Friday, September 24, 2010

Beating the education out of you!

I've been following an interesting discussion in one of the LinkedIn groups that I am a member of called "How important is a formal certificate/degree in Instructional Design to become a successful Instructional Designer?" I guess the discussion is not new (well it may be new to this group, but it's been going on in the ID circle for a while).

There are pros and cons to each position, for example non-formal trained IDs (Instructional Designers) are seen are more creative and adaptive and in their mind formally trained IDs are a bit more rigid. At the other end of the spectrum, formally trained IDs see a formal education as "I know why this is happening and I can harness its power instead of relying on chance" and the degree of course can get them in the door whereas non-degreed IDs might have a problem with that. There are some comments which just derail the discussion like a commenter that said that she wants to see people rename IDs learning designers - facepalm! I guess this is a topic for another post.

In any case, a recent response piqued my interest, here's an excerpt:

The problem with the formal qualification is that we find that we have to "train out" much of what has been learned on Instructional design courses. Most elearning companies have their own style and methodology and we are no different to this.

This is interesting because I heard this with other degrees I've been involved with. Students learn X and want to apply X in all situations, but they don't know how to adapt X in order to fit in company A or division B their employer. In essence companies want graduates to adapt to a certain process in their company or a way of doing things so they try to beat out the training students have had. I see this a bit of a two way street. Sure the company has developed a process that works for now, but shouldn't they consider what employee X brings to the table? By the same token, it's silly for employee X to believe that things in each company work just like they learned them in school. They need to adapt to the working environment as well as bring their own skills to the table to improve to company, otherwise what's the point of hiring an external hire? Why not hire from within?

The commenter further comments:

The problem, as an employer and recruiter of Instructional designers, is that it often takes longer to change someone's Instructional design philosophy then educate someone without solidly created opinions.

As I said above, if this is what you are looking for, why not train someone from within to take over? Are you looking for an instructional designer or an automaton? What's the point of posting a job description to the outside world if you are looking for more of the same?

Further more:

Also the technologies we adopt as part of an overall learning solution are often leading edge, so any academic institute will struggle to teach overall educational principals [SIC] that are pertinent to these disruptive technologies which allow us to re-think what is and isn't possible.

I don't see principles, theories and practice in direct conflict with disruptive technologies. After all the point of academia is to experiment and become disruptive! It's not to maintain the status quo! Academia is all about rethinking what is possible :-) If you don't come out of school knowing what's come before you and with the ability to rethink what's possible, something is wrong!

OK, enough about what I think, what do YOU think about this?

Friday, September 17, 2010

The importance of Portfolios while searching for a job

I posted this as a discussion topic in one of my LinkedIn groups, but no takers!  Everyone seems to be paying lipservice to Portfolios, but no one (that I've seen in groups) has talked about their effectiveness.   Your thoughts?

//Start of copied info from LinkedIn//
This thought came to me while reading the discussion on the importance of a degree/certificate in ID. So here's a question for all of you: How important is a Portfolio when searching for your new ID job?

Many people place a spotlight on the importance of portfolios of ePortfolios (in addition to experience, recommendations and perhaps a degree of some sort in education) but I've seen three points AGAINST portfolios that are coming to my attention

1) Recruiters or employers don't necessarily have the time to review your portfolio. You may have done excellent work but when they are looking through a tall pile of applicants (made event taller by portfolios to go through), do hiring managers really have the luxury of going through each and every one to determine if it's good work? If they don't what's the use of a portfolio?

2) Some of us don't come for a graphics design background, so while our work may be effective (if your company has allowed you to do post-training evals to gauge effectiveness of training) it might not look professional or as presentable as ID work produced by people with graphics design experience (whose training may not have been as successful as ours but looks prettier). In this case you've got a case of "judging a book by its cover"

3) Proprietary information! Lots of companies have their trade secrets, including company procedures under lock and key - this means that any learning that you create cannot be placed in any portfolio, even in altered/anonymized form, because it still a security issue. I've seen many people say that people can build a portfolio by doing pro-bono or contract work with the stipulation that they can use it as part of a portfolio, but this is extra work, on top of what you are already doing, for a portfolio that someone may not even have the time to go over (see point 1).

So, what's the point of a portfolio?

On there other side of the fence, if you are NOT looking for a job, you could have a portfolio, along with a LinkedIn profile and a VisualCV profile, show off your expertise, link to your portfolio (blog, twitter, whatever), and you may get offers when you aren't even looking. Then again when you need to put food on the table, waiting for the serendipitous call saying that people love your work and they want you.

So what do you all think of portfolios? Nice to have? Useless? or Real necessities?

Friday, September 10, 2010

McCranky Friday ;-)

Welcome back to school!!!!
I think today I may be channeling the Annoyed Librarian ;-)

In any case, here is a response to a blog post on about Netflix and library collections. Now I have to say that I enjoy reading Josh's posts despite the fact that most of them induce a facepalm gesture. I guess the first thing that gets me about these blog posts is that no one bothers to read them before publication - either that, or people really don't know the difference between a SHOW and a SHOE. In any case this is a minor evil. The major facepalm moment comes from not really understanding the "making available" aspect of library collections. The question posed is this:

Should [institutions of higher education] be in the business of purchasing videos for our collections? The Netflix value proposition was pretty compelling with over 100,000 titles, but has the iPhone and Touch app put Netflix over the edge?

I can't really blame people for wanting to go to a more "efficient" industry model (flawed as this assumption of efficiency may be) but people aren't thinking of the larger picture. If you've ever used Hulu or Netflix you KNOW that streaming shows aren't always available. They come and go! Sure you might get a few days notice but is that enough lead time to get you the DVD in time for your class? What if you are showing clips from 10 films, streaming works, but DVD rentals do not!

Unlike journal subscriptions, where articles appear and disappear all the time based on agreements made between publishers and providers, you can't download a film from a streaming service (because it's streaming), conversely I have tons of articles that I saved their PDF version when the journal service had access, and I still have access to those articles even the journal service does not!

Another thing that ACADEMIC users of Netflix will notice is that Netflix does not have that many academic titles on hand. The purpose of Netflix is entertainment, not academics. Therefore some of those $300 DVDs that are available at your library are probably not available on Netflix!

There is the issue of wear-and-tear. Netflix DVDs are probably abused. They go through thousands of players each year, this tends to diminish their shelf life. In an academic library the use of a particular DVD is not going to be that high because it's not available to the billion subscribers that Netflix has.

Finally there is a question of possibly putting a netflix subscription as part of a technology fee. As a student I must revolt and say "NO MORE FEES!" I already have a netflix subscription, I don't need to pay yet another $9 per month, thank you very much :-)

One thing that I am wondering (spelling errors aside), is whether Josh's blog posts are questions to get the techies, faculty and librarians talking to one another (sort of like a devil's advocate position), or whether he really believes that we should be relying on the Apples and Amazons and Netflixs of the world for our content in Academia. Perhaps I am reading it wrong ;-)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Jay Walker on the World's English Mania

Here's an interesting TED video on the World's English Mania.

You know, I am not sure I completely agree. I think that there is a need for a worldwide lingua franca, but I don't necessarily agree with Jay that English or other "major" languages for that matter, are not eroding regional and other national languages. I guess this is a topic for a much wider discussion. What do you think?