‘Keep the end in mind’ – wise words from Chew Ban Seng in his recent blog and presentation about what Pathways meant for him. He talks about the obstacles and the weaknesses of the new Pathways program and how he overcame them to become the first Toastmaster to earn the Pathways Distinguished Toastmasters award. Others have since followed on, but he remains the first.
Today I reviewed the video of the three speakers who presented in the Toastmasters in the Digital Age segment of the Expert Speakers at the D51 Convention in April 2018.
But what resonated most for me in the third speech “Pathways: 2 Biggest Obstacles and 1 Biggest Weakness” were the fundamental raw truths that were shared.
There is a flaw in the instructional design of the Pathways system – the underlying assumption that learning online needs to be sequential and controlled in a lock step manner.
Read that statement again! Do you agree? We need to be able to ‘see ahead’ and ‘plan ahead’ and we deserve an exemplary blended learning approach to our continuing Toastmasters Journey.
There is a flaw in the Pathways experience – a missing opportunity for collaborative and cooperative learning.
Read that statement again! Do you know what I mean? We need to feel part of a community all learning together and sharing our experiences. Online Learning Communities are required. When they are not offered by the learning institute, they occur naturally among the learners.
Phew! Now that I have that off my chest I can proceed with the rest of this blog from Mars!
Why the title, Blogging from Mars?
At the Ablaze Online Toastmasters meeting this morning the theme was ‘Blogs from the Internet’. One of the Table Topics questions was “You are a blogger living on Mars, what would you post about in your blog to earthlings?” I so wished I had been asked that question! Would I be writing about the things I can see from such a great distance and the folly of mankind? Would I choose to bring enlightenment about Mars to Earth? Or, would I choose to go for the raw truth?
Let’s go with the raw truth!
We need a MOOC for Pathways!
As an instructional designer in my former days in adult education in Australia, it was fundamental, in designing any online or blended course, to keep the needs of the learner firmly in mind. Students need immediate support and relevant resources to self-manage their online learning, right from the beginning of their navigation in a learning management system. They needed opportunities for collaborative and cooperative learning within their online spaces – a place to discuss the difficulties they were facing or to share their achievements. And they needed tutors and mentors to assist their development. A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) was very attractive for a free learning experience and had its hay day back in 2012 – MOOCs emerged (in various styles and purposes) as a popular mode of learning.
Toastmasters need immediate support and relevant resources, to self-manage their navigation of Pathways. Toastmasters need to know ‘how’ they will benefit from the projects in the course or Path. Toastmasters need community around their online learning as well as in their clubs. Yes, there is a plethora of support within your Path, but not presented in a way that makes sense to all new learners online. We need a MOOC!
There is a missing piece – an ongoing Learning Guide (documentation, people and forums) – a MOOC is the answer to that!
Toastmasters need to feel inspired by the Education program provided for them as they pay their dues on entry to a club. Toastmasters are looking for value for money, especially in this competitive arena where many local and online clubs are vying for their membership. Toastmasters need clear instructions on what to do in their online learning space, and they need to feel empowered by the experience of learning this way. Toastmasters need to be able to put their learning in place in their speaking and leadership roles in club meetings. This is the reason they attend and join a club!
The Pathways disruptive innovation process has caused unrest among the Toastmasters. There is confusion and dissatisfaction with the new – this is being expressed in all clubs and across the wider international family of Toastmasters. Social media is running rampant with questions, answers, theories, suggestions and discussion.
Toastmasters need their own MOOC!
The Toastmasters network is busily making sense of the new terrain and gathering their knowledge – to share with others. We have Pathways Guides still supporting people in their Areas; we have Online Pathways Guides helping their assigned clubs in District U; we have new club executives stepping up to new roles as Base Camp Managers and we have Districts putting teams of Pathways support in place.
(See previous post about ways to build a Team Pathways in your camp.)
But where can we engage with our international peers in discussion forums for our collaborative and cooperative learning experiences?
There are several social media spaces where discussions are happening about all things Toastmasters. I belong to several of them. Its in these spaces where much learning is gained from my peers. However, the forums dedicated to Pathways are the MOOCs we can access today!
Enter the Pathways Discussion Forum!
This is the MOOC you have been looking for?
Yes it provides discussion (in spades); yes it provides collaborative learning (in diamonds); and yes it provides cooperative learning in its simple Mentorship program (its new heart). This program offers you opportunities for stretching your mentoring skills outside your club and outside your country.
This forum is adding value to the learning journey for our International Toastmasters as Facebook group members. We are a community, striving to provide a massive open online connection (not really a course), although we have recently added some learning units to make the job of finding resources easier. Membership is over 6,600 and growing with over 300 waiting for approval.
(Note: please answer the entrance questions as you request to join the group.)
Toastmasters want Pathways support and hundreds have eagerly signed up as a Mentor or Protege in the forum. Together we have matched up over 200 pairs of Toastmasters who all need help with Pathways – the process is simple and effective.
If you want to sign up to be a Mentor for an international Protege, and if you want to experience more about cooperative learning, then this is the place for you.
So as a Blogger from Mars (or at least from a different mindset) I urge you to seek out a Mentor or become one at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pathwaysdiscussionforum/
As a Mentor for a Protege I recently learned the value of a consistent, five week model of communication in which both of us learned and grew a little more!
Meeting Carole [McCulloch] has been one of the greatest ‘happenings’ I’ve had in my relatively short Toastmasters journey. Within the 5-week direct mentoring program, she was able to get me to focus on, visualize, and put into action what will be the next phase of how I will be supporting the Toastmasters educational program (building Pathways support teams). In this time, I came to better realize my value in the program and the skills I have that are needed by others. Very quick, very articulate. I encourage others to reach out to Carole. You won’t be disappointed. -John McDonald, (soon-to-be) DTM