Sunday, April 15, 2012

Personal Development Plan

When considering a personal development plan for my professional future I took into consideration the four approaches used in by employers; formal education, assessment, job experience, and interpersonal relationships (Noe, 2010). I figure if successful companies all over the world are using these four approaches, there is a good chance I could use them to work for me as well. 

 Formal Education

When considering employee development, formal education programs "include off-site and on-site programs designed specifically for the company's employees, short courses offered by consultants or universities, executive MBA programs, and university programs in which participants actually live in the university while taking classes" (Noe, 2010).
 My personal development plan is scaled down considerably from this definition. It involves continuing my education to receive my Masters in Instructional Design and Technology. I will also be taking courses in web design and development, and several business classes. Because the majority of my professional experience is in education I feel these classes will make me more valuable to a company. The web design will help if I chose a career with a smaller company that cannot afford IDs and web developers, while the business courses will give me a better understanding of the inner workings of corporate America. "Leadership, entrepreneurship, and e-business are the most important topics in executive education programs" (Noe, 2010), so I think they are a great place for me to begin my personal focus. 


Assessments are basically a collection of information about my behavior, communication style, values, and skills (Noe, 2010). Because I am a teacher the major assessments that I receive are formal and informal observations. As I began to focus on changing my career path I knew I would need an analysis of my strengths and weaknesses in order to have an appropriate plan (Noe, 2010) for my personal professional development, so I spoke with my administrators about offering me additional information during my post observation meetings. Much like a professional appraisal system I asked them to give me specific information about my performance problems and ways to improve (Noe, 2010). This has helped me to get a better understanding of my shortcomings. I have also spoken with a recruiter in one of my fields of interest to find out what additional skills I needed to become more hirable. 

Job Experiences

To be successful in any job it is important for me to be able to learn new skills, apply the skills and knowledge in a new way, and master my new experiences (Noe, 2010). Because I have been in the same
field for thirteen years, I have decided to gain new experiences as I prepare for my career shift. I will be teaching fourth grade next year in order to gain a more robust understanding of elementary math skill development, which will be beneficial for a career in elementary curriculum development. This "job rotation will allow me to be exposed to a "series of job assignments in various functional areas of the company" (Noe, 2010). I have also offered my services this summer to develop a math pacing guide for all of the grade levels in my current school in order to ensure that each grade level is aligned with the state and common core standards. This is a way to enlarge my current job by adding challenges and new responsibilities. 

Interpersonal Relationships

"Employees can also develop skills and increase their knowledge about the company and its customers by interacting with a more experienced organizational member. Mentoring and coaching are two types of interpersonal relationships used to develop employees" (Noe, 2010). Because I am looking to move towards a career field that is very different from my current field I have befriended a woman who has a job I would one day hope to have enough experience to hold. She works with me to help develop my skills, motivate me, and gives me feedback with a lot of my plans and ideas for future employment in the curriculum development field.  By having this coaching relationship I feel more confident that I am headed in the right direction for my future career goals. She also gives me tons of resources to look over and learn from to stay current and introduces me to other people in the field and has even helped me to begin applying for several freelance opportunities. 

Raymond Noe (2010) states that "the development planning process involves identifying development needs, choosing a development goal, identifying the actions that need to be taken by the employee and the company to achieve the goal, determining how progress toward goal attainment with me measures, investing time and energy to achieve goal , and establishing a timetable for development". As I reflect on my personal development plan I feel it definitely meets all of these expectations, and allows me to feel confident in my future professional endeavors. 

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The following link is a PowerPoint developed to persuade the administration of a charter school to consider investing in an employee development plan for their teachers. The school teaches content through teacher written "expeditions". These expeditions are similar to project based learning units of study. The company that the school partners with to create the culture of expeditionary learning and teaching is called EL (Expeditionary Learning). The PowerPoint highlights several initiatives that the school can consider to show their staff that they are valuable to the school and increase their understanding of EL.

Click here to see the PowerPoint.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Technology in Training

With all of these new technologies that are being used to “enhance” trainings it is easy to see how people can being to rely on them instead of the actual training to teach learners. But when it comes to teaching and learning, technology should be used practically to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of a training (Stolovitch & Keeps, 2011). If you are using technology to make your training look good or up to date there is a good chance you are doing a disservice to your learners and the training itself. “New technologies have made it possible to reduce the costs associated with delivering training to employees, to increase the effectiveness of the learning environment, and to help training contribute to business goals” (Noe, 2010). In my blog I will highlight the positive impact several of these technologies have had on training.

