Program Planning Management & Evaluation

                                                                         

I spent the final semester of my graduate career in the Program Planning Management and Evaluation course with Dr. Carter, a few well-known classmates, 3 nurses and 2 business majors.  It was a good experience to have a diverse class this semester.  The nurses brought with them a different perspective coming from a medical work setting although an education setting.  The surprises from the business students who were not expecting discussion much less reflection made me feel like a veteran of the program (at this point I should feel like that).   I enjoyed the different viewpoints and I am glad I had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Carter as well as my classmates.

The most eye- opening exercise we did in class was the exercise in program planning.  The class was split into two groups both given the same set of cards displaying various tasks in planning a program.  Each team organized the cards in a model of effective program planning.  The interesting part was hearing the different perspectives within my own team.  The budget was one of the most important factors for some while it was not a consideration for others.  I found myself listening to the team figure out the puzzle wondering how some of the team members could possibly think the program should be designed and planned before a strong base of support was established.  I knew at that point there would never be an agreement amongst us all and that a consensus would have to be reached.  Finally, Dr. Carter brought us back together only to tell us Caffarella’s Interactive Model of Program Planning has no real beginnings or endings.  Program planners are to use the relevant parts of the model in any order and combination based on the planning need.  At this point, I began to understand program planning is dynamic it requires attention to the needs of the company; the learners and the learning objectives and all of the variables will most likely be different with every new course or program.  I am glad to have learned that I can use the 12-components to suite the program and I do not have to use all of the components if they will not contribute to the program’s success. 

One of the most valuable components of a program plan is the transfer of learning formula.  Adults have a learning experience and apply that experience in the working environment and if done successfully have a positive transfer of learning formula.  In the corporate setting, the ability to affirm positive transfer of learning is vital to showing the company’s money was well spent.  There are always branch managers who do not have the time for training or do not see the big picture of the value the training and education can bring to the overall success of the branch.  When the training and education of the associate’s reveal a more productive workforce yielding higher return on investment the “we do have time” problem seems to fade just a bit.  The success of a program also builds rapport with the managers and associates and this is very important if the training and education department wants to have associates who communicate the needs of the branch in a two-way method.  Having a branch manager call with a need is the sign of a strong relationship; the manager is demonstrating that he or she trusts that you as the program planner have the ability to help improve the situation.

I feel much more confident in the components of program planning after having completed one myself.  The importance of the continuity of each segment throughout the program was not apparent at the beginning of the semester.  Now I understand the requirements for the program goals, objectives, and evaluations to build upon each other in order to meet the overall need.  I feel the evaluation strategy is one of the components that demonstrates what the participants learned throughout the program and is therefore one of the most vital elements of success.  The learner skills and knowledge are important but the evaluation should also measure instructor effectiveness.  Some people think if the learners successfully demonstrate new knowledge, the instructor must have been effective.  However, there is not a concrete way of showing the new knowledge is because of the intervention and therefore an instructor evaluation should be part of the program plan. 

MC900439457[2]cap 2As my last course in my graduate career, I am glad my expectations of learning were met.  I enjoyed the course and I am especially glad to have ended my experience taking a course with Dr. Carter at the helm.  I feel Dr. Carter is the epitome of adult education and has always shown preparation and dedication to the students and the program.  Thank you for the wonderful experience and Merry Christmas!

 

               

Adult Learning Program

Individualized Instruction paper 5_08 601

 Susan Quinby Paper 6_2008 688

 Research Portfolio 660

Reflection on Action Learning and Group Dynamics of the Set Experience PPR Due 5_12_10 636

Organizational Change Final Blog Essay Due 5_12_10 625

Levinson Paper Due 10_2_08 604

Learning Integration paper due 11_09 610

Individual Applied Project Due 3_19_09 603

Groups and Teams Reflection Paper Due 5_4_09 612

TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL Eval Plan Proposal Due 12_7_09 661

Community of learning assignment 3 due 8_1_10 640

ARC FINAL 5_5_10 636

X Y Paper Due 5_4_09 620

eLearning –

Elearning Guild in Second Life. AELEARNING

Good eLearning practices in this course included: the use of Blackboard as the platform, online discussion board forum, the promotion of learning through the synchronous class session, the breakout rooms used, the online collaboration necessary to complete assignments, the submission of all assignments via e-mail and the use of powerpoints as a frame of reference from the class discussion if needed. 

