Tag Archives: Professional Development

Blog as ePortfolio: Demonstrate Your Skills

Portfolios have many uses ranging from assessment in an academic program to personal marketing in the job search process. As I prepared for a recent conference presentation on career ePortfolios for students, I wondered how many instructional designers have portfolios. This post explores the possibility of using a blog as a portfolio presentation tool.

Why use a blog?

The features and functions of a blog lend themselves to both presenting work samples and reflection on the work itself. They allow you to tell the story of a project and demonstrate the result. Blogs are also low or no cost alternatives to having a personal website. And since blogging toolsare designed for those without advanced web design and programming skills, they offer quick set-up, a professional look and feel, and intuitive administrative dashboards.

Organization

Blog pages allow for easy organization of portfolio artifacts. Think about structure before you get started. Two approaches to consider:

  • Resume/CV – use typical resume sub-headings to create your blog and present related information (Education, Experience, Certification, Publications, etc.)
  • Standards/Competencies – consider using an existing list of standards or professional competencies to frame your portfolio (AECT, ASTD, IBSTPI, etc.)

Selecting Portfolio Artifacts

  • If you decide to include current or past coursework assignments, review and modify, tweak, to make as perfect as possible. Only your best work should make it into the portfolio!
  • If you decide to include current or past work projects, make sure you have permission to make them, or elements of them, available online. This work is usually owned by your employer or a client, so prepare accordingly.
  • Build something from scratch for the purpose of the portfolio if you don’t already have something available.
  • Focus on what you want to do in the future and choose artifacts that demonstrate skills and experience related to your goals.

A Few Examples

Resources

A lot of portfolio/ePortfolio advice is available online. Here are a few sites to get you started:

Share your portfolio! Do you have a web-based portfolio? If so, please share your lessons learned (and your link!) in the comments area.

Image credit: Plearn, Flickr

 

Breaking into the Business

Earlier this week a friend-of-a-friend contacted me with this question:

What are some tips that you have for someone who would like to get experience with curriculum design and development and eventually pursue a position in this field?

This new friend is currently working in student services, has some experience as an instructor, and is taking graduate courses in higher education. My response included the following:

Assemble a portfolio – Establish a website, blog, or use an online portfolio tool (like VisualCV) to collect examples of your work. This could include brief descriptions of the projects you’ve worked on in the past, screenshots of items you’ve designed and/or built, materials you developed when you were an instructor, a writing sample. As you plan and complete your course assignments, do so with your portfolio in mind.

Find your niche – What part of the process do you enjoy the most? What are your strongest skills? Designers and developers often wear a lot of hats – graphic design, technical writing, project management, programming, multimedia, editing, testing.  Do you prefer working on face-to-face courses, blended courses, or all online? Do you want to work in higher ed, K-12, industry? From your coursework and previous experience you can probably also list areas where you need more practice.

Seek out opportunities to practice – Instructional designers get better with each project. Are there projects in your area, where you could assist, that would help you gain experience (creating user’s guides, training materials, etc)? Are there opportunities for you to volunteer your design and development services in exchange for the experience and additional portfolio items?  For example, another friend is building a website for a community youth organization.

Emphasize related skills – You already have some very valuable experience. Curriculum designers and developers are almost always working as part of a team. Faculty members are usually on that team. Students are the reason for building the courses in the first pace, so your experience working directly with students – as an instructor and as an advisor – gives you a level of familiarity that will be an asset.

Network – Keep talking with professionals in the field and asking questions. Consider joining a professional organization (AECT, AACE, ISTE, ASTD, Sloan-C are a few – but there are a LOT more). Set up a profile on a professional networking system (such as LinkedIn), join instructional design groups, and participate in the discussions.

Look for a position – While you may not be ready to apply, you might be closer than you think. Register for job search ‘alerts’ related to curriculum design and development and read through the vacancy announcements as they arrive via email. What are they looking for in terms of experience, computer skills, etc? These announcements can be helpful in identifying areas where you need practice and items you might include in your portfolio.

What else would you recommend to someone trying to get their first job in instructional design? Other sources of experience or education? Do you think a degree in instructional design is required?

