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Tag Archives: PLN

Making the Square Round

I started this M.Ed. program three years ago. At the time, I wanted to make a career change and find a job in corporate training, something I had dabbled in previously providing product training to the sales teams I supported. Since then, I have gone back and forth about whether it is really a corporate environment I want or maybe an academic setting where I can put my adult education training to work. All the while, though, it has been a trainer/teacher position I imagined.  This semester, however, has shown me that there are many more opportunities in adult ed than just being the one facilitating the education.

In my 20+ years in marketing, I have worn a lot of hats — writer, editor, event planner, agency liaison, public relations coordinator, web site content manager, and campaign result analyzer, often all under the same job title. Marketing isn’t just a job, it’s many jobs. And like so many other comparisons I’ve blogged about over the past few years, here again marketing and adult education parallel. Through the design challenge projects we’ve worked on this semester, I have seen that as an adult educator, I am likely to wear many hats again — trainer, developer, designer, scheduler, platform evaluator, provider of tech support as well as some of my familiar roles as writer, editor, and event planner.

To be honest, this is not a completely new realization, as I had stumbled across this SlideShare presentation last year. However, this semester is, as some of my classmates have noted, a capstone course in our chosen track of educational technology, which is making me realize how close I am to being ready to find a job in my new chosen field. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a scary realization. Not scary in the sense that being an adult educator means so many different things, because I’m used to that in marketing. What’s scary is trying to show a potential employer that while none of these job titles appear on my resume, I can be an asset to their team as an instructional designer, instructional developer, eLearning technologist, or project manager.

Actually, that last title is on my resume, but it has the words “marketing communications” in front of it. Much of my past experience does transfer nicely into adult education, but it’s going to take a little work on my part to convince a potential employer of that. To that end, I am glad to have the diversity of projects this semester to gain experience on real-world problems working with people in the field I desire to be in. Merging the goal of this class with that of last semester’s class: experience + my PLN = (I hope) my foot in the door.

I am the square pegMore so than my resume, my blog has become the showcase for what I can do. Therefore, I respectfully submit this little corner of the web as evidence that I can be an effective member of your learning team. While you can find plenty of applicants with work experience that fits exactly with the role you’re hiring for, I believe that my academic studies plus myriad experience demonstrate the adaptability and intelligence that are not only needed in this role, but are also essential as the organization grows and faces new opportunities and challenges. I look forward to hearing from you to schedule a time to discuss my application.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2013 in ADLT 642

 

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How My Personal Learning Network Sent Me Over The Edge

A few weeks ago, there was a comment made in class by a student who worried she’d be frustrated in other classes by not being allowed to use her Personal Learning Network (PLN).  That comment confused me because I think of my PLN as first and foremost my personal network that I can tap into for anything at any time.  The people in my PLN come from all walks of life and from all walks of my life.  They are my friends, family, coworkers (past and present), fellow students, roommates from college, marathon training buddies, dog rescuers, educators, consultants, friends of friends, neighbors… okay, you get the point.  Much the way we read about how Suzanne used her PLN to complete coursework, find an upholsterer to fix the sofa the puppy chewed, and score a photo of the Galapagos for her daughter’s school project, there isn’t much I do without tapping into the resources of my PLN.

For example, last December I attended a retirement party for one of my bosses at SunTrust.  A friend and former colleague introduced me to a gentleman from the Richmond office of Special Olympics, and we got talking about one of their annual fundraising events called Over the Edge.  The premise is that if you raise a minimum of $1,000 for Special Olympics, you earn the honor of rappelling down one of the tallest (maybe the tallest) buildings in downtown Richmond.  Not only had I never rappelled, I’d never raised $1,000 for anything, but that evening a seed was planted.  I kept that gentleman’s business card on my desk, and six months later, I made the decision that I was up for the challenge.

I decided to use Facebook as my primary tool to get the word out that I had finally lost my mind… I mean the message that I wanted to raise $1,000 for Special Olympics and be able to rappel down my former workplace.  While not all my friends are on Facebook, the majority are, and so it seemed the best way to blast out a request along with a link to my fundraising page.  Additionally, I sent a few emails and posted tweets about my endeavor, but the height of my fundraising was before Twitter really began to click for me, so I wasn’t expecting much from that effort.

To my surprise, I reached my fundraising goal in exactly one month.  Apparently there are a lot of people in my PLN who wish to see me step off a high building!  I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing.  I was a little nervous putting out such an ambitious request for donations for something other than my beloved Golden Retriever rescue group, but the first donation came from the president of the rescue!  In fact, the single largest group of donors were people I knew primarily though the rescue group.  Results of my fundraising as they breakdown in my PLN (by primary association) were:

  • People I know through the Golden Rescue: 7
  • Friends: 6
  • Current Coworkers: 3
  • Family: 2
  • Former Coworkers: 2
  • Other: 2
  • VCU classmate: 1
  • Undergrad connection: 1

My “Other” connections included a friend of my parents as well as a friend of my college volleyball coach who doesn’t know me at all but made a donation because my Coach promoted my fundraising page on her Facebook page.  True network in action!

Upon reaching my goal, reality set in — I was going to rappel down a really tall building!  Once again, my PLN came to my rescue, and I discovered that I know several people who are avid climbers.  Tremendous gratitude goes out to my fellow M.Ed. classmate Lindsey for taking the time to meet me at Peak Experiences and introduce me to climbing and rappelling.  Without that, I would not be able to say that this moment pictured below was when I stopped being nervous last Friday.  Yup, that’s me on the right, perched on the edge of the SunTrust building in downtown Richmond, some 400 feet above street level.

Over the Edge

And this is me — smiling — passing the windows on the 20th floor.

Passing the 20th Floor

An unexpected outcome of this latest installment of my insanity is that through this event, I was able to expand my PLN by making connections with other rappellers as well as strengthening some weak ties in my PLN who have now seen a different side of me and have become a more active part of my network.

I would say this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience – except I want to do it again!  I hope my PLN will continue to expand so I can continue to meet the donation challenge for Special Olympics and be rewarded with the experience of rappelling again… and again.You can do anything!

To tie this all back to my journey through learning, I hope that this story illustrates that your PLN is truly at your disposal for any new learning experience you desire and that assistance may come from a subset of your network that you had not expected.  Anything that you do can be an opportunity to use and grow your PLN.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2012 in ADLT 641

 

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