8 Pros and Cons of Job-Hopping

job-hopping Job-hopping. Should you do it or not? To answer, let’s look at a situation.

You’ve landed what you think is an awesome position with a company that seems to be on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. You show up on your first day of work primed to shine and soak up as much knowledge as humanly possible so you can climb the rudders of that career ladder like nobody’s business.

Flash forward in time.

As your first month on the job comes to a close, and the next few months of your career begin to dawn before you, your vibrancy fades because the position and your colleagues are not at all what you expected. Your gut tells you to quit and find something better. Enter the job-hopping dilemma.

What if this isn’t the first time this happened to you? What if this happened several times? Do you continue to quit and find more appropriate work that will keep you energized and fulfilled or do you stick it out and hope for a miracle?

How does job-hopping look to potential employers? What hurts more: to stay, or to seek the right fit?

Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of job-hopping.

PROS of Job-Hopping

Self-discovery offers a chance to find the right fit.

You’ve got one life to live and put forth great efforts that can yield great results. If you free yourself to discover the right environment for you, one day you may find it. If you never try to find it, you won’t.

You’ll develop targeted skills.

Inevitably, by exploring various work environments, you’ll learn new skill sets that can be transferred to different situations. Your range of experience will grow, and you’ll place yourself in a unique position to see the work world through a wider lens. Ultimately, you’ll have more to bring to a future employer’s table.

Access to more information and resources.

The more experiences you gain, the more you’ll grow. Placing yourself in the seat of learning and acquiring news skills grants you access to a lot of information that can be applied across various mediums.

Exposure to different businesses and people.

Shifting your environment keeps you fresh, socially and professionally. You’ll meet new people and potentially develop the necessary communication and interpersonal skills to be successful in a business environment.  You’ll gain new perspectives, good and bad, from those with whom you work. You’ll also grow your network and pool of people to contact for specific information in the future.

CONS of Job-Hopping

An employer might view job-hopping as irresponsible.

You run the risk of missed opportunities with potential employers because they may form a negative opinion without ever having a chance to speak with you or see your great potential.

Your skills might be in question.

Employers may view frequent job-hopping as a weakness when it comes to your skills. They may question your ability to get along with others, understand direction, or grasp critical concepts.

Employers will be hesitant to invest in you.

The process of hiring an employee is laborious, especially in large corporations where entire committees are formed to decide on filling a position. Job-hopping may be one of those red flags that employers will automatically apply to a candidate’s resume as a way of cutting the pile down to a manageable pool of applicants.

Employers may not trust your level of commitment.

One too many jobs within a short period may spell trouble to potential employers, eliciting a fear that if they hire you, you may run at the first sign of trouble. They may question if you leave positions rapidly because of an inability to manage stress and outcomes.

Solutions:

Don’t quit right away.

Stay on the job until you find a better fit.

Volunteer

Volunteer in between employment gaps to show you are focused and professional.  Volunteering will allow you to build a reputation of being reliable, committed, motivated and willing. Many of the shadows of doubt employers may experience when analyzing job hopping on a resume can be put to rest if volunteerism outshines in the areas that really matter to them. Chances are, you will be applying to positions that interest you and where your skills – earned by volunteering your time and energy — directly match their needs.

Ultimately, the decision you make today will affect your future. By weighing the pros and cons, you’ll be in a better position to decide what is best for you future.

Your Turn:

Have you had to evaluate the pros and cons of job hopping, and how did it turn out for you?

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now.

Is Online Learning For You?

Online learning opens the door to education for many people. To decide if online learning is a viable option for you, let’s look at a few key things about it.

online learningSome facts about online learning:

Online learning offers students high-quality instruction even if they can’t attend courses face-to-face due to their busy, work, family, or travel schedules.

Online courses offer flexible learning. Most online courses take place without a physical classroom and without fixed class hours.

Free of those limitations, students have the means to overcome geographic distance and can balance busy work and family schedules with their coursework.

Another feature of online learning is that it helps promote engagement. Online classes involve a lot of reading, writing, and practical application of what you are learning.

Some additional advantages… there is no back of the room in an online classroom. Also, students have time to process their thoughts and ideas before they share them with their instructor or classmates.

