Do You Know How to Be an Engaging and Highly Effective Educator?

Anyone can teach. We teach each other every day. For example, we give instructions to each other for such things as cooking, putting together furniture, and completing household other tasks. However, teaching someone is different than the process of educating someone. Consider the difference between informal learning and formal learning. An example of informal learning would be following a recipe to learn how to cook. In contrast, formal learning occurs within a classroom and usually is accompanied by evaluation and assessment. It may seem that teaching and educating are the same thing; however, the difference has to do with the place or context for learning.

This is the same distinction can be made for teaching informally (giving instructions) and teaching students in a formal classroom environment. A person enters the field of education as a profession – either full time in traditional academic institutions or as an adjunct (or part time) instructor. The reasons vary for why someone would choose to be in the classroom. A traditional full time professor may likely be responsible for conducting research, teaching, and publishing scholarly work. An adjunct instructor may teach in a community college, traditional college, or an online school. When someone teaches students in higher education he or she may be called a facilitator, instructor, or professor. This is important as there isn’t a job with the word educator in the title.

The questions I would like to answer include: What then does it mean to be an educator? Does it signify something different than the assigned job title? What I have learned through my work in higher education is that becoming an educator is not an automatic process. Everyone who is teaching adult students is not functioning as an engaging and highly effective educator. However, it is possible to learn how to educate rather than teach and that requires making a commitment to the profession.

What Does It Mean to Teach?

Consider teaching as part of the system of traditional, primary education. Those classes are teacher-led and children as students are taught what and how to learn. The teacher is considered to be the expert and directs the learning process. A teacher is someone who is highly trained and works to engage the minds of his or her students. This style of teacher-led instructional continues into higher education, specifically traditional college classrooms. The teacher still stands at the front and center of the class delivering information, and students are used to this format because of their experience in primary education. The instructor disseminates knowledge through a lecture and students study to pass the required examinations or complete other required learning activities.

Within higher education, teachers may be called instructors and they are hired as subject matter experts with advanced content knowledge. The job requirements usually include holding a specific number of degree hours in the subject being taught. Teachers may also be called professors in traditional college classes, and those positions require a terminal degree with additional research requirements. For all of these roles, teaching is meant to signify someone who is guiding the learning process by directing, telling, and instructing students. The instructor or professor is in charge, and the students must comply and follow as directed. Here is something to consider: If that is the essence of teaching, is there a difference between that and educating students? Is the role of a teacher the same as that of an educator?

What Does It Mean to be an Educator?

Consider some basic definitions to begin with as a means of understanding the role of an educator. The word “education” refers to giving instruction; “educator” refers to the person who provides instruction and is someone who is skilled in teaching; and teaching is aligned with providing explanations. I have expanded upon these definitions so that the word “educator” includes someone who is skilled with instruction, possesses highly developed academic skills, and holds both subject matter knowledge and knowledge of adult education principles.

Skilled with Instruction: An educator is someone who should be skilled in the art of classroom instruction, knowing what instructional strategies are effective and the areas of facilitation that need further development. An experienced educator develops methods that will bring course materials to life by adding relevant context and prompting students to learn through class discussions and other learning activities. Instruction also includes all of the interactions held with students, including all forms of communication, as every interaction provides an opportunity for teaching.

Highly Developed Academic Skills: An educator must also have strong academic skills and at the top of that list are writing skills. This requires strong attention to detail on the part of the educator and in all forms of messages communicated, including anything written, presented, and sent via email. The ability to demonstrate strong academic skills is especially important for anyone who is teaching online classes as words represent the instructor.

The use of proper formatting guidelines, according to the style prescribed by the school, is also included in the list of critical academic skills. For example, many schools have implemented APA formatting guidelines as the standard for formatting papers and working with sources. An educator cannot adequately guide students and provide meaningful feedback if the writing style has not been mastered.

