Posts Tagged ‘cel’
One reason I maintain this blog is to help me look back and see how or if my thoughts and actions have changed over time.
Recently I looked back at photos in archives I had on my phone and iPad. Once I had put them online I sifted through them to remove what I did not need anymore.
It was then that I rediscovered a concept that I had sketched for one of our apps, mAPT, as well as screenshots of beta versions of the app.
There was a year between beta testing and app store approval and distribution. There were months of design and development prior to that.
I still consider the app a proof-of-concept as there are still more features I would like to add and usage policies that we must overcome. But it is gratifying to see how far we have travelled.
It is a reminder to me that change does not have to be driven top-down. If you see a need (or can create a new need), you can fill it whether or not the system is ready for the change.
Unlike the previous appraisals I have carried out for CeL, I found this year’s one to have one enjoyable component.
Yes, there was something actually fun to do (for me, at least)! I asked staff of CeL to use their e-portfolios to showcase their most representative work and to reflect on their growth by comparing what they did before and what they do now.
This meant that they could lead in appraisal process. They could prepare a short presentation, view their peers’ portfolios, evaluate their progress, and get a clearer picture of their own development.
Looking back, I realize how long I have been setting this up.
CeL will be three years old in July 2013. We started the e-portfolio process almost three years ago as a basic record-keeping process and for mid-term work reviews only. The e-portfolios were somewhat peripheral compared to the forms and interview processes for appraisal. This year they played a more central role.
In theory, we could have incorporated e-portfolios into the appraisal process within a year. But I think that biding our time and moving in tandem with changes around us was a wiser move. The process was less intimidating and felt more natural.
I think we have made great strides in CeL’s version of the appraisals. We have taken ownership of the process and we focused simultaneously on the more human elements and evidence-based artefacts during our appraisals.
Each year I build upon the experience of previous work reviews and appraisals. This year CeL is using our Google Sites-hosted e-portfolios more actively in the appraisal process.
When we were forged in 2010, I instituted the use of e-portfolios for my staff to document their projects and progress. We have used them primarily for work reviews as these are part of a lower stakes, formative-type process.
This year, however, I want my staff to use their e-portfolios during their appraisals in two ways:
- Showcase the project most representative of their current work
- Provide evidence of learning and growth by comparing current artefacts with previous ones
I think this makes the appraisal process a more proactive one (they must learn to start the process in advance) and one that provides greater ownership (they make decisions on what to showcase and how best to do it).
Going paperless (or as paperless as possible) is not just about saving the Earth. Not many people can tell you how not using a ream of paper actually translates to how it saves trees, water, and fuel.
Going paperless is more about changing mindsets, expectations, and behaviours, particularly when you are in a system that is still paper-dependent.
At CeL, our attempts to go paperless started with getting a networked copier that sent PDFs of whatever we scanned to our email accounts.
- Mindset: We do not need to rely on paper forms. We can think outside the cardboard box.
- Expectation: Do not use or print paper-based forms. We will find alternatives.
- Behaviours: Use electronic forms to reduce inefficiencies. We will overcome.
I should add that SignNow is not completely free. As CeL staff used and started really liking the service, we realize that there now is five form limit for the free service. Go beyond that quota and you need a paid subscription.
What I really liked about that service was it had a true mobile app experience. Forms that my staff sent me appeared in the app. I did not have to import them. I could sign, update, or add or details to the forms and send them off via the app. Personally I found the experience better and more fun on my iPad than via the Web tool.
But we have since moved on to HelloSign.
The video highlights the main problems with receiving forms online (you need to print, sign, and scan) and you cannot really do anything if you are on the move.
HelloSign is currently free and integrates extremely well with Gmail and Google Drive. With extensions in Chrome, you can launch PDFs in Gmail with HelloSign and you can have all received, sent, and signed forms in a special folder in GDrive.
But its mobile app is nowhere as slick as SignNow. Whereas I could discretely sign documents with my phone or iPad mini while at a meeting with SignNow, the signing experience is still superior on the Web interface with HelloSign.
In order to really use the HelloSign app, the user has to prepare the online version of the form and a PDF version. The mobile app seems to work with the PDF version only.
HelloSign is also very “verbose”. When it is time for you to sign something, you get an email notification. When you complete the form and sign it, you get another notification that the form is sent. When the recipient views the form, you get yet another notification.
If you do not sign a erroneous form with HelloSign, you get email reminders. I do not know if there is a way to deactivate this reminder.
I also cannot get the dates to break out of the US system (MM/DD/YY) despite changing the settings in HelloSign. SignNow works perfectly in this respect.
So… if you are an anal-retentive, update-craving signer who sits at a computer logged into to Gmail/GDrive all day, go with HelloSign.
But if you are a more mobile person and prefer a less in-your-face system, go with SignNow.
