Nerding out

SwedishNerdAvatarWithHelmet

Welcome to the Swedish Nerd’s digital portfolio. I originally started this blog as a portfolio for my Master’s of IT and Learning at the University of Gothenburg. After completing my studies, I returned to the Dark Arts of enterprise learning technology. I am morphing the blog to post musings on learning strategy and technology as I pursue professional development toward “Learning Strategist.” (I do quite a bit of learning strategy but I have to fit it around a lot of other more operational and technical questions in my role at the moment…)

If you have been forwarded this link, you know my name. I live in (Göteborg) Sweden, I’m a lady, and I’m a nerd.

I created this avatar of myself at Avatar Maker. It looks like a younger version of me but close enough. I added the helmet, which is a free resource with a Creative Commons license, from pngimage. Try it yourself, it’s fun!

Here is my LinkedIn profile if you would like a full view of my professional experience and qualifications.

Learning Strategy on One Page

Image courtesy of Harvard Business Publishing

Could you clearly and concisely explain your organisation’s learning strategy on one page? How about 5 pages? Do you have one and it’s 20 pages but no one really understands it? Here is a challenge for you: get started with the goal of framing the beginning of your strategy on one page. Later you can build this out to five (maybe six) pages that are easy to explain: WHY, WHAT, WHO, WHEN, HOW.

My experience with “learning people” (using that term in the nicest possible way because you’re my people..) is that strategy is not in their everyday wheelhouse. It seems too big and they don’t know where to start. If questioned the reactions may range from evasion, hostility, or denial that they are in the “right place” to need one yet. I politely disagree. I particularly appreciate this aphorism: “the best time to do something you’re putting off is… right now.” Forgive me if this post is overly-worded in the imperative and just roll with it 😉

Have a look here at this little nugget from HBR, for a very simple way to get started with some questions. I recommend you get a few of your most switched-on colleagues together for a few hours of honest discussion to shape some answers to these. Ideally you can work off-site somewhere and really focus. If not for this, then when? You may come up with more questions, disagree, but that’s healthy. Just start!

  1. Why do you exist? What is your root purpose? I suggest each person in the group taking a few quiet moments to think for themselves, then share the answers. The differences in answers may be really amusing and fun to reflect on. When you feel comfortable, compare all of the answers against Exhibit 1 in this article, “The 5 key areas of talent development.” Are any of these areas currently emphasised more or less than you believe they “should” be in your organisation today? Think about how you would prefer to be working. You don’t have to put any timeline around that, just what would it look like if you had a sensible, easy-to-communicate mission?
  2. What is your value proposition? I remember a senior leader at a client’s corporate university introducing himself and proudly declaring how many employees had completed certification in Project Management. My (unvoiced) reaction was, “so what?” Do business leaders actually care about learning certificates or completions? How does that knowledge transfer to business objectives? I find this to be the conversation L&D professionals struggle the most with. After you quietly brainstorm your answers, challenge each others’ answers with a requirement to complete this phrase, “Why? So that…” Try doing this up to five times for each idea and see if you can help each other get closer to business value not learning metrics. This is the story you want to be able to share with your business leadership.
  3. Who are you trying to serve/target? Your stakeholders are all over the place on this one. Talk about it. Of course we want the learners to enjoy and be engaged in our offerings. However, is that really who you are serving? Just saying…
  4. How will you know you are winning? Similar to Question 2, I hear L&D professionals get caught up in the Kirkpatrick Model but they never get past stage 2. This may be because it’s easy to measure and is under L&D’s control, or even insecurity about what appropriate success measures are from a business perspective. When you know why you exist, what is unique about your team, and who you service, true measures of success become more apparent.

I would submit that a few hours centred on discussing these four questions will not only clear a lot of cobwebs, it can be communicated on one page and is a solid foundation for a learning strategy. More on that in my next post!

Musings on “Growth Mindset”

Image courtesy of The Economist

Cross-post with my LinkedIn feed

My husband and I were recently discussing how some people just seem to have “grit” (he’s a big fan of Dave Goggins and his transformation from obese self-proclaimed “loser” to Navy Seal) and some don’t. I told him about Carol Dweck’s research into growth mindset and her assertion that some people are just born with it (about 40% as mentioned in her book Mindset) Our clients often talk about encouraging a growth mindset in the organisation and how they can use Degreed to foster it.

