If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going

If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going

In tonight’s blog post, guest writer Caroline Slee-Poulos shares the importance of planning in “If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going.”

 

I promise you I’m not trying to make a reference to “Alice in Wonderland.” Although the title of this post is part of a quote from the story by Lewis Carroll, Yogi Berra had his own ending to the quote: “If you don’t know where you’re going you might end up someplace else.”

I think that most of us like to be able to see the path ahead of us: personally and professionally. When it comes to the professional aspects, I have found that quite a few people overlook education.

Of course, for several years, the only focus on education was a large push for every child to attend a 4 year university program after secondary school. I like to think that we know a bit better now – education is never “one size fits all” – but only time will tell. When the 4 year program was the focus, career training, employee development, and trades were pushed to the side. This was a short-sighted approach, at best.

Those of you who have already taken a class or assessment with us know that we are focused on functional education: giving you rich content in bite-sized pieces, leaving you room for the full schedule each of you live everyday.

In my last post I wrote about learning objectives, as it helps to know what you will get from a particular class or program of study. For this post, I have some thoughts on goals.

Ron has mentioned more than once that many high school graduates think of their graduation as the opportunity to put school behind them. That should never mean that we have left learning behind, though.

In that vein, I would encourage you all to make a list of your professional goals:

  • where do you see yourself in 1 year? 5? 10?
  • do you have a pathway to reach those 1, 5, and 10 year goals?
  • does your employer have goals for you or your role within the company?
  • do you know what those goals are?
  • what is your area of greatest strength?
  • what is your area of greatest struggle?

Write down your answers to these questions. Take some time to consider where it is that you are going. Education, training, and mentorship are all tools that can help you get there.

With a new year ahead of us, I would urge you to start executing plans towards those goals. Ron always says that “the time is now.” He is absolutely right. Now is the time to shift from ideas to reality.

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Learning Objectives and Why They Matter

Learning Objectives and Why They Matter

In tonight’s guest blog, Caroline Slee-Poulos talks to readers (and students) about learning objectives and why they matter.

Learning Objectives

If you remember more recent school days, you might be able to recall your teachers sharing your objective before each lesson. Depending upon where you are in the world, there might have been additional information provided to you: content standards, a learning map, a group recitation of the objective (this has a bit more from elementary school lessons than later years, of course).

Did any of you understand what you were doing with those objectives?

It really is a standard of best teaching practices to share the objective/s with students before a class begins. A learning objective is meant to tell a student what they should be able to DO or what they will KNOW at the end of the class. In other words, those learning objectives point you towards concrete actions and specific knowledge that will come from what you are studying. As a student, you should always know where you are going. The simple act of sharing those learning objectives can help you to focus on the subject at hand, and measure the course against those objectives.

How do you know you have mastered the content if you don’t know what mastery in the subject area actually is? As in so many aspects of life, communication is key.

Learning objectives should always be clear, specific, and focus the teaching and learning that will take place during the class.

Look back on your own education. Did you know what you were supposed to know and be able to do at the end of every class? Did your teachers share your learning objectives at the outset of every lesson? Importantly, did the class help you to achieve those objectives?

Learning should be intentional, and the way you are taught should be equally intentional. Whether you are in an online course or a face-to-face program, it is a joint effort taking place between the teacher and the student.

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Universal Design and the Classroom of Everywhere

Universal Design and the Classroom of Everywhere

In tonight’s post, Caroline explains some of the elements that take place behind content creation in Universal Design and the Classroom of Everywhere.

One of the downsides in education is that we love, and I do mean LOVE, our buzzwords. We really do like to assign a catchy name to our processes. Tonight, I want to break down one of those key names and bring home what it can mean for you.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can be simply explained as flexibility. It is flexible in the way that students can engage, in the way materials are presented and made available, and in the way that students demonstrate their knowledge. This is part of what we bring to our students today. There are three main principles in UDL: multiple means of engagement, multiple means of representation, and multiple means of expression. In other words, a class is designed with the student in mind. This can be a paradigm shift for professionals: we don’t tend to think of ourselves as students, more as experts in our respective fields.

Continuous improvement comes with lifelong learning. It transforms you from being a professional exclusively, into a student at the same time.

The classroom is whatever you need it to be because this classroom is everywhere.

But when you set your own time aside to commit to your professional development, you want to be intentional about your classroom. Are you at work, immersed in the content you are studying? Are you at home, finding a quiet corner – or trying to – in order to focus on your class? Do you want or need a formal test before you select a course of study? Do you prefer to assess yourself and analyze your own skills?

These elements of your learning are entirely within your own control. When you sign up for one of our classes, we try to bring that element of choice and control to you as you study.

When you learn, when you set goals, you always need to consider, as Ron says “what’s your why?” In the classroom of everywhere, we try to answer the “how” for every student.

I invite you to explore our classes, our assessments and spend some time reflecting on your professional goals.

The time really is now.

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Distance Learning Victories

Distance Learning Victories

In tonight’s post, Caroline shares the news of victories in the area of distance learning. As early adopters of the virtual classroom, we know a few things about that here at LWS.

As we all know, it’s been more than a year since the world as we knew it closed down, including our schools. I still remember very clearly the last face-to-face day I spent with my younger students in 2020. Distance learning wasn’t something new in the world of adult education, but suddenly K12 education was thrust into the same platform and style of learning. Now, face-to-face means someone turned their camera on during an online course.

Here at LWS, we began to shift into a virtual classroom several years ago. The software we reviewed and selected was on the newer side, most live meetings were conducted with GoToMeeting, and this “webinar-style” delivery was an exciting thing to help create. Fast forward to the pandemic, and the software options seem endless and Zoom is a household name!

I think it is safe to say that we have all heard the horror stories surrounding distance learning. Tonight, I would like to bring us back to focus on learning success stories.

One of the aspects of what we do here at LWS is student choice: we engage with adults who want to improve their marketable skills within their field. Since 2014, we have fine-tuned that process into what feels like a new “school” on this side of the screen. As each student progresses through a class, they now have the option of listening to the audio or just reading content or doing both together. When we first started our online classes, feedback from learner surveys indicated that Ron’s voice could run to the soothing side – so we made a shift. We have also started to switch narrators, as I myself have begun recording audio tracks as well. My voice is not as soothing as my Dad’s: my high school students swear it isn’t.

We have brought full, professional translations of assessment and classes into French and Spanish. For the student who prefers to skip a formal assessment, we offer the self-assessment: you choose your training path, and you select your skill level. We have even developed coursework based upon student requests.

Where we once offered only traditional, multiple-choice tests, we now offer short response, multiple-choice, and reflection responses. If a student doesn’t want to write that response, they can upload an audio file and simply give the response verbally.

Even though I tend to be the more silent of the two of us (don’t tell Dad I said that, he says I speak in “pages, not paragraphs”), I can tell you this: when students have choices about not only what they learn, but how they demonstrate that learning, success is the outcome. I invite you to join us and start building your success story today.

Did you enjoy this blog? Read more great blog posts here.
For our course lists, please click here.