Strong Knowledge Base: An educator needs to develop a knowledge base that contains subject matter expertise, as related to the course or courses they are teaching, along with knowledge of adult education principles. I know of many educators who have the required credit hours on their degree transcripts, yet they may not have extensive experience in the field they teach. This will still allow these educators to teach the course, provided that they take time to read the course textbook and find methods of applying it to current practices within the field.

Many schools hire adjuncts with extensive work experience as the primary criteria, rather than knowledge of adult learning principles. Those instructors I have worked with who do have a strong adult education knowledge base generally acquired it through ongoing professional development. That was my goal, when I decided on a major for my doctoral degree, to understand how adults learn so that I could transform from an instructor to an educator.

Becoming an Engaging and Highly Effective Educator

I do not believe that many instructors intentionally consider the need to make a transformation from working as an instructor to functioning as an educator. When someone is hired to teach a class, someone other than a traditional college professor, they often learn through practice and time what works well in the classroom. There will likely be classroom audits and recommendations made for ongoing professional development. Gradually the typical instructor will become an educator as they seek out resources to help improve their teaching practices. However, I have worked with many adjunct online instructors who rely on their subject matter expertise alone and do not believe there is a reason to grow as an educator. For anyone who would like to make the transformation and become an engaging and highly effective educator, there are steps that can be taken and practices that can be implemented.

Step One: Continue to Develop Your Instructional Practice

While any educator can learn through time on the job, it is possible to become intentional about this growth. There are numerous online resources, publications, workshops, webinars, and professional groups that would allow you to learn new methods, strategies, and practices. There are also social media websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter that allow for the exchange of ideas and resources within a global community of educators.

You can also utilize self-reflection as a means of gauging your effectiveness. I have found that the best time to review my instructional practice occurs immediately after a class concludes. That is a time when I can assess the strategies I have used and determine if those methods were effective. Even reviewing end of course student surveys may provide insight into the perspective of my students.

Step Two: Continue to Develop Your Academic Skills

I know from my work with online faculty development that this is an area of development that many educators could use. However, it is often viewed as a low priority – until it is noted in classroom audits. If an educator has weak academic writing skills, it will interfere with their ability to provide comprehensive feedback for students. For online instructors, that has an even greater impact when posted messages contain errors with spelling, grammar, and formatting. The development of academic skills can be done through the use of online resources or workshops. Many online schools I have worked for offer faculty workshops and this is a valuable self-development resource.

Step Three: Continue to Develop Your Subject Matter Expertise

Every educator has subject matter expertise that they can draw upon. However, the challenge is keeping that knowledge current as you continue to teach for several years. The best advice I can offer is to find resources that allow you to read and learn about current thinking, research, and best practices in your chosen field. This is essential to your instructional practice as students can ascertain whether you appear to be current in your knowledge, or outdated and seemingly out of touch. Even the use of required textbooks does not ensure that you are utilizing the most current information as knowledge evolves quickly in many fields.

Step Four: Continue to Develop Your Knowledge of Adult Learning

The last step or strategy that I can recommend is to gain knowledge about adult learning theories, principles, and practices. If you are not familiar with the basics there are concepts you can research and include critical thinking, andragogy, self-directed learning, transformational learning, learning styles, motivation, and cognition. My suggestion is to find and read online sources related to higher education and then find a subject that interests you to research further. I have found that the more I read about topics I enjoy, the more I am cultivating my interest in ongoing professional development. What you will likely find is that what you learn will have a positive influence on your work as an educator and will enhance all areas of your instructional practice.

Working as an educator, or someone who is highly engaged in the process of helping students learn, starts with a commitment to make this a career rather than a job. I have developed a vision related to how I want to be involved in each class I teach and I recommend the same strategy for you. You may find it useful to develop teaching goals for your career and link your classroom performance to those goals. For example, do you want to complete the required facilitation tasks or would you rather put in the additional time necessary to create nurturing class conditions?