As part of my professional development plan I’ve set for myself (in Degreed of course!), I set aside some time for myself today to reflect on this topic and refresh my understanding. I found this short 3.5 page article worth the time. Dweck summarises her team’s and Rheinbeck’s research and I can personally relate to all of their research subject types:
Individual students: receiving coaching on growth mindset and visualising how stretching yourself creates new neuron connections in the brain can make you enhance achievement.

Typically marginalised or stereotyped students: receiving coaching on growth mindset can enhance gaps for e.g. female or minority students in mathematics. I was not naturally gifted at mathematics but I’m lucky to naturally have a growth mindset. Our high-school calculus teacher was famous for being unfriendly to females and indeed he wasn’t very helpful. This just pissed me off and through hard work I forced him to give me an A.

Students of teachers with fixed mindset: low achievers who started in these teachers’ classes left the same at the end of the term. How can we translate this to our roles as adults today, as leaders, coaches or peer colleagues?

Athletes with coaches possessing growth mindset: athletes who believe their coach values practice and hard work over pure talent will perform better. Honestly, Serena Williams, Michael Jordan or Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have been uniquely gifted in their sport but they had thousands of hours of grind behind them.

After reviewing the research on growth mindset my reflections naturally turn to how can I apply this to my roles in life. At work for the moment, I’m an individual contributor, but that doesn’t mean I can’t demonstrate leadership. I can encourage colleagues, provide resources, help and ideas and critically, embrace the opportunity for a tough conversation. Fear of having a tough conversation seems to stem from two things: dread of confrontation and/or a belief that the person is incapable of seeing what is obviously an issue and will never change. Being a good colleague in this type of situation means swallowing any dread, approaching such a conversation with compassion, and of course a growth mindset that the person can change!

When I am a leader again, I’ll dust off my old “servant-leadership” hat. When I was in the Army I always had the attitude that I was there to get my soldiers the resources they needed to accomplish the mission. It’s not too different in the civilian world, really, we just don’t walk around with our rank and medals on display all the time. I In a flatter organisation, sometimes the challenge can be helping talented, experienced people discover how they can “grow” but not necessarily by being promoted.

As a parent: Dweck’s research mentions it’s really important to praise children for the effort they put into something, not just praise the result no matter the outcome. I have been doing this as a parent but am reminded to redouble my effort. My son recently studied really hard for a science test and got a great result. I said, “congratulations! I know you worked really hard on that!” I can do the same with his sports and other activities.

At Degreed in keeping with our values, we all receive an educational stipend of USD 100 a month called FlexEd. Serendipitously, my indirect manager challenged us all on Friday to share what we have been using it for. Some amazing ideas: TED Women, Masterclass, MindValley, a course in compassionate inquiry, books. I’ve used mine for courses in mushroom foraging, German, Farsi, Agile Project Management to name a few things. Today I began a journey to re-awakening my love of music and I had my first piano lesson, funded by #flexed. Playing an instrument is linked to enhanced cognition, at least for developing brains so I shall choose to believe my brain is “still developing” LOL.

I will never be the equivalent of Serena Williams, the president of a country (maybe I could be president of the local gardening club but…) or head of the IMF. I’m not thinking of immortality or much impact after I’m gone. It’s OK, I can make a small contribution while I’m here… to beauty in the world by living growth mindset in my professional and personal interactions, and in honouring the joy of learning for myself.

The thesis… It’s complete!

RecommendedApproach

My final recommendation to the client after evaluating the prototype

Here’s the abstract from my paper titled ONBOARDING XMOOC PROJECT TEAMS:
Designing learning for professional development.

Purpose: The goal was to design and test a best-practice Onboarding approach, informed by literature and an instructor survey, to address challenges in executing MOOC projects,
and to improve the Onboarding experience for MOOC instructors and project teams.

Theory: The author compiled challenges and best practices into the ADDIE framework as
inspiration for selecting critical learning objectives for an Onboarding curriculum,
employing the 70-20-10 model (McCall, Lombardo, Lombardo, & Morrison, 1988).
Iterative design techniques were informed by thoughtful interaction design
(Stolterman & Löwgren, 2004). Evaluation of a beta prototype was conducted using
the framework proposed by (McKenney & Reeves, 2012).

Method: The project team previewed the alpha prototypes of a MetaMOOC learning design. The beta prototype was developed with indicative content and formally evaluated with five experts using qualitative interviews. Coding of the feedback included
categories to inform future iterations.

