Thursday, March 31, 2011

Professional Development for Deaf Professionals

I'm really interested in developing some kind of materials for professional development for NTID grads. I saw some statistics that say our students enter the job market at the same pay rate as their hearing colleagues, but when they have been in the market for a while, they stop making the same sort of gains in position and salary. My thought is that our students aren't being promoted to management positions at the same rate as their hearing colleagues. I think that there may be five reasons for this:
  1. Weak written English skills
  2. Lack of opportunities to be mentored
  3. They don't "overhear", so soft skills information isn't being passed to them in that way
  4. Lack of appropriate professional development opportunities. (I don't believe simply providing an interpreter at a workshop is enough. And I am not sure that employers are actually making these programs available due to the additional cost of interpreters.)
  5. Unwillingness by Deaf professionals to move around, due to the difficulty of training hearing co-workers how to communicate. Once Deaf professionals get things worked out, they may be reluctant to repeat the process. 
Here are the topics I believe would be useful:
  • Personal goal setting
  • Time management
  • Conducting a meeting
  • Project management
  • Some kind of negotiation skills training 
  • Focused business writing: emails, meeting minutes, meeting agendas, status reports
  • Presentation skills
  • Self-branding and planning your career
I saw some e-learning that was developed at Cornell. The "class" has some material that the student does on his own, and then some webinar sessions where the students are "together". I want the self-pace material to be developed in a way that takes advantages of ASL features. I am planning to work on a prototype of one of these as a "Major Design Project." 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Translating Ideas to Practice in the Classroom

"Teachers will not take up ideas that sound attractive, no matter how extensive the research base, if the ideas are presented as general principles that leave the task of translating them into everyday practice entirely up to the teachers... What teachers need is a variety of living exapmples of implementation, as practiced by teachers with whom they can identify and from whom the can derive the confidence that they can do better. They need to see examples of what doing better means in practice." (Black and Williams, 2008)

Truer words were never written.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Divergent and Convergent Thinking and Why You Care

 I was trolling the Internet for interesting information and ideas and came across this old school site called Divergent Thinking.

"The goal of divergent thinking is to generate many different ideas about a topic in a short period of time. It involves breaking a topic down into its various component parts in order to gain insight about the various aspects of the topic. Divergent thinking typically occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner, such that the ideas are generated in a random, unorganized fashion. Following divergent thinking, the ideas and information will be organized using convergent thinking; i.e., putting the various ideas back together in some organized, structured way."
 Divergent thinking is probably something we should be teaching our students. It is one of the fundamental building blocks of creativity. Being able to generate a number of ideas and then put them back together in some new and original way is essential. Creation of new knowledge is what our students will be required to do, if they want to be successful.

This divergent thinking - convergent thinking cycle is the part of my job that I enjoy the most. Things I do almost every day (every GOOD day!) are:
  • Taking time to think about something -- almost anything will do. But it is important to just stop and think.
  • Meditate. Meditation is to thinking as practicing scales is to playing the piano. It will help you to nudge your mind in the right direction.
  • Writing. I use my blogs (I write three now!) as the place where I put ideas back together in new and original (at least for me) ways. Sometimes an idea will will present itself and I will use my writing as a way to explore it. Sometimes I will take two subjects and then challenge myself to think of ways that they can go together. 
Putting things together in new and novel ways is not a "nice to have" any more -- it is an essential.  How will/do you practice divergent and convergent thinking?