After developing a vision and teaching goals, you can create a professional development plan to prompt your learning and growth in all of the areas I have addressed above. While this strategy may require an investment of time, it is helpful to remember that we always make time for whatever we believe is most important. Being an educator is not sustaining a focus on job functions, rather it is cultivating a love of what you do and learning how to excel for the benefit of your students. Becoming an engaging and highly effective educator occurs when you decide that teaching students is only part of the learning process, and you work to transform who you are and how you function, while working and interacting with your students.

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Hiring: The Manager’s Most Important Decision

Of all the situations that confront a manager, the most important decision to be acted on involves recruitment. The addition of an employee to your workforce is a long-term commitment. Similar to many other circumstances in life, it often is much easier to get into the relationship than it is to undo the arrangement at a later juncture. For this reason, appropriate time, resources and thoughtful consideration need to be dedicated to the recruitment process, in order to optimize your investment.Let’s suppose that there are only two types of managers; those who are insecure and those who are confident. How might these different managers approach a hiring situation and what legacy impact would that have on their organizations?The recruitment process begins by defining the requirements of the position and the development of a comprehensive Job Description. Complementing the Job Description, a profile detailing the attributes of the ideal candidate also should be crafted. If there are particular characteristics that warrant emphasis, for instance punctuality with the young cohort known as Generation Y, these should be highlighted. Finally, formulating a series of behavioural-based interview questions will encapsulate the requirements of both the position and the profile.A slate of candidates can be identified based on a review of the resumes that were received. If high quality candidates are not evident from the resumes and interviews, it is imperative that the manager resists the temptation to compromise the position.Far too often, however, managers may try to truncate the hiring process. There are a variety of reasons that might compel the manager to do this. For instance, the manager may be under significant pressure to fill the vacancy, as quickly as possible. Or, the manager may fear losing the salary allocation. Or, service levels will not be fulfilled. Or, it really isn’t that important and it’s not a perfect world, anyway.But compromising the recruitment process is not an acceptable resolution. Instead, the manager should re-initiate the process, until the right candidate is surfaced. In some instances, broader and different advertising approaches might need to be considered. This will become evermore critical as the competition for labour intensifies due to the changing demographics and the shrinking labour force.The Insecure ManagerInsecure managers have nagging doubts regarding their competencies. Although the insecure manager might be proficient at certain tasks, there resides an implicit acknowledgement that there are deficiencies with many more. The insecure manager lives in fear that the deficiencies will be exposed and that they will be declared a fraud.An insecure manager, naturally, will feel threatened by strong, competent employees who may challenge the status quo or be overly enthusiastic about inventing innovative ways to improve business functions. Such a manager will be inclined, perhaps unconsciously, to recruit weaker employees who will not be seen as a threat to them.Over time, the insecure manager assembles an operating unit that is populated by sub-optimum performers who collectively are not capable of resolving business challenges. In these circumstances, even competent employees will give up when confronted by this impenetrable inertia and debilitating ennui.Now apply this predisposition and the resulting behaviour to the organizational level. If the organization is comprised of insecure, weak managers, then it follows that they will recruit a workforce that mirrors their profile. This commits the organization to a relentless downward spiral. It, quite literally, will be an unimpeded race to the bottom.The Confident ManagerConfident managers, conversely, have assessed and recognize their personal strengths and weaknesses. They also will have identified their blind-spots. Confident managers recruit employees who will offset the manager’s weaknesses and cover their blind-spots. They are not threatened by employees who have ideas and vitality.Confident managers welcome the synergy that blossoms from divergent thinking and healthy conflict. They value competency and collaborative problem solving approaches to business challenges. They assemble an operating unit that is energetic, trusting and vibrant. They recruit action-oriented employees, not excuse-makers.These managers also have a keen eye to the future. Their recruitment strategy extends beyond merely today’s needs. Having spent time considering emergent trends, the confident manager is deliberately recruiting for tomorrow’s environment. Finally, the confident manager is purposely recruiting and grooming their possible successor.Applied to the organizational level, a cluster of confident, strong managers collectively will have orchestrated an outstanding roster of competent, high potential employees. This is a high-performance organization that creates a competitive advantage, now and in the future.It is insecurity or confidence that guides the manager’s hiring process and predilections. The results are self-evident, for both the operating unit and the organization’s legacy.

