The Productivity suites: suit the Education

10 Best Productivity Apps for Students

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, declares in Article 26, that, Education is a fundamental right, however, many around the world still don’t have it. The Evolution of the Virtual and Online learning has disrupted the comfort zones of many people around the world. Factors like climate change, economic struggles, and health issues have added to these struggles in many ways. But as said:  

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein 

And here’s where technology steps in to save!

Today, I feel, digital productivity tools are like superheroes for education. These tools give the power to create, problem-solve, and express like never before. They’re not just about getting stuff done quicker; they’re about unlocking creativity so then whether it’s building models, organizing thoughts, collecting data, or showcasing the work. Productivity and creativity tools support users in constructing models, publishing, planning and organizing, mapping concepts, generating material, collecting data, developing and presenting other creative works (Paulus et al., 2013; Tsatsou, 2016; Oloyede and Ofole, 2016; Egbert and Shahrokni, 2022).  

I was prompted to write this blog as a part of my Study program, coincidently I have always been grateful to the productivity suite especially Google and its paraphernalia, Microsoft office, Teams, Zoom, Canva, Jamboarding, MentiMeter…….These have been my favourite eversince because I feel I can multitask more effectively and efficiently, I can reach out to my trainees despite the geographical differences.

I personally feel, in the contemporary times what has eased the learning process is the administration part both from the Teacher, institution and student side. With the advent of Google and Microsoft It’s practically like carrying all my books and stuff with me wherever I go, I am in touch with my teachers, Institute and classmates wherever I am and moreover I can today sit and write my blogs during my lunch breaks at my workplace. Accomplishing study goals, work goals has become super easy with technology. This affects a lot of other areas of life, like managing the work life balance, managing everyday stress, managing time and connecting people effortlessly. That is why probably Connectivism is one of the prominent Learning Theory nowadays in the Education space   

While I was writing this blog and searching on google, I came across this video on Youtube titled:

The Paperwork explosion

IBM’s, corporate video delves into how their technology aims to enhance people’s productivity by 50%. There’s a line towards the end of the film that runs, “IBM machines can do the work so that people have time to think. Machines should do the work, that’s what they’re best at. People should do the thinking, that’s what they’re best at.” 

And 50+ years down the line now, It’s the productivity suites, that do the work and spare us some more time. 

An intriguing aspect about the rise of productivity suites is, the comprehensive ecosystems that has catered to the increasing demand of work and have been an answer to the massive disruption. Initially, productivity suites primarily consisted of word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation software. However, with advancements in technology and the increasing demands of modern work environments, these suites have expanded to incorporate a wide array of features and functionalities. 

Eversince the collaboration tools became part of productivity suites, the world has shrunk further. People can easily connect across work and education. Real-time collaboration features like Google Docs, Zoom, MS Teams, canvas design, and others have revolutionized teamwork, overcoming distance barriers and  fostering seamless communication. 

Additionally, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms into productivity suites have remarkably accentuated their efficiency. AI-powered features, such as predictive text, smart suggestions, and automated workflows, help in saving time and reducing manual work. 

Productivity tools have contributed to education in many ways. It’s worthwhile to think: What methodologies result in better knowledge gain? And How can teachers and learners benefit and how this Treasure Trove be uncovered?  

Prudent teachers employ various methods like: working in groups, giving lessons in bite sized pieces so that students can build up on them, sharing ways that the productivity tools can be used for better results, creating a connect between institutions and students to better facilitate the purpose of learning. When designing cooperative computer-based strategies, teachers must deal with issues such as the size of the groups,equity concerns,and software that is designed for individual use. However the good comes with some bad too! Because these tools are like ATM- that add value to users, people can learn at their pace, anytime, anywhere therefore people seek information more than they seek knowledge. This may lead to over reliance on these tools and students may undermine the importance of cognitive skills, social skills. 

The cost and sustainability of using this type of infrastructure may not be affordable for all and may lead to social, emotional, moral and digital gaps. Another important concern is the The collection, storage, and sharing of student data through digital platforms which has raised privacy concerns regarding the protection of sensitive information and potential misuse by third parties. 

Yet for me they are no less than a magic wand. I can create these kind of simple images in a jiffy 🙂

References

Oloyede, G. K., & Ogunwale, G. J. (2022). Digital productivity tools as a necessity in education, research and career in the 21st century. In Proceedings of the 31st Accra Bespoke Multidisciplinary Innovations Conference. Accra, Ghana: University of Ghana/Academic City University College (pp. 1-6). 

An Engaging Pedagogy “Sesame Street”

“Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.” When I read this statement of Neil Postman, I wanted to read what he had to say about the different forms of education prevailing throughout the history. The reason was also because I was intrigued by his article- Postman, N. (1998). Five things we need to know about technological change. http://Recuperado de http://www. sdca. org/sermons_ mp3/2012/121229_postman_5Things. pdf.

So when I started reading the back ground for: “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.” I was amusingly-interested in reading the backdrop of this book, the works of Marshall McLuhan and Neil postman; both the writers felt that media has the potential to bring about change, however their perspectives differed. For Mc Luhan, his “the medium is the message” approach emphasized qualities of media and technologies with their varied repercussions on human perception and behavior. Postman critiqued how media was affecting cultural and educational theory. He was concerned with the effect of television, and its impact on education, public discourse, and the erosion of critical thinking skills. McLuhan spoke about the transformative potential of new media technologies. He believed that technological innovations, including television, had the power to reshape society and create new forms of communication and community. Postman’s idea of Classroom was that of a place of interaction whereas it was becoming a space in front of the TV. The two significant concepts mentioned here are:  there’s the shift of responsibility from human educators to an entertainment medium. Secondly, there’s the shift from a social learning environment, like the classroom, to a solitary one, in front of a screen. Over three decades later, these issues remain unchanged. Whereas skimming through the various works of Postman- Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology” (1992), “The Disappearance of Childhood” (1982), I felt Postman was more skeptical of the impact of television and other media technologies. He warned against the uncritical adoption of technology and argued that certain forms of media, particularly television, were contributing to the erosion of traditional forms of knowledge and critical thinking.