It also cultivates an interactive environment.  Many social barriers are eliminated online, and many students you might not hear from in class will become active participants in an online course.

So, is online learning for you?

Let’s debunk a myth first. A lot of people might think that online learning is easier than face-to-face.

Here’s the truth:

Online classes take as much or more time as a class you might take on campus.

Online courses are never out of session. Students are expected to log on and contribute to discussions several times a week. That also means reading messages every week from the instructor and other students.

The Real Deal:

Learning ultimately depends on the quality of the instructor, course material and participation of the students. The method, too, is important. Courses that encourage online discussion and interaction between students, their peers and the instructor typically demonstrate higher levels of participation than traditional courses.

If you’d like to learn more, feel free to contact us by visiting: umbc.edu/isd

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now

eLearning Quality

written by: Dr. Greg Williams, UMBC ISD Graduate Program Director

LearningWhen I tell people that I am a college professor, they usually ask me what I teach. When I tell them that I teach instructional design and e-learning development, I often get a puzzled look from them. After explaining what instructional design is, the conversation usually turns to eLearning and quality.

Many times people tell me that they think the quality of e-learning is not good. I ask them what their experience is with e-learning. I asked if they have ever taken an e-learning class or have even taught a class, or have been part of an online class. The answer is usually no.

What they usually tell me is that they think that e-learning is simply ”not very effective”. As an educator I am interested in how people form their opinions. When I asked them how they formed their opinion about e-learning, I discover that they have very little first-hand experience with it.

Often times they will say “I heard that it is not very good” or “my friend took a course and didn’t like it”. As a student and working professional, I have literally taken hundreds of in-person courses. Guess what? Some of them weren’t very good either. I don’t think that e-learning has a corner on the market on low-quality courses.

Sound critical thinking tells us to try to get objective information about a topic. It tells us to ask questions to get to the heart of the matter. I find it interesting that in higher education some highly educated professionals who embrace the use of critical thinking, throw it out when it comes to eLearning. For some unknown reason anecdotal information seems to be good enough for some people when it comes to assessing the effectiveness of e-learning.

Let’s face it. eLearning is not for every instructor, nor is it for every student. What I do feel confident about is that e-learning will not be going away anytime soon. At some point the “e” will be dropped from the term “e-learning” and we will simply focus on what is important….the “learning” itself.

Finding the Balance with Design and Development

design or developmentDesign or Development?

What skill is more important in creating a course…design or development?  Are they overlapping skills?  Does one feed off the other?  Confusing?  You bet!

Can you have both?  Absolutely! There are many instructional designers who are also experts with software development tools. Then again, there are great authoring tool experts who really don’t know that much about instructional design.

Today I see more and more people blurring instructional design and instructional development. 

Both are important and both are necessary for creating effective instruction.  Design and development seems to be overlapping now more than ever.  Just take a look at job descriptions for “instructional designers and “eLearning developers”.  Some employers seem to want candidates that have it all.

Anyone can claim they are instructional designer.

Instructional design is not a profession that is regulated by a professional association such as  certified public accountants (CPA), project management professionals (PMP) or professional engineers (PE). I met someone once who told he was an instructional designer because he knew Dreamweaver.  I asked him if he knew how to write instructional objectives.  He said no, but if instructional objectives were important that he would figure out how to do it.  But that doesn’t stop him from saying he is an instructional designer.

There is a current school of thought where some people confuse the use of developing courses with software authoring tools (e.g. Captivate, Articulate, Flash) with instructional design skills.  Someone may be an expert in Articulate’s Storyline. That development skill may enable them to create a class. However, that doesn’t guarantee that they possess the knowledge, skills and abilities of a well trained instructional designer.

For example, I know how to swing a hammer. Therefore, I can build a house if I wanted to, but how well constructed would the house be? Wouldn’t it be better to work with a trained architect to design the house according to the client’s specifications?

I imagine that some of this phenomenon can be attributed to the competition for the work itself.

Keeping with the contractor example, I know that some carpenters do masonry work when demand for carpentry work slows down.  Some consulting companies do the same thing.