CeL collected and analyzed the feedback following e-Fiesta 2013.
We triangulated from these sources: Feedback forms, video interviews, word-of-mouth, and observation.
by P Shanks
Like the e-Fiestas of previous years, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. So we look at the negative or constructive feedback more closely to fine tune our processes.
One unusually blunt feedback we received via the form was:
Aircon too weak. No copy slide given out. Food too cold. No paper to write notes.
My immediate and reflective responses were the same:
- What century is this person living in?
- There was only one such response and the respondent was a clear outlier.
- We wanted to model the use of open tools and progressive mindsets so talks are not lectures, resources are shared openly online, and you bring your own devices, BYOD (or paper in his/her case).
I hasten to add that our event is not a conference even though we have developed the processes and professionalism to organize something that resembles one.
We are not chained by old school practices like preparing tomes for schedules, articles, and other information. We certainly do not want to distribute hardcopies of slides as that enables the practices of passive consumption and standard lecturing.
The only thing old school was using paper-based forms (which is something I hope we eradicate eventually).
We are about changing mindsets and behaviours. That single piece of non-constructive feedback is a reminder to us to pull as many people as we can out of the crumbling old school building.
The Super Bowl is something not many folks in our part of the world will be familiar with or care about.
Suffice to say that the ads that air during this event are probably the only ones people actually anticipate.
One thing that was not anticipated was a 30-minute blackout during the game.
According to this CNET article, Oreo took advantage of the blackout by running this Twitter-based ad which “caught fire, and… had been retweeted 13,734 times” at the writing of the article.
I think that this is a lesson on being ready to spring into action in order to turn a problem into an opportunity.
That is something I try to do. That is also something I am preparing CeL to do.
I concluded my series of reflections in 2012 with 360 work reviews at CeL.
Why bother to do more work when the minimum is all that is required?
In our 360 work review process, there is the extra Google Form, individual e-portfolios, a team review after individual reviews, as well as the extra collective time and effort to do all this.
At this point, I should add that I try to meet my staff in their teams for informal lunch meetings. I meet a different team each work day as part of my socializing, monitoring, and review processes.
Our HR department does not require us to submit the form they prepared. The process is not part of my staff’s annual appraisal nor is it tied to promotion or salary increments.
Why do more when less is required?
Asking why I would rather put in effort in the seemingly informal work reviews is like asking why one should do frequent formative assessment in the face of summative assessment.
The analogy is apt because the processes are more transparent in the regular work reviews and formative assessment. The purpose for these is timely feedback.
The processes in appraisals and summative assessment are much less transparent. The purpose for these is often sorting.
One process builds trust and actually improves performance. The other can create distrust and unhealthy competition. No prizes for guessing which does what and why I do more when less is required.
The YouTube year in review in its own irreverent style.
Another review on YouTube but not by YouTube.
Have you reviewed your own year in your own way yet?
We at CeL have done so at individual and team levels via 360 work reviews.
This was our second year of using this approach. Other than the standard HR form, CeL staff maintain e-portfolios and have a Google Form to complete for individual and team reviews.
Last year teams only reviewed team mates. This year I opted to include project members in the review. I also shared the actual comments via printouts instead of summarizing them verbally. This year I included one assistant head in the process of meeting, chatting, and listening to the teams.
I wonder if we can try department level reviews next year…
Before leaving on my vacation, I used Google Calendar to schedule mid-term work reviews with CeL staff. I learnt how to do this thanks to this handy guide.
It worked out well. Previously we used a spreadsheet or document for folks to indicate their appointment slots. But this required all of us to manually update our calendars. The appointment feature removed this step.
But while I was away, I learnt that Google will be taking this appointment feature away! The appointment feature is something that works well, improves work flow, and is easy to use. I daresay that it is a basic calendar feature!
I wonder what we might use next.
Some folks do stocktaking near the end of each year and clear their shelves, storerooms, or workspaces. I do the same for my list of Google Sites, Google Docs, and Evernote artefacts.
In reviewing my Evernote entries, I found a year-old note on a discussion that I had with a visiting professor.
One of the things we discussed was how our universities conducted professional development for our faculty. Both of us observed how teaching faculty see themselves as researchers first because the publish-or-perish paradigm hangs like a blade over their overworked necks. As a result of this, not many see the need to push themselves pedagogically.
The visiting professor suggested that we focus less on sharing sessions and workshops, and more on handholding staff who were interested in trying something instructionally new.
I was reminded of our #edsg conversation earlier this year on unPD or un-professional development. Not unprofessional as in irresponsible, but unprofessional as in informal, on-demand, or via a personal learning network.
I can see some wisdom in the advice to practically abandon conventional PD and to handhold instead. But I was troubled then by the note and I am still troubled now by it. It is something to bring with me into 2013 as an actionable note.