The class was a wonderful experience for me who knew little to nothing off all the tools available online to help facilitate a course.  WOW!  I am still amazed.  I knew I needed to get out there and explore, but through the discussion both in class and on the discussion board I have so many tools available that it will take me a long time just to explore those – thank you! 

The theories discussed in class were all familiar to me with the exception of Connectivism.  I like this new theory – if in fact this is a theory that will stand the test of time like as behaviorist, constructivist and others.  The way I see it, Connectivism can be applied in just about any setting where the transfer of knowledge comes through connections.  The important part is determining what good information is and what is not.  I enjoyed being able to hear first hand from George Siemens via Skype in class.  He seemed very excited about all that he is involved with and gave good explanations to our questions.

I have never created an online course.  I am thankful for having taken this course prior to having that responsibility.  The use of rubrics and available resources will be a great help to me in the future as I move VAMAC toward eLearning.  The discussion board assignment was more difficult than I had anticipated because of the amount of time needed to keep up with all posts.  My classmates were great with regard to sharing ideas and solutions to posed questions. 

I am taking with me many new tools and new reflective experiences that will help me going forward.  Improvements for the course: I think lesson some of the reading assignments, as some were repetitive and take out one assignment to allow the learner to spend more time on one topic in order to process and reflect before having to move to the next one.  Overall, I thought the class was great – thank you Dr. Sebastian.

Facilitation – who knew?

This assignment was a learning experience for me.  Working with a partner in determining how to develop discussion questions related to the week’s readings and assignments took some time and reflection.  We had the topic of formative and summative assessments. Assessments are used in the culture of education to check students’ progress in a course, provide feedback for the instructor in order to make course improvements, and act as an overall evaluation for both students and instructors on achievement of course objectives.  Incorporating assessments in an eLearning format was something I had never done prior to this assignment.   

The literature was very informative and I especially liked the sample assessment tools that were provided in the VCU Center for Teaching Excellence: Online Assessment Toolkit.   We thought creating our own formative assessment using Survey Monkey would be a neat because it would allow us the experience of actually making an online assessment and would also show the rest of the class how, as an instructor, you can take portions of the readings and make them a focal point for the learners.  When the instructor focuses on something as an important point, the students will do the same. 

One challenge, although a good one, was the amount of time it took to read and respond to everyone’s post.  I was not prepared for this because this was the first time I have facilitated an online discussion.  I did enjoy learning from each person’s perspective on assessments.  We decided to stay with Blackboard as our online forum and it worked well.  I think the class now has a better understanding of how the parent post and other strings work in Blackboard because we have used it as our primary source of discussion this summer. 

Overall, I enjoyed the experience.  It was fun being able to determine what the discussion forum would cover.  I have learned more about the different uses of assessments by reading each post.  I believe assessments heighten the educational experience by providing feedback.  One thing I will take with me from this experience is a better appreciation of the amount of time needed to give back to your students when you are the instructor.

What I’ve Learned about Organizational Change

                4-28-2010 1-59-45 PM

       The nature of organizational change is dynamic; both internal and external environments duly influence change.  The organizations that are able to adapt to differing environments, sometimes irrational, are the ones who will survive in the business world.  This semester brought about a rich history of organizational change and an outstanding experience of large group intervention and change.  Open Space, Future Search and Appreciative Inquiry are all fantastic examples of how well large groups can work together to create change.  This blog post will explore some of the key points of the history of organizational change that most influenced my direction of thought and learning throughout the semester.  The blog post will then explore my thoughts on Open Space, Future Search, and Appreciative Inquiry and how I plan to incorporate organizational change in my daily life, both personal and professional, where applicable.                           

          Understanding how change comes about in an organization is important and it is an ever-changing process because of the many factors involved.  Every organization has different cultures, climates, needs, goals, visions and missions.  As a result, the art of change for an organization is created based on the particulars of that company.  The largest asset for most organizations is the staff that works there.  Organizations have individuals who are influenced by society.  Therefore, influence from external environments, such as society, changes an organization’s internal environment.  What exactly is an external environment and what are the components that create it?  I initially struggled with this question early in the semester.  I have come to the understanding that an external environment is like an open system.  The relationship between the organization and the external environment is one that allows factors such as technology, society, legislation, competitor information, and supply and demand influence the way business is conducted.  Finding out as much information about what is happening in the external environment is a key to an organization’s success.  At VAMAC, we call this information market intelligence.  Successful companies will lead and prepare the organization for change through communication and action based on the latest and most relevant information.  The internal environment is important and a vital part of change, but organizations must not forget the role external environments play in change.                      

