User Instruction

When studying user instruction it is very important to consider the three main learning styles: physiological, cognitive, and affective.  These learning must all be considered when teaching certain users.  Considering everyone has their own way of learning and doing things, it is necessary for the instructor to see this and adjust their teaching technique accordingly in order to successfully engage students.

The Physiological learning style includes environmental conditions, how many breaks there are in the session, and the time of day the session is conducted.  I learn best in a classroom atmosphere, during the day, with no fluorescent lights, and do not care about getting a break.  SIS online night classes have been quite an adjustment for me because by 6:30 pm I am already drained from the day.  I am able to focus best between 10 am and 3 pm.

The Cognitive learning style refers to how people learn: by reading, listening, or doing.  I am a visual learner in that I like to have a visual in front of me when being taught (PowerPoint, handout) and I appreciate listening to a professional instruct on a subject because I can hear their point of view on the subject.  It also helps to actually do a hands-on activity to gain experience and knowledge.

Affective learning style focuses on the emotional aspect of learning.  This can be extremely beneficial for some if they tend to base things on how they feel.  Some learners may be curious or questioning in the learning process and act on more emotional tendencies.  Instructors can combine aspects of all three of these learning styles to best accommodate their intended audience.

Evidence-based learning vs. problem-based learning: both can be very useful and successful in teaching, it just depends on the content/material that is being taught and to whom it is being taught. Personally, I prefer problem-based learning because it allows the students to explore and self-direct in determining solutions. Problem-based is an open inquiry and gives students more freedom in exploring, creating, thinking, and evaluating outcomes.

I can appreciate evidence-based learning and I think it is a wonderful teaching method because it is a guided inquiry in which thorough research has already been done and the students are examining the process and outcomes of actual events. The fields of medicine and law rely heavily on this method because of the knowledge that has already been acquired in these fields by professionals with incredible experience and skills. This also helps learners build vocabulary and terminology relevant to the field they are studying.

On a different note, motivation is one of the most important factors in learning (in my opinion). If people are not motivated to learn, work, succeed; they will slack and not live to their full potential. This goes beyond the learning environment into the work environment. It is important for instructors, managers, etc. to be flexible and realize that everyone learns and works differently. And being approachable is key in interacting with anyone – keeping an open mind, being encouraging, and listening will all establish good relationships and enable a positive learning and working environment.

I have been especially interested in adult learning because throughout the course of my career at Scripps Networks and the American Cancer Society, I instructed/taught mainly adults. I had different experiences with different groups of adults. Most of the co-workers and volunteers that I trained were open to instruction, feedback, and suggestions.

When teaching adults I think it’s important to know your audience. Many people are busy with job, families, extra-curricular activities, etc. and prioritize things differently. There are also time constraints, using personal experience as knowledge, and different expectations of learning. Instructors must consider all these things in order to engage and teach adult learners, no matter the environment.

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Information Overload

Information Overload is an increasing problem both in the workplace, and in life in general. Those that learn to deal with it effectively will have a major advantage in the next few years.  Since I was young, I have always had a minimalistic approach to life.  I only keep those things that are useful to me in every day life.  I do not ‘collect’ things and I have never been one to hold on to old love letters from high school or college.  I am organized to a fault and operate best when things are in order and minimal.  I don’t like clutter or knick knacks and I enjoy the process of organizing in general (computer files, sock drawer, tool box, you name it).

So of course the last decade has posed a huge problem for me with advances in technology and everything that brings (information overload). It seems nowadays, everywhere you go you have information at your fingertips.  People are constant on their smartphones texting, emailing, Facebooking, Googling, Tweeting, Sharing, etc.  Updates and information are bombarding people from various networking platforms at a constant rate!  How do we sift through all the unimportant junk and discern what is useful and what is not?  Are people becoming desensitized to information and the constant streaming of data that is pouring into their phones, computers, televisions, and other media devices?  With widespread access to the Web, people are able to send texts, emails, tweets in a moment’s notice with little effort.  Because of this, an “oversharing” phenomenon has started and will continue to overwhelm us as time progresses.

Technology is great, don’t get me wrong…I love it!  But at some point a line needs to be drawn.  Question is, who draws the line?  And at what point will it happen?  As the capabilities of sending, receiving, and storing information increase with technology; organizing, managing, and archiving this data/information becomes increasingly challenging as well.