Digital Collaboration
Digital collaboration as defined by Elliot Massie, of the Massie Center as “the uses of technology to enhance and extend the abilities of individuals and organizations to collaborate, independent of their vertical area” (Salopek, 2000).  It is basically using online forms of communication to teach, learn and share ideas. “Digital collaboration includes electronic messaging systems, electronic meeting systems, online communities of learning organized by subject where employees can access interactive discussion areas and share training content and Web links, and document-handling systems  with collaborative technologies that allow interpersonal interactions” (Noe, 2010). By utilizing some form of digital collaboration technology people can come together from every corner of the globe and share with and learn from each other. The former idea of collaborating involved people gathering in a place to reach a common goal. “But as technology and the digital world evolve, the word place achieves new meaning” (Salopek, 2000).
  • Linux is a place where professionals can come together from all over the world to work on open source code.
  • in a place where “contractors, suppliers, and engineers can buy and sell products and services as well as exchange blueprints, designs, and other data to cut building time.
  • 5 classrooms in Baltimore, India, and China are a place where students can discuss the currency exchange by using videoconferencing technology.  

Virtual Worlds
There are several different providers of virtual worlds on the internet; Second Life, ProtoSphere, Forterra and Virtual Heroes. The most widely used is Second Life. “The multi-user, high graphical fidelity, multimodal nature of SL creates many affordances for teaching and learning” (Mayrath, 2010).  A multitude of schools and organizations have used SL for its “computer-based, simulated online virtual world that includes a three-dimensional representation of real World” to “host learning programs or experiences” (Noe, 2010).  SL is free and designed to not only provide a place where people can role play, but also collaborate with people from around the world, generate 3-D models, and publish their work in multiple forms of media (Mayrath, 2010). Second Life has offered platforms for training and learning in several ways for several organizations:  Stapoil has a oil platform they use for safety training, Harvard University hosts law courses and “British Petroleum uses Second Life to train new gas station employees in the safety features of gasoline storage tanks and piping systems” (Noe, 2010).  

Global Kids (2007) listed the following as the Best Practices for Using SL for Real World Education:
  • let students play, explore and have fun
  • have a backup plan
  • plan for things taking longer than expected
  • use the multiple forms of communication in SL
  • plan on students having different skill levels
  • teacher becomes facilitator, students become peer mentor
  • scale projects to fit resources
  • use SL for distance collaborations
  • give students opportunities to build relationships online
  • use web 2.0 affordances

Virtual worlds can be a great asset to training because they can imitate real world environments. This allows learners to try their hand at new skills without it resulting in real life consequences or costs. “Virtual worlds can also be useful for teaching interpersonal skills such as time management, communications, leadership, and working under pressure” (Noe, 2010). Much like digital collaboration, virtual worlds allow people to learn from across the world.

Intelligent Tutoring Systems
There are three types of environments for this artificial intelligence based instructional system: tutoring, coaching, and empowering (Noe, 2010). These systems are designed to teach each student based on their individual abilities. These ITSs are “designed to provide appropriate lessons to individuals based on his/her background knowledge level, interest and learning style and assimilation rate prior to using the tutoring system” (Marion & Oluwafunmilayo, 2011).

Intelligent tutoring systems can do the following things that make them a great asset to many trainings:
  • match instruction to individual student needs
  • communicate and respond to student
  • model the trainees learning process
  • decide what information to provide
  • make decisions about the trainee’s level of understanding
  • modify teaching process based on assessments   (Noe, 2011)

Mobile Technology
This type of technology is great because it basically allows you to take your learning everywhere. If there is Wi-Fi, Bluetooths, PDAs, tablets, laptops and any other mobile device you have mobile technology! There are so many ways that we can use these mobile devices for training, learning and sharing information. Aside from accessing the internet from these devices, listening to podcasts, or reading articles, there are companies that are going a step further. “Some companies are using PDAs as their primary method for delivering training or as a follow-up to training programs delivered face-to-face or online” (Noe, 2011). Tyco International is using this technology to teach sales technicians to set the burglar alarms and Capital One is using iPods for the audio components of their Capital One University classes (Noe, 2011).  IBM has also created a “Mobile Blue Pages” which is “an internal company directory suited for IBM’s mobile sellers, consultants, technologists, managers, and executives and can be accessed via a mobile browser” (Ahmad & Orton, 2010). But a good thing to remember is that just because people can access multiple things from a mobile device does not mean they will. IBM thought that they would be able to have their 25,000 employee-development mini-courses being accessed by their workers from their PDAs, but in actuality employees were using their smartphones almost exclusively for in-field performance support and to access late breaking information (Ahmad & Orton, 2010).  Other information that was learned in this study:

  • usability is crucial for the adoption of mobile phone applications
  • employees prefer less information and options from their mobile phones
  • users will quit an application that takes too long to load
  • the ability to locate others quickly in a time of need increased users perception of their job performance 
I just read that people are more likely to turn around and go back home if they forgot their cell phone than if they forgot their money. This statement is a strong one, being constantly tethered to technology is our present and future. So mobile technology is here to stay and will only become more and more user friendly.

Web 2.0
The internet is very social now, with creating and consuming information an everyday activity for many users. Web 2.0 is a great resource to use in classrooms and in some training situations. “Web 2.0 services have the potential to enhance student-centered learning be facilitating collaboration and communication at little cost” (Cheon, 2010).  This technology allows us to use Facebook pages, youtube videos, synchronous editing, video conferencing, and many of the other technologies I have already mentioned. But many teachers may be proficient in the popular Web 2.0 services “they may lack exposure to the different types of Web 2.0 services and may not have been taught how to employ new technology in teaching and learning” (Cheon, 2010). “Adding information access and collaboration opportunities, especially back on the job following formal training, is one good approach” (Stolovitch & Keeps, 2011).
As for the future of Web 2.0 in training and teaching its services “constitute a new pedagogical paradigm that makes students a central part of the learning press. The K-12 classroom is filling with a new generation of learners labeled “digital natives”(Prensky, 2001)” (Cheon, 2010). These students are knowledgeable about these technologies, they are creators and contributors (Cheon, 2010). So teachers and trainers will have to be technologically savvy as well.

These are just some of the technologies that are out there that can have a major impact on your training and teaching. But remember “media and technology can substantially improve the efficiency of training and learning, which is extremely important. However, they have little to no impact on the effectiveness of learning” (Stolovitch & Keeps, 2011).

Ahmad, N., & Orton, P. (2010). Smartphones make IBM smarter, but not as expected. Training and Development, 64(1), 46–50.

Cheon, J., Song, J., Jones, D., Nam, K. (2010). Influencing preservice teacher’ intention to adopt web 2.0 services. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education. 27(2), 53-64.

Global Kids. (2007). An educational non-profit’s history of the teen grid: Global Kid’s adventure in best practices. Second Life Community Convention. Retrieved February 8, 2009 from Best practices using second life for real world education:

Marion, A. & Oluwafunmilayo, A. (2011). Design and development of an intelligent instructive system. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education. 12(4), 34-44.

Mayrath, M., Traphagan, T., Jarmon, L., Trivedi, A., Resta, P. (2010). Teaching with virtual worlds: Factors to consider for instructional use of second life. Journal of Educational Computing Research. 43(4), 403-444.

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Salopek, J. (2000). Digital collaboration. Training and Development. 54(6), 38.

Stolovitch, H. D., & Keeps, E. J. (2011). Telling ain’t training. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Planning a Needs Assessment

            Conducting a needs assessment is one of the first steps in the instructional design process. It helps a designer determine if training is the right answer to a company’s performance problem, if the program has the right content and objectives, if the trainees are properly skilled for the program, if it will actually deliver the desired results, and if the training is actually necessary (Noe, 2011). There are three step to a needs assessment; organization analysis, task analysis and person analysis.  I will use Whole Foods Market as my example for demonstrating these three steps.

            Whole Foods Market is the world’s leader in natural and organic foods, and has more than 300 stores in North America and the United Kingdom ( The company that was started in 1980 has a mission based on three things – whole foods, whole people and whole planet. The company has 7 core values:
·         selling the highest quality natural and organic products available
·         satisfying and delighting their customers
·         supporting team member happiness and excellence
·         creating wealth through profit and growth
·         caring about their communities and the environment
·         creating ongoing win-win partnerships with their suppliers
·         promoting the health of their stakeholders through healthy eating education

           With almost any large venture taken in an organization a great first step is to get buy in. Because training is becoming a way to help companies achieve strategic goals I would include upper and mid-level manages, trainers, and employees (Noe, 2011). Whole Foods has an elaborate leadership team of regional presidents, VPs, officers and an impressive board of Directors, each of which is a stakeholder. There are also store managers, employees, certified partners and the most important stakeholder, the customer. Each of them has concerns and requirements for the training. Upper-level managers can help determine how the training is relevant to the company’s business strategy, the type of
training that is needed, and who needs the training. Mid-Level managers can also help determine who needs the training, how it will affect the budget, and what positions will be positively impacted by the trainings. The trainers are “primarily interested in needs assessment to provide them with information that they need to administer, develop, and support training programs” (Noe, 2011).