          Burke and Litwin write about the internal environment, which includes both climate and culture.  Burke and Litwin define climate in terms of perceptions that individuals have of their everyday work unit.  Culture is more in the background and is defined by beliefs and values.  The clarity of differentiating between the two is amazing and profound at the same time.  I think the organization has a choice; do they want to change the climate or the culture?  The climate has to do with everyday transactional type of behavior.  The culture has to do with the organization’s espoused beliefs.  One espoused belief at VAMAC is that the company operates, in all aspects of business, with integrity.  The employees of VAMAC know that an espoused belief for the company not only includes integrity but also the importance of family.  The company is family owned in its third generation and the top leaders of the company take into consideration the balance needed between family life and work life in order to have a productive workforce.  One would think changing the climate would be easier than changing the culture.  However, I think changing either climate or culture presents a challenge for the entire organization.  How change agents approach and follow-through the change will differ based on what level of the organization is being affected.  One of the most important aspects of change is realizing that without the support from the organization, change is not likely to occur in a planned manner.             

          According to Richard Beckhard and R. T. Harris, organizational change involves three conditions, the future state, the present state, and the transition state.  The present state is the current state of the organization with regard to what is being assessed for possible future change.  The transition state is the state the organization must go through to reach the desired future state – where the organization wants to go.  Understanding how to walk an organization through each of these three conditions is the formula for successful organizational change.  Ensuring that the process is communicated in a way that is understood by all involved at every level of the organization is going to promote an internal environment that is prepared for change.  Change managementin this style is demanding work.  Both defining the future state and assessing the present state have to be addressed simultaneously.  Without understanding where the organization is today, why, and where it wants to be in the future, ideal change will not occur.  Change agents have to develop strategies and adhere to the action plans to manage the transition to its completion.  Applying Beckhard and Harris’ model, when creating change, is complex.  A complete understanding of the organization’s culture, climate, internal and external influences is necessary to affect positive, successful change.

            Open Space is an experience that requires no tight schedule or mapped agenda.  Open Space allows participants space to explore the topic of the conference without putting limitations on their thinking.  The conferences have an existing theme, an invitation list, what the proposed participants are interested in, and the rest of the conference output is left up to the participants to decide.  There are planned points throughout the meeting with specific purposes.  For example, there are morning announcements and the evening news that is designed to bring all participants up to speed on what has occurred so far in the conference.   A closing ceremony brings all participants back together in a celebration like manner to reflect on what has been accomplished and to close the conference.  An Open Space conference relies on the experiences of the participants, the present happenings and calls to anticipate the future through the questioning and exploring process.    The environment in an Open Space conference was designed to be supportive of creative thinking.  The participant’s in the VCU Open Space Conference were able to go outside and literally be in an open, comfortable environment.  By opening your space, you open your mind to the many possibilities for the future.

            Like Open Space, Future Search also looks toward the future.  Future Search is an action guide to finding common ground in organizations and communities that want to plan their own future.  The idea behind a future search is to bring the whole system into the room to explore participants’ past, present, and ideal future.  The whole system is made up of stakeholders.  Stakeholders are members of the community who will be affected by the decisions made during the conference.  Stakeholders are sometimes only representatives of a much larger group.  For example, a small group of mothers who have children in the local elementary schools may attend the conference in order to represent all of the mothers of those elementary school systems.  Unlike an Open Space conference, a Future Search conference has a structured format.  Specific tasks for the participants are worked through during the two and one half day conference.  One particular task that I enjoyed during my team’s Future Search conference was the walk through the past.  Each table of participants was asked to look at their experiences with social media and learning through the personal, global, and community views.  It was amazing to see how dramatically social media and the mediums through which it operates have changed in just the two decades that we explored during our conference.  It is a bit scary.  Unfortunately, we only had enough time to walk through the past and part of the present in our conference.  During our debrief session we covered the remainder of the present and the future portions that participants would have done in a typical conference.  The ideal future is realized during the conference when the participants “act out” the idea of the new, ideal community or organization.  The idea behind the acting out is that the participants are moving – putting their words into action during the conference will help when it comes time to take action after the conference.  Future Search is used around the world to help communities and organizations make their ideal future a reality.  I am glad I was able to gain the experience of walking through a conference even if it was a mock presentation with regard to the number of participants and the action steps being realized.  However, the level of participation was outstanding from my classmates and professor. 

