Hooray! This week I have achieved two goals in my learning journey. I love the feeling you get when you can “tick” something off your list as complete/achieved/attained or whatever you want to call it.
My first achievement, after a pitiful two and a half years, is the completion of my Certificate IV in Business and Workplace Coaching. I’ve used the skills for ages but have now finally got my act together and finished the damn assessments so I can get the piece of paper. Ah, the good old piece of paper. If you’re anything like me part of the motivation is getting the certificate sometimes at the expense of the actual learning. I don’t think I’m alone here 🙂 While I certainly did learn from the course I was most motivated in the end to complete the assessments, not of some sense of consolidating my learning, but for the piece of paper and the sense that I had left it long enough.
My second achievement, of which I am extremely proud, is being notified today that I have been given Ethics Clearance to start my PhD research. That is both a good and scary thing. Very good because it passed with no changes required to the design (a rare feat apparently) but scary because now the hard work starts. The Ethics Proposal was a very definite deadline for me to get to before I move to Germany in late November. It really got me thinking about the importance of deadlines in getting things done. Even though I love to learn I can be scatty about it and jump around topics and projects like a fly at a picnic. I find, and again I don’t think I’m alone here, that I really need a deadline to keep me motivated and on-track. Case in point – my Cert IV did not have a deadline but my Ethics Application did. The result of this was that it took me two and a half years to complete the certificate and only a month to complete the dreaded Ethics Application.
My question is – how can we build in more “deadlines” to help learners like me? Even when there are no assessments for a workplace course or for some self-study how can we as learners and educators impose meaningful parameters on the experience so that we have that important sense of completion and achievement to keep us spurred on for more? Sadly I don’t have an answer yet but I would be curious to know what others think about it. Assessment isn’t always “bad” or “scary”, sometimes it provides the motivation.
The last 12 months have seen a lot of changes for me and for the profession generally. The GFC is apparently over (depending on who you listen to we never had one in Australia anyway) but times still seem to be tough for Learning and Organisational Development professionals.
My own journey over the past 12-18 months is probably indicative of a lot of people in the field. In May 2009 I was happily toiling away as the LOD Manager for a large pharma company when we got word of restructures, partly driven by budget constraints and partly by a transition to a new “global model” for HR. I can already picture some of you shivering at that thought. A global approach to HR is all the rage at the moment for multinationals – I will reserve my judgement as for its efficacy (for now). Long story short, I took a redundancy and decided to change what I did. Like many people, I think you get disenchanted by the corporate world at some point, or perhaps a number of points, in your career. I wanted to see what lay beyond the internal LOD function and decided to go out on my own and see if I could piece together a portfolio career. So far, so good on that one. In fact, I’ve loved every minute of it – lecturing at uni, studying, working in different organisations on interesting projects and meeting new people.
I give my example as one of many in the LOD field who may suddenly find themselves in different circumstances, either with their current employer or moving on to elsewhere. It’s not all bad but it can leave one with a sense of doom and gloom. From looking around the place and talking to friends and associates there are mixed messages at the moment. One the one had apparently there is an increasing demand for our services. On the other there seem to be more contract roles than ever as organisations are unable (or maybe in some cases unwilling) to commit to a fulltime, permanent arrangement. So where does that leave us?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers but I must admit that one thing I have learned over the years is the importance of keeping up-to-date on developments in the field and with your own qualifications. It’s such an easy thing to let slip when you’re comfortable in your role (mia culpa) but it’s also critical to keep yourself marketable and relevant. As I’ve commented before, the world of LOD is changing and traditional “training” techniques are fast becoming obsolete. Partly because organisations want to save money by making more learning self-paced but also because there is finally some recognition of the better learning outcomes that can be achieved with a more blended and informal learning approach.
So after all of that…my take-home message is keep current!
On a related note I have been really embracing blogs lately and found a few that I think are pretty interesting. Enjoy!
Brain Rules – very interesting blog about the brain and how we learn
Jay Cross Informal Learning – gets me thinking…
Stephen Fry – not exactly about learning but I am addicted!