           The three steps to a needs analysis are not performed in a particular order. But the organizational analysis is usually conducted first because it can determine whether the training fits with the company’s strategic objectives, and if the company has the time, budget or expertise for the training (Noe, 2011). The company’s main focus is to sell the highest quality food at the most competitive prices. This would require cutting costs in other areas, and if money can be saved by improving employee productivity with the training there is a great chance it will get the support needed from management and trainers.

How does this training align with the company’s seven core values?
Which of your experts can help develop the program content?
What might customers, certified partners, and stakeholders need to know about this training program?
How will this training be perceived by our employees?
(based on questions from Nickols, 2005 & Tannenbaum, 2002)
           The second step would be the person analysis, to identify the employees that needed the training and “the factors that influence performance and learning (Noe, 2011).  I would interview several employees and look for recurring trends in the interview data to measure person characteristics, input, output, consequences, and feedback (Noe, 2011). To get a better understanding I would ask the store and warehouse employees the following questions in an interview setting:
Do you feel that your new hire training fully prepared you for your current position?
Do you feel motivated to do your job?
Does anything keep you from feeling 100% successful in your work day?
Is there a skill that you would like to learn that would help you do your job better?

            The final step would be the task analysis. This is a “description of work activities including tasks performed by employees and the knowledge, skills, and abilities to complete the tasks” (Noe, 2011). I would start this process by having managers and workers give descriptions of the different positions. This could be done using questionnaires and interviews. I would use these two techniques because they are inexpensive and I can collect and summarize data from a great deal of people (Noe, 2011). I would take the different descriptions and compare them to the actual job descriptions the company keeps on file, to determine if there is a collective understanding of the requirements for each job and task. Then I would observe the actual work being done in each position to determine if the workers have the ability to do the jobs and tasks. I will also take into consideration the working conditions and the impact they have on the completion of different tasks. By using an observation in this portion of the analysis process I can be bale to generate data that is relevant to the work environment while minimizing the level of interruptions (Noe, 2011).

            If the performance problem is due to employees not having the knowledge or skill needed to perform a task, training is most likely the best answer. But this cannot be known until a needs assessment has been done. Even if there is limited time and resources, it is wise to conduct even a small one to determine your course of action.


Nickols, F., “Why a stakeholder approach to evaluating training”. Advances in developing human resources (February 2005): 121-134;

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Tannenbaum, S., “A strategic view of organizational training and learning”. Creating, implementing, and managing effective training and development, ed. K. Kraiger (San Fransico: Jossey-Bass, 2002): 10-52.

Photos from

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Elevator Speech on Training

We had to write a 90 second "Elevator Speech" in class to persuade someone to see the importance of training in any organization. This is my speech:

My Elevator Speech 

I can understand where you are coming from when you say that you feel that training is unnecessary, a lot of people feel the way you do. And with the economy the way it is right now it can really seem unneeded. But actually there are big changes happening all over because of new technologies, rapid development of knowledge, globalization and e-commerce (Noe, 2010). Training prepares employees for these changes and without it there will be a performance gap in any organization. In this competitive job market workers want to stay relevant and training not only makes them equipped, but it makes them feel appreciated. 
When asked more than a third of employees said they "would like proper training for new duties and responsibilities" (Bradley, 2010).  
Training does not just add much needed skills and knowledge to your workforce it also stimulates employee engagement. This is important because "disengaged employees influence the overall health of an organization" (Bradley, 2010). It is estimated that in the near future 85% of the jobs in this country will require extensive use of knowledge. So employees will be required to understand the development systems of their product or service, be able to share this knowledge, and use it to tailor their organization's offerings to meet individual customer's needs (Noe, 2010). You cannot possibly do this without training. So basically, training should be viewed as a mandatory element of every company as opposed to a luxury. 

Bradley, A. (2010). Shifting away from an employer’s market. Training and Development, 64(7), 16–17. 

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.