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Say Yes to Summer Ambition

Many CPD providers hit the breaks between July and September as lawyers and CPD decision makers leave town. But writing off the summer as “dead time” can be a costly mistake. Last spring, one of my clients asked me to put a strategy in place for their team to keep moving over the long lazy days of July and August. Yesterday they told me it was their most productive summer ever.

Here are five strategies any provider can employ:

1. Reach out to faculty and decision makers before things go into lockdown mode. Not everyone is away at the same time. Organize your calendar for when key people will be around.

2. Two months isn’t long. Set weekly mini milestones – these can be financial or registration targets, marketing or other campaign related goals, or program preparation. Having regular targets will help ensure forward progress.

3. Identify one large project to complete over the summer – redo your website, revise teaching notes, create a loyalty campaign, update your marketing list.

4. Analyze your feedback and program evaluations from last year to figure out how you can improve this year. If additional surveying is required, reach out to members or program attendees to ask for their opinion.

5. Lastly, take advantage of the down time to socialize with your colleagues. Go out to lunch and reconnect before the fall rush hits. You’ll enjoy working together more and you’ll probably get more done.

Don’t drink the industry Kool-Aid that the CPD calendar ends in June. With a little bit of effort, July and August can become critical planning months to ensure you hit the ground running come September.

Why Staggering Paper Deadlines Works

One of my clients produces a remarkable collection of papers as part of an annual CPD program. Although the end result is so impressive that it in some ways probably looks easy, there is a staggering amount of work that goes into the materials by the program chairs and authors, each of whom contribute at least two papers.

Last year, the program chairs had the inspired idea to stagger paper deadlines so that authors would have two deadlines, six weeks apart, instead of the previous one deadline for both papers. On an administrative level, the staggered deadlines make materials compilation much more manageable so have worked beautifully. However, I didn’t appreciate the full genius behind the change until I read an article last week in Harvard Business Review entitled “Here’s What Really Happens When You Extend a Deadline”.

According to author Heidi Grant Halvorson, three problematic dynamics are at play in the human unconscious that make managing deadlines difficult for most people:

1. The “Goal Looms Larger Effect” meaning the closer you get to the deadline, the more it dominates your thinking, and the more intensely you pursue it.

2. Procrastinators work because there is pressure. Without consistent pressure, they don’t work.

3. We underestimate how long it will take us to do pretty much anything aka “the planning fallacy”.

In the case of a program where faculty have multiple written contributions, staggering deadlines can help to combat these problems by keeping motivation high, keeping the pressure on procrastinators, and taking action to avoid people overestimating their own time management abilities. The author points to a study in which students who had three papers due by the end of the term were given the option of setting a single deadline or staggered deadlines. Only a small minority chose to submit all three papers on one day. Instead most students spaced their papers out evenly, and interestingly, those students earned higher marks.

So next time you’re planning a program where faculty have multiple contributions, try staggering deadlines. You may just save them and you a lot of frustration.

PD Glossary M to Z

Here is part two of last week’s essential PD terms with M to Z from the American Society of Training and Development glossary. This list includes selected terms only – those that in my experience come up a lot in PD writings and discussions. Again, there were a few terms not on the ASTD’s list that I think are essential; I’ve included those notes below.

Mentoring: A career development process in which less experienced workers are matched with more experienced colleagues for guidance. Mentoring can occur either through formal programs or informally as required and may be delivered in-person or by using various media.

Online learning: Learning delivered by web-based or Internet-based technologies.

Pedagogy: Opposite of andragogy. The term generally refers to strategies of instruction, or a style of instruction.

Podcast: A series of digital-media files which are distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and computers. The term podcast, like broadcast, can refer either to the series of content itself or to the method by which it is syndicated; the latter is also called podcasting. The term derives from the words “iPod” and “broadcast;” the Apple iPod being the brand of portable media player for which the first podcasting scripts were developed.

Practices: A set of methods or procedures to be followed, as in best practices or standard practices. In e-learning, the methods used to communicate the content to the learner.

Professional Development Plan: A system of training and instruction developed for the purpose of improving the preparation and ongoing development of professionals that generally includes a continuum of training and follow‐up activities and is tied to a system of licensure, credentialing, or certification. (Not in ASTD glossary.)

Problem Based Learning: Learning methodology where students are presented with a problem to solve using knowledge and skills they have acquired or need to develop. Also known as inquiry based learning. (Missing from the ASTD’s glossary.)

Role play: (noun) A training technique in which learners act out characters in order to try out behaviors, practice interactions, communicate for a desired outcome, and/or solve a dynamic problem. Role plays can reinforce learning and help people apply new information, skills, and techniques. (verb) To participate in a role play.

Simulations: Highly interactive applications that allow the learner to model or role-play in a scenario. Simulations enable the learner to practice skills or behaviors in a risk-free environment.

Soft skills: Business skills such as communication and presentation, leadership and management, human resources, sales and marketing, professional development, project and time management, customer service, team building, administration, accounting and finance, purchasing, and personal development.

Synchronous learning: A real-time, instructor-led online learning event in which all participants are logged on at the same time and communicate directly with each other. In this virtual classroom setting, the instructor maintains control of the class, with the ability to “call on” participants. In most platforms, students and teachers can use a whiteboard to see work in progress and share knowledge. Interaction may also occur via audio- or videoconferencing, Internet telephony, or two-way live broadcasts.