Postman’s 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in today’s world is bound to lose the lustre. In our everyday life as we wake up the smartphone has many apps to take care of our time, workout, To do’s, health, travel, so on and so forth. Segregating technology from today’s world means separation from the world.

One thing I do agree with Postman is that: “Parents need to regulate how much time their children can watch television and what they can watch, what films they can see and even what records they can have. They must talk to their children a lot about what they are exposed to in these media. If parents are paying considerable attention to what’s happening, then I think it’s possible to provide children with a childhood.

But, if you are too busy or your life circumstances, for whatever reason, don’t permit that, then NBC, CBS, Steven Spielberg, Coca-Cola, and Procter and Gamble will simply do the job.”

Postman continues:

This does not mean that “Sesame Street” is not educational. It is, in fact, nothing but educational—in the sense that every television show is educational. Just as reading a book—any kind of book —promotes a particular orientation toward learning, watching a television show does the same. “The Little House on the Prairie,” “Cheers” and “The Tonight Show” are as effective as “Sesame Street” in promoting what might be called the television style of learning. And this style of learning is, by its nature, hostile to what has been called book-learning or its handmaiden, school-learning. (p. 144)

If against this backdrop we view the contemporary world, how knowledge is imparted, how learning happens, especially after the onslaught of IOT, connectivity and then Pandemic; we can practically operate, learn, and educate ourselves with media being the prominent factor. I feel the key to calibrating what works what doesn’t (Faustian Bargain) makes all the difference. The various ways of imparting education today seem kind of indispensable, which can be MOOC, Virtual classrooms, Social Media, video sessions, etc. Change has been constant ever since; if we look back in the history; in the 5th century BC, the 1st change came when the Oral culture shifted to alphabet- writing culture, the second was in 16th Century with printing press, the 3rd is with EdTech.  

http://elearninginfographics.com/the-history-of-classroom-technology-infographic/1

A lot of education for all age groups is not just imparted through various Educational websites, Social Media, LMS…rather online element always exists in one form or the other.  The need for paper notebooks is almost fading. And I think this is what Postman dreaded. While the most common objects in the 20th century classroom consisted of slates, boards, pens, sheets of paper, chairs and desks, personal digital devices have become central objects in today’s BYOD schools. In the BYOD model the devices that are used for education are owned by students and which have their personal stuff, stored onto these devices, to school (Carvalho et al. 2016).  Henceforth the digital media brings loads of distraction for the students and that in some way affects the quality of education too

References

Willis, D. J. (1987). Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business [Review of Technological Media, from Message to Metaphor: An Essay Review of Neil Postman’s

“Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business,” by N. Postman]. Journal of Thought, 22(1), 58–60. http://www.jstor.org/stable/42589207

Carvalho, L., Goodyear, P., and de Laat, M. (2016). Place-Based Spaces for Networked Learning. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315724485

My Mental Model of Learning

Life has been a roller coaster for me as an educator and I have seen the highs and lows of this ride  while dealing with learners of different backgrounds and with diverse needs. My learners come with a level of proficiency and learning. Therefore, my highs in these stints have been:

  • When I made an observable difference to my audience and also to the organization.
  • My own learning and knowledge gain after every facilitation. So together we all ride on that wave of crest. 

My lows have been those times: 

  • When either my audience have not benefitted or have gained any knowledge.
  • The organization could not benefit in some tangible way
  • When personally I did not feel any knowledge/experience gain from that point of coming together
  • When there has been a need for learning for myself and I have been Unable to fulfill it

As a facilitator I have experimented with various ways of imparting knowledge. My target audience have majorly been a bunch of people who are already knowledgeable, informed and come to me for specific value addition. So as a facilitator, the content for my training is always dictated by the organization, in the form of their competency framework, or as a result of their training needs analysis and together in collaboration it is finalized. As a facilitator I play with this curriculum to make it as impactful and engaging as possible. According to the Adult learning theory of Malcolm Knowles there are 5 ways in which adults perceive/expect learning:

Self-Concept- Self paced, self-assessed learning methods

Adult learner experience – Case studies to intersperse knowledge with the learners’ own experience

Readiness to learn – Enumerate the benefits in the present or future context and present the knowledge

Orientation of learning – Collaborate with the organization to build value for the knowledge

Motivation to learn – Social interaction/engagement, lowering the filters, Reinforcement of positive behavior, redirecting the unwanted behavior (being sensitive) enhances the desire to learn 

Problem Centred Focus – Application of the learning

Additionally, I find constructivism to be a valuable perspective in learning. Encouraging participants to construct their own understanding through hands-on activities, discussions, and problem-solving not only makes the learning more meaningful but also fosters a collaborative and interactive environment. This approach resonates with my belief that adults learn best when actively engaged in the learning process and when they can connect new information to their existing knowledge.

My methodology, approach to any type of social interaction has been immensely affected by Neuro linguistic programming. It is a toolset to create excellence. NLP tells how to train your brain, your language to achieve the results you wish to achieve.

