On the last weekend of class, we each had to share with the cohort our experience interviewing the program planner/change agent from our final 830 research project. I give credit to my colleague and classmate Joanne for recommending I interview Dr. Beverlie Dietze (the director of Learning and Applied Research at Okanagan College).
Dr. Dietze is a guru when it comes to program planning. The focus of my interview was specific to planning professional development workshops. One of the concepts that came from the interview is the backward design of a program where:
“outcomes drive content, delivery, and assessment.”
Discerning context and culture – which I’m discovering are intertwined – is another important component that we discussed. Another concept is team work – capacity building: as a program developer, fostering potential is crucial (in your team and your learners). And not just the ‘here and now’ strategies – I’m talking about creating a legacy – sustainability (LAR lacks a formal sustainability plan even though Dr. Dietze has built a talented team) – keeping good momentum, and building trust.
I also need to go off on a bit of a tangent here to talk about what happened in Kelowna on Monday morning. As you’ve all likely heard there was a terrible crane accident and 4 young tradesmen lost their lives (there was another gentleman who died as well in an adjacent building under the weight of the crane). These guys didn’t even get their lunch break that day – they didn’t get to go home after work to walk their dogs, crack a beer, jump in the lake, or see their family. When we leave our homes, and go to work, we want to and need to believe that what we are doing outside, and away from our homes is worthwhile.
I am so grateful to people in trades. I am reminded, when a tragedy like this occurs, how much I take for granted the physical and mental sacrifices they make in keeping our structures and infrastructures operational and safe for all of us. This reminds me of that famous photo ‘Lunch Across a Skyscraper’ that Kevin shared a few weekends ago. The men look happy and their pride is observable. These people are incredibly talented and skilled craftsmen reaching their full potential in their chosen field. Trades vocations are incredibly noble – and they can also be extremely dangerous.
And it not just trades – it’s all of us – every time we leave our homes and go to work there are physical and mental threats – Last night I sent Corbin an article that I read in The Washington Post about how restaurant workers are fed up with being yelled at by the people they feed and the people they serve. Corbin responded, ‘you feel you can own someone for a $15 burger.’ I’m sure Chantal has had her share of this in the hospitality industry with ‘the customer is always right’ culture. The front-line healthcare workers in this cohort face mental and physical peril daily, even the educators – being a teacher seems reasonably safe until some crazed gunman enters the building, or (god forbid) some lunatic brings a weapon onto the sky train!
My point is that I just wanted to acknowledge what we do – and especially the trades: who work in cohesive, organized, and trust-reliant TEAMS, and who also have deadly consequences when things go wrong. So, what does this have to do with program planning? There are many questions surrounding the accident – these were professional people – the industry will look at the accident and there will be re-alignment or iteration of protocol. Change will likely be recommended. I recommend that a backwards design be appropriate: the outcomes drive everything.
In tying this back to my research project, there are challenges in every profession – obviously some more dire than others but challenges nonetheless. Do we need to develop programs for restauranteurs with tools to diffuse rude behaviour? Or, do we educate the public to change the culture of ‘the customer is always right?’ Corbin says the customer is ‘never right’😊. Or, do we simply carry on challenges be damned? Dr. Dietze’s unit’s biggest challenge is resources (but not the human kind): “It’s a very robust department, with very few resources. The team works extremely hard to support faculty and instructors.” Because that’s what committed and motivated people do, challenges be damned. I asked her if she differentiates her program planning when considering trades versus academic (faculty) professional development workshops. She only differentiates in a practical way. I’ll let her have the last word here:
Dr. Dietze mentions 10 steps in program planning. These ‘steps’ are discrete to each program. Caffarella and Daffron (2021) outline an interactive checklist for planning programs which includes 11 steps (thanks to COVID-19 – see step 3):
1. Discern the context
2. Build a solid base of support and identify needs
3. Plan for difficult times (aka virtual delivery)
4. Construct program goals and objectives
5. Design instructional plans
6. Devise transfer of learning plans
7. Formulate program evaluation plan
8. Determine formats, schedules, staff
9. Prepare and manage budgets
10. Organize marketing
11. Review details (pp. 447-450)
Daffron, S. R. & Caffarella R. S. (2021). Planning programs for adult learners – A practical guide (4th ed.). Hoboken: Jossey-Bass.
 A crane collapsed at a downtown Kelowna, British Columbia building site killing 5 people on the morning of July 12, 2021. Four of the victims were working at the site of a future 25-storey residential tower when the crane’s arm fell to the ground.