The Impact of the Digital Media on the Ecosystem of Reading

Most of the recent discussions about books has focused on the rise of e-books.  But the entire ecosystem of reading has been affected by the internet, including libraries, the system for reviewing books, and the types of employees hired by book stores.

A recent New York Times article, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reader, explores this situation.  Check out the article at  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/opinion/sunday/the-loneliness-of-the-long-distance-reader.html?hp&rref=opinion.

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Observations about Jobs and Training from the Website of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics

While conducting a little research on the list of occupations at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, I made some unexpected observations

Of the 538 occupations listed there:

(1) Instructional designer isn’t listed anywhere.  My guess is that they’re included in Human Resources, Training, and Labor Relations Specialists, All Others.

Yet training managers get their own separate listing.

(2) Don’t look for User Experience (UX) designers.  My guess is that they’re included in I/O (that’s Industrial/Organizational) Psychologists.  But the description of that job reads like a therapist, which does not reflect the work of an I/O psychologist, not a UX designer or management-focused I/O psychologist..

(3) On-the-job training is characterized for each occupation. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics defines that as:  “Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.”

And how much on-the-job training is needed:

  • For 193 jobs, none, including aerospace engineers, cardiovascular technologists and technicians, chief executives, editors, financial managers, Human Resources, Training, and Labor Relations Specialists, lodging managers, network and computer systems administrators, and occupational research analysts (like the ones who prepared this report). (Apparently, a degree is enough to prepare these people for their jobs, even though many of these jobs only see degrees as preferred—not required—credentials and only offer voluntary certification.)
  • For 113 of the job categories, only short-term on-the-job training is needed, including gaming cage workers and technical writers)
  • For 135, moderate-term on-the-job training, including gaming dealers and parts salespeople)
  • For 57 categories, long-term on-the-job training, including writers and authors.
  • For 25 categories, an internship or residency is required, such as dentists, doctors, and dieticians
  • For 15 categories, an apprenticeship is required, including real estate appraisers and carpenters

Perhaps one of the reasons we have so few apprenticeship programs in the US is because so few jobs require one.

And perhaps the reason that overall spending on training has dropped over the past two decades (after adjusting for inflation and growth in the labor force) is that nearly 40 percent of the jobs do not require any on-the-job training, and another 20 percent only require some.

Furthermore,  given the number of jobs that require little or no on-the-job  training–but do have corresponding degree programs–perhaps we also have an explanation for the pressure that employers place on universities to prepare students for jobs.

Check out the database for yourself at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/occupation-finder.htm.

What are your thoughts about these observations?  Please share in the comments section.

 

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Five Opportunities to Communicate the Value of Technical Communication Products and Services

Data alone does not demonstrate the value of communication products and services; communication does. Following are 5 ways to communicate the results to the internal or external clients we serve.

1.  Information designs. If you want to communicate the value of your work, you need to begin on Day 1. Set clients’ expectations of the results you intend to achieve by including observable and measurable objectives for the content and impact on the client’s business.

Educate clients on how to assess effectiveness by including complete evaluation plans, too, in your information plans. Include drafts of proposed Reader’s Comment Forms and usability scenarios, and list business measurements to track.

2.  Project status reports. Continue to manage expectations during the development process by regularly distributing status reports through the development process.
In the report, tell clients how you are managing budgets and schedules, and how you ensure editorial, production, and technical quality during development. Most significantly, alert clients to potential problems before they occur (rather than hide them from clients).

3.  Post-mortems. At the end of projects, teams tend to focus on an what went wrong. A post-mortem (a debriefing of the entire project) that includes members of the internal or external client team can identify not only the “don’t let this happen again” moments, but also those things that went right. That leaves a more balanced impression with clients.

4. Annual reports. Publish an annual report that tells internal or external clients and prospects about users’ responses to the communication products you developed and the business results you have helped clients achieve during the previous year. Not only is this a great means of reminding recent clients how you have helped them, but it helps manage the expectations of new clients.
Look for the Template for an Annual Report to Stakeholders of Educational Technology and Technical Communication Groups elsewhere on this site for a template for preparing such an annual report.

5. Informal communications. Always take advantage of opportunities to politely tell a client how you have helped them or others. When doing so, be careful about crossing the boundary between informing and bragging. For those wondering what that boundary is, you can always feel comfortable mentioning the subject when clients introduce it.

Whenever you provide information about the effectiveness and value of communication products, recognize that each client assesses these issues in their own way.

© Copyright 1999, 2001, 2010, 2012. Saul Carliner. All rights reserved.  If sharing or excerpting, should be properly cited.

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eMail in the Enterprise

 

In his article in LesAffaires.com, reporter Julien Brault explores the growing frustrations with email in organizations and how different groups are responding to it.

(And for what it’s worth, I’m quoted.)

Check it out at: http://www.lesaffaires.com/archives/generale/maudit-courriel/551557

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The Difficult Conversation about Performance

Most workers abhor poor performance (at least, the poor performance of their co-workers).  More significantly, so do most managers. 

But tackling poor performance requires having difficult conversations about work standards, and many managers prefer to avoid it.In How to… address poor performance, published in the UK magazine, People Management, author Kate Russell explains why “Avoiding difficult conversations about work standards can demotivate other staff.”Although many have written about the issue of confronting poor performance, what sets this article apart is that it addresses the issue from the perspective of the other employees.At the least, these other employees might feel that the poor performer is being appraised against an easier set of performance criteria than they are.