Teaching: A process that aims to increase or improve knowledge, skills, attitudes, and/or behaviors in a person to accomplish a variety of goals. Teaching is often driven more toward the long-term personal growth of the learner and less toward business drivers such as job tasks that are often the focus of training. Some people characterize teaching as focused on theory and training as focused on practical application.

Training: A process that aims to improve knowledge, skills, attitudes, and/or behaviors in a person to accomplish a specific job task or goal. Training is often focused on business needs and driven by time-critical business skills and knowledge, and its goal is often to improve performance.

Web conference: (noun) A meeting of participants from disparate geographic locations that’s held in a virtual environment on the World Wide Web, with communication taking place via text, audio, video, or a combination of those methods. (verb) To participate in a Web conference.

Webcast: (Web + broadcast) (noun) A broadcast of video signals that’s digitized and streamed on the World Wide Web, and which may also be made available for download. (verb) To digitize and stream a broadcast on the World Wide Web.

Webinar: (Web + seminar) A small synchronous online learning event in which a presenter and audience members communicate via text chat or audio about concepts often illustrated via online slides and/or an electronic whiteboard. Webinars are often archived as well for asynchronous, on-demand access.

Wiki: A collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites.

That’s all for now. I’m definitioned out. Watch for a tech for non-techies glossary in the future.

PD Glossary A to L

Have you ever been listening to a presentation or reading an article, and then stumbled on a term you weren’t familiar with? The American Society of Training and Development has a great glossary to demystify professional development lingo for new and experienced PD professionals alike. There are too many terms to list here, and many terms merit their own blog post, but here are my A to L “nice to knows” so you can feel confident that you know what everyone else is talking about. Check back next week for M to Z.

Accreditation: A type of quality assurance process under which services and operations of an educational institution or program are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met. (Missing from the ASTD list but important in my view.)

Active Learning: Active learning is learning in which learners play an active role in the process of learning instead of passively receiving information. (Add-on to the ASTD glossary.)

Asynchronous Learning: Learning in which interaction between instructors and students occurs intermittently with a time delay. Examples are self-paced courses taken via the Internet or CD-ROM, Q&A mentoring, online discussion groups, and email.

Benchmark: A standard of reference used for comparison.

Blended Learning: Learning events that combine aspects of online and face-to-face instruction.

Case study: A scenario used to illustrate the application of a learning concept. May be either factual or hypothetical.

Coaching: A process in which a more experienced person, the coach, provides a worker or workers with constructive advice and feedback with the goal of improving performance. (See also mentoring, which focuses on career development and advancement).

CoD (Content on demand): Delivery of an offering, packaged in a media format, anywhere, anytime via a network. Variants include audio on demand (AoD) and video on demand (VoD).

Collaborative Learning: An instructional method that emphasises students working together in small groups to complete a task or reach a common goal; in some cases students may be responsible for each other’s learning. (Again, missing from the ASTD glossary but important in my view).

Cost-benefit analysis: Method of analyzing competing business alternatives based on comparing total costs to total benefits. A proper cost-benefit analysis takes into account all benefits, including productivity, savings, and motivation, and weighs them against all costs, including expenditures, overheads, and lost opportunities.

Delivery: Any method of transferring content to learners, including instructor-led training, web-based training, CD-ROM, books, and more.

Distance education: Educational situation in which the instructor and students are separated by time, location, or both. Education or training courses are delivered to remote locations via synchronous or asynchronous means of instruction, including written correspondence, text, graphics, audio- and videotape, CD-ROM, online learning, audio- and videoconferencing, interactive TV, and FAX. Distance education does not preclude the use of the traditional classroom. The definition of distance education is broader than and entails the definition of e-learning.

E-learning (electronic learning): Term covering a wide set of applications and processes, such as web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. It includes the delivery of content via Internet, intranet/extranet (LAN/WAN), audio- and videotape, satellite broadcast, interactive TV, CD-ROM, and more.

Evaluation: Any systematic method for gathering information about the impact and effectiveness of a learning offering. Results of the measurements can be used to improve the offering, determine whether the learning objectives have been achieved, and assess the value of the offering to the organization.

F2F (face-to-face): Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment.

ILT (instructor-led training): Usually refers to traditional classroom training, in which an instructor teaches a course to a room of learners. The term is used synonymously with on-site training and classroom training (c-learning).

IT (information technology): The industry or discipline involving the collection, dissemination, and management of data, typically through the use of computers.

Knowledge management: The process of capturing, organizing, and storing information and experiences of workers and groups within an organization and making it available to others. By collecting those artifacts in a central or distributed electronic environment (often in a database called a knowledge base), KM aims to help a company gain competitive advantage.

Learning: A cognitive and/or physical process in which a person assimilates information and temporarily or permanently acquires or improves skills, knowledge, behaviors, and/or attitudes.

Learning environment: The physical or virtual setting in which learning takes place.

Learning objective: A statement establishing a measurable behavioral outcome, used as an advanced organizer to indicate how the learner’s acquisition of skills and knowledge is being measured.