As an NLP master coach, and then as an educator I believe in the two out of many presupposition of NLP which says; 

  • The Map is not the territory
  • Every experience has a structure- It can be reused to recreate experiences

NLP communication model is about: how we communicate with our environment and ourselvese. We arrange and manage the information( through our sensory perception ) in our head by deleting, distorting or generalizing based on our past experiences, memory, habits, values, beliefs,etx. That gives meaning to those experiences and leads to learning. That learning leads  to an outcome, which is called Behaviour. 

reference: adroitnaukri.com

With my this belief, I operate as a facilitator. Therefore for me my facilitation is a mix of Behaviorist, cognitivist and constructivist theory,

Constructivism:

In my approach to teaching, I find great value in constructivism. I see learning as a process where individuals actively build their understanding through hands-on experiences, discussions, and problem-solving. By creating an interactive and collaborative atmosphere, I encourage learners to construct their own knowledge. This theory aligns with my belief that meaningful learning occurs when individuals are actively involved in making sense of new information and connecting it to what they already know.

Behaviorism:

While acknowledging the importance of learner autonomy, I recognize the role of behaviorism in certain contexts. Employing behaviorist principles, of stimulus and response, I incorporate clear objectives, milestones, and structured activities interspersed with debriefing to guide the learners. Especially in skill-building scenarios, relating the activity with appropriate theory, providing immediate feedback and creating a well-organized learning path can help effectively shape behaviors and contribute to the overall learning experience.

Cognitivism:

In my teaching philosophy, I integrate the principles of cognitivism, recognizing the significance of mental processes and the role of the “NLP model of communication” in learning. As an educator and a student of Adult education, I understand that learners actively process information, organize knowledge, and create mental models to comprehend new concepts.

Hence, this means designing instructional activities that stimulate critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making. 

Furthermore, I acknowledge the individual differences in cognitive processes among learners. Therefore, I tailor my teaching methods to accommodate diverse learning styles and preferences, providing opportunities for reflection and self-assessment. By incorporating cognitivist principles, I aim to foster a deep understanding of the subject matter, encouraging learners to apply their knowledge in various contexts and develop transferable skills.

In most of the training projects where the objective was clear and the emphasis was on experiential learning, I have opted for Game based learning solutions. My instructional design, consisted of game-based learning and experiential techniques to enhance the overall learning experience. The incorporation of immediate feedback mechanisms, reinforced and redirected the behaviour. This fostered a sense of accomplishment. A part of Game based learning was also to play and have game scenarios that necessitated advanced cognitive skills, encouraging learners to engage in critical thinking and complex problem-solving. The collaborative nature of these experiences also aligned with constructivist principles, promoting the exchange of knowledge among participants. Hands-on activities and reflective sessions, integral components of experiential learning, facilitated a practical understanding of concepts. Additionally, every training program is focussed on the target audience and designed with adaptability in mind, accommodating individual learning styles to ensure a comprehensive and engaging learning environment.

Reference: Mandeep K Kochhar(Adroit learning & manpower put ltd)

The “________ Bargain”

Educational Technology for a layman means, Computer, internet, iPad, smart boards, Zoom etc. For tech savvy people it is fun, enjoyable, challenging, amazing……. But probably not intimidating but for people who have been more towards the kinesthetic experience of education find it difficult to catch up with the pace of Edtech. And how much ever unfamiliar we may find it, but generally we all are making sincere efforts to catch up with it, learning our bank apps, school, college apps, uber taxi and delivery apps, doctor apps, various video calling and meeting apps etc. People from all ages mostly have an Email address and a smart phone. This means technology forms a part of our identity, this is the virtual address and our connect with the outer world. Technology has made life organized, flaw-fully perfect for people at all ages; making studies more fun, experiential, people with degenerating body and mind have smart homes, reminders, help at a click, technologically developed medical equipment so on and so forth. People who are at ease with technology

In the education world; technology has brought humungous disruption. As all super good stuff has some trade-offs so does technology have it. This “Faustian Bargain” has given and taken both at the same time and that technology is an unmixed blessing (Postman, 1998). Undoubtedly the knowledge has become readily and easily available for all and anytime. The education industry is researching, exploring ways to make life & learning easy, comfortable, efficient by using newer technology.  This may seem like an achievement however personally I feel the gain is when technology will make learning effective by keeping the human connections alive, will facilitate human cognition, enrich our understanding not through information but knowledge and will connect stakeholders through a mental, emotional and cultural connect.

As an educator in the corporate world, I have frequently used technology to facilitate knowledge disbursement and less for evaluation. My motto has always been to ensure human connect, emotion exchange, knowledge exchange and development, and I have used technology to make the process better and effective.
The comic strip in thismodernworld.com.is what makes it a “Faustian bargain”

https://www.austinchronicle.com/comics/2023-06-16/this-modern-world/

Postman, N. (1998). Five things we need to know about technological change. Recuperado de http://www. sdca. org/sermons_ mp3/2012/121229_postman_5Things. pdf.

Summary and a Walkthrough of the Course Prototype

businessman hand touching a virtual screen, business icon. E-learning Online Education Internet Technology Business Concept.

Online and blended learning have transformed the way we approach education. With this course of EC&I 834, I have been able to make sense of the depth that the course has. The pandemic era has introduced the knowledge community to a magic approach towards learning which happens with a keystroke. With online learning, we can access a vast array of courses and resources from the comfort of our homes, making education more accessible and flexible than ever before. It has helped us to set our own pace, adapt to various learning styles, and balance other commitments alongside our studies. On the other hand, blended learning combines the best of both worlds, offering the benefits of face-to-face interactions in physical classrooms and the convenience of digital tools for assignments and discussions. This hybrid approach enhances the learning experience, encouraging collaboration with peers and instructors while leveraging technology for enhanced engagement. Whether we’re pursuing new skills, advancing our careers, or simply expanding our knowledge, online and blended learning have opened up exciting opportunities for lifelong learning and personal growth.