At the most, these other employees depend on their poor-performing co-workers to accomplish their jobs, and the failure of the manager to confront the issue prevents these workers from performing at their best.

Russell offers specific suggestions for preparing for the conversation about performance, conducting it and, most importantly, following up with coaching and feedback.

When a worker starts a job, a lack of ongoing coaching and feedback has the potential to reinforce and solidify poor performance.

And if the manager has effectively raised the concern about performance with the poor-performing worker, that workers needs the coaching and feedback to re-align his or her efforts with the manager’s.

Check out the article at: http://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/pm/articles/2010/11/how-to-address-poor-performance.htm?area=pm.

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Do You Really Know How to Give a Performance Review?

In Learning Before Reviewing published in CLO Magazine, Ladan Nikravan emphasizes the importance of training managers in the performance review process before they actually perform them.

But Nikravan notes–as is also noted in my academic and certificate courses–that a once-a-year conversation isn’t really the best way to ensure that performance issues are addressed.  Year-round conversations are important as well as clear performance metrics, which people can get on their own at any time they want the information.Check out the article at http://www.clomedia.com/articles/view/4007# .

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Preparing a Persuasive Business Cases for Major Online Learning Investments

 

A business case serves as a prospectus for proposed investment in a costly eLearning courseware project or in technology for learning. A business case provides a structured framework for investigating and reporting the costs and returns of these projects. Specifically, business cases ask learning professionals to provide decision makers with the following information: (1) background of the project, (2) description of alternatives, (3) estimation of project returns, and (4) recommendation of an alternative. Ideally, a business case provides a basis for approval for a project. If a sponsor still chooses not to approve the project, the business case also provides a framework for determining why.

Read the entire article at Learning Solutions Magazine

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Template: Performance Plan

Format of a Performance Plan

Three to four sections, that include the following.

Main performance objectives Supporting objectives or comments Priority
Describe, in general terms, the primary work product Name specific work products. Also mention any relevant business constraints affecting this work and on which the worker will be evaluated. 1 (high) or 2 (low)
Describe, in general terms, supplemental assignments Name specific one-time and ongoing assignments and committee responsibilities
Describe, in general terms, responsibilities for team work Describe specific observable and measurable outcomes of good team work  
Describe expectations for maintaining technical qualifications Describe the level of technical knowledge that the worker is expected to attain during the appraisal period.  

© Copyright 2012. Saul Carliner. All rights reserved. If sharing or excerpting, should be properly cited.

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Template: Appraisal Form

Objectives Feedback Evalu-ation
Area 1

Main: ________

Supporting:

______________________________

__________

__________

Priority of the area
1 or 2

Overall, state the evaluation of this area in words only, using the exact words associated with the number of the evaluation. “Consistently exceeded expectations.”Provide concrete evidence to support the claim.

Avoid value words like “poorly” or “good.” Instead, let the facts speak for themselves.

State the number associated with the evaluation. Do not include the words; they were provided in the previous column.
Area 2

Main: ________

Supporting:

______________________________

__________

__________

Priority of the area
1 or 2

Overall, state the evaluation of this area in words only, using the exact words associated with the number of the evaluation. “Consistently exceeded expectations.”Provide concrete evidence to support the claim.

Avoid value words like “poorly” or “good.” Instead, let the facts speak for themselves.

State the number associated with the evaluation. Do not include the words; they were provided in the previous column.
Area N

Main: ________

Supporting:

______________________________

__________

__________

Priority of the area
1 or 2

Overall, state the evaluation of this area in words only, using the exact words associated with the number of the evaluation. “Consistently exceeded expectations.”Provide concrete evidence to support the claim.

Avoid value words like “poorly” or “good.” Instead, let the facts speak for themselves.

State the number associated with the evaluation. Do not include the words; they were provided in the previous column.
Overall,

state the overall performance evaluation in both a number and words. When writing the words, use the exact words associated with the number of the evaluation, such as “Consistently exceeded expectations.”

Provide a brief explanation for the evaluation; should be based on the evaluations of the other areas. Strengths are:

___________________

___________________

___________________

In the next appraisal period, ____ should focus on improvements in these areas:

___________________

___________________

© Copyright 2012. Saul Carliner. All rights reserved. If sharing or excerpting, should be properly cited.

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Template: Job Description

1. Job title: _________________________________

2. Broad responsibilities (stated in observable and measurable terms):

________________________________________

_______________________________________

3. Work products that the worker is expected to produce (such as application programs, test reports, and job reviews)

________________________________________

4. Business value that hiring a person into this position brings (how this person will help generate revenue, increase the productivity of other workers, or contain expenses)

_________________________________________

Qualifications:

  • Skills needed to perform this job successfully

______________________________

  • Educational background needed (if any)

______________________________

  • Previous experience needed (if any)

______________________________

  • Attitudes needed to succeed in this work environment:

______________________________

  • Work conditions of the job (including  the technology used in a particular job, the work hours, the type of contact that a worker would have with co-workers, clients and suppliers, and the role and flexibility in making decisions regarding the job).

______________________________

______________________________

© Copyright 2012. Saul Carliner. All rights reserved.  If sharing or excerpting, should be properly cited.

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