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A “T” shaped professional development plan

January 27, 2012


I think 2012 could be an interesting year for my pro-d. I’ts almost like that “T” shaped skills from IDEO.  The concept isn’t terribly new, but I think it’s useful, for me anyway. You have deep expertise in your core competency (the vertical bar), but complement it with adjacent skills (the horizontal bar).  I think I’ll focus on the adjacent stuff this year.

Web development:

I have signed up for the year of coding via Codecademy as I’d like to extend my instructional design skills to a broader range of e-learning development tools. I am also on a beta for a popular tool-in-waiting for the e-learning set (no names mentioned), which is fun even if I don’t have enough time to really play with it! I am also debating the acquisition of another new tool, which would add a new dimension to my skillset. If I find myself with extra time this year I might take on Flash too. I thought about trying this online option (Treehouse), too. It is a different way of learning (video)…

Speaking of Video

I’d also love to learn about more video shooting and production and wonder if a project might be in the works for later this year. Green screens, framing, etc…I’m super intrigued by the interactive video idea. Building in choices to video snippets, which sounds a lot like branching scenarios to us in the e-learning field!


User design

I would love to get more exposure to graphic design and user experience – how to make things look good – while I read and watch continuously and know the C.R.A.P. stuff – here’s a nice article describing it. I’d love to know what works with interactions from a learner perspective. This kind of behavioural thinking is really compelling to me. I signed up for the Human Computer Interaction course from Stanford, but it doesn’t start until Jan 30th.  I am loving Julie Dirksen’s book Design for How People Learn (still savouring it).



I would also love to write fiction, storytelling from a personal & professional perspective is really appealing to me. I’m an avid reader (I’d like to say voracious, but that’s only what I aspire to!). Thinking about how to engage people in learning through stories seems like a natural fit, so will see what kind of resources might fit for that.  Still thinking about this one.

Leave space for Serendipity…

I like to just find things that are interesting, and of course working freelance means that each new client and industry I engage with provides me with new learning opportunities, so that keeps me on my toes. Ironically, the two things that caught my attention this week – @busynessgirl’s TEDx video and this post by @Callooh

Wish me luck…oh, and if you have any suggestions for me, pass on a comment or tweet me…@sparkandco

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Ryan Tracey permalink
    February 3, 2012 2:11 pm

    Good luck!

    I think they’re all eminently suitable topics for pro-d, Holly. I’m starting to delve into video more myself, but you’re taking it a step further with interactive scenarios etc – which is great.

    The only suggestion I would give you is to seek alternatives to Flash. Not the technology (which is wonderful) but the tool. There’s a growing list of tools out there that let you create swf files, without needing to become a hardcore developer.

  2. May 4, 2012 9:58 am

    This is great, Holly. Love the T-shaped metaphor. Such strong applications across the board for our practice.

    • hollymacdonald permalink*
      May 4, 2012 11:03 am

      Thanks Steve – it provided a framework for my own pro-d, would love to know how you see it being used.

      • May 4, 2012 6:35 pm

        I really like it for performance competencies but also see the metaphor as a default for both analysis and solution design. We tend to take on box shaped analysis that tend to drag out and lack focus. The reports get lost in a sea of data. With a T-shaped analysis, you’re leveraging a skilled performance consultant to quickly sort the landscape, run validation experiments of the most probable elements, and order up a deeper analysis for particularly boggling factors.

        This ties directly to solutioneering as well as many times a validation experiment for a K&S indicated problem can be fast and effective, living on throughout the trunk of the T as an analysis progresses.

        We’re hard-over on performance analysis. This is good, but the process is often too mechanistic and lacks agility that would provide system resilience and responsiveness. It could be much worse, but it also could be so much better with a T shaped focus.


  1. “T-shaped” instructional design process « Spark Your Interest!

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