So right on the day 1, we had a discord community as a platform for communication with the classmates, instructor announcement, resource sharing and which proved incredibly useful. That is how I actually got to know about alternate tools for content creation.

The first task of the course was to create a WordPress Blog and write the first blog post on online and blended learning and our own introduction.
Blogging proved to be fantastic way to create a close-knit learners’ community with many benefits. When learners write and share blogs, they can exchange knowledge, experiences, and expertise, enriching everyone’s learning journey. Engaging in blog discussions encourages interaction among community members and builds strong connections, providing support and inspiration. And it was mandatory for all students to read and comment on the posts. This was one good step towards creating inclusive community.

Next assignment was the ADDIE as an instructional design tool. My first ADDIE template was about a module ASAP- Adroit’s soft skills and accent reduction program. The second one was about communication dynamics in Relationships 101 – I built a course profile based on the latter template.

The next step was – creating audio/visual content through Lumi platform is an outstanding tool for online education! It is a user-friendly and interactive platform that enables educators to create engaging content for their students. With Lumi H5P, educators are able to create interactive assessments, presentations, games, and other multimedia activities that make learning enjoyable and efficient. Students can actively participate and learn through hands-on activities, which helps them retain information better. The platform also supports various content types, ensuring versatility in creating lessons that suit different learning styles. What’s even better is that Lumi H5P seamlessly integrates with various Learning Management Systems (LMS), making it easy for educators to share their content with students on existing online learning platforms.

The final assignment was a walkthrough of the entire course prototype. The students had a choice to select the LMS and I chose Google Classroom.
The course prototype is based on a module called The ABC of Image. The full form of ABC is the Attitude, behavior and communication of Image.

The prototype is a reflection of the enormous amount of work that can be done to create flawless classrooms for students regardless of age, place and subject

https://watch.screencastify.com/v/TRk7a1N2ONPTsG8DeNaT

References:

Bates, A.W. (2019). Teaching in a Digital Age – Second Edition. Vancouver, B.C.: Tony Bates Associates Ltd. Retrieved from https://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/teachinginadigitalagev2/

Hicks, Cat, Emeline Brulé, and Roberta Dombrowski. 2020. “You Have to Put Your Class Online: Simple Things to Think About.” Online resource.

Hamraie, Aimi. 2020. “Accessible Teaching in the Time of COVID-19.” Mapping Access.

https://www.niu.edu/flexteaching/resources/inclusion-equity-and-access-while-teaching-remotely.shtml

Summary of EC&I 834

I’ve personally enjoyed learning about the Online/Blended course creation, the tactics, and tools for producing quality and interesting instructional content etc. The curriculum was organized into a timeline that led us through different phases of course development and promoted group learning activities.

The course began with the basics of online and blended learning over the first few weeks of the course. then all that happened through 4 weeks was a highly intensive course and I wished it was longer. The technology aspect was great and really useful which was interspersed with the instructional design.

6.Building Collaborative learning environment in blended Learning

The primary task for any teacher/trainer is to create a meaningful and good quality content. An equally daunting task is to make that content interactive and so build a community of learners that communicate within themselves, with the teacher and thus add value for each other. “Community is more than participation; it requires moving from participation to engagement, involvement, and action.”(: 6 Strategies for Building Community in Online Courses – The K. Patricia Cross Academy ) As a teacher/Trainer whenever I am confronted with a task of working on a Training project; my first few steps are: Understanding the Learning Objectives(which means meeting the stakeholders and understanding their point of view), discussing the plan of administering the module with the stakeholders which includes: Planning everything from activities to logistics to arrangement for building collaborative environment between participants and the stakeholders. I ensure this robust partnership between the stakeholders and the participants so that we have a response team in case of any exigency and also to solve any issues that may arise. These issues can be right from flawlessly working hardware, troubleshooting, collaboration, ensuring learning is happenings and participants are engaged and responsive, and finally assessments. Therefore in my work area of Adult education I function like a team rather than an alone teacher who has the complete responsibility of taking the class through a learning experience(which generally happens in Offline class scenarios). Online learning success is definitely based on team work, empathy and knowledge of subject plus the tools(online technology), constant upgradation in technology.

When I undertake any Online learning project; like I mentioned my first and best effort is to create a great content. This happens with the collaboration between myself as a facilitator, Business heads and Human resource key persons. Once the content is decided then I lay out a complete plan of what tools are available and what is my playground like 🙂
Few steps that I start with:
*Create a WA group/ FB closed group Page/ or utilize the intranet chat group of their own organization. Mostly WA group is the most handy and easy communication tools for my learners.
*Once a topic is complete; I mostly have participants breakout into rooms for a discussion. This is a useful tool for participants to know each other, be vocal about their ideas in smaller groups, discuss their POVs, build a relationship of approachability. It gradually gives them a feeling of familiarity and they start knowledge and resource sharing.
*The LMS I generally use in my classroom is Google classroom which gives me a leverage to create, share documents, use polls, quizzes, share videos, assessments etc. I also generally keep the task of documentation within the group through Google sheets. We supplement this learning with creating an FB page, where all participants can post the content that supports their learning in some way, some fun facts, chat with fellow classmates, post videos and this always brings about a sense of familiarity and teamwork amongst them.