Times Have Changed

My how times have changed! In the past 10 years it is incredible how much technology has changed and advanced! It seems like only yesterday VHS tapes were all the rage, ha! I was born in the 70’s and grew up with 8-tracks, VHS, and audio tapes. CDs became popular in high school but VHS was still the way to go when it came to watching movies. DVDs came on the market when I was in college and now we can watch anything, from anywhere at anytime all from the click of a mouse on our computer or phone! Streaming media has exploded in the last five years and has taken the world of technology by storm.

iTunes, QuickTime, MediaPlayer, etc. are all ways in which we can watch a video or listen to audio via the Internet. Digital media is accessible to anyone, is easy to use, and can reach millions at one time. YouTube has cornered the market with online video streaming and has over 4 billion views per day! That is crazy. With the advancement in technology, people are constantly recording, sharing, uploading content from their phones and computers. Just last year I started using iMovie on my Mac to create videos for dogs I’ve fostered for my dog rescue. It is so easy and it makes great videos that look professional. There are different templates, themes, and music choices – all you do is drop the video clip in the spot you want and it compiles all the clips together and creates the best videos!

With programs like iMovie, making videos and movies has become so easy and simple compared to years ago. Media streaming has changed the way we learn and do business and communicate with one another and will continue to expand with changing technologies.

Experience & Future Career

When thinking about my future as an information professional, I decided to make a list of my technical skills and identify resources to help me develop in these areas.

Current technical skills:

  • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook)
  • Mac iOS
  • Content Management Systems (SharePoint, Drupal, WordPress, RapidWeaver)
  • CSS, html, screencasting, podcasting, web and social network applications
  • Cataloging experience in network television (raw footage, graphics, music, programming, commercial and infomercial, video on demand, broadband)
  • Cloud computing (Dropbox)
  • Knowledge of various library systems (Aleph, Nesbit)
  • Knowledge of LC, MARC, Dewey’s
  • Experience with digitization, electronic records, and metadata standards
  • Knowledge in GIS applications

Other skills and experience:

  • Customer service
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively
  • Project management
  • Time management
  • 10+ years experience in special libraries and academic library
  • 10+ years supervisory experience
  • Experience in health systems
  • Training and teaching experience
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Multi-tasking and planning skills
  • Written and oral skills (comfortable speaking in front of large groups, television, radio, and have written pieces for local papers)
  • Learning and teaching skills (assessment)
  • Marketing and public relations experience
  • Fundraising experience

Resources to fill the gaps:

I would love to work for a successful corporation that sells a product or service that I believe in. Scripps Networks is a great company because it is comprised of unique lifestyle networks, websites, and magazines that strive to go beyond cooking, home repair/improvement, travel, and music. The brands are committed to exploring new and different ways to approach food, home and garden, travel, music – through pop culture, competition, adventure, do-it-yourself demos and travel – while also expanding its repertoire of technique-based information.

Television networks are now branching out far beyond cable TV. You can watch television shows online from your computer, smartphone, iPad, or other handheld device. Technology is rapidly changing this industry and creating new jobs in information technology/management/architecture. I would love to work for a larger company/organization with offices all over the country/world. In addition to Scripps, I have been investigating Turner Broadcasting, Viacom, and Discovery for possible job opportunities.

I enjoy working as a part of a team, but I enjoy working solo as well. Teamwork is great, but I like to be accountable for my own work and ideas as well. My last job at the American Cancer Society was a public service job. It involved a lot of public speaking and engaging with the community. It was a huge adjustment for me and was hard at times, but I ended up really enjoying it. I used to have a fear of public speaking and was able to overcome this fear during my time at the ACS.

I hope to one-day hold an important position within a company/organization that makes a difference in people’s lives. I want to be a positive force within an organization to help others (whether it be health, safety, knowledge, well-being, cultural enrichment). I think it is important for information professionals to develop and grow their knowledge/skills, and keep up-to-date with the changing technologies and trends in the field.

Ranked in order of importance in preparing for a career in a corporate environment are the following competencies:

1. Information and Documentation Management Skills

2. Ability to Use Information Technologies

3. Project Management Skills

4. Planning and Organizational Skills

5. Communication and Networking Skills

6. Information Management Skills

7. Decision-Making Skills

8. Teamwork Skills

9. Change Management Skills

10. Business Acumen

11. Leadership Skills