Whose Objectives Are They, Anyway?

I am an instructional designer. With quite a bit of education in the area of how adults learn, there is one thing that overshadows everything I do that involves education, human resource development, organizational communication, and the consulting work I do–What needs and expectations do learners have that education and communication try to meet? In other words, when I write learning objectives, they are just that–my objectives . . . and not the learner’s. I would set my classes up for failure if I did not acknowledge this very clear, but often overlooked, fact. The learners come with their own expectations and personal objectives, and for me to ignore them and insist on their fulfilling my objectives for them is just silly. Let’s face it, how can I realistically evaluate how well people meet objectives I am forcing them to accept and work toward?

Of course, that is what instructional design is all about–setting objectives to meet organizational needs.

No, we can not and should not get rid of objectives, because without them we lack some direction at all. I am only concerned when the unspoken, namely whose objectives are they, anyway? is ignored.

I have been thinking about this since I attended a session last night in the New Media Consortium’s (NMC) Symposium on Mashups. The presenter of the final session, Brian Lamb (a distant colleague whom I have met briefly twice at Northern Voice and who is a most dynamic presenter), facilitated an experience entitled “Confessions of a Mashup Un-Artist.” It was described as:

The creative side of mashups results in interesting and often popular-to-the-point-of-viral works, but at the same time, it raises questions about the nature of originality, authorship, and context. In this session, a mashup un-artist will discuss the process and products of his work, address some of the questions raised above, and discuss the relationship between remix culture and open education. Is originality overrated? Do we owe it to the intellectual environment to recycle our intellectual work? Is our existing concept of authorship still valid? Come along for the ride and contribute, collaborate, and mash up answers to these mashup questions. I attended this live in Second Life (where I am a newbie named Chartres Loire) and live in Adobe Connect (a great platform, BTW). There were video clips, music clips, avatar dancing, and various sounds. The session met the description, but nevertheless I was confused. Frustrated. Unclear as to the objectives. Grasping to “get it.” Looking for applicability. Struggling for meaning. I was that student who felt (s)he were the only one confused and not “getting it.”

I processed this a lot with some colleagues on Twitter last night, and it still seemed that I was the only one (of those who replied to me) who did not “get it.” Feeling completely isolated after this learning experience, I again started to think about learning objectives. Were Brian’s objectives the same as mine? More likely than not, the answer is no. How could they be–we did not discuss them (which is normal in most learning and presentation settings). I think I did not “get the session” for the simple reason that my objectives were not met. What were they? My objectives for the session were:

  1. understand what a mashup un-artist is
  2. apply this knowledge to my practice

After the session and after the Twitter discussion, I am still unclear as to what Brian was trying to demonstrate and I am still not able to figure out how to apply it. At least many of my colleagues seemed to respond positively and appreciate it.

While writing helps me to process my thinking (the entire purpose for my blog itself), I could only make sense of the experience when I finally realized my objectives were not met. This does not mean that other people had the same or different experiences, but I believe it does demonstrate how acknowledging individual (and thus different) learning objectives is so important in the learning process.

I think I still need to process this a little more, but want to share where I am right now.

Appointed to the ADHR Editorial Board

Advances in Developing Human ResourcesI just received news that I have been appointed to the Editorial Board of Advances in Developing Human Resources (ADHR), a peer-reviewed journal sponsored by the Academy of Human Resource Development and Sage Publications.

As a research-to-practice, or evidence-based practice, journal, it is scholarly and research-driven, with an aim toward researching areas and meeting the needs of practitioners.

As a peer-reviewed journal, ADHR:

focuses on the issues that help you work more effectively in human resource development. The journal spans the realms of performance, learning, and integrity within an organizational context. Balancing theory and practice, each issue of the journal is devoted to a different topic central to the development of human resources. Advances has covered subjects as wide-ranging and vital as performance improvement, action learning, on-the-job training, informal learning, how HRD relates to the new global economy, leadership, and the philosophical foundations of HRD practice.

I look forward to my three year appointment serving my professional colleagues and my field.

Twitter in the Classroom

twitter It is nice to see some college classes making use of current technologies that are all the rage in the private sector and amongst early-adopters. It is another thing for a professor to formally integrate this by having students sign up for their own accounts.

Such is the story in the recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, where a professor uses Twitter to interact with his students. Thankfully I saw this article in my newsreader on the Twitter blog. While I applaud the effort, it will be wonderful when non-technology or media faculty begin integrating these technologies into their syllabi for their educational value alone, even beyond the technical “wow” factors. This is a wonderful start, and reminds me of when I taught high school years ago and began using email with students to review for exams and work on assignments back in 1997. How times have changed.

I wish I would have tried this with my class that just ended. It would have been great to discuss current news stories, share ideas about upcoming assignments, and even debrief what was learned. This debriefing is where I believe much learning is done, yet it is the connection between what happens in the classroom and how that gets realized in life that formally gets overlooked in the race to “do the assignments.”

I would be happy to speak with any of my former students via Twitter.

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Evidence-Based Dilbert

As an advocate of evidence-based practice (EBP) in human resource development (HRD), adult education, and instructional design, I saw this Dilbert cartoon and laughed. This demonstrates some of the issues in and around EBP in the modern world.

Have you ever experienced something like this?

Volunteerism and Technology: New Ways to Expand Capacity and Build Community

Yesterday I spoke at the Volunteerism and Technology: New Ways to Expand Capacity and Build Community conference that was organized by the United Hospital Fund in New York City. I presented on Webinars within non-profits. I uploaded the slides into SlideShare.

whatisawebinar.jpg

Working in instructional design and project management of organizational learning initiatives, this fits well with my previous position in knowledge management and technology training.