In one of my courses that I did with students globally where all of them came from different geographies, cultures and background; this way of interacting was not only easy but also useful. A lot of knowledge sharing, a mention of apprehensions & Limitations, humor led to a feeling of belongingness and community.

I also customize a lot of my offline activities that I have been using. I change them to suit my online learning modules. For example in communication skills, I use role plays which I let my participants record in the breakout rooms and then e share the video. That way all groups can do their role plays simultaneously and participate in the final discussion.
We also do a lot of energizers that are suited to online learning scenarios.
doing group case studies in break out rooms and then a discussion in the class is also an effective way of learning concepts and theory
I create Buddy system where people form pairs based on some relevance and take ownership of learning

Another way of knowing more about such hacks for building communities I have always learned by myself being a part of the class(as a student). My learning journey is never ending and I have enjoyed being part of various learning sessions with people from across the world and that has introduced me to various such ways of methodology that facilitates learning.

Having a great content with apt activities to interact and build communities is followed assessments that help gauge the effectiveness and efficiency of my course. I normally use summative assessments with adult learners unless we decide(with stakeholders) about doing pre, mid and post training assessments. The reason of doing one formal assessment is because with adult learners the process of assessments is not limited to formally assessing them. As feedback is a crucial part of training with adult learners therefore the onus of learning is taken jointly by learners and teacher. The development that the learners go through, the skills they acquire also adds to their performance appraisals therefore keeping in mind the time available summative assessments are best suited for my adult learners groups.

Building Community out of a class is a challenge and an ongoing task for every teacher/trainer. This one aspect of learning creates bond and ensures we have Go To resource when we are confronted with issues relating to what we learnt together

Image courtesy: https://fltmag.com/community-online-course/

References


https://kpcrossacademy.org/building-community-in-online-courses/

4.The empathic and planning aspect of Online Training: Accessibility, inclusion and Equity

Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.com



Ensuring accessibility, inclusion and equity are as important considerations as is the content creation, planning and the course itself. If these factors are not planned well, it can lead to a chaos in the administration of the course, learning and the assessments. With this era of online/blended learning the classrooms have extended in their geographical boundaries. The students can avail learning without thinking about the location of the classroom. Education has become more accessible in the literal sense however to ensure accessibility and equity it is important for the course facilitator to plan it while designing the content. That is also possible only when the facilitator is fair, empathetic and also well trained on the nuances of administering Online/Blended learning courses. This isn’t only true for online learning but also for Face To Face programs. The principles remain the same however with Online learning the triangular teamwork is what drives the course successfully and it can reach the intended audience. As stated by the OECD (Citation2018), “Equity does not mean that all students obtain equal education outcomes, but rather that differences in students’ outcomes are unrelated to their background or to economic and social circumstances over which students have no control” (p. 13). The Warschauer’s (Citation2003) framework highlights the equity concerns that were a result of the “pandemic-induced shift to emergency remote learning”. Equity in learning is a result of the kind of learning environment when “every learner belongs, contributes, and thrives, regardless of race/ethnicity or socio-economic status.”

The course that I have undertaken is a 2 day workshop on Communication in relationships 101 with a corporate for their Middle management managers. This program was done during the Lockdown time of the pandemic era. All the employees were working from home and were in the process of getting used to the new way of work. The audience were from different parts of my country and were almost 50 in nos. The various challenges for doing this online course for me was:
Challenge 1) It was a group from different parts of the country. Some were cosmopolitan areas and others were less developed. Which meant they may be from different society, ethnicity, economic backgrounds- so some liberal some conservatives, may have lower bandwidth, less access to hardware and software, may not have enough space in their house to sit separately. They maybe large families staying in a small house. They may not be technically very proficient.
Solution – To be sensitive towards the participants and give them leverage to put their video off, to join on mobile if the need be, to keep a tap of the attendance and note who are missing. and more important to create content for asynchronous sessions so that in some way the participants can access the learning material and coordinate in case when disruption is unavoidable during synchronous meetings
Challenge 2) It was a very large number for a focused learning outcome however that was the need of the organization and so I had to find out ways to cater to it.
Solution – To plan activities in a way where grouping the participants for activities likewise was fully planned, the content planning along with activities, the timing and also making arrangements for exigencies was an important part of Pre Training Phase. Having a complete Schedule in place and sharing with the Human resource department for a discussion enabled us to depute a team of 3 IT executives to facilitate the program, they also installed a team viewer, Google Classroom so that they could remotely set up everyone’s laptop/PC. The IT department also fixed an orientation to settle the hardware and software with the participants. The participants were used to google docs and Chat by now so choosing google Classroom as the LMS was the appropriate decision. The IT team also prepared an excel sheet that kept a note of the areas that the participants were in, their hardware and software so that they could manage help when needed.
3) Doing 2 full – One-Day Online programs was a very big challenge. Holding the audience for such long spans is practically impossible unless planned well. The 8 hours day was divided into three, 2 hours program with One hour of lunch, 30 min of 2 Tea breaks and a 10 min break after every module. This made the program doable for the participants and the facilitator both. I also earmarked the participants who were more proficient technically and comfortable with the online programs and made groups likewise for different activities.

Before starting the program there were some activity sheets that were also mailed to the participants and while the program went on there were few videos which reinforced the learning, some reflection exercises which helped them reached the outcomes and a list of some online energizing activities that I learned when I attended Tony Robbins Online – Unleash the Power within. Apart from these preparations I was mentally prepared to be empathetic towards the Performance gaps that may appear, socio-economic-disability – special needs gaps. Therefore I was prepared for Screen Off instances, time Out instances, Internet-power outages instances and for which I created asynchronous content, scheduled those in a given timeline and also used audio plus visual tools for similar content.

