The More Things Change #MondayBlogs

News from Learning Without Scars.

We have been busy around here for the past six months or so and you have been able to enjoy a rest from my incessant blabbering on about something or other.

I will bore you with some of the details that have interrupted the nice flow of life.

I suspect the thing of most interest is that Marlene and I have finally moved to Hawaii. We have been planning this for what seems like forever and have finally done it. As of December 29, 2016, we became residents of Hawaii. We didn’t have to move furniture as we purchased a furnished apartment. However, there was a lot of housekeeping with closing businesses in California and opening them in Hawaii. Getting banks set up and post offices and accountants and lawyers. You know the drill. Thankfully Marlene is the professional at these items and I don’t have to worry too much about them at all. But it is a lot of pressure on Marlene.

That is the positive side of things and of course there is a negative side as well. The Yin and Yang of life continues. Our daughter Caroline, her spouse Joanna, and our grandchildren are still in California. Not being able to see them on impulse is not so much fun. We miss them and their growing up and life experiences and their energy. We have to adjust our approaches as a family when we are together and really take advantage of every minute we are able to be together.

Another thing that happened is that I have completely stopped soliciting consulting work. I have clients, to be sure, that continue want to work with me in the businesses. I am blessed with wonderful clients. We started the consulting business in June 1980 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada not too far from where I was born in Mannville, Alberta.

I am not sure but I think winding down the business has been more traumatic for me than starting it was in the first place. One was hard work, while the other is emotional work. You have an identity as a worker that to some degree defines who you are and when you stop doing the work you have the potential to lose who you are. I am sure someone could say that much more eloquently than I, perhaps Caroline.

Then we created Learning Without Scars in 2015. Well it is now a Hawaii Corporation and the California business was closed as of December 2016. While that was going on Caroline was doing the yeoman’s work in converting all of our learning products to an internet based Learning Management System, and getting all this material fresh copyrights and trademarks. Our training business started with Quest Learning Centers. We started with Classroom courses with three levels and four modules per level. These management training programs were created in the early 1990’s. We took that material and compressed it into Webinars starting in the early 2000’s. But as a teacher, I wasn’t happy with the format of a slide show with a voice talking – so we changed things and used a high definition camera and injected me walking into the camera frame and talking to the learners on their computers. Those of you that know me know I like to talk. With the internet option, we had to convert these webinars, of which we had developed over ninety different programs, to the Learning Management Software. This meant a heavy learning curve for Caroline and a lot of work for me. Everything had to be redone. The text content all had to be updated and upgraded. Then we needed to create audio files to go with the text. Then we had to run prototypes so we could have input from actual learners. Those learners wanted to inject me into the program like we had in the webinars so we are working with a Professional, Paul Baumann, from XFINIGEN Media, and creating Vimeo files which we will insert into the learning products.

We have the new website created by Brian Shanahan, who did a wonderful job in presenting us to the world. Brian has upgraded on R.J. Slee site so that the “look and feel” is similar.

And finally, I think, Caroline is working with the IACET, The International Association of Continuous Education Training to have all of our learning programs certified so that they will earn CEU’s, Continuous Education Units credits that would apply to Colleges, Universities and Junior Colleges across the world. That, too, is a big task but one that will bring us, we believe, nice results.

We have been, and continue to be, busy. Life is good.

I don’t know how many of you know that my mother was a teacher, a well-recognized teacher in her day as one of the pioneer teachers of the Pittman reading program, which accelerated the ability of very young children to read. Kindergarten and Grade One specifically were reading newspapers and comprehending. My grandmother was a teacher. She received her Master’s Degree from the University of Manitoba in 1913. Granny, or “Granny the Great” as Caroline called her, taught in a one room school house and I had the pleasure of meeting several of her students when they attended her eightieth birthday party. I suspect she had an impact on them, don’t you?

Well I started as a teacher, first at a country club in the Laurentians, north of Montreal, teaching summer sports. Then moving to an instructor position with McGill University, which morphed in two programs within the Department of Physical Education from Teaching students how to teach swimming and also how to Coach the Swimming discipline. I am quite pleased that several of my students went on to coach at the national level for men and women in the Olympics and Commonwealth games. I had to give up the McGill teaching when I started at the caterpillar dealer in Quebec, Hewitt Equipment. My daughter Caroline is a teacher. She teaches in the California School System. We must have some teaching chops in the genes. I know I get excited when I see the lights go on in peoples’ eyes when they “GET” something.

But one thing I can tell you is that Learning is HARD. I know we have been told how to learn over and over again. It is repetition. Do it over and over again ad nausea. That never really worked for me so that is not how I taught. I wanted to people to understand something so that they would remember it. Not memorize it so they could forget it.

It turns out that the instructions from schools and teachers about highlighting and underlining and sustained reading and rereading notes and texts are not that appropriate. Endel Tulving, a psychologist, at the University of Toronto challenged this traditional model of learning and remembering through a series of investigations starting in the mid-1960’s. Tulving found that the learning curves were statistically indistinguishable between the tried and true learning pattern recommended above and random learning models that were not based on repetition. Well that is how we have designed the internet learning programs. We want you to Learn and to Know, not to memorize.

I am excited about this new venture and we are busy releasing new programs every month. We have the first two years of the management and supervision in the market now. We also have the first program for a specific job function, the first of many, which we released in March. It is for the Telephone and Counter sales personnel in the Parts Business. More on the product side in future blogs.

Well that is it. I hope you understand better now what has been happening and why there has been such a gap in my communicating with you.

The last time I wrote here was when I introduced “Socrates” our mascot. Talk to you soon.

The time is now.