Results: Evaluations of the beta prototype learning (formative) objectives and content provided showed these to be largely appropriate with suggested improvements. The design (summative) objectives were proven to be unrealistic. The author recommends a more comprehensive curriculum as well as project management toolkit, spanning the entire project lifecycle.

Here is the final document if you wish to read it!

PHEW! Now I can enjoy life just that teensiest bit more… and decide what to learn next. MWAAAAAHHHHAAAAHAAAA…

Cross-Cultural Communication

WVS_Map

World Values Survey Map: an incredible long-running programme!

I was asked to create a cultural awareness and communication training for a group of technical experts who advise retail partners across EMEA, including some countries in Central Asia. Although team had not struggled with this significantly in the past, the team leader felt it was important to increase awareness of cultural differences and how these could impact even rather factual technical communication. The challenge is to telescope “awareness” of a rather broad concept down to how to transfer these behaviours once one goes back to work. We agreed this type of soft-skills training would best be conducted in a classroom to take advantage of the group dynamics. Please see the presentation here which I drafted to facilitate the session.

I used a few frameworks to discuss the idea of culture: The World Values Survey and Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture. We explore a few typical scenarios at work to reflect on these models, and which dimensions seem to most impact communication. Then I rely heavily on inspiration from Richard D. Lewis’ classic book When Cultures Collide to talk about concrete behavioural differences in how people communicate. Again we talk about some scenarios. As a final exercise the learners are asked to reflect and share what concrete actions they can take away to their work.

My concern with this training is that it would be too “fluffy” for a group of technical experts. We reviewed it with a couple of them and they said the first part about what culture means was challenging to grasp, but otherwise they thought it would be helpful. One said it would even help his teammates to understand him a bit better! Unfortunately due to circumstances I wasn’t able to deliver this concept but maybe someday…

 

 

Well-being in a remote study context

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Not exactly within a remote study context, but definitely important for well-being!

As part of a job application process, I was recently asked to prepare a one-hour training course about well-being in a remote study context. I was allowed to define the delivery method and course structure. Please see the presentation I crafted to facilitate the discussion.

I made some assumptions about the learners and that there would be the possibility to set up a social media group for the participants. I planned that this learning would be a virtual meeting using some tool with interactive features such as whiteboarding, pointing, etc. I used learning design techniques of Before-During-After, active learning, and constructive alignment to create a well-rounded session.

For the Before part of the session, I leveraged some tools I have found helpful in my own life to help make the session practical. First, a life balance assessment on Remente.com, and two concepts about forming good habits from the book Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. 

For the During part, I pondered the challenge of taking two rather large subjects (well-being + remote/distance learning?) and creating a practical takeaway from a one hour session. In my reading for school, I’ve been curious about why learners have challenges engaging with remote learning programmes. I explained some of those reasons and asked learners to think about what might be obstacles for them. The most-common reason is that the learner gets behind on coursework, gets discouraged, and decides they will never catch up. This means understanding one’s self, understanding the importance of well-being in life and developing some discipline and good habits are important. We talk about what type of habit-formers there are, and what type of strategies can be effective for forming habits.

After the session, learners have a follow-up assignment to reflect on what habits they want to form in terms of well-being and studying, and devise a strategy for how to do this over a week. They must post on the social media group and encourage each other. The instructor will ask for reflections after the first week and likely periodically as the group interacts with one another.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay.

Week 8: EdX 300x Capstone Assignment

Just click on it to play!

I married several of my previous assignments to create this e-learning. Here is how it satisfies the capstone assignment requirements:

  1. Digital document (ebook, infographic, interactive text)
  2. Original digital video (2-3 minutes in length) published online with closed captioning (non-auto generated)
  3. Your video can be a screencast or mash up (splicing together) of other Creative Commons licensed work you edited / enhanced to create an original work,
    • My video from number 2 is a screencast.
  4. Enhanced Digital Images (at least 2 images) that you have created or edited in some manner.  identify how you’ve enhanced the images,
    • I created my own avatar as a sort of trademark, the Swedish Nerd, which appears on my slides. She is a mash-up of an avatar I created at avatarmaker.com and added the helmet/hair from an image I found on oercommons.com. I mashed them using Snag-It. Here she is! SwedishNerdAvatarWithHelmet
    • In the Quick Reference to Importing References with X9 End Note document there are several screenshots which I annotated using Snag-It.
  5. Interactive (adaptive type) module
    • See the above e-learning, which has quiz questions and links to relevant resources and content embedded within it.
  6. Identify at least two Open Educational Resources to support identified content.
  7. Label your media with a Creative Commons license (student have a choice on which level of rights to allow or to retain all rights)
    • See the thumbnail of the e-learning video above, and below in this blog post.
  8. Apply your updated Digital Media Checklist created in week 1 to each of your digital media, provide the overview of findings and describe in a short statement or rationale why each digital media artefact will support content development or your lesson.
    • Please see the Digital Media Checklist for this assignment.
    • Each assignment’s blog post has a link to its checklist at the end. You can see each assignment in order in the Categories drop-down to the left of my blog.

