2017 Year in Review

2017 was a good year for me personally and professionally, and as always, I learned a lot! Here are some stats and highlights from my year for reflection and preparation as I look into 2018.

If I had to sum up 2017, I would say it was a big-deal year. It felt like the importance of everything I’ve been doing has been increasing, and I’ve been jumping into more and more interesting and complex challenges.

Travel:

I enjoyed several opportunities to travel this year, taking three big trips! I had a quick trip to Omaha in May, then I travelled to Ottawa with my whole family in July, and then in August, got to go to Belgium and Germany. I learn so much when I travel, and it was great to get to visit these three very different locations. Aside from that, I did a quick trip into Toronto for an industry conference (more on that below).

I love Belgium, particularly Brussels. I am so fascinated by government and policy, and the EU Parliament has both in abundance. Köln had amazing history to see in and around the Dom. We also flew in and out of London, and I was reminded again how much I love that city. All in all, another great trip to Europe (our 6th!)

Below:  Me with the Palace in Brussels (which I loved!), my son with the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, and me with my best friend Summer and her daughter and her friend.

Work and Learning:

I did a lot of work with seven new-to-me or updated tools and platforms. These included:

I’d used some of these prior to 2017 but not to the degree I did this year. I got updated photos and did updates tomy website. I went to the Institute for Performance and Learning Conference (which I helped to program) and helped program 4 professional development events locally as well.

I completed a Marketing course on LinkedIn Learning (and have touched on a few more!) I checked out a few different MOOCs, and joined the xAPI cohort (though I haven’t started on a project yet). I started doing the DailyUI challenges, and haven’t looked back (I’m about a third of the way through, now, check out my posts here or on Twitter!).

I did high-level design and initial development for a two large learning programs with big audiences, some of which will be realized, some of which might not. I designed and developed three new eLearning courses, and updated many others. I took a new job with a fantastic co-worker and am jumping into bigger and better things there. I’m moving back into the world of customer experience and professional services, and it’s great to be getting back into doing what I love- helping people solve problems and do meaningful work using technology.

I re-certified as a CPLP and have sent in my recertification for my CTDP as well. It has been three years holding those credentials and the learning never stops! I’ll never have a problem hitting my numbers for PD hours

I’ve learned a ton about design, tech, and communication this year, which is fantastic.

Giving Back:

I made monetary donations to 12 different charities this year, along with ongoing volunteer work, fundraising, and a few blood donations (when I pass the hemoglobin screen). Giving back has become a bigger and bigger part of my life, continuing from the plans I started in 2016. While I may not be able to give as freely of my time as I once was able to, my monetary donations have increased to take up the slack.

Below: Economical Insurance Heart and Stroke Big Bike Team, I’m in the first row, second from the left!

Health and Wellness

I lost about 25 pounds this year, and really settled into my 3-times-a-week gym schedule. I’ve managed to make activity and health monitoring an easy part of my routine thanks to my Fitbit and my Aria scale. I got better at eating breakfast every day which seems to make a difference. My resting heart rate has been greatly improved over 2016 and I look forward to keeping things going in the right direction on all these fronts. Check out my weight graph below:

2017’s Thumbs Ups:

  1. This has been the year of fantastic coffee mugs. I had a great mug at work that made every day easier.
  2. I finally stopped being so lazy about my hair and now book regular hair appointments like a grownup. I found a cut that works and am sticking with it!
  3. I stopped answering the phone with “hello?” which has saved so much time in my life.

2017’s Thumbs Downs:

  1. I definitely did less reading books and more Facebooking than I would have liked.
  2. Still working on becoming more relaxed and even-keeled in general. Trying to balance excitement that keeps me engaged vs. excitement that makes me anxious is an ongoing effort.

More on 2018 goals in my next post.

2016: Lots of goals!

Darts- Let's hit the target!The first of the year has brought with it a lot of excitement for me. My mind is swirling with possibilities, and I have a ton of goals I want to achieve.  These can be summed up pretty well with a couple of themes:

Give Back:

I want to give back, and I want to keep track of where my giving is happening so that I can better target my efforts to the things that mean the most to me.  I’ve done a lot of volunteering with arts and education organizations, but I want to start doing more monetary contributions as well, and more personal contributions in the way of acts of kindness. I’m planning to do an act of kindness each day in 2016.  To start off, I’ve donated to an organization local to me that does great work: oneROOF.

Get Better:

As someone who is constantly striving to improve, this is a theme that applies to me across the board. I want to learn, I want to grow, I want to develop. I also want to improve my health and strength.  I’m planning to get 30 minutes of vigorous activity each day, I’m planning to engage in a regular regimen of self-care and I’m planning to learn, advance and achieve in my professional life as well.

Go the Distance:

As an “ideas person” I have a million things I want to do and a ton of projects in my head or on the go at any given time.  This can get overwhelming, and I can get  to the point where I start a lot more things than I finish in the course of a year.  I love action! But I think I can focus better.  So this year, I’m looking to finish more (and reflect more on those things I have finished)!  I’ve set some reading goals for the year so that I can work on finishing all the books I’ve started (I have a long queue and lots of half-done books).

What are your goals and aspirations for the new year?

Institute for Performance and Learning Conference: Days 1 and 2

IPL BadgeWell!  What an amazing two days I’ve had at the Institute for Performance and Learning Conference in Toronto!  This is my first time attending this conference, and so far, it hasn’t disappointed!

I want to highlight some of the big key takeaways that I’ve had so far!

Instructional Design is a lot like Marketing

So much of what I’m seeing lately is leading me back to drawing on marketing expertise. How do you engage customers (learners)?  How do you help them solve problems?  How do you demonstrate the benefits of what they’re doing?  What pulls them in?  What builds habits?  There’s a ton of parallels.