Several hiring managers have told me that authoring software keeps getting easier and easier to use. Therefore, they contend that they think it’s more important that their employees have very strong analysis and design skills.

I am not sure there is a right or wrong answer to this.  What do you think?

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now

Join us for the ISD Now Forum October 28, 2014

ISD-Now-Forum

Excited about eLearning? We are too.

We are excited to welcome eLearning expert, Connie Malamed, to UMBC’s ISD Now Forum on October 28, 2014! She will present on The Emerging Role and Skill Set of the Learning Professional.

Connie Malamed consults, writes, and speaks in the fields of online learning, visual communication, and information design. She is the author of the Instructional Design Guru mobile app and the book Visual Language for Designers. She also publishes the popular site, The eLearning Coach and produces The eLearning Coach Podcast. 

ISD-Now-Forum
WHEN: Tuesday, October 28, 6 – 8:30 PM
WHERE: UMBC Ballroom, University Center, 3rd Floor

Join us for this free event to explore:

  • How changes in culture and technology affect the learning ecosystem.
  • How the current and future workforce members can learn with new approaches to technology.
  • The new roles and skills that will be required by Learning and Development professionals.

We hope to see you there!
Your friends at ISD Now

The Top Reasons Trainers and Faculty Don’t Like eLearning

eLearning can be intimidating to many because it requires us to adapt and change to a new way of teaching and learning.

Change is tough. We want progress, but not change.

eLearningeLearning requires us to change.

Change often arrives before growth.  While eLearning may be regarded as a positive change, others may dispute that. What is not in dispute is the growth of eLearning.  The Sloan Consortium has reported that over 7.1 million college students took an eLearning class in 2013.  The Association for Talent Development (formerly American Society for Training and Development) indicates that 39% of the all training for employee in 2013 was technology-based delivery.

While the growth of eLearning presents opportunities for some people, it presents many challenges for others.  Most of these challenges center around the concept of change.  As noted by Harvard business professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, people resist change for a number of reasons.  I have encountered a number of faculty members and trainers that simply hate eLearning.  I believe that most of the issues relate to change.

Why do some learning professionals really dislike eLearning? Here are the top reasons why:

eLearning Is More Work for Me
This may be true, especially at first. It takes time to learn anything.   What many trainers and faculty members realize is that eLearning makes you rethink your whole approach to teaching and learning.  You simply can’t lecture.  Effective eLearning means that you have to redesign your course.  Additionally, it may mean that you will need to learn some new technology tools.

I Might Look Incompetent
Yes, this may be true as well.  Remember the first time you tried to ride a bike?  You probably weren’t very successful.  Now you ride a bike without even thinking about it.  I remember teaching my first online course. It certainly wasn’t the best course I’ve ever taught. What I realized was that investing the time in learning online teaching skills was worth it.

The Quality of eLearning is Poor
There are some bad courses out there.  This includes both eLearning courses, as well as in-person courses.  To generalize that the quality of eLearning is inferior is a false assumption.  Usually when I hear this argument it really is a diversionary tactic.  The real issue is that some people fear they would not be good online teachers.  The “poor quality argument” is an attempt to throw people off track, rather than addressing their real issues.

My Job May Be Threatened
Some faculty and/or trainers feel that they may lose their job if they have to teach or train online.  I think it is rare that organizations force someone to teach online in a “sink or swim” situation. Most organizations offer training and opportunities for trainers/faculty to shadow some classes.  Additionally, they can co-teach with an experienced faculty member before they teach an online class solo.

Technology is Not for Me
This is a legitimate concern. eLearning relies on technology.  Online learning is not for every teacher/trainer, nor is it for every student.  Some people who say this have not given eLearning an honest attempt, or they didn’t receive proper training.  It is amazing that when technology benefits an employee, they can learn it pretty quickly (e.g. telecommuting).  Since minimum levels of technology skills are now required by many employers, I don’t think that it is unreasonable for organizations to ask trainers or faculty to teach online.

eLearning is not going away anytime soon.  Learning professionals can choose to accept it or reject it. Given the growth of eLearning, I believe the wise choice is to embrace it.  Choosing otherwise will limit your career opportunities.

So what will you choose?