Photo credit: NotMicroButSoft, Flickr

TCC 2010 Online Presentation and Resources

I’ll be presenting a session titled Communicating, sharing, and learning online: A guide for starting your own blog on April 21st at the TCC Worldwide Online Conference. I’ve attended this event twice, but this will be my first time presenting here! Per the conference tip sheet’s instructions I’ve tried to keep my slides simple. There are a lot of related resources I would like to share with the session attendees, so I’ve collected them here in this post.

My main objective with this presentation is to encourage my fellow instructional designers and technologists to consider blogging as a professional development activity. I think there are a lot of unique approaches and stories out there and sharing them via blog can be educational, helpful, and cathartic. I do not claim expertise where blogs are concerned, but I do believe in the learning benefits and potential for collaboration.

Whether or not you attend this conference or session, please reply with additional suggestions for us all. Thanks!

Choosing  a Blogging Tool – Many free options available! Obviously I have a bias here but encourage you to explore and compare. What are your favorite bloggers using? A nice comparison of WordPress and Blogger is available online.

Finding Your Voice

I challenge you to find someone who explains this any better than Jess Jurick did at WordCamp Miami. Check out her presentation online

Setting Goals

I lot of people actually blog about blogging (it’s not just me). Take a look at what some of them are saying about setting goals for the experience and for the process itself.

Writing Ideas

So, you would like to give blogging a try but don’t know what to write about? Where is your expertise? What are you interested in? Here are a couple of nice lists to get you started.

The “Cool Kids”

I am showing a few examples in the presentation itself. Who are the big names, leaders, influencers in your field of expertise or area of interest? Check out their websites and blogs. What are they talking about? Which posts get the most response?

Some Things to Think About…

…As you get started

…After getting set up

As you move forward with your own blog, remember your goals. Revisit them frequently!

[View presentation slides via slideshare.]

Image credit: Stock.XCHNG

Review: The Essentials of Instructional Design

I was recently asked to make textbook recommendations for an Instructional Design course. One member of the team recommended I review The Essentials of Instructional Design: Connecting Fundamental Principles with Process and Practice by Abbie Brown and Timothy Green.  I had never heard of this one among the standard instructional design texts of Dick & Carey, Smith & Ragan, Morrison, Ross & Kemp*… but wanted to take a look.

This book is a concise guide to the process of instructional design. The authors mention in the preface that “this is a book for beginners”.  It’s not highly detailed, but is a solid overview. The most impressive aspect of this book is the direct link to practice. The authors add several components to each chapter to drive home the need to be able to apply the concepts in a workplace environment.

Connecting Process to Practice – This section presents five or six mini scenarios related to the chapter topic, often placing the student in the position of the Instructional Designer who is faced with a decision or challenge of some kind. These are not clear cut, right/wrong situations, but ones in which a variety of approaches might be selected. What approach would you take and what is your rationale? K-12, higher ed, and business examples are provided throughout. A couple of examples:

You are the instructional designer for a nonprofit organization with a number of volunteer workers. The volunteers are often familiar with the telephone system of the organization, which makes transferring calls difficult for them. What might you do to address the problem?

Describe an instructional design scenario in which you believe a formal needs analysis would not need to be conducted.

Professionals in Practice – These brief entries provide perspective on the chapter topic from working instructional designers. These professionals represent a range of work settings and international locations and present some sort of lesson learned or example from their own experiences. Job titles and organizations are also listed providing a link to career exploration for students.

Each chapter also includes a Recommended Reading section that provides a short list of items to explore for more information. These include books, articles, and websites.

Recommended for:

  • Students studying for comprehensive/qualifying exams in instructional design programs.
  • Undergraduate courses in instructional design.
  • Instructional design/curriculum design related courses in non-ID programs.
  • ID professionals currently working in the field who haven’t gone through the formal coursework, but want to learn more about the theories, etc.

*For more information about the selection of instructional design textbooks, check out this study published in 2009, Essential Books in the Field of Instructional Design and Technology. The authors surveyed instructional design and technology professionals asking them to rate the importance of various books to the field. The result is a list of 10 books that “should be included in every instructional designer’s or technologist’s personal library.”