Reflections and what I would have done differently:

  • I would have preferred to take the time to create the e-learning as a SCORM package with full accessibility, then publish it on SCORMCloud. Maybe next time!
  • I would have recorded the audio first instead of trying to fit existing video to audio done second. Combining audio and video is always tricky. This video I watched to learn how to edit audio recommended this and now I know it’s true!

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Week 7: E-Learning with Camtasia

For this week’s assignment I wanted to explore the limitations of Camtasia using PowerPoint as a basis for e-learning production. Camtasia is a very powerful tool and I’d like to fully master it before I play with other tools like Articulate or Lectora. I published it on Screencast.com so that I could take advantage of the quiz functionality. Click here or on the image to launch my short e-learning course.

APA_ReferencingPart1_Thumbnail

 

My impression is that Camtasia is great for certain things but for an e-learning tool it’s still rather fiddly. I acknowledge that in order to meet accessibility guidelines, I really need to add audio and closed-captions. I didn’t have the time to fiddle with audio at the moment, perhaps in the next iteration. I found this gentleman Lon Naylor’s video very helpful in making decisions about how to produce the project.

Things I liked with this solution:

  • I can manipulate the video track easily
  • Importing the PowerPoint as a Windows Media Video meant I could keep my built-in animations.

Things I didn’t like with this solution:

  • The quiz functionality does not have the possibility for multiple correct answers to a multiple choice, which I didn’t understand until I started configuring.
  • You can only have ONE active hotspot on the page at one time. I had planned to have four at once, which wasn’t possible. To compensate for this, I had to give a hint to the learner to click through.

Please see the Digital Media Checklist for this assignment.

Unfortunately it is not technically possible to indicate within Screencast.com that the video is licensed under Creative Commons. I have added this directly within the thumbnail, so if I produce it again I’ll ensure it’s on the title page.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Week 6: Meal Planning: a Nerdy Path to Sanity for Busy Parents

vegan wrap with side salad

My family loves anything in a wrap!

My “podcast” is about getting started with Meal Planning, which I find streamlines my life a lot when I’m running from one thing to another. My first attempt had my son in it but I unfortunately had to scrap that version due to poor sound quality.

For some reason WordPress has decided it’s not safe to upload .m4a file types so I had to do this as a .wav file, which creates a much larger file. Sorry about that! I recorded this a couple of times with different types of microphones and I wasn’t able to really equalise my voice very well. I thought I spoke quite softly but there are points where my voice sort of “buzzes” and I’m not good enough with the editing tools to get rid of it.

I played around with recording in Audacity but ended up editing in Camtasia because I’m just more comfortable with it for video, and I wanted to understand what audio features are available.

Here is a transcript for the hearing impaired or those who prefer skimming:

Hey , everybody. Welcome to my first ever podcast called Meal Planning: a Nerdy Path to Sanity for Busy Parents. So I want to tell you a bit about how I got started doing it and a few steps so that you can get started . I started thinking about meal planning when I realised that one of the most stressful part of my days was standing in front of the refrigerator hoping for inspiration to come to me , and I had to decide what to cook after a long day of work , so I decided to relieve my own stress level, I would give meal planning a try. I had heard of it before and it just seemed like way too structured for me and I didn’t want to try it.

But I did get started and the first thing I did was Google…Microsoft Excel meal planning template or something like that. And then I got one that I could edit for whatever I liked.

I decided to plan for breakfasts and dinners only because lunch usually we eat outside during the week and then on the weekend it’s a bit more relaxed. Then I recommend you think about what rules you have for your family to help you put structure around your planning. Like, in our family, we love to have pizza on Friday. I try to cook vegetarian one day a week and I like to have something special for dinner on Sundays. And then I leave one day open for just sort of cleaning out leftovers and stuff like that. And so that puts a bit of shape around your plan and makes it easier for you.

