Tag Archives: Lessons learnt

Challenges of implementing Flexible Learning

9 Apr

I’ve been thinking about flexible learning a lot lately. Flexible learning, according to Wikipedia, is “a set of educational philosophies and systems, concerned with providing learners with increased choice, convenience, and personalisation to suit the learner.” At the University of British Columbia (UBC), they have a flexible learning initiative that focuses on “developing, delivering, and evaluating learning experiences that promote effective and dramatic improvements in student achievement.” The key to the initiative is enabling “pedagogical and logistical flexibility so that students have more choice in their learning opportunities, including when, where, and what they want to learn.”

I am currently working on a project that is moving towards the goal of flexible learning, however, there are some major challenges with implementing such a learning strategy. Here are just some of those challenges that I have faced over the last few months:

  • Redesigning courses to reflect a flexible learning approach. It is about creating a complete network of paths that learners can take to ensure a successful learning experience. To do this successfully, you need to brainstorm numerous scenarios and use tools such as mindmaps.
  • Working with instructors to promote a world of learning outside their classroom. Flexible learning is about giving learners the opportunity to decide what they want to learn, when they want to learn, and where they want to learn. This is an pedagogical mindshift for many instructors who are fearful about losing control of the “learning experiences” they create in the classroom.
  • Find ways to motivate learners that flexible learning is beneficial to them. Perhaps this is the most surprising challenge, but some learners only see learning experiences as classroom based. Many are unmotivated about or fearful of learning outside the traditional classroom setting. For me, it is about giving these learners the skills to be able to learn outside of the classroom – it is not just promoting the idea of choice in learning.

Lessons Learned in 2012 – No. 1: Style Guide

27 Dec

There is nothing like the end of the year to reflect on what went well and what didn’t. As an exercise, reflection not only tests your memory recall, but enables you to learn from experience. So, in this vein, I’ve put together a list of my lessons learned from 2012.

The first lesson is about the need to develop a style guide that can be applied to all training material that your team produces. Throughout the year, I’ve worked on training videos, procedure guides, quick references guides and cards, but rather than a list of standards or a style guide to create a consistent looking product, I’ve relied on a combination of Microsoft’s Manual of Style for Technical Publications and prior documentation. As you can imagine, this combination has caused debate, from varying font sizes to whether or not bullet points should be indented.

MS Manual of Style

For me, although I create various formats of training material, I believe it is necessary to have a style guide that produces a consistent look and feel to the content. In my mind, a video demonstrating the steps to connect to VPN should use the same language as a quick reference covering the same topic.

So next year, I’m determined to put together a style guide that covers all bases to make life a little easier and less confusing.

Lessons learnt while project managing a keynote presentation

26 Oct

It’s been a few weeks since I have blogged, but I’ve been busy project managing the delivery of a keynote presentation on virtual meetings.

By project managing, I mean organizing and re-organizing, arranging and re-arranging, scheduling and re-scheduling everything and anything from meetings, people, and places. Ultimately the process has been one of collaboration with a diverse collective of people (internal/external co-workers/clients) to achieve a single goal – the delivery of an 1 1/2 hour presentation on virtual meetings.

So what have I learnt from the experience? First, when working with a diverse group you need structure. Whether that is organizing a weekly catch-up meeting or simply sending out an agenda on the Wednesday before the meeting – structure means everyone gets the information at the same time and at the same place. Second, you need transparency. With a diverse group the process can become muddy – people going off in different directions, developing new ideas, having separate conversations. But creating a transparent process can help eliminate some of the confusion. For me, that transparent process meant storing all the different elements of the presentation in one powerpoint slide deck. All the work that people did on their own ended up in the slide deck (which was versioned). That way everyone on the project could see how the presentation was developing, from the areas that kept changing to the areas that needed work.

So, how did the presentation go? Well, it’s next week and I’m looking forward to it. By project managing the development of the presentation I’ve become very close to the content, but as the walk-throughs and dry-runs have proved, the presentation should engage the audience, generate some laughs, make people think, and demonstrate how a diverse group can collaboratively deliver a single goal.