Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Found in transition


I have been in my new job role for about two months now and I feel I have settled in really well.  I had carved out and developed a really unique role in my previous job, however it was the best decision I made to move my career forward.  Not only is it doing what I love, developing eLearning, but the company is about animal healthcare and sustainability which falls in line with my passion for natural history.  Taking a closer look, it's like I have come full circle from when I pursued animal care after I left school in 2002.

I felt the need to depart from my previous job due to their being no progression opportunities within the learning technology department where I had been employed since it's conception.  After years of experience and recognition in the learning technology field, I was developing into a leadership role which I was encouraged to do alongside my duties.  I had applied for the learning technology manager position that came up in September 2016, which is something that I was aspiring and deeply committed to fulfilling.  I was also building competence towards the role as I was carrying out most of the managerial duties and was encouraged to do them.  I even based the research of my masters dissertation on my learning technology understandings and leadership of the role.  Unfortunately I was unsuccessful as the role was offered to a teacher in another department.  If I was successful I would have lead on the development and implementation of learning technology at the college and line managed my successor, a Virtual Learning Environment developer and the Digital Learning Design apprentices.

But all wasn't lost, I had brought some internal awards to the organisation and I celebrated lots of external recognition and praise for my efforts during my time in that position.  I wanted to progress into Higher Education (HE) at some stage in my career.  I also had a growing interest in working in the commercial sector to apply my knowledge and skills in a new context and environment.  I'm a big believer in things happen for a reason and this is where I was meant to be heading.  Like I once read, if you are rejected then you are simply being re-directed to better opportunities.  I can continue to develop my creativity, as this is something that needs to be nurtured not stifled.  However, I am still aspiring to be some sort of digital learning leader, my time just hasn't arrived yet.  The adventure continues...

Army of you

A strong point I do want to make is for people not to fear in voicing what they believe is right for the greater good.  Nobody wants hassle in their life, but sometimes you have to challenge what is right – equal opportunities.  At Christmas I needed to remind myself and others to just do that:

I hope you all enjoyed a relaxing Christmas. Wishing you all a wonderful 2017, may it bring you lots of peace, happiness and love!  On a more serious note, don't ever stop challenging and fighting for what is right and what you believe in.  You are an army of you, don't you ever forget that... "You have all the weapons you need. Now fight!" From Sucker Punch.

Ever seen the 2011 movie Sucker Punch?  Well you should!  Depending on how you view this movie you can see it as very inspirational piece of work.  It's a great kick ass movie where the main character imagines her sombre environment as alternative world as a means to escape.

It's important to challenge things you believe are right as this can remove barriers, push boundaries and most of all discover the truth.  Don't be afraid of saying of how conditions and opinions are effecting you.  In my younger years it took me a while to find my voice and not be as timid.  But I now know that I can fight and challenge adversity.  I reckon it's because I have experienced unnecessary workplace stress and bullying in previous organisations that have lead me to being more observant of people and environments.  Equally, burnout in the workplace is real and is a serious health problem.  After experiencing this myself, I no longer support or endorse organisations that create these unhealthy work conditions.  It can eventually lead to mental health problems.  If you are experiencing this, you need to stop it and challenge it.

So whatever your position, keep it positive and know that you can challenge things that are morally and ethically unfair.  Be victorious in your battles and watch yourself be triumphant in your efforts.  But don't ever back down, stand tall, stay firm on the ground and present the truth.  People might not agree because you are going against their expectations and perceptions of you.  But isn't that the point of a challenge?  Fighting for the right for peace and happiness for all.  As long as you have a voice and make it known, this will drive you forward and you will have endless energy and determination.

A final point on a different topic; jealousy is such a wasted energy, yet it is a human emotion we are allowed to feel.  However, before you feel jealous, ask yourself how much effort you have done towards the things you want.

Adapting to a new environment

When your used to working in an environment where you feel constantly overwhelmed, it's hard to adapt to a new environment that doesn't consist of this.  This doesn't mean that I am working slower or the organisation is not proactive, but it does mean that my time is focused on what I need to do and the quality of it, rather than a scatter-gun approach of duties.

When I started working, there were days I felt confident and wanted to smash it, but then I had anxious moments where I felt I wasn't as strong as I should be.  But I shouldn't try not to be too hard on myself as I am adapting to a completely different work environment and industry.  I just wanted to get fully into things but my mind needed to adjust to the new work and social approaches of the organisation.  When I felt ready I asserted my confidence and position, it was just a matter of settling in.

Affirmation of specialist area

Recently I have been reminded that everyone in the learning technology field have a particular focus amongst their actual job role.  I feel like I have had such a wide experience of being a learning technologist which covers all of aspects of developing, designing and training.  Plus being a tutor, assessor and internal verifier.  All of which has given me an abundance of soft and hard skills.  But what about my specialist area?  You know, an area that I give particular focus to alongside my main duties.  I seem to have lost track of my specialist area along my journey.  Learning technology and eLearning are a specialism in their own right, but they have all sorts of avenues that pathways that stem from them.

This is something that is encouraged during the Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology (CMALT) process to help you be specific about your specialist area.  In my last CMALT re-submission I mentioned in my future plans that I had achieved some long term professional development goals, and that I am now at the start of creating some new goals.  I said I was extremely adamant in utilising my Technology Enhanced Learning MSc (or what was the point) in a HE context, may that be in a University or private company.  However, I am also interested in expanding in other areas that I have a strong passion for, such as, Work Based Learning, innovative and intelligent use of Virtual Learning Environments and developing the use of eLearning packages in both design and interactivity.

However, learning design has always been a huge interest since my Open University studying days from 2009 and my involvement of the Digital Learning Design qualifications and apprentices.  When I look back, learning design has been a theme running through my learning technology career.  I've always been fond of designing and structuring learning in different online mediums.  This has always been at the back of my mind when using learning technology and creating eLearning materials.  As I am predominately developing HE distance learning courses, I feel I am being drawn back to a former passion - which should be my specialist area.

I feel like my career in learning technology is still in the early stages of development and I've yet to bloom.  It's like an awakening of sorts and I'm present.