Then the next step is, think about what sort of things could you make ahead and freeze and put those into your plan. Maybe once or twice a week you decide to cook double. You can Google some websites for freezer-friendly meals. This is especially good for breakfast when you’re tired and you don’t have a lot of energy. So I do things like make veggie muffins ahead, healthy quesadillas with spinach and beans, and I even make bacon or sausage ahead and I freeze it so I can just warm it up in the morning. Soups, stews, anything pasta-related . You can freeze it really nicely and have it ready to go in the fridg , defrosted to warm up when you come home from work .

Then when you start to get ready to plan , you can also ask your family what they would like to have included . My family loves anything in a wrap. So if I ask them what they want , they’ll probably want halloumi and sprouts with hummus and a wrap, chicken in a wrap or something like that . Ask your kids for ideas. We made a little game out of it at one point where I put things on little scraps of paper and my son was allowed to pick things out .

So I guess you’re ready to get your pencil out, the next step . And how much should you plan at once ? Start small and see if it’s for you . Start with one week at a time and see whether you like it. I currently do four weeks in advance because I think it’s just easier. I can sit down and do that and plan for a whole month.

You get your shopping list ready. I even went and googled the same web site where I got my meal plan template. I got a grocery shopping template…Grocery list . Then you can go for your big shop . Maybe you want to do it online.

And then you can put your beautiful plan on the fridge . It might not stop your family from asking you for what’s for dinner, but maybe sometimes you never know . I hope this was interesting for you, the steps to get started with meal planning.

Enjoy the benefits and reduced stress level!

We must evaluate our digital assets using our checklists. Please see the checklist for this entire blog post here.

Image attribution: stenholz, Pixabay

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Week 4: Storyboarding and video


 

Hello dear reader, I recorded this video as part of my original concept of an e-learning course for selecting a lifelong digital transcript. It is broken up into chapters for the functional requirements I set out in my selection matrix, which in my final course would come before that and would add a bit of context. I defined these in the Week 2 Assignment.

I’m sad to say that this video is a hot mess for these reasons:

  1. I recorded the demo portion in Screencast-o-matic free version so the watermark shows in the corner.
  2. I edited in Camtasia and added some transitions but…
  3. I forgot I didn’t want my own LinkedIn profile header showing so I had to blur a lot of it out.

If I had to do it again I definitely would have just created a fake account and demoed from that, using Camtasia to do the recording. Camtasia is worth the money for me if I will be creating a lot of videos. Some things I got skilled at in Camtasia whilst preparing this one:

Lesson Learned: The Speech-to-Text tool on Camtasia is very poor. Honestly it’s not worth using, even if you try to train Camtasia’s speech recognition tool. I should have taken the extra couple of minutes to split the video from the audio and uploaded the audio to Nvivo Transcribe, which I find is excellent for transcribing English. It would have been quicker in the end!

We were required to storyboard our demos. See my storyboard for the video, which I did in Microsoft Powerpoint.

We are required to evaluate our media using our checklists. Please see my evaluation here.

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Week 5:EndNote X9 Special for GU Students

For the last three terms of my Master’s programme I have manually managed and proofed my APA references in papers and EdX assignments. Now that I’m working on the thesis, the number of references became too many to continue this way.  So I forced myself to learn how to use this EndNote thing. You can do it too, I promise it’s worth it.


 

I made this video as a tutorial for my classmates in the International Information Technology and Learning programme. It summarises the features I have found useful with the EndNote referencing tool once I got it installed and went through the basics, and contains the things I know they would want to do, like get references from our library search engine. I had to watch some videos and play around quite a bit to learn how to use it. It’s an intimidating tool to get started with but it now saves me SO MUCH TIME. As a gesture of love to my classmates and future generations of ITL@GU students, I wanted to put this together. It will form one part of my capstone assignment for the UMUC 300x course on EdX. It will be a short course for new students on getting started with EndNote.

I recorded the video using Camtasia and incorporated the closed captions feature. I also have a table of contents in the YouTube notes so viewers can go quickly to the sections they are most interested in.

If I had more time I’d like to incorporate some transitions. It would have been good to highlight my mouse whilst I was recording as well.

We are required for the UMUC 300x course to submit a storyboard of our videos, find that here.

Additionally I have critiqued my video using my Digital Media Checklist, please find that here.

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