It was humongous planning for a program that had to succeed. And the time put in panning was completely worth it. We did face all the issues that I listed however we were also prepared for the same and all in all it was a successful plana and program

Reference:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00461520.2022.2062597


3.Communication Dynamics in Relationships 101

Photo by vjapratama on Pexels.com

One of the most interesting quotes on communication that I have read is by Paul Watzlawick: You cannot not communicate. He has done some good work in the field of Schizophrenia and theories of communication. What intrigues me the most is this, ““Our everyday, traditional ideas of reality are delusions which we spend substantial parts of our daily lives shoring up, even at the considerable risk of trying to force facts to fit our definition of reality instead of vice versa. And the most dangerous delusion of all is that there is only one reality.”
– Paul Watzlawick
” The whole Neuro linguistic programming concept also refers to the fact that The Map is not the Territory. My favorite area of study is – how we communicate inside us and with the outside world. What we do, how we do is what affects the outcome. Fortunately for me as facilitator and life coach there is a lot of opportunity everywhere. This subject or skill is one of the most sought after skills for adults in every sphere of life whether personal or professional. Therefore today my topic of the blog post is not only on Communication but also the new H5P methodology of creating interesting and meaningful content. The video projects a relationship, the dynamics involved in it and how we can choose to be non judgmental and more interested and curious. How we interpret based on the different filters of values, beliefs, thoughts, perceptions, habits, memory etc. and how stubbornly we stick to the reality that we create.

I facilitate adult learning sessions in communication both for the professionals and others. This clip of communication is based on relationship scenarios. As a life coach I come across a lot of such interactions between couples, families, friends and these videos can be an eye opener. They have the visual, auditory and kinesthetic abilities to appeal to different people who process information differently.

Communication process in every situation is about transmitting information- knowingly or unknowingly. In our social circle we everyday send messages to people and receive messages from them. Mostly our communication consists of talking about people, work, coordinating schedules, “What time will you go for grocery?” or maybe negotiating; who will do a certain task, who will manage expenses; how about certain duties etc. In communicating such tangible expectations we also transmit feelings like: I don’t like you; I hate when you do this; why do you act pricy; who do you think you are; you are——-

The process of Communication, that shows the different dynamics has been a part of curriculum for all the management students atleast and has infact become a clichéd model. However it is important to take it up because it shows how different components in communication can steer the whole scenario in an intended or unintended way. The sender acts based on their perceptions, values, beliefs, thoughts, feelings, habits and memories and the receiver of that message receives in their own perceptions, values, beliefs, thoughts, feelings, habits and memories. This exchange happens through different chosen channels like written notes, letters, mails, phone call, or maybe simply through exchange of glances, music, fragrances, facial expressions. Sometimes these ways of communication may not clearly convey the internal intended communication and may rather convey what was unintended. Another major breakdown can happen when both the sender and receiver are communicating and blowing their own trumpets without waiting for the response- The feedback. Once they take out time from out of their assumptions, perceptions, and adopt an empathetic attitude, suspend judgement and are more curious and interested in the other person and seek feedback on what they intended, that is when everything starts falling in place.

This video is an interactive way of presenting what we everyday do in our relationships with people. How we assume, judge and perceive based on our core systems and take it as a reality. Creating stories like this on videos and interspersing it with concepts is a great way of teaching and will be useful for me as a facilitator because I am planning to begin my own channel and having videos like this will add value to my content. I can also use such videos for my learning sessions, especially blendid learning. I can use them very well for my asynchronous sessions and then take up in In-person workshops. I have a list of experiential games that I conduct in classroom or in spacious setting and then I debrief the outcome, where we translate the learning in the workplace. So these sessions are going to be extremely useful for my adult learners. Therefore the video that I have shared is about a relationship that has its own dynamics and how it moves ahead is also an interesting process. The next step in this learning continues with the next video of the series: The map is not the territory

The brief Content instruction for the module has a below mentioned outline:
It is either a 2 day workshop or a 1 day workshop in which the expected Learning Outcomes are:
1) Understanding the Communication dynamics/ the components inside and outside of us/what makes the process two way
Activities are based on the time available
One common activity that I use for both In person and Online module is mentioned below:


The task is for the participants to create a replica of the diagram just by listening to one of the students who volunteers to give directions. So One student gets up and stands with the back facing the participants; describes the pattern without repeating and answering any question and has headphones plugged.
The second scenario is the student faces the class and gives direction and can answer questions
The third scenario is that the student can even show the diagram and others can copy

The choice of activity depends on many factors, like:
*The current level of awareness of the participants on a given topic
*Their comprehension ability
*The logistics like : space availability, and then Time available
*Does the activity really lead to the outcome that is proposed for the given Target audience?
*Can the activity be debriefed well and the outcome be translated into their workplace?
*Is it effective for Online or Offline course?

