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  • Writer's pictureNicole Papaioannou Lugara

What Meant Something to Me: PD Done Right

Last week, I talked about how challenging my colleagues found it to quickly identify meaningful professional learning experiences within their own professional lives, as well as how to design meaningful learning.

This week, I want to talk about and deconstruct some of the meaningful professional learning experiences I have had throughout my own career.

PD I Was Assigned

Learning about Learning

During grad school, I worked for the Montclair State University Center for Writing Excellence as a writing consultant. Leadership there was committed to producing a group of professional writing consultants who worked from evidence-based best practices.

Each week, we were assigned reading, and we would discuss it during our staff meeting. The topics ranged from curriculum design to disability studies to rhetoric and composition and a whole lot more. During the actual meeting, we focused on key takeaways, how we could apply the research to our own work (if at all), and challenges we might face. We worked together to problem solve as a group.

group of writing center consultants standing for a group photo
CWE Staff of 2011

What Worked

  • Relevant content - The articles we read were focused on real issues we saw in the writing center or needed to become aware of. The content was immediately applicable.

  • Guided discussion - Our leadership team vetted the content in advance, so we knew it was worth reading, and led us through discussion, making sure we didn't go off on tangents or possibly starting making inferences about things that weren't in the evidence, since we were new to research.

  • Metacognitive Exercise - Reading research about the work we were doing forced us to think about our processes and how we learned about our work.

  • Scheduled - Both the consistent timeline and the deadlines helped to create a reading habit. I knew every week I had to carve out X amount of time to get through the content so I was ready to discuss with my colleagues.

This was some of the most impactful work of my career. In fact, in many ways, it felt like doing a second masters degree. Over 6 years, it really developed my craft as a consultant and researcher, as well as my interest in composition and rhetoric. It prepared me for PhD-level work, for teaching my own undergraduate students, and for eventually becoming an instructional designer. It was professional development that served the mission of the university, the mission of the center, and my goals as a professional.

PD I Picked for Me

Amy Porterfield's Digital Course Academy

When I enrolled in Amy Porterfield's Digital Course Academy, I was already a seasoned ID who not only knew how to build courses for clients, but had built several for her own company.

$2000 to do what I already knew how to do?! Why would I do that?

Amy Porterfield is one of the best marketing minds out there when it comes to direct to consumer digital course products.

I wanted to see what a $9 million per launch earner was doing that I wasn't-- both in terms of delivering impactful experiences for her end user and helping them find her courses in the first place.

I wasn't disappointed. Even though a lot of it was stuff I already knew how to do or overly simplified for an audience of novices, I found value in getting an inside view of the program, the community, her marketing strategies, and her launch data.

If you've taken my From Data to Design course, you might recognize some of the elements that I adopted based on my experience with Amy's course.

What Worked

  • Microlearning modules based on tasks - Each video walked you through a tangible activity you would complete, rather than just theory.

  • Dripped content - Week by week, modules unlocked, minimizing overwhelm.

  • Social learning via community - Amy's community had strategic questions and other challenges issued every week to keep the community active, but will several thousand members, there was always someone posting about something. It made you feel part of a group of a peers.

  • Accountability buddies - At the beginning of the course, Amy encouraged everyone to find a small group to connect with weekly to help get through the program. I still talk to my accountability buddies, even though the course is long since complete. Of the 4 of us, I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who actually continued with the course launch plan, and we all had very different businesses, but it's been great to have a supportive group of entrepreneurial mothers to connect with.

  • Live hotseats - We got to watch Amy problem-solve / coach a handful of participants who shared their issues with the group live.

  • Live Q&A - Amy would answer a handful of questions submitted to the group during a livestream. These were always related to the module that had recently opened.

  • Templates - There were lots of templates we could use in our own work and modify to meet our needs.

  • Additional resources for those who wanted a deep dive into a related but not primary subject matter - The course wasn't cluttered. There was a resource section and bonus courses for anyone interested in going further. For example, if you wanted to learn how to use Kajabi, she had tech tips. I used Thinkific, so I skipped this section of the library entirely. One of my accountability buddies barely looked at the primary course content and lived mostly in the Kajabi section.

The course was meaningful because it was relevant and considered the learner experience. Amy was aware of the questions her audience asked most often, the things that were most challenging for them, the small wins that would keep them motivated, and the time constraints that impacted them. She designed it to help people who wanted to build courses make significant progress and develop confidence in their ability to market their products, which for many-- like me-- was more than half the battle. She also reminded her learners that they were learning and that, with consistency, small wins would turn into big ones.

So, last week I issued you a challenge: figure out your most meaningful experience or how to create one.

Did you do it?

If so, I'd love to hear about it! Share with me below or on social media.


Want to design meaningful learning? Start with the FREE Discovery Call Question List.


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