What challenges do employers face in developing employee writing skills?
-Government needs to have a commitment to plain language because when navigating government documents it is extremely difficult for many individuals to access the information and documents that they need to
-Efforts get made to increase plain language resources, however as management changes, website changes happen, the efforts get lost
-Although overall education levels may be rising within some populations, there are many individuals who cannot access resources
-Many major points of government access are automated, at least in the preliminary inquiry, so the need for plain language resources is even more necessary
-Critical framework right now is the Living Literacy Framework
-It is important to embed literacy components within training programs, and more efforts need to be made to have this happen
-Alberta is very work focused, so much of the efforts are targeted at workforce: “Learn to Earn”
-It’s about skills for employment, but it’s also about quality of life
-Employment is one way to achieve quality of life, but it is not the only way
-The pathway to getting good writing skills is not just about getting employed, it is about serving a personal purpose be it personal sense of achievement, engage in community (citizenship)
-Writing is process and repetition
-If you can improve writing through process and repetition, these skills transfer into life, work, etc.
-Can we think of other purposes of writing that would improve their skills
-There are people who have left jobs because a lack of confidence
-People fear failure because of lack of skills, even though they may be employed
-There is a bigger picture at play: We are moving into the “knowledge economy,” so even if employment is not the sole focus, writing is still necessary
-Consistently hear, if I hire a new graduate, they don’t know how to write
-High stakes learning is a huge issue in relation to pairing employment to learning
-It is problematic that people have fear around learning yet their employment opportunities are tied to quick, drive-through learning opportunities in some instances
-Influence of modern age communication (i.e. social media)
-Pressure learners experience to get a better job, learn more, balance family, etc.
-Other factors influence learning-racism/discrimination, poverty
-Many instances where diverse learning communities support co-learning
-Need to have a community of learning
-Collaborative learning is how we learn best
-How could we incorporate an increased sense of safety in learning and a community of learning in some of these higher stakes instances? Can we reduce some of the risks associated with learning (particularly in relation to employment) with/by increasing collaborative learning environments
-The concept of risk has come up in the first two Alberta Writes conferences
-The GOA states 40% of Albertans “struggle with their ability to understand and use information from texts.” Who makes up this 40%? It is important to understand where these stats come from and what this group’s needs are
-Writing is contextual, so you need to respond to someone’s learning needs appropriately in a way that is relatable
-Life situation impacts our ability to expand our learning, strategies, and skills
-You can find a new delivery model but you need to respond to the learner’s needs
-Need long-term programming!
-So often programs are short term and learners don’t have the opportunity to develop skills, especially in relation to skills that take time to develop (i.e. Writing)
-Writing: There is no magic bullet, it is one of the longest skills it takes to acquire
-Some of the more successful schools in this province adopt a community learning model
-A whole person, whole learning model is important
-Successful learning makes space for what is happening in that person’s life: family, life, work, etc.
-GOA is working on an integrated service delivery model, trying to reduce some of the one-stop shopping programming that is so hazardous. It is not a band-aid solution for everyone because everyone’s situations are different
-GOA was only introduced to the integrated service delivery model recently
-However, it is important to ensure effective delivery of new models
-It is so critical to have everyone invested in the same ideas
-The model looks like it is more expensive, but the long-term effects are not actually more expensive
-Longitudinal studies are needed to understand how successful programs and learners are because in a small snapshot the failure is emphasized however over a longer period of time would show that success is complex and often takes time, needing to set up supports within a program and within one’s own life for learning
-We could all work together to track things better
-We need to get more sophisticated in how we track data in order to have a more accurate understanding of the learning process
Key for success might be having workers participate in a task (writing tech docs, curricula, etc.) and not just participating in training.
A more complete model that allows information gathering, tapping into worker knowledge, allowing worker to build materials, use the materials and change the materials yields many positive results.
It was mentioned that the journeymen were initially quite traditional in their views of things like tests, ‘class’ layout etc and how their appreciation of learning environment and modes also changed.
Discussed whether test accommodation was provided. Test past mark was 90% and were quite traditional. More accommodation re the use of filed assessments.
We were told that changes to the modules were made at the actual moment a problem was found during instruction.
lessons learned for other groups to use (were they captured?)
Importance of images and how technology is making this possible
the idea of “poaching” ideas across employers and departments to focus on effectiveness for the employees and workplace
Dissemination of this information and communicating the gains (loop of gains promoting more gains)
it is an unusual employer that would allow this process and it is important that this process be ‘risk free’ for the employee to this to be a free, positive, collaborative process
***people are interested in being part of a task (not a writing workshop or essential skills course
How can employers encourage employees to write? Encourage their workers to write down what they do, how they train people, what they need to know or say to train others.