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Digital Marketing Trend and Importance Over Career Growth Prospects

Digital marketing is an approach that covers all the marketing techniques and strategies through an online platform. This marketing approach also defined as an umbrella for all marketing activities for products or services follows various online platforms. With the gradual increase in technology and innovation, various business units are implementing digital approach towards their marketing activities.In a simple way, it also termed as the promotional approach for various products or services via the internet or electronic media. Thus, it differs from traditional marketing approach mainly due to its effectiveness and its rate of market penetration.This marketing approach, therefore, covers or check, which based on various likes or views, the conversion rate for sales, niche, and relevant content. Beside internet platform, which is closely associated with this marketing approach, also includes instant mobile messaging, mobile apps, electronic billboards, and other channels.Digital marketing and its importanceWith the gradual increase of popularity in social media and other internet platforms, customers, clients is gradually becoming socially interlinked for almost 24*7. From a business point of view, it is an immense opportunity to target the probable customers that surely affect the business outcome and image. Due to a gradual increase in technological advancement and market competition, big to small organizations started to carry out digitization to enhance their rate of success.The reason behind implementing such marketing segment in almost all business units is only due to its effectiveness and output. Some of the reasons for which companies implement internet marketing are as follows:• Effective management of customer relationship throughout various channels• Effectiveness of customer engagement process• Provide accurate in targeting prospective clients based on their interests and preferences• Very effective and communicative platform to discuss customer issues within a short span of timeThus, with the gradual increase in demand for the digital marketing skills, it helps to set up the opportunity standards in the job market. With its market penetration, the job market is booming day-by-day, thus creates a huge leap in a career opportunity among the students as well as professionals. From a career point of view, this digital marketing course becomes real hype among the students and even professionals.Who should attend a digital marketing course?• Students: Undergraduates, graduates, MBA (marketing)• Professionals: Marketing professionals, Business development executives• Entrepreneurs Advantages that you may gain from having a Digital Marketing Course• Create a demand as a professionalDue to digital market approach, there is a serious skill gap among the professionals. Thus, on experiencing such course will stay you ahead in terms of competition as well as provide enough market exposure. As per statistics concerned, we will go to experience a rapid increase in job opportunity in this field and the average figure may reach to approx 1,50,000 jobs by the year 2020.• Increase in career choiceAmong the world’s largest digital giants, namely Google, Linked IN, Twitter, etc., providing loads of opportunities in the said field. Various other top organizations from Fortune 500 are hiring candidates in the field of digital marketing. Marketing professionals may have the gateway to improving the career and be industry ready for upcoming years on successful completion of this program.• Better payment and salary incrementRather than contemporary marketing approach, digitization provides opportunity in cost reduction for the management, therefore, create an opportunity in salary hike for the employees. Being an expert in this field will surely put you ahead of time and competition, thus creating immense opportunity for career growth and development.Students or the professionals, those who are opting for the Digital marketing course need to go through following fields of ability and are as follows• Introduction to digital marketing and its advantages• Search engine optimization (SEO)• Social media optimization (SMO)• Search engine marketing (SEM)• E-mail marketingOn successful completion of this course, it not only helps the students but also working professionals to grab the best opportunity in this booming industry. The probable career opportunities or roles that candidates may gain through digital marketing expertise are as follows• Strategizing the market planning for product or service launching• Implementing social media marketing, email marketing, maintaining social media account through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.• Incorporating SEO related work to support online presence as well as visibility among the Google search results• Manage online reputation through blog creation, article writing, effective back linking etc.Digital marketing surely helps to bridge the gap while providing more job opportunities in this booming industry. In the competitive scenario, for marketing professionals, it surely provides an edge over traditional marketing techniques.

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