            The Appreciative Inquiry Summit is designed to build on the strengths and successes of the past and present and to envision and articulate possibilities for the future.  The summit I experienced was very hopeful in nature.  I was forced to focus on what was working and positive instead of trying to fix what was broken.  During our summit, we focused on enhancing the experience of graduate students at VCU in the year 2020.  I immediately thought of my daughter Morgan and what it is that I want her to have experienced during her time in college.  The statement I want her to be able to put on her graduation cap is, “The art of individuality is not lost.”  I think with all of the technology, class growth, and the way professors will teach is going to change.  I want her to be able to have one-on-one time with her professor if needed or be able to have a choice in what method she learns – on-line or in a classroom setting.  The other exercise that I found created commitment was the provocative proposition.  Our group came up with the slogan, “VCU is a world-wide, diverse community that strives to build a limitless network of life-long learners and givers.”  That is a powerful slogan and one that I think should be used for the future.  It was a good experience to create our positive core through discovery, dream, design, and destiny.  The appreciative inquiry technique is one that brings people together in a positive way and I am glad I was able to explore the possibilities for the VCU graduate class of 2010.

            Applying what I have learned this semester in the Organizational Change course will be a goal for me going forward.  The concepts I learned while studying the history of organizational change and large group interventions are valuable to me in my current position.  Leading the training and education initiatives for VAMAC is a big responsibility.  Each semester in the adult learning program, I gain new knowledge and I gain a better understanding of what will and will not work in my organization.  Understanding the difference between the culture and the climate and how VAMAC needs to be able to adjust to both internal and external factors will help me make changes and recommendations with a stronger foundation of how organizational change is applied successfully. 

            I am participating in a leadership meeting next week that is focusing on the future VAMAC; how will we begin now to remain successful in the future?  This question immediately brings to mind that the external and internal environments influence the future VAMAC.  I will be able to ask intelligently, “How is VAMAC adapting to the dynamics of our external and internal environments?”  I will be able to contribute to the group my understanding of organizational change.  I feel like this course has better prepared me for many aspects of my job.

            The nature of organizational change is dynamic to say the least.  This blog first explored the rich history of organizational change and large group intervention and change.  It then explored my experience and understanding of Open Space, Future Search and Appreciative Inquiry and how the work to create change.  This blog post then highlighted some of the key points of the history of organizational change that most influenced my direction of thought and learning throughout the semester.  Lastly, it gave a few examples of how I plan to incorporate organizational change in my daily life, both personal and professional, where applicable.

Appreciative Inquiry – Change Strategies

Wow!  A great experience and celebration.  Appreciative Inquiry is has structure like future search but comes together through a totally different lens.  The positive outlook vibrates through the entire strategy.  This approach to change brings about the possibilities of the past, present and future when everything is functioning at its best.  Finding the positive core is a challenge.  My mind does not automatically look for the positive in experiences and future actions.  How great it would be if the positive thinking were on the forefront of thinking vs the things that do not work or may be negative in nature.  I think the Appreciative Inquiry team did a good job making the topic relate to all of the participants.  Education and making the experience of it great for the class of 2020 was very applicable. 

One of the hardest things to do during the activities was to figure out how my friends would describe me.  I always think of myself differently that other people,  that thought process is probably common for most people.  I am excited to hear the debrief.  I feel like through the reading and the debrief I will have a better understanding of how to use the Appreciative Inquiry approach.

VCU Innovators – Capstone 2

Well right now it is crunch time…how will we get it all done?  The team works very well together because we are open and have created trust within the set.  That said, we have so much to do and so little time we have got to kick it up a notch.  If we meet the goals we set for this week we will be on track for success. 

We have a differing view of how we should present to the client.   A consensus was reached, that is what we will go with and it will be great!  I am anticipating many more hours of asking each other questions in order to finally find what will be the best information to present to the client.

Future Search – Change Strategies

The Future Search conference was a success!  Social Media and Learning was our topic and we were able to walk our participants through the past and explore current themes of the present. 

As a team, we debated on how to best utilize our time.  Ultimately, the team decided on the past and the present to ensure understanding of the future.  I think it was the right choice.  We explored the 1990’s up to 2010 in our personal, local, and global contexts.  The participants were very engaged and good conversation and experiences were shared.  The experience for me was awesome.  I had not stopped and thought about just how social media and learning have changed over the past 20 years.  It all changes so fast, it is hard to keep up. 