Senior Leadership

The importance of senior leadership buy-in came up again and again.  In building a learning culture, it’s important that leaders jump in and walk the talk. In adopting new technologies, new ways of interacting, of capturing knowledge- when the leaders participate, others are so much more likely to follow and plans become so much more successful.  Getting the buy in and making that business case may be more important than ever in an age when over 70% of changes fail.

Elearning is old, and new

There are a lot of industries and organizations who are still coming around to the idea of delivering more learning through online avenues.  And there’s also a lot of ancient elearning out there giving good elearning a bad name.  Many in the industry are still struggling to successfully incorporate blended learning techniques.  Because so many people have had bad experiences with elearning as well, the bar has been raised- it’s tough to really surprise and wow a learner when they expect yet another “click next” with tiny text and no interaction required.

People are hungry for stories of overcoming challenges

I’ve heard so much good feedback about a few sessions that particularly highlighted challenges that learning and development teams overcame.  I think this is one of the biggest ways that people can connect and truly learn from each other- Learn from my mistakes, and maybe you won’t have to learn things the hard way!

Get at the knowledge in the room!

Capturing expertise and knowledge is so important yet so many of us struggle to do that.  I learned some great new techniques for capturing best practices, for engaging every single participant to add to the discussion, and for helping others to share.  So much awesome skill and knowledge, we can’t keep it all locked up in people’s heads!

Business Relevancy- More important than ever

Many are struggling with budget cuts, unsupportive leadership, and more obstacles- but it seems that staying relevant and demonstrating that will become more and more important. Businesses need to stay on top of trends, meet objectives, and overall- make money. Demonstrating how we can positively influence those things will keep L&D at the top of the list of critical roles in tomorrow’s businesses.

Change

There’s so much change in just about every industry, which means that learning and development is broadly affected.  There’s major shifts in organizations, in the overall jobs culture, speed of change (hint: it’s getting faster). Add a thick layer of new technology on top, and there are many employees and learners out there who are frozen and not sure how to move forward.  I think my big takeaway is that knowing that change isn’t going away, and that nothing is slowing down- I want our industry to get ahead of it and LEAD the change, not just help everyone else cope.

Change

May, and embarking on my quest for certification!

With the beginning of May came a bunch of really lovely weather, and it feels like there’s been a collective sigh of relief that winter is finally over.

I’m also starting on one of my major projects for this year, CPLP certification. I’ve been planning on doing this for a while, and I’ve finally signed up and am now preparing for the exam (which I plan to take in September) and the work product (which I’m submitting in either August, or February, not sure yet, more likely February). I’m excited about all the things I will learn in the process of preparing. I’m also interested to use the process as a sort of study of adult learning itself- it’ll be interesting to see what works and what doesn’t for me as I study and prepare.

The exam is changing next year, so I’ll be one of the last few to test on the current ASTD competency model. There are nine modules of content I will be assessed on, some of which fall into areas I know well, and some that don’t. I have a copy of the study materials, and I opened the box like it was Christmas morning. I’m making a study schedule this weekend with the help of a friend to help keep me on track for the exam in September. I may also use this blog as an outlet for summarizing what I’ve learned throughout the process of studying, and for reflecting on other professional development, we’ll see. Maybe I can connect with some other CPLP candidates this way!

Also coming up at the end of this month, I have some volunteer training with FACS, and a presentation at the accessibility conference in Guelph. Lots of exciting things going on!

March

So I guess I am falling into a once-a-month routine with writing here. I think I’ll just embrace it. 🙂  So here are the updates for March!

Earlier this month, we got back from a week-long trip down to Florida (my first time visiting that particular state)!  Trevor’s parents were renting a house down there for the month, and invited us to come stay for a bit. It was a nice trip.

Wesley is not nearly as easy to manage on a plane as he was the last time we flew.  He was only 4 months old then, and he was awesome, mostly slept.  He did okay, but now he’s a big strong writhing ball of kiddo, and it’s harder to keep him happy in our laps for any length of time.  Next time we fly, even if he’s not 2 yet, we’re getting him his own seat for sure.

Southwest Florida is nice, but if the weather isn’t super hot (it was warm, but not beach-going-hot most of the time we were there) there’s not a lot to do. We did some shopping and did visit the beach, but mostly we stayed at the house. This was actually a good thing, though, because it was nice to be able to just sit and read as much as we did.  Going outside without coats on was a huge plus as well (and spring would do well to arrive here anytime now!)

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Work has gotten nice and busy the past few weeks!  Lots of exciting projects on the go.   That, combined with singing holy week services for choir means I’m looking at a pretty busy upcoming week, but it should be good.  I’m looking forward to the long weekend from work though. Also in the work category, a presentation that a co-worker and I proposed for a conference got accepted, so we’ll be doing a presentation in May! Should be good.

I got in touch with Family and Children’s Services about volunteering, and went for an interview there recently.  It’s a really amazing organization, and I’m kind of fascinated with their programs. I have to do some paperwork and training before I can be a proper volunteer, but I’m pretty excited.  I also got to see a presentation about another awesome local organization called Strong Start, and I’m really blown away by their programs as well, and hopefully will be able to help them out in some way. So many cool things happening here, if only I had unlimited time to volunteer!

Speaking of volunteering, I’ve been asked to be the costumer for a show that’s going up next year, so I’m pretty stoked about that. Hooray for costuming, my biggest theatre love! I might have to get a tuneup on my sewing machine- it’s been running pretty clunkily for a bit. It’s a really sweet workhorse of a machine- one of the older Singer school machines that have decent speed and are more heavy duty than what is produced now.

TedX is next week as well (falling during my busy week of busyness)! I’m really stoked about going, especially since I went last year and I know a little better what to expect. I hope that the talks are super inspiring!