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I satisfied the criteria for the “Communication Expert credential” – one down, four to go!

I’m at the tail end of my Masters of Professional Practice (Digital Learning), whereby I now only have to successfully complete 10 credentials. I’ve submitted the first batch of five to be assessed and have recently been advised that “the credential assessors have determined that you have satisfied the criteria for your Communication Expert credential”, which is awesome. One credential down, four to go (in this batch).

Feedback from the Assessors

Assessor 1 feedback

“Rowan, congratulations on this successful submission for the Communication Expert credential. You have explained how your years of experience in education and education technology communicating to a range of audiences have developed continuing expertise in effective communication have led to your ability to present, represent, and promote a communicative culture. The first example documents how you directed the redesign of Indigenous Australian Voices cultural safety module. The high level briefing document informed concise critical details of the redesign and its alignment to client and stakeholder strategic requirements. The delivery of the project itself was important to effectively guide new students and introduce and promote a positively communicative culture at the university. The second showcases a separate team initiative to work with university stakeholders, but the third more effectively highlights your own capability to communicate with meaning to diverse stakeholders and represent the organisation as you detail your own actions to lead and co-deliver PD working group series meetings. Excellent work! Thanks for this interesting submission and all the best.”

Assessor 2 feedback

“Dear Rowan, Your role in designing and delivering learning experiences inherently requires your ability to know how to massage and communicate information in a digestible format so that students (or stakeholder) can develop or learn the module. Your written testimony demonstrates your involvement in promoting effective communication whilst representing your organisation with authority and credibility. One such example is through the showcases where you have the opportunity to speak about the organisations value proposition, but most importantly congratulate and celebrate the professional development of your peers (which would certainly inspire & encourage the attendees of the showcase). In addition, you are able to consolidate the complexities of re-designing a module into a one page document so that you can articulate the project to all stakeholders in an easily understandable & concise format. This demonstrates your ability to give and receive clear instructions as well as prepare influential reports. Well done on successfully fulfilling the Communication-Expert credential.”

My submission

What was so unique about my role was the breadth of stakeholders that I’d engage with and ultimately would need to effectively communicate with across a diverse range of contexts and modalities as an individual and as part of a fully functioning high performance team. For example, I may have had to engage with senior academics or directors of centres and institutes within the organisation, while another I may have had to engage with peers within my working group, present showcases to internal prospective clients or external education partners (of my organisation), help facilitate enrolment of participants in a online course we were delivering, or even communicate with applicants as part of my organisations recruitment drive. I hope these examples and subsequent reflection on each demonstrates my capacity to communicate effectively at an expert level.

Example #1: Indigenous Australian Voices – briefing document

As a team situated within a larger central portfolio, it’s not uncommon for us to be asked by our extended portfolio colleagues to support the production of their projects – partially or in full, the level of support required can vary greatly, much like the project scope. At the start of 2022, I was approached about leading a piece of work related to video production support as part of a proposed redesign of the first take on a “cultural safety module”, a compulsory online module designed especially for undergraduate students new to university life. The goal of the module is to provide students with an opportunity to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia and fully understand the university’s values. From our pre-production workshops and meetings with the project leads (client) from the university’s Indigenous peoples and communities unit, it soon became apparent that the module needed more than a touch-up to the video content – a complete redesign on the module was required, from a technical and instructional perspective. This observation was echoed by the client’s desire to do more while ensuring the module best reflects the goals and priorities specified in the university’s 10 year strategic plan.

Given the scope change for the piece of work and the importance of the module, it was crucial that the proposed changes were clearly and concisely documented and made readily shareable with key stakeholders. The goal was to communicate all this in a ‘one-pager’ – a document that clearly and succinctly explains why we’re doing it, what we’re (not) delivering, and when. This document was then issued to all stakeholders to increase their awareness and understanding of the change of scope and provide opportunities for them to provide input and feedback. Although it was a high-level document, it served as a literal and figurative guide for our decision making.

The outcome was the enhancement brief. A single page high-level document that specifies an overview of the project, its goal, the proposed changes, allowances, and the deliverables – the urgent format is best suited to stakeholders with limited time and capacity to make their way through multi-page documentation. Although it was a high-level document, it served as a literal and figurative guide for our decision making, and eventual build-out and release of the enhanced cultural safety module for students for Semester 2, 2022.