Thinking back to undergrad I had to go to the computer lab to type and print papers.  I can’t think of anyone who had a computer and printer in their dorm room.  It is amazing how things change so quickly.  Now the kids in highschool have laptops instead of text books! 

I could go on and on about the many changes – like expectancy – that social media and learning have experienced over the past 20 years.  I think our Future Search conference, had we had 2 1/2 days, would have taken the entire time to flush out all the participant’s experiences, current trends, and next steps. 

I am looking forward to next week’s debrief. The participants will have the opportunity to find out what would have happen next had they participated in determining the future steps for our topic. 

Our team worked well together because we all worked hard to make this project a success.

Capstone – VCU Innovators

So far, this project has been dynamic in nature, as expected, and challenging.  My set stared off slow and using the action learning process was a struggle.  We were setting norms and becoming familiar to one another’s personalities and work style.  We quickly realized each member has so much to contribute and we are now a strong working unit.  We continue to learn from one another, because the style of leading with questions makes you explore different ways of thinking.  It is hard, hard, and hard to ask questions and not give answers.  It is human nature to give a solution immediately without exploring other options. 

            The first night was almost comical in nature because we would forget to ask questions and found ourselves adding, “Do you think?” or “Right?” or other little add-on questions to try to stick to form.  However, that is not the point of leading with questions nor did that work.  We soon found that with practice we were able to ask each other why we thought that way about something or what if we thought about it in another direction?  It actually works!  Sometimes I feel like I talk my way out of what I was thinking by the set probing questions.  During our mid-point meeting that did not occur as scheduled one set member wrote an e-mail to the client.  We all listened, gave input and after about ten minutes of discussion ended up with the exact e-mail that was originally written.  The process of asking questions and learning to think in different contexts allowed us to all feel the content that what we sent portrayed the message we wanted.  I am excited to continue this learning journey with my set.

Organizational Change – Take-away

“Of all you have read and learned so far this semester, what are three or four key ideas about the nature of organizational change?”

Only Change is Constant by Tony the Misfit 

(Only Change is Constant by Tony the Misfit)

The nature of organizational change is dynamic to say the least; it is duly influenced by both internal and external environments.  The organizations that are able to adapt to differing environments, sometimes irrational, are the ones who will survive in the business world.

Society is ever-changing.  Organizations have individuals who are influenced by society.  Therefore, influence from external environments change an organization’s internal environment.  What exactly is an external environment?  This is a question I initially struggled with this semester.  I have come to the understanding that an external environment is like an open system.  The relationship between the organization and the external environment is one that allows factors such as technology, society, legislation, competitor information, and supply and demand influence the way business is conducted.  Finding out as much information about what is happening in the external environment is a key to an organization’s success.  Successful companies will lead and prepare the organization for change through communication and action.  The internal environment is important and a vital part of change, but organizations must not forget the role external environments play in change.

Burke and Litwin write about climate and culture.  Climate is defined in terms of perceptions that individuals have of their everyday work unit.  Culture is more in the background and is defined by beliefs and values.  The clarity of differentiating between the two is amazing and profound at the same time.  I think the organization has a choice; do they want to change the climate or the culture?  The climate has to do with everyday transactional type of behavior.  The culture has to do with the organization espoused beliefs.  One would think changing the climate would be easier than changing the culture.  However, I think changing either climate or culture presents a challenge for the entire organization.  How change agents approach and follow-through the change will differ based on what level of the organization being affected. 

Organizational change involves three conditions; the future state, the present state, and the transition state.  The present state is where the organization presently is.  The transition state is the state the organization must go through to reach the future state – where the organization wants to go.  Understanding how to walk an organization through each of these three conditions is the formula for successful organizational change.  Ensuring that the process is communicated in a way of that is understood by all involved at every level of the organization is going to promote an internal environment that is prepared for change.  Change management in this style is demanding work.  Both defining the future state and assessing the present state have to be addressed simultaneously.  Without understanding where the organization is today and why and where it wants to be in the future, ideal change will not occur.  Change agents have to develop strategies and adhere to the action plans to manage the transition to its completion. 

Organizational change is complex and I feel I have just brushed the surface of understanding all there is to know about it.  The above are just a few of the key concepts I will take away from this semester of learning.