If people think their writing is being judged they will be more resistant. There could be sensitivity around having their writing critiqued.
If someone “owns” a module, get a few different workers to critique it. Collaboration around writing , but also have collaboration in other aspects of their work. Part of the culture in the workplace.
The SME and the writer worked together. The writer was careful to respect the SME’s knowledge.
The employer allowed the process of side by side work and a new approach to developing training to occur. They had to listen and adjust to extended time lines.
The feedback was that the new training was more effective with the new apprentices.
What did learning new writing skills feel like? Pretty damn good.
Writing of modules also affects how the tests are written. There needs to be a common linkage from the module to the trades assessment/tests. The linkage can’t be un- or underdescribed neither. It needs to be very clear.
Challenges employers face in developing employee writing skills?
-identifying risk & reward:
risks: fatalities, liability, survival in marketplace
rewards: employee skill increase across skills and training asset in product
-see it as an investment in employees, ownership in process at Enmax will improve retention
-writing is embedded as a skill in accomplishing other goals such as training, safety, productivity
-in high schools design a learning activity pairing academic stream with shop classes to write up a process, showing both value of writing across contexts
-authentic audience – shop instructor uses document in following classes
-learning from teaching, for teaching, student as teacher
-writing skills take years to develop in traditional instruction vs. intensive immersion like at Enmax – accelerated process
-corporations can look at cross-functional teams to invest in relative increments of training to reduce costs
-businesses need to make decision to commit, and this will likely be made on a business case for rewards
image and text
succession planning can benefit (nine box method)
Graphics are another important thing to consider (ie. charts, illustration)
these can be frameworks for texts – can streamline process
Who is capturing the lessons learned for the curriculum dev commuity?
Taking back writing to the job. Allows a review of procedures, increasing and refreshing knowledge. Rotation among crews with different applications of work can use modules to refresh less familiar knowledge. Fits idea of literacy skills at finding and using information for a purpose- but resources accessed need to provide the right information and in the right way. Enmax example is really solid, ideal example. It is peer reviewed among the trade, associate trades and is timely tapping into the knowledge of experience and new apprentices (feedback on the product to enable their learning). Other companies as well are offering feedback on the learning or how the learning from module is displaying in the field.
It was interesting to see how skill sets increased with all involved
the constant feedback to the intended audience was critical
democratizing the workplace through writing
the take away is this culture should be fostered
a key aspect is the photography – it makes the reading easier as the image supports the text
Visual materials make it possible for people to use (regardless of background and learning style)
experience gives the ability to share work around
Is this a template that another industry could use
it is also critical for plain and clear language
how can we learn to let the image drive the text
it is critical to focus on audience
how can this be used across industry
Alpha Table – same people.
Was the journeyman’s voice maintained in the final product? Yes, the process of reading the work aloud allowed them to hear any issues re clarity etc. so they would change it. The voice was preserved.
Poaching of the training is seemingly not a concern; really, it is about ensuring the best possible skill and knowledge development for the trade and ensuring the longevity of skill transfer across generations.
The learners had to teach the writers. Research has shown that four times as much brain power is used in teach than in learning.
How did the boss approach the workers to participate in this program? The worker just wrote down the stuff he has been teaching for years. If they had been told their writing skills would improve, it wouldn’t have been an incentive. The incentive was to produce a good training product.
Most of the guys are point form guys.
When you see the finished product and can take ownership of it, it is rewarding.
Learned about writing – don’t drone on and on. Realize who your audience is. Break some of the sentences into shorter sentences.
Good instructor needs to be a diplomat as well. Needs to know how to work with different people. Needs flexibility. Some learners will be resistant. Have to be diplomatic.
Issue: The employer being aware that the employees even need assistance or writing skills – a leap is to have a writer on staff and to fund it
Enmax an interesting test case
There is an interesting opportunity for knowledge transfer between senior staff and junior staff to fully test the product
This is an interesting opportunity for companies to use writing to capture existing knowledge and expertise by using it with new people and leaving an written product
this example is an interesting as it shows the learning loop that connects all parties (writer, workers, different genders)
Writing capacity within organizations is critical to retain knowledge
Again collaboration is key to making this writing process work
ROI on getting the journeymen in the writing process ensure the best development of apprentices for the role of active journeymen in the field.
Workers who are actively involved in the writing process should be allowed to go from the field with a crew back to the writing and back to field again as needed. Spread of the knowledge in the different environments really helps in all areas and keeps specific examples relevant and realistic and ultimately more dynamic as they integrate new information, process, procedure and application by the workers in the field.
How do secondary schools and technical schools prepare journeymen for the literacy demands of Enmax?
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