Getting Laid Off – It’s Not Personal. It’s Strictly Business

Getting Laid Off – by Dr. Greg Williams, UMBC ISD Program Director

laid offIn the movie “The Godfather” (Part I), there is a line where Michael Corleone says to his younger brother “It’s not personal Sonny, it’s strictly business”.

In 2002, I was told by my employer that they had some bad news for me.  Due to the State of Maryland’s economic situation, the university had to make budget cuts. Unfortunately for me, my job was one of them.

Laid Off

I was shocked!  I said to myself “this happens in private business, not in the slow moving world of higher education”.  I thought “how could they lay me off?”  I had good evaluations, was a dedicated employee, did all they asked, and more.  Boy, was I wrong.  In other words, it’s not personal, it’s just business.

After the feeling of shock subsided, I had an uneasy feeling of panic.  What was going going to do? How long would I be unemployed?  Had I saved enough money? Who would hire me?

Preparation is Key

I felt very unprepared.  My resume and references were outdated.  Worse yet, I really had no professional portfolio to speak of.  Oh, I had accomplishments.  But many were undocumented and certainly in no shape to show a prospective employer.

To make a long story short, I survived.  I had a solid work history and an extensive network of professional contacts that proved to be my lifeline.

So what lessons did a I learn from getting laid off?

Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned (or re-learned) was that life isn’t fair.  If an organization can benefit by cutting their costs (e.g. laying you off), they will.  Accept that as fact and more on.  It’s not personal…just business. You should never feel completely secure in your job.  Fear can be a good motivator.  As a former boy scout I should have known to be better prepared.

So what can you do to prevent this, or at least cope with getting laid off?

  1. Accept the fact that anyone can get laid off at any time.
  2. Always be open to career opportunities.
  3. Stay on top of what the job market looks like for our field.  Know the changes and trends.
  4. Have your resume up to date.  There is nothing sadder than seeing a great job advertised only to find out you cannot meet the application deadline.
  5. Have your portfolio up to date and ready to share with people.
  6. Get feedback from professional colleagues on your portfolio.
  7. Have a LinkedIn account.  It’s the number one digital professional network.  Recruiters rely on it.
  8. Don’t forget in-person networking strategies.  In-person networking is not dead!
  9. Stay in touch with your professional references.
  10. Stay positive.  Good thing will happen, but sometimes things take time.

Don’t make the same mistakes as me.  It was painful learning experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember, it’s not personal, it’s strictly business.

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now

The Instructional Design Mold to Autism Training

This week’s blog entry, The Instructional Design Mold to Autism Training, was written by Vijayshree Rautela

autismThe instructional design formula, when correctly implemented, can make training for any type of target audience effective. It lays down a clear path for the instructional designer to follow right from analyzing and identifying the training need, determining what makes the audience learn best to implementing  training, and evaluating its effectiveness.

Autism and Instructional Design

My recent calling to create training for special needs children made me realize how true this really is. The focus for me has been on creating training solutions for autistic children. And I found there couldn’t be a better target audience to test the effectiveness of instructional design. What’s more it’s a perfect match – the defined structure and all the carefully outlined details and consistency in approach are some of integral elements in creating effective training for autistic children.  Here’s an audience that functions best in structure, order, and consistency. If you love to get into the psychology of your target audience and analyze what make them tick and learn, this could be a fun and self-fulfilling project.

Training for Autism

As an ‘ADDIE’ Instructional Designer, here’s how I see it working for training autistic children:

autism

autism autism3 autism4 autism5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After ADDIE, let’s look at the learner types.

It’s interesting to note that based on the learner type, the same content can be molded into different training types.

If it’s a visual learner, training could focus on visual strategies. It’s observed that visual thinking is more prominent in autistic individuals. So pictures with words and phrases describing an action or alphabet would be effective.For example, the letter A could be denoted with the picture of an apple with the alphabet printed alongside it.

For auditory learners, content could have learning strategies that are more audio-based. For example, some children may respond better if sentences, phrases, or words are sung to them. In case of kinesthetic learners, there could be more activities utilizing hands where learners get to touch and understand the objects – classroom training activities where the letters are actual plastic objects that the children can and touch and feel them to understand them.