Photo credit: qualtiero, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

What I Learned at WordCamp

Yesterday I attended Wordcamp Miami 2010 – one of the best conference-type experiences I’ve had in a while. In summary: very well organized, motivating speakers, friendly people, comfortable venue, and a nice lunch.  There were three program tracks: 1) developer, 2) social media, and 3) beginner.  I moved around a bit across the tracks and found all of the speakers and presentations to be helpful and encouraging. Other participants were also willing to share their insights.

I’ll be working on ideas I got at this event for some time, but here are a couple of items to share right now:

  • Jess Jurick’s Findng Your Blogging Voice was well attended and well received. Jess was also one of the organizers. Check out her presentation slides and her blog. Her presentation includes some other blog examples worth exploring.
  • WordPress SEO with John Carcutt helped even a non-programmer type like myself understand the importance of search engine optimization and how I can get started. He also previewed some changes on the way from Google.
  • Jim Turner’s From Daddy Blogger to Business Blogger explored the entrepreneurial side of blogging. Just Google ‘Genuine’ or ‘Hire a Blogger’ to find out more.
  • Tammy Hart is a self-taught developer. Her presentation, WordPress & Working with Clients, was full of tips and lessons learned. She introduced a number of resources, such as page.ly, and had down-to-earth suggestions for getting the work done.

There were many other speakers and more about each of them can be found on the WordCamp Miami website speakers page. By the way, there are WordCamps across the U.S. and the globe. Check out this calendar to find one near you. I think you’ll find a lot to learn and be motivated by, even if you don’t blog with WordPress.

Thanks to all organizers, speakers and participants for a great event. See you in 2011, WordCamp Miami!

image credit: WordCamp Miami

Professional Conferences – ID, IT, Distance Ed…

Sometimes my employer funds these trips, but I have funded myself just as often. I like conferences, but I don’t love conferences and two-a-year is usually my goal, especially if I can present. I realize it’s usually a bonus to be able to attend these and I try to select them pretty carefully. Recently I was asked to recommend events related to Instructional Design/Instructional Technology/Multimedia Development. The list below was the result and I thought I would pass it along here. The events marked with an asterisk (*) are ones I have actually attended and recommend. Others I have heard about and would like to get to at some point.

  • EDUCAUSE – a number of regional events also available. I am planning to attend the one in the Southeast next year.
  • USDLA
  • E-Learning Guild – check out DevLearn. A colleague of mine (Hi Nathan!) went last year and it sounds terrific, although he was very ‘Adobe’ when he got back ;)
  • AACE * – check out E-LEARN and ED-MEDIA…and SITE if you are in teacher education.
  • AECT
  • ASTD
  • SLOAN-C *- a big fan of SLOAN-C, especially the emerging technologies symposium, small and focused.
  • ITC
  • Distance Teaching and Learning Annual Conference * – University of Wisconsin – Madison, a great mix of people and topics, and a well-run event.
  • SALT * – I’ve been to the one in Orlando, small (in a good way) and a nice mix of education and industry.
  • ITTSEC
  • AERA * – Big, really big.  Focused on the “R” (research). Lots of interesting Special Interest Groups.

There are so many more conferences out there. Some with really specific niches…. what’s your interest? Second Life? Faculty Development? Open Education?…. Here are several links set up for searching for more…

Trends —- I’ve answered survey requests from a few of these organizations recently. There are changes coming I think. More virtual events (more on these in another post). More regional events. Less “glamorous” locations. More registration options (i.e. by-the-day). Will be interesting and very possibly improved in a lot of ways.

Your Favorites???

Update! (2/16/10) – @etcjournal has posted a very nice list of conferences on their Educational Technology & Change site. Take a look at this for upcoming events in 2010 complete with links. Online conferences are noted as well.

Update! (2/24/10) – ThinkingCap is also tracking eLearning conferences you can search by month. Check out the “Call for Proposals Deadline” tab. Very helpful!

Update! (5/21/10) – Just discovered this list via Twitter. 750 Educational Technology and Related Conferences. You can download the list as a Word.doc.