly for learners to take advantage of support. I have three mentors and I still feel like I have to apologize for taking their time, that is, when i actually take advantage of the relationship (I am getting better at this part).

2. Without reflection, it’s almost impossible to find the growth areas, although it’s very easy to see your strenghts.

3. It’s not enough to engineer obstables to promote learning by mistake. The learner has to be willing to accept the failure as a learning opportunity.

I’m struggling to finish this post – I think because I’m not finished the journey of this new role. I’ll be posting more on experiencing experiential learning first hand. Hopefully that will help to clarify my thoughts.

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Predictions for Learning in 2009

January 15, 2009 2 comments

This month’s big question is on predictions…. appropriate for the start of a new year. We’re being asked:

  • What are your biggest challenges for this upcoming year?
  • What are your major plans for the year?
  • What predictions do you have for the year?

Such hard questions so early in the year.

Challenge: Same as always – challenging clients, SMEs with a lack of confidence in their learners, fear, difficult content, technology + the current state of the economy and all that brings us 😦

Plans: I’m excited about this year. I’m going to tackle the challenges the same way I always do… one day at a time, one challenge at a time. I am planning on immersing myself in virtual worlds again… after stepping sideways from that for a year. And, I’d like to start getting my peers engaged in the possibilities of social learning.

Predictions: I don’t really like making predictions. I prefer plans. I can act on a plan. That’s my prediction for the year I guess… a lot of plans 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized

What I learned this weekend

Yah! I'm done! (Coral Springs triathlon)

Yah! I'm done! (Coral Springs triathlon)

It was a weekend of personal learning for me….

  • Even after 32 years I still sunburn.
  • Training for a triathlon doesn’t make completing one easier.
  • Wedding dress shopping isn’t as fun as they make it seem on Say Yes to that Dress.
  • Finding “the dress” is the best feeling in the world.

Resume as a tag cloud

June 23, 2008 2 comments

Lots of postings about Wordle inside IBM… a fun way to represent yourself through a tag cloud.

My resume as a tag cloud!

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Be Creative!

This week was our internal training event. My practice lead brought in The Second City to do a four hour session on creativity and innovation. The widespread panic at the thought of having to do improv in front of everyone in the practice (there are only 22 of us!) was almost comical. Fortunately, that wasn’t what the training was about.

We started off the session talking about what creativity or creative meant. The answers varied from “a unique solution” to “something that’s never been done” to “a visual element”. Obviously our opinions are wide spread. What the facilitators told us as a result of the ensuing discussion is that you can’t ask someone to “be creative“. It can’t be a forced activity. It’s a process. And, it’s often not a result of an initial idea, but instead how an idea morphs through collaboration.

The collaboration portion is key. Coming up with the idea is really hard, but adding to a suggestion, taking away pieces, modifying one aspect with a group of peers enables a truly creative idea to form.

It was a great session… I’d take the opportunity to attend one of their sessions again!

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Breaking it down

I wonder how many people out there have multiple blogs? One for their “at work professional face”, one for their “personal face”, one for their “public professional face” … maybe even more.

I’ve just restarted this blog as the latter. I don’t have a “public professional face” yet and I’m not 100% sure I want one, but I’m giving it a try. But I don’t know that I have enough to say. I think I’m duplicating myself. So, I’m breaking it down.

In my IBM blog I’ll focus on projects, internal initiatives, learning in general as it pertains to my specific projects. Here, I’ll focus on all the other stuff: I guess the work stuff that’s not confidential.

I hope this helps me spread out what I know. Who knows, after a month I might find that I really want to consolidate to one blog. I’ll play it by ear.

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