Monday, April 21, 2008

All Work And No Learning...

Lately, work has just felt way too busy. No conscious time to stop and smell the roses; to reflect on what's been going on and why; to incorporate any lessons learned. There's barely any time to even think if I've learned any lessons.

Sometimes I just want to punch in the proverbial time card and go home and do the rest of my life. Or sometimes the next project or task slams right into me and there's no time to breath.

But how lame is that?

When this kind of grueling, work cycle hits, aren't you in danger? Not just of burnout, but of being stuck in the mode of repeating the same mistakes again and again? Of continuing to do the same crappy job, because you know how to crank out that kind of crap in the necessary time frame?

How does one build learning into work -- how do you build learning into work -- when you just don't feel like you have the time?

Here's some of what I've been trying lately, in an effort not to let some important lessons slip by -- in an effort to keep the passion and NOT enter burnout land:

Take notes. Instead of just relying on my faulty memory ("Oh, there's no way I'll forget that..."), I've been taking notes: In my paper notebook, in Google Notebooks, an occasional Jott to myself. Things I could've/should've/would've done differently, if only...Ideally, I'd blog about my experiences more, but frankly, I just haven't had the time.

Verbalize. Speak the mistakes out loud to other teammates, if I can. This helps internalize it.

Be open. Always try to learn from the mistakes; don't just brush them under the rug and pretend they didn't happen. They did. [I've been working on a knitting project for the past few months and have learned more undoing stitches and fixing mistakes, than anything else. Some mistakes I've left in the piece -- humble reminders of my own imperfection. That, and some things just aren't worth going back to fix -- but at least I can understand what I did wrong all those rows ago].

Take time off. Create a light at the end of your tunnel. I've got a maternity leave to look forward to pretty soon. A different kind of focus, a lot of opportunity to make different kinds of mistakes, but it will be a change in pace. If I didn't have that on the books, I'd certainly need some time off...

What else?
  • Read blogs (yes, but I haven't had the time to focus -- instead I skim -- not nearly as satisfying...)
  • Lessons learned meetings (do people still do this? We talk about it, but there's rarely the time. Suggestions?)
So how do you keep your passionate learning mind open when you're working your butt off?

This post was written rather hastily as a humble contribution to the April 2008 Working/Learning Blog Carnival. Be sure to check out all the other great contributions!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Instructional Designers Poll: Market Sector and Advanced Degrees

My original survey on Instructional Designers and Advanced Degrees had some holes in it. For awhile now I've been wondering about Market Sector differences in ID. I want to know if there's a difference in the ratio of working instructional designers with advanced degrees in the corporate and academic sectors.

Please take the latest poll!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Instructional Designers with Formal Training: Survey Update

As of today, over 119 responses to the ongoing survey Instructional Designers: Do You Have An Advanced Degree?

37% of IDs say "Yes, I do have a formal/advanced ID degree."
63% of working IDS say "Nope. I'm flying on intuition and experience and informal learning."

Only 13% of those without a degree say they have ever been denied work as a result.

38% of respondents have been in the field for just 3-5 years. Is that a spike in the amount of ID work going on? Or is this a high burnout field that people don't stick around in for too long?

I'm still curious about the breakdown in degrees between the corporate and academic sectors. What's the ratio of IDs working in corporate with advanced degrees vs. academic?

The survey remains open indefinitely. Chime in, if you haven't.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Hiring Women in 1943. You Go, Girl!

This has very little to do with eLearning - although I'm sure those of you with a creative mindset could think of something! It's certainly good for a laugh on a busy morning.

A client sent this scanned page to me this morning. A reprint from the July 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine (as reproduced in the September/October 2007 issue of Savvy & Sage Magazine: Getting the Most of Midlife and Beyond).

Hiring Women - 1943

Here are eleven helpful tips on the subject from Western Properties:

1. Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, they're less likely to be flirtatious, they need the work or they wouldn't be doing it, they still have the pep and interest to work hard and deal with the public efficiently.

2. When you have to use older women, try to get ones who have worked outside the home at some time in their lives. Older women who have never contacted the public have a hard time adapting themselves and are inclined to be cantankerous and fussy. It's always well to impress upon older women the importance of friendliness and courtesy.

3. General experience indicates that "husky" girls - those who are just a little on the heavy side - are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight systems.

4. Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a special physical examination - one covering female conditions. This step not only protects the property against the possibilities of lawsuit, but reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses which would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job.

5. Stress at the outset the importance of time the fact that a minute or two lost here and there makes serious inroads on schedules. Until this point is gotten across, service is likely to be slowed up.

6. Given the female employee a definite day-long schedule of duties so that they'll keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. Numerous properties say that women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them, but that they lack initiative in finding work themselves.

7. Whenever possible, let the inside employee change from one job to another at some time during the day. Women are inclined to be less nervous and happier with change.

8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowance for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.

9. Be tactful when issuing instructions or in making criticisms. Women are often sensitive; they can't shrug off harsh words the way men do. Never ridicule a woman - it breaks her spirit and cuts off her efficiency.

10. Be reasonably considerate about using strong language around women. Even though a girl's husband or father may swear vociferously, she'll grow to dislike a place of business where she hears too much of this.

11. Get enough size variety in operator's uniforms so that each girl can have a proper fit. This point can't be stressed too much in keeping women happy.

Today's challenge: apply one of the eleven helpful tips mentioned in this article to eLearning/instructional design.

I'll start:

#8 Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowance for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.

Another argument in favor of chunking your eLearning into 10-20 experiences. If I don't have the time to apply fresh lipstick during an eLearning course, then I just won't finish it!