My contribution to the enhancement brief was to work closely with the client to ensure: 1) the proposed changes align with the university’s initiatives to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, staff and culture, 2) clearly define the proposed changes and their positive impacts, 3) specify allowances, and 4) set deliverables, milestones and due dates. A colleague wrote the copy, which I then proofed and recommended slight changes where needed. As the project lead, I then distributed the completed enhancement to the project stakeholders for consideration prior to development of the compulsory online module.

The stakeholders involved in the enhancement of the Indigenous Australian Voices module and were issued the enhancement brief include head of centre from Monash Centre for Professional Development, the academic director of Monash Online Education and the director of the William Cooper Institute, under direction of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education).

Example #2: CPD MOE showcases

Throughout 2022, the Monash Centre for Professional Development and Monash Online Education (CPD MOE) presented a limited series of showcases to stakeholders within the university to demonstrate our capability to produce high-quality learning designed especially for working professionals and to invite the stakeholders to work with us.

The goal of the showcases was to demonstrate our capacity as a paid-for production service for educators within the university to help them produce their professional development offerings. The showcases were intentionally formatted to personalise the people and processes the stakeholders would engage with along our production pipeline, if they chose to work with us.

My role at the showcases was to speak about our value proposition: what’s different about what we do, how we design our learning for our ‘end users’, and how we’ll work with the educators to design and develop their professional development course, and also to reassure them. My colleagues spoke in more detail about educational design concepts, the application of technology, course administration and management and certification, and more – another colleague acted as an emcee providing colour commentary and context, if required. Every team member had their moment to shine.

The operational aspects of the series of showcases required input and involvement from everyone in our centre, including the Head of centre. Showcase attendees ranged from Deans of faculty, senior management and heads of centres or institutes from within the university – we pitched our services to anyone who wanted to produce professional development.

Example #3: Presentation – PD Working Group Meeting

The PD Working Group Meeting was a series of meetings for stakeholders directly involved in the design, development and delivery of professional development by Monash Centre for Professional Development and Monash Online Education (CPD MOE) – each meeting featured updates, reporting and celebrations of success. In March 2022, I gave a presentation on our recently launched Compassion training for healthcare workers course with lead educator Debbie Ling. Since then, the course has run a total of five times throughout 2022, with plans for it to run again in 2023. It was also awarded the 2022 MNHS Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Education in the category of ‘Excellence in Education – Industry and Community Education Programs (Team)’, which we’re incredibly proud of.

The goal of the presentation was to showcase the launch of Debbie’s professional development, celebrate its popularity with the healthcare professional cohort as well as discuss the highly productive partnership that I shared with Debbie.

Debbie spoke about her lived professional experience in healthcare and compassion as well the identified need for this type of training for healthcare workers, while I spoke about how we teamed-up on the design, development and delivery of the course. In particular, I spoke about how we worked closely to design a learning experience that gives healthcare workers bitesize tools and techniques they can then go away and practise – right from the start of the project we wanted the course to be practical and useful. I also spoke about understanding the time-poor healthcare professional cohort and how it informed the way we designed the course and shaped its content, particularly the:

  • use of video – we wanted to intentionally shift the presentation of learning away from the ‘academic on a pedestal’ to an approach of still being the expert but being relatable, real and encouraging.
  • fridge magnets – downloadable materials and end of week summaries, which in this course we called ‘the essentials’ are designed to be printable and ready to use as a quick reference, much like a “fridge magnet” or “post-it note” stuck on your monitor that’s immediately available when you need it.
  • making it social – we designed for opportunities for participant reflection and discussion – we gently invited participants to “Tell us how you went” and “Reflect and connect” with others.
  • bonus beats – carefully curated high quality related links were gently offered to participants where they could “Find out more”, if it was of interest to them. These were not just isolated links, but contained a brief explanation
  • practising in public – the course is all about developing skills that can then be applied to a professional practice so we designed for many opportunities to practise compassion exercises as listening and reflective activities.

Each meeting featured different presenters, but generally stakeholders that attended these events were directly involved in the professional development activities of CPD MOE.

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