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Become an IDOL 66: Success Story with Former Teacher Laura Wilczek: Hanover Research

Guest: Laura Wilczek, eLearning Developer

In this episode, I'm chatting with Laura Wilczek, a former teacher who transitioned to a new career as an eLearning Developer for Hanover Research. While teaching during the pandemic she realized she had a unique set of skills and a passion for developing courses and training. 

 Laura shares great pointers for how she navigated the course, purposely applied what she was learning, and landed a new role in 2 months!  

Listen to this episode below:

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Let me tell you a little bit about Laura:

Laura is a former teacher who successfully transitioned into the learning and development space after enrolling in IDOL courses Academy. She began her teaching career in 2009 and started developing a passion for creating virtual learning materials during the pandemic. Laura was a part of the 10th cohort of the Academy and is currently...

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Training: The Employer in L&D

When I began the journey from adult educator to instructional designer, I was merely looking for full-time work. I wanted to continue teaching, helping, learning and growing somehow. I’ve learned more by teaching adults than in doing anything else in my life.

During the pandemic, I went back to school to get a MEd, and I found the IDOL courses Academy. I realized there was much to learn, and that the Academy would help me move in the right direction. It occurred to me that I was undergoing a bit of a career re-calibration. I had many of the skills that I needed to become an IDOL. I’d done graphic design, teaching, curriculum development, and I wrote and published a novel. So I had all of the skills necessary to become and IDOL, didn’t I? Well yes. And no. 

In the last blog I wrote I said Robin and Jay helped me get through several interviews at a job I still work at. Robin warned me that the role, as she was reading the description, was less...

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Using Canva as Your #DoItMessy Website

In 2021, I was a full-time teacher looking for a creative new career for post retirement. I decided instructional design would be a great fit for me! After researching my options, I chose the IDOL courses Academy to help me reach my goals.  

 

The IDOL courses Academy has a jumpstart program called #DoItMessy. It is designed to help you dive in and quickly develop the basic steps towards ID job readiness, and then go back and refine what you have created. One of the steps is building a website for your portfolio. An online portfolio, preferably a website, is part of the art of landing a job in instructional design. Since I was working full-time, I didn’t have the time to learn the ins and outs of website builders.

 

When I began building my web pages on Canva, I discovered that Canva was an easy, quick solution to my website dilemma. I could create my own #DoItMessy temporary website! Here’s how:

...

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Apply the AGES Model

In this Digital Age, we have experienced a paradigm shift in the way we learn as well as consume, and process knowledge. Even if we re-wind a decade from now and look back at how the Learning and Development sector has transformed, we can see a monumental change in the way how learning is designed and delivered and how learners learn and process information. We often come across the new age learning jargon like digital learning, e-learning, asynchronous learning, problem-based learning, gamified learning, blended learning, accessibility in learning, microlearning, mobile learning, adaptive learning, etc. These are not just the jargon; they are today’s reality and need of an hour when it comes to workplace learning or even academic learning. With the advent of advanced technologies like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, which are currently in their nascent stage in this field of L & D, it is even beyond one’s imagination how...
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The Myth of Ready

I literally got married on my high school graduation date. In the weeks that followed, I found myself in a weird limbo space, like I was playing house and just waiting for the moment when I’d feel like an adult. Seriously, y’all.

Took me a while to decide Adulthood is a myth, to realize we’re all making it up as we go. And it took me even longer to give myself permission to not know, letting myself make it up, to #DoItMessy, maybe even be wrong. 

Perhaps this realization is why it feels odd to me to have mentees. 

I am so proud of them, and I’m honored, truly, that I get to be a part of the journey. 

But I also feel a great responsibility to be forthright in my answers to questions, to be Correct. Some questions I’m fairly certain of. Others I caveat with a “this was my experience as a white, cis woman.”
But each cohort, there is always one question I cannot answer. 

“Am I ready?”

Sometimes...

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ID and Ed Tech: They Intersect More than You May Realize

When I was in a teacher credentialing program, I apprenticed under two mentor teachers, both of whom frequently integrated technology with their instructional practices. I took that idea and ran with it, first when I developed and taught lessons in their classrooms, and later when I flew solo in my own classroom.

 

Soon I began to think about how I could take that inclination, strength, and interest I had in using technology for learning, and actually specialize in it. That’s how I ended up enrolling in a master’s program in educational technology. I quickly learned what it meant to earn a Master of Science degree – literature reviews and research papers!

 

What does this have to do with educational technology? Well, instructional practices should be grounded in solid research – in studies that are peer-reviewed, published, and with findings that usually are reinforced through subsequent studies....

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The First Recruiter Call

The First Recruiter Call

“Ahh, Mandy, I have a recruiter call tomorrow. What do I do!?” 

At least once per cohort, I get this message from IDOL courses Academy mentees. Newness can be scary, and I remember how uncertain I felt when recruiters started reaching out for the first time. 

Here are some general guidelines that may help.

The First Call

The first call may feel informal, and the recruiter may come across as really friendly. But don’t mistake this tone to mean that you’re not being evaluated on some level. It is an interview. You want to be prepared

In the first call, they tend to ask some of the basic questions:

  • What do you know about the company?
  • Why are you interested in the role?
  • How do you meet the qualifications of the role?
    (You’ll want to answer this with specific measurables and examples.)
  • What’s your desired salary?
    (This will likely be the recruiter who negotiates...
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Lessons about Visual Design that I Neglected to Follow

As a freelance artist who has studied and produced art for years, I thought visual design would come naturally to me and yet it was the one thing I neglected in instructional design. In fact, when it came to visual design in the courses I created, I failed, miserably. The reason is simple. I didn’t pay attention to it. I was solely focused on instructional design principles, content, and assessments. I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even realize that I was neglecting something so important until someone pointed it out to me. I mean who neglects CRAP (contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity) and doesn’t even know it?! Surely not me… I joke. 

 

I decided that I was going to have to go back to my roots. As an artist, when I got stuck, I turned to the works of artists I admired such as Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Francisco Clemente and Elizabeth Murray. Their work inspired me and gave me new ideas. This time, I turned to magazines and...

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Full Time Employment vs. Contract Positions

 You’ve worked hard to build your portfolio and optimize your resume and LinkedIn profile to show off your instructional design skills and now you’re ready to land your first ID role. 

As you look through job postings on LinkedIn or other job boards, you begin seeing two types of roles. Many job listings are for full time positions and others are short term contracts. You see contract durations ranging from 3 months to several years. Some others may say contract to hire. You aren’t sure what this means exactly, but you’re beginning to wonder if you should give these jobs a shot or stick to full time positions. 

I’m going to be honest, I was where you are after completing the IDOL courses Academy’s 6th cohort in spring 2021. I made the decision (without any research) to dismiss contracts because I wanted stability, health insurance, and a W2 position. I only applied and networked for full time positions and I was able to secure...

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Event-Specific Self-Reflection

In my current role, I’m developing a solution that’s event-specific. The event happens every year, but every year they may need to leverage the event differently. 

The problem I’ve always run into with annual asks like this is that I tend to forget the process until it comes up again, which wouldn’t be an obstacle if the process were exactly the same year after year. But the hope is our learners will build on their learning each time the event happens and deepen their practice.

So how do you get learners to remember something that happened a year ago? 

My answer: You don’t. 

Like myself, a lot of my family and friends are neurodivergent. Asking many of us to remember learning from a year ago is a big ask, and I assume it’s likely a big ask for neurotypical people too. 

Instead of hoping people will just remember, build self-reflection mechanisms into the workflow.

Since my build is event-specific and the event happens...

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