Hoo ahh! I worked very hard over the past couple of years to wrap up my studies in CU’s Information and Learning Technologies (ILT) Master’s program. I officially met all obligations in the last week of July—hallelujah! I am excited and grateful for the lessons that I learned and for the skills that I developed and refined. My team thought that you might be interested in what I’ve been up to over the past few years, so I’ll share some of the highlights here.
Our studies rested on the foundation of ten core competencies. I hope it will not offend the program designers too much to see that I’ve simplified our work into four primary categories:
Assess the needs of your audience or performer
We all know that people come in all shapes and sizes, so why are so many products and services built as if one size fits all? The ILT program set out to give students the awareness and tools to better analyze the different types of learners and to assess the needs of our audience. We examined a wide range of scenarios and practiced our hand at identifying the root problem that plagues communities, organizations, institutions, programs and individuals. Of course, getting to know our audience more intimately and understanding your needs will better ensure that we’ll be able to meet them–whether related to the product, support, resources or what have you.
Design, build and implement a solution
Design is a loaded word! I get the impression that, to some, design refers to the choice of color scheme and placement of images. Considerations regarding visual representation of content are critical, no doubt, but they really represent a fraction of the design considerations that go into the development of a product, service, course, curriculum, and so on. What is the core message you’re working to convey? What argument can you provide as proof that your decision is meeting the needs of your audience? How will you attract and keep the attention of your audience? What methods can you employ to engage them and to interact with them? How will you make your point memorable or “sticky”? Investing time in developing a solution without careful design considerations is like starting a business without a business plan. Reinforcing and building upon system, program, process, and lesson design principles were among the most rewarding facets of the program.
Evaluate and learn from implementation experiences
I was reminded throughout my studies to jump off of the hamster wheel. Do you recognize that mentality that has some living paycheck to paycheck or others working on multiple initiatives—one after another without pausing? (This makes me think of the movie “Office Space” and laugh out loud.) Get creative! Do something different! With the emphasis on evaluation, I found my work to be so much more satisfying. I focused on creating value through various products and processes. I examined my contribution to their success and what I could do to answer to the failures (and embracing failure) throughout the various efforts. Assessing outcomes and applying lessons to future endeavors is what makes the work worthwhile! I also received the hard lesson while I was in the program that life is crazy-short…if you’re not creating value and don’t care about the outcomes, then it’s time to make a new choice! Change directions and dive into something that has a grip on your heart.
Manage and support sustainable (positive) change
The Master’s program led us to take on some really cool projects and endeavors. To fully appreciate all of the competencies and skills presented in the program, we had to put them into practice! I did begin to create some products in the workplace that reflect lessons learned in my studies. I also jumped into a community project and began serving various initiatives in the last year that presented an opportunity to exercise my newly developed technology and design muscles—fun stuff! I have worked in and around program and project management for many years. And, still, I took a great deal of value away from the experiences that were guided by the excellent staff presiding over CU’s program.
I can think of lots of ways that my studies translate to my work with you, our policyIQ audience. I am really excited about the opportunities to tone those muscles more as we make improvements to our product, support, and learning materials among other goals that I am anxious to share with my coworkers and colleagues at Resources. You’ll probably see (I hope that you will notice) some new tools, tips, services and product improvements coming your way that reflect all of this hard work that went into my studies. Thank you for doing business with us and for the opportunity to share with you!
If you share my nerdy enthusiasm for systems thinking, IT, learning technologies, design, implementation, and the like, feel free to reach out to me! I’d love to chat with you over a virtual coffee or cocktail.