Tag Archives: At work

Taking Your Work on the Road

Sometimes a change of venue can be a welcome thing. I found this to be the case during a recent week of working from the road over the holidays. It can be a boost to productivity and a nice change of pace if you think about the logistics a little in advance and plan accordingly.

Location, Location, Location

Finding wireless Internet access in advance is a must and it helps to have multiple options in mind. I had great success in coffee shops, fast food restaurants, and public libraries and broke the day up so that I was usually one place in the morning, then took a break for lunch before settling in at another location for the afternoon. Be a good patron! These places, especially the coffee shops, are busy and popular – poor form to take advantage of the wireless without being a good customer.

The Ballet of Battery Life

Not all of the locations above were equal in terms of availability of outlets/power strips. It took me a couple of days to scout out the prime seats (close to outlets) in all of these locations to plug in my laptop. Don’t forget the cell phone chargers! If you’re on the phone a lot, like I am, these batteries will need attention, too.

Joining Conference Calls and Online Meetings

Become a master of the mute button. This comes in really handy in noisier locations. If you have a headset for your phone or computer I’d recommend packing it. I left mine at home thinking it would be just another thing to carry but regretted that. In especially noisy places I found outdoor tables and even my car to be effective refuge locations for calls.

Adapt and Overcome

Back at home now, I have a new appreciation for the luxury of multiple monitors and the proximity of my own kitchen. My home office is a controlled and stable environment, but on the road be ready to adjust your location as needed and quickly, especially when preparing for conference calls. Murphy appears frequently, and seemingly out of nowhere, in the form of landscaping crews with leaf blowers, rainstorms, and school kids on field trips.

You Won’t Be Alone

I ran into plenty of folks doing the same thing I was doing – oddly comforting. We shared info about access keys and outlets, and watched each others’ stuff when someone needed a break.

For more information…

Want to find out more about working away from the (home) office? Check out the following:

Do you have experience workshifting? Share your advice and lessons learned.

Image credit: stock.xchng

Turning the Tables: Instructional Designer as SME

This post is a reflection on a recently completed project – I was the subject matter expert (SME) for a new online course in instructional design – a welcome opportunity to experience the course development process from a different perspective.

The project was unique in that the course being developed was an instructional design course and all of the members of the team were professional instructional designers. (Reminding me of past experiences where I had to submit a resume for positions that involved resume writing – kind of a double test! The proof is in the pudding and all of that.) I was provided with a course description and list of approved course-level learning objectives.  The next steps were up to me. This was where the adventure began. Normally I hand off a description and objectives. Time to get to work. I began by preparing and submitting a Course Outline and went from there.

Project team

My initial concern was that this could become a case of too much input or competitive in nature, but this was not the case. Collaboration was a priority and effective and I learned from the team in the process.

  • Instructional Designer/Project Manager (ID/PM) – This is my usual place on the team… keep the schedule, set the deadlines, set up and facilitate progress reports and meetings, provide feedback on the work and some copy editing.
  • Multimedia Developer – Took my development guide from Word document to online course pages complete with images, icons, navigation etc. Made great suggestions related to organization and structure.
  • SME – I was to outline the scope and sequence of the content, write any text for the units, select the textbook and course materials, and create assignments.

Food for thought

What could this turning of tables do for my practice?

  • Course/Program Fit – Where does the course fit in with the program? I was provided with the development guide for the course that would precede this one in the degree plan – very helpful! Not something I usually do, but something I should do, especially with new courses and programs. Faculty SMEs tend to be more familiar with the curriculum when working on a revision.
  • Expectations –Assumptions can bog the process down. While it was clear (via detailed contract) on what to expect with this project, there were a few nuances. For example the SMEs I work with aren’t expected to create rubrics, but I was for this project. The more detail the better in the written contract and/or statement of work.
  • Volume of Content – I have heard this from SMEs, the comments about how much original content is required. And now I have experienced it for myself! When the writing of introductions, summaries, case studies etc. is required it can be more time consuming than you anticipate. Scheduling the due dates by unit, or groups of units, was helpful here.
  • Need for Feedback – The ID/PM on this project continuously gave me feedback on the content I was submitting, providing suggestions on ways to expand and clarify the presentation. I need to do more of this with my project SMEs throughout the process.
  • Finished Product – I got a sneak peak via web conference and desktop sharing at what the final version looked like. I wanted to see more! The SMEs I work with ask for this, too. After you’ve spent so much time working with the content it is a feeling of accomplishment to see the finished course online.

This project turned out to be a reality check for me about how I work with SMEs and what could be done differently. How can you improve support to your SMEs?

Image credit: schoeband, Flickr

Additional Duties as Assigned

We’ve all found ourselves tackling assorted tasks that were not exactly part of the job description. (Once I actually had to build a sign with donated plywood and paint!) This may be particularly true of Instructional Designers. In a field that is dynamic and in an economy where organizations are striving to do more with less, the job description expands.

What takes up your time that isn’t in an Instructional Design model? Thinking about my last few positions and employers, these are the items that stand out for me and seem to be consistent:

  • Copyright/license research and documentation of permissions
  • Report writing
  • Keeping, typing, and distributing meeting minutes
  • Attending meetings, lots of meetings (I knew of course that there would be meetings, but…)
  • Conducting the hiring process and writing performance evaluations
  • Marketing (business development) at expos, manning tables and booths
  • Copy editing and formatting

I have personally and professionally learned from the process and everything involved. It all adds to your knowledge base and builds up your skill set – ultimately allowing you to do more and understand more about the organization.

What have you found yourself doing that was a little unexpected but added value?

photo credit: Beverly & Pack, Flickr