So this is one of the activity that I have mentioned for this task otherwise their are many that I se depending on what result I have to drive

This forms the first half of my session and in the second half I take the Concept of Albert Mehrabian Communication model of 3V’s(Visuals, Voice and Words – 55-38-7) where we discuss the importance of different ways of communication and how to fine tune our ability to communicate. This takes the second half of the session where I talk about the different nuances of Body Language, Effective Voice and how to handle the 7% challenge of words.
During the day I also insert a small form of assessment which is based on the debriefing of the activities that I do thus it reinforces the concept, corrects few notions that students have and leads to achieving the outcome too. Below mentioned are the tasks that they do after the Activity:

Q1. What were the factors that led to the failure in completing the task(draw the model)

Q2. When were you able to complete the task successfully? which channel of communication was best suited for this task

Q4. What were the barriers of communication that you faced? Explain
Once these questions are done; the participants have a fair idea of where they need to get corrected

Please take a look at the video that I have made despite all the technical hitches I faced. This being the first video may not be as refined as my upcoming videos will be in future.

https://app.Lumi.education/run/ztEJ55

2. Course Profile – ASAP – Adroit’s Soft Skills and Accent reduction Program( A program for a group of employees in a Pharmaceutical Company)

My target audience & their Demographics:

Theses are the employees of the pharmaceutical company ABC. They are a mix of senior management, middle management and also few management trainees. They come from different cities, educational backgrounds and have many years of experience in different jobs. They are a group of 22 employees out of which 8 are women and rest are men. The age group ranges from 25 to 58 years. The group also has a Vice President of Finance who would be soon going to USA for a year-long project and is therefore keen on sitting through the classes for cross-cultural communication and some speaking practice sessions. It is a cross-functional team which means there will be people from production, sales & Marketing, Formulations, Finance and HR. It is crucial to know their current level of understanding in the topics decided for the workshop. Therefore, I will procure the information of participants with a mention of their age, mobile numbers, email ids, designation and department on a google sheet. This will then be used for documentation of their assessment results. As this is an adult learners’ class and the organization has a specific need behind this training so documentation is important to show where we have reached.

The course Format:

ASAP Adroit’s Soft skills and Accent Improvement Program” is designed to be a Blended learning project.

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

The first component of this blended learning program is an In-Person synchronous workshop.

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

 It is an intensive and comprehensive training on Cross-Cultural sensitivity, Communication skills, English Language Proficiency & Accent improvement program that eliminates barriers caused by foreign or regional accents, poor diction or voice quality.  The rest of the modules are Online sessions with a mix of synchronous and asynchronous components. The practice session will be asynchronous; which means the participants can practice voice, diction, accent, language aspects based on their personal and work schedules. The new topics will be synchronous online session with a place for 4 in-person sessions in the company’s training facility.

Course Toolset

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

As it is Cross functional team in ABC Pharmaceutical company with a mix of departments and people from top to bottom in one classroom so it is important for me as a trainer to ensure that learning is free from any fear, designation gaps, age related mismatch and everyone gets to participate fully. Therefore, it is important to use a pedagogy, instructional medium and assessment tools in a way that learning is a complete, happy and knowledge experience for all.

  • As a facilitator I will also ensure that the participants have enough choice in curriculum so that the projects and assignments are not only doable but also add value to their work, themselves and the organization.

Having diverse toolset will also encourage learning for the participants who have a vast education/knowledge/age gap in comparison to others. With blended learning they can choose lessons based on their level of comfort, topic, relevance in the subject

Plus, this training will make them more comfortable with technology as every office is tech driven.

The session will be administered on Google Classroom and the schedule will be shared with them on google Calendar. The IT department will assist me in my requirement for all IT arrangements. Simultaneously a WhatsApp group will be created that will serve as a convenient conversation platform and knowledge sharing for everyone. In Google Classroom I will cover; TEFL based Language sessions, business communication assignments, Voice and accent training practise sessions. I will use Canva as a resource for preparing presentations, posters and any infographics

I will use the flipped classroom to record my voice, accent, tone, and stress for each consonant, vowel, and diphthong sound, and participants will practise that before the actual class. I will quickly go one on one with all before sending them off to break out rooms to practise the sounds, voice and phonemes plus give and receive peer feedback. Finally, for assessment, they receive multiple-choice questions on Google Forms and submit based on dates shared on Google Calendar.

The practise recordings are shared on the WA group and the final ones are uploaded on the Google Drive.

Additionally, I’ll create a YouTube channel for learning English voice, tone, and accent, and participants will upload their videos of sound practises and role plays there and share the link on WA.

Learning objectives

By the end of this course, learners will be able to:

  • Enhance interaction between employees, clients, and friends  
  • Eliminate internal and external distractions, in one on one and one to many communications henceforth making them more productive
  • Eliminate misunderstandings with vendors, customers, and colleagues  
  • Will be able to write correct reports (during audits) that will have negligible grammatical errors and will be precise.
  • Improved speech clarity on the telephone, Emails, Zoom Meetings, and Conference Calls and will be more culturally aware and sensitive towards diverse audience
  • Achieve more effectiveness and efficiency in presentations  
  • Indulge in productive & efficient verbal communication; less time is wasted in repeating or explaining   
  • Heighten self-confidence in all communication situations 

Course content

Summarize the types of learning experiences or activities that learners will experience during the course.

The sessions are planned as: One full day of workshop based on communication skills where the facilitator gets a chance to meet all the participants and develop rapport and create an easy communication passage. The plan for the day is as follows:

Session Plan – ABC pharmaceutical, XX September 2023,

9:30 to 10:15 – Icebreaking – 30 Min – “Labelling” an activity which uses the similar words as mentioned in Johari window activity. This activity breaks ice amongst participants and also brings an awareness of the fact that just knowing names and departments of people in workplace is not enough if we want great team work and camaraderie.

The activity is an exploration into each other’s personal and professional lives. There will be a free flow of conversation, laughter, and sharing. The audience is the best resource for making this icebreaker a fun/learning part of training, meeting, or team-building event.

A Debrief of the activity is conducted once it concludes and the participants present their views based on these questions:

How did you like the activity?