Most autistic children have issues with motor control. If it’s online training, then using the mouse could be a problem. Touch screen commands would be more effective in this case. In fact it could be an engaging activity for learners if instructions are standardized graphics that they can consistently relate to, example: continue, back, click, select etc.

There’s usually a challenging skill or two to teach a target audience. For autistic children it is mostly social interaction. Autistic individuals are usually not social by nature and maintaining eye contact for them is a challenge. I’ve observed that autistic individuals enjoy watching shows, movies, and videos and absorbing information from them.

An interactive online training could be effective with engaging video demonstrations on social interactions that are identified as challenges for the child. The videos can be humorous, showing the “don’ts” in contrast to the “dos”. Mostly autistic children/individuals do well in learning from videos/movies that have close captioning – helps them watch and read simultaneously.

A blended learning solution could also be effective to target social interaction skills. After viewing videos and demonstrations online, there could be classroom interaction sessions where the learners get an opportunity to implement the same.

It’s important to keep in mind the behavioral issues and list of things that distract or frustrate the learners identified in the analysis stage. A group of support crew is very important to be present at this stage.

And who doesn’t love choices? When in a classroom set up, if met with opposition to perform a certain task, the strategy to offer choices that have the same learning result could work. This helps in identifying what the learner prefers to do and is also motivational.

Today there are various apps that are available to help engage and train children with autism. However, if it’s a training customized and tailor made to specific learner types and based on instructional design principles, it has better chances of effectiveness. There’s more work, but at the end of it, there sure is more fulfillment than for any other target audience to see your training solution work!

A special thanks to Vijayshree Rautela for sharing this important post on autism and instructional design with us.

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISDNow

How A Junk Mail Flyer Changed My Career

junk mailWho would have thought that receiving a junk mail flyer in my mailbox would have changed my career? How was I to know that this one particular flyer would have a significant impact on my professional life?

Dr. Greg Williams, Program Director for UMBC’s ISD Graduate Program, shares his story of how junk mail changed the trajectory of his career.

Junk Mail Offered a New Direction

In 1999, I was living in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. One day I received a flyer in the U.S. mail from an online university. They were recruiting potential faculty to teach online for them. I had wondered about teaching online, but never really did anything about before. From my research, reading and conversations with professional colleagues, it seemed like eLearning was poised to grow. And now, a supposed piece of junk mail confirmed it!

At the time of receiving this flyer, I was working at Towson University at the time in a staff position. I mentioned to a faculty member that I was thinking about going through the online university’s faculty training program. To my surprise he said that he knew someone who had gone through the same program and thought that it was excellent.

It All Started with a Junk Mail Flyer

I decided to enroll in the course. I thought it would be good for my career. I was right. Prior to this training course I had never taken an eLearning course myself, nor had I taught one. I had some limited experience with eLearning, but I never taught a complete online class.

This particular class required us to be available for 20 hours of class time, homework and studying each week. There were no exceptions for anyone. If you missed class time or were late on your assignments, you were removed form the class and had to start over again.

The course was modeled after the online university’s regular 5 week format. We experienced the same thing as students taking our courses. This helped to develop empathy, as well as to “walk a mile” in the students’ shoes.

It was a demanding and challenging experience. However, I learned a great deal. It was the foundation for developing my eLearning skills. Here is some of what I learned.

What I Learned About eLearning
1. It’s not “easy” being an online student. Online learning is not for everyone.
2. Online students need good time management skills, be motivated and disciplined.
3. eLearning is not about the technology. While online teachers use technology, a successful course is more about their ability to facilitate their learning.
4. Communication is very different. We know how simple email communication can easily get misunderstood. That misunderstanding can grow exponentially when it comes to eLearning.

Other Lessons Learned
1. Be open to change, it’s how we grow.
2. You never know where or when opportunities may pop up.
3. Use critical thinking and don’t believe everything you hear.
4. Take some calculated career risks.
5. Your career is dynamic, so you need to be dynamic too.

Because the flyer, my career would never be the same. It opened up a number of life-changing opportunities for me. Maybe you have some opportunities coming your way too. Would you recognize them? Be open-minded and give them a chance.