What made it interesting?

How do you feel after having gone through this activity?

Next

Internal Communication (Commodity of kings, Knowledge is potential power, the power lies in the ability to communicate that knowledge to the world. We have seen the world transition from all these stages and now in today’s world, a whole new world) and the easier communication has become, the more challenging it gets.

VBT example (example of Nick )

An activity that demonstrates how we can achieve when we program our mind for being limitless in achieving our results and how it can drastically change the results that we achieve. Finger demonstration

The choices we make, generate results. So, if I am stressed, happy, distressed……it’s the result of choices that we make

NLP model of Communication

Dynamics of Communication (25 min game) Housebuilding – teaches the dynamics of communication. The importance of feedback loop, the sending and receiving of message, the physical, emotional and social barriers and what affects that process

30 Min Debriefing on Barriers of Communication

Q1. Which factors led you to success or failure in building a perfect house?

Q2. Did you strategize before starting the activity? How would you alter your strategy if you were given a second chance?

Q3. Which prominent factors made the task tough in your case? And what were the ways to overcome them?

Q4. What were the barriers of communication that you faced? Explain

Various Challenges: Semantic barriers (Lack of Vocabulary, clarity), Communication Overload, Wrong choice of medium, Noise, Environment, Assumptions, Poor Listening, Attitude,

So, let’s take this scenario in the workplace:

  • What can happen when communication goes wrong in workplace, family and friends?
  • Which barriers you generally see in your workplace
  • What steps can you take to overcome barriers
  • How will you ensure correct communication as a sender/receiver to ensure there is no miscommunication?

Through this experiential activity I take participants into an Inquiry based learning and the answers are an eye opener for them and then we discuss how can this learning be translated into their work. This brings about tangible ways to improve their work life and better the systems that they are using in their workplace.

Listening Skills,

I begin with a question: Ask…..Who is that one person in your life who you feels understands you the best and you go to that one person always?

Listening creates relationships

So Seek first to understand- Stephen Covey’s example, I tell them stories of what happens when listening is distorted in workplace thus using humor as a tool.

For people to learn experientially and construct on their concepts of previous learning, I will use Role Plays for building rapport – Role Play (20 min)

I will use PowerPoint presentation for talking about the 3 Vs of Communication along with a lot of examples from their work life thus making examples authentic and relatable. I start with inquiry-based approach of asking them the first question: what is more important for you in communication words/ visual or voice?

Thus, the one day concludes with a happy note, satisfied participants who took their day off from work and took learning ownership. As a facilitator my session was a mix of Lectures, PowerPoint presentation, experiential learning, management activities, inquiry-based learning, simulations and role plays, Audio Visual Tools etc.

The assessment was summative which was more like: what were their take aways from the one-day work shop

List the tangible ways of incorporating your learning from the day into your daily tasks.

Case study on communication

We will also form a WA group where we will reinforce our learning of the day by sharing videos and articles: this will ensure that the participants are in touch with their learning and are building on it.

They will also mention how they improved even the smallest of their work processes and were more productive and happier.

The rest of the course will be taken up as online sessions of 1 hour each on the Google classroom that will be managed by a moderator from the IT department of the company itself. The course that I plan to cover in these sessions covers lesson plans for English comprehension covered through 4 skills of communication. There will be sessions on reflective skills of language (reading, listening) and productive skills (speaking and writing). One useful online resource that I used was www.linguahouse.com the session will be based on topics like;

Assessment Strategies

The selfie revolution

Business news

Film making

Expenses and Income

Internal customer services etc. and they will cover listening and reading activities based on these topics, see movie clips, read magazine snippets, articles and then finally the participants will produce language in the form of Speaking and Writing. The facilitator ensures adherence to correct language, para language and gives assignments and at the same time takes up grammatical aspects related to these topics. For e.g., selfie revolution will have adjectives, verbs and sentence construction using formal tone used in workplace.

Voice, tone, Accent correctnessYouTube, WA for recorded voice notes and MCQ on google forms
Cross cultural sensitizationMCQ’s based on caselets in Google forms
Communication effectivenessMCQ’s based on caselets in Google forms
Effective and efficient business communication (Reports, emails and Telephone etiquette)MCQ’s based on caselets in Google forms, Topics for writing Emails and reports and submission in google drive
Assessment Criteria

Addressing the concerns for Technology Bloopers or any unavoidable circumstances for Participants:

WhatsApp group will be the quickest means of communication for the participants

The IT department is given the responsibility of owning the tech part of the program and because it is inhouse for the participants so communication gets easier and quick in that case. Apart from that resolution will also be faster and easily available for them. However with technology there will always be a small or big glitch and we have to be prepared to face it

Rationale for choices made in the design of the course prototype

The need for the program is urgent because the company has already started facing problems because of ineffective emails, reports written to their Client organizations and therefore the company is ready to spare them from their schedules and get into training & Development. Considering less full time availability, travel schedules and work targets this type of blended learning module has been conceived.

As the target audience is a group of professional people so I will have to be considerate about their and organization’s priority of work. Based on my prior experience I am expecting problems in Attendance and therefore rescheduling as a normal part of the program. Therefore, I will be flexible with dates but only for a given timeline. Beyond that I will charge them extra for every day.

I will also ensure that the class is sans any type of fear, prejudice, attitude, ego so the group work, pair work, individual task and presentations will be planned likewise. The motive is that all should have relevant take aways from the program so the participants will be encouraged to connect with the trainer as and when needed.

I will also promote buddy system at workplace so that they help each other utilize the learning from the class into their workplace.

Go for the – ADDIE Template

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