Lastly, take a quick glance at your junk mail before you throw it away.

Always in Learning Mode,
Your friends at ISD Now

eLearning – What I Wish They Told Me…

eLearningWith eLearning being so popular now, many trainers and college faculty are learning to teach their first online class. Read on and hear from Dr. Greg Williams, UMBC ISD Program Director.

eLearning Resources Abound!

Today a number of great resources are available to beginning online teachers. These eLearning resources range from blogs and websites dedicated to this to entire books on the subject. Additionally, there are numerous great courses now that help you learn how to teach online. I taught my first online graduate level course over ten years ago. eLearning resources were not as plentiful as they are now. I was given a syllabus and an empty course shell in Blackboard. I think someone wished me good luck. That was about it.

Looking back, there are a number of things that I wish someone told me before I taught my first online class.

8 eLearning Things I Wish I Learned Ahead of Time:

Know Your Students – It is important that you get to know your eLearning students (and their motivations). For example, do they need your course to graduate this semester? Are they working three jobs and taking care of kids? Are students taking your course because they love the topic? Or did they register because all their other class choices were filled? Have they taken online classes before? Beware the students taking your class because they think that online classes are “easier”.

Be Deliberate About Communication – Have a plan about how and when you communicate with your eLearning students. For example, I tell my students to expect a response from me in 24-48 hours when they post a question or send me a direct email. Don’t leave them guessing. Over the years I have received numerous VERY long emails from students. They have dozens of questions and concerns about their performance in the course. Rather than respond via email, I usually ask them to talk on the phone with me. It gets to the point quicker and helps to deal with any issues directly. Additionally, it may be a good idea to have an eLearning course FAQ.

All Students Will Not Read the Syllabus – As teachers we are very proud of our course syllabi. Be prepared that a number of students will not read it. How do you deal with this? You can structure an assignment that forces them to read the syllabus (scavenger hunt). Or you can award bonus points if students can answer questions about your syllabus. Remember that the syllabus is the contractual document between the students and the college. When there are issues over grades, the courts always refer back to the syllabus.

Technology Will Fail You and Your Students – No matter what you do, technology will not work at times for you and your eLearning students. Murphy’s law mandates that this failure will happen at the worst possible moment. Encourage (require?) your students to have access to a backup computer. Additionally, have them save everything in MS Word first before they post it. It’s also a good idea to have them save files online using tools such as Google Drive and others. This will minimize issues such as “my hard drive died and my assignment is gone”.

Check Your Course Every Day – I originally thought that checking my eLearning course every few days would be more than enough. Wrong! What I discovered was that it makes much more sense to check in online every day, even if it is only for 20 minutes or so. Students constantly want feedback in a timely matter. Additionally, questions may pop up that are time sensitive and need to be addressed quickly.

eLearning2Simple Is Good – My original eLearning course design was much more complicated than it is now. I used to think that “more was better”.  What I discovered over the years was that I sometimes confused students by giving them too much information. They didn’t know what to do or where to go on the course site. Now I’ve really scaled my course design back. The lesson I learned was “it’s not about the technology”.

Students Know How to Take An Online Course – Even though the first online course I taught was in 2004, I really thought that students knew how to take an online course.  Boy, was I wrong! Taking a course online is a completely different experience than taking a face-to-face course. What I’ve learned is that just because I have a lot of experience teaching and taking online courses, it doesn’t mean that my students do. We sometimes forget that everybody does not use a computer every day.

Students Will “Disappear” – I was surprised to learn that a handful of students simply “disappeared” from my course. What I discovered was students simply stopped showing up or stopped participating in the class. Even worse, they never even told me why. I had to seek them out myself. What I found out was they had work issues, personal issues, medical issues, etc. Some stopped participating just because learning online wasn’t for them.

eLearning is Not for Everyone

Over the years, I’ve learned that online courses are not for every student, nor are they for every instructor. As an instructor, it is helpful to keep an open mind and realize that you can always learn and get better. Ten years from now, who knows what I’ll write about this topic.

For more info, check out my video on this topic.

Always in Learning Mode,
Your friends at ISDNow