4 Strategies to Become a Transformative Educator

When you are assigned a class and students arrive, do you view yourself as a teacher, instructor, or educator? Is your role a function, one which completes tasks and responsibilities, or do you aspire to accomplish more with your students? Do you consider the instructional strategies you use now to be transformative in some manner, or would you like to somehow transform the students you teach?

A person enters the field of education as a profession, either full-time in a traditional academic institution or as an adjunct (or part time) instructor. A traditional full-time professor may likely be responsible for conducting research, teaching, and publishing scholarly work. An adjunct instructor may teach in a community college, traditional college, or an online school. When someone teaches students within the field of higher education, he or she may be called a facilitator, instructor, or professor. This is important as you won’t find a job title with the word educator in it.

Does this mean that everyone who is a teacher, professor, instructor, faculty member, or adjunct, is also an educator? What I have learned through my work in higher education is that everyone who is in one of these roles is doing their best to teach and guide a learning process, whether they are involved in undergraduate or graduate degree courses. However, someone who considers themselves to be an educator is a person who goes beyond the role of teaching and seeks to lead a transformational learning process. I have learned myself that becoming an educator is not an automatic process. It takes time, practice, and dedication to become an engaging and transformative educator.

A Basic Definition of a Teacher

Teaching is generally associated with traditional, primary education. Classes at this level are teacher-led and children as students are taught what and how to learn. The teacher is the expert and directs the learning process. A teacher is someone highly trained and works to engage the minds of his or her students. This style of teacher-led instruction continues into higher education, specifically traditional college classrooms. The teacher still stands at the front and center of the class delivering information, and students are used to this format because of their experience in primary education. The instructor disseminates knowledge through a lecture, and students will study to pass the required examinations or complete other required learning activities.

Within higher education, teachers may be called instructors and they are hired as subject matter experts with advanced content or subject matter expertise. The job requirements usually include holding a specific number of degree hours in the subject being taught. Teachers may also be called professors in traditional universities, and those positions require a terminal degree with additional research requirements. For all of these roles, teaching is meant to signify someone who is guiding the learning process by directing, telling, and instructing students. The instructor or professor is in charge, and the students must comply and follow as directed.

Here is something to consider: If this is the essence of teaching, is there a difference between teaching and educating students? Is the role of a teacher the same as that of an educator?

Basic Definitions of an Educator

I would like for you to consider some basic definitions to begin with as a means of understanding the role of an educator. The word “education” refers to giving instruction; “educator” refers to the person who provides instruction and is someone skilled in teaching; and “teaching” is aligned with providing explanations. I have expanded upon these definitions so the word “educator” includes someone who is skilled with instruction, possesses highly developed academic skills, and holds both subject matter knowledge, along with knowledge of adult education principles.

• Skilled with Instruction: An educator is someone who should be skilled in the art of classroom instruction, knowing what instructional strategies are effective and the areas of facilitation that need further development.

An experienced educator develops methods which will bring course materials to life by adding relevant context and prompting students to learn through class discussions and other learning activities. Instruction also includes all of the interactions held with students, including all forms of communication, as every interaction provides an opportunity for teaching.

• Highly Developed Academic Skills: An educator must also have strong academic skills and at the top of that list are writing skills. This requires strong attention to detail on the part of the educator must include all forms of messages communicated. The ability to demonstrate strong academic skills is especially important for anyone who is teaching online classes as words represent the instructor.

The use of proper formatting guidelines, according to the style prescribed by the school, is also included in the list of critical academic skills. For example, many schools have implemented APA formatting guidelines as the standard for formatting papers and working with sources. An educator cannot adequately guide students and provide meaningful feedback if the writing style has not been mastered.

• Strong Knowledge Base: An educator needs to develop a knowledge base consisting of their subject matter expertise, as related to the course or courses they are teaching, along with knowledge of adult education principles. I know of many educators who have the required credit hours on their degree transcripts, yet they may not have extensive experience in the field they teach. This will still allow them to teach the course, provided they take time to read the required textbook or materials, and find methods of applying it to current practices within the field.

Many schools hire adjuncts with work experience as the primary criteria, rather than knowledge of adult learning principles. When I have worked with faculty who do have studied adult education theory, they generally acquired it through ongoing professional development. That was my goal when I decided on a major for my doctorate degree, to understand how adults learn so I could transform my role and become an educator.

4 Strategies to Become a Transformative Educator

I do not believe many instructors intentionally consider the need to make a transformation from working as an instructor to functioning as an educator. When someone is hired to teach a class, someone other than a traditional college professor, they often learn through practice and time what works well in the classroom. There will likely be classroom audits and recommendations made for ongoing professional development.

Gradually the typical instructor will become an educator as they seek out resources to help improve their teaching practices. However, I have worked with many adjunct online instructors who rely upon their subject matter expertise alone and do not believe there is a reason to grow as an educator.

For anyone who would like to become an engaging and transformative educator, there are strategies which can be can be implemented.

Strategy #1: Transform Through Development of Your Instructional Practice

While any educator can learn through time on the job, it is possible to become intentional about this growth. There are numerous online resources, publications, workshops, webinars, and professional groups which will allow you to learn new methods, strategies, and practices. There are also social media websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter which allow for the exchange of ideas and resources within a global community of educators.

You can also utilize self-reflection as a means of gauging your effectiveness. I have found that the best time to review my instructional practice occurs immediately after a class has concluded. That is a time when I can assess the strategies I have used and determine if those methods were effective. Even reviewing end of course student surveys may provide insight into the perspective of my students, whether or not every survey submitted was positive. Students tend to submit a survey response either when they are happy or greatly unhappy about the course. Either way, I can learn something about what my students have experienced during the class.

Strategy #2: Transform Through Development of Your Academic Skills

I know from my work with online faculty development this is an area of development many educators could use. However, it is often viewed as a low priority until it is noted in classroom audits. If an educator has weak academic writing skills, it will interfere with their ability to provide comprehensive feedback for students.

For online instructors, this has an even greater impact when posted messages contain errors with spelling, grammar, and formatting. The development of academic skills can be done through the use of online resources or workshops. Many online schools I have worked for offer faculty workshops and this is a valuable self-development resource.

Strategy #3: Transform Through Development of Your Subject Matter Expertise

Every educator has subject matter expertise they can draw upon. However, the challenge is keeping this knowledge current as you continue to teach for several years. The best advice I can offer is find resources which allow you to read and learn about current thinking, research, and best practices in your chosen field.

This is essential to your instructional practice as students can easily tell whether you appear to be current in your knowledge, or outdated and seemingly out of touch. Even the use of required textbooks or resources does not ensure that you are utilizing the most current information as knowledge evolves quickly in many fields.

Strategy #4: Transform Through Development of Your Knowledge of Adult Learning

The last step or strategy I can recommend is to gain knowledge about adult learning theories, principles, and practices. If you are not familiar with the basics there are concepts you can research and includes critical thinking, andragogy, self-directed learning, transformational learning, learning styles, motivation, and cognition.

My suggestion is to find and read online sources related to higher education and then find a subject that interests you to research further. I have found the more I read about topics I enjoy, the more I am cultivating my interest in ongoing professional development. What you will likely find is what you learn will have a positive influence on your work as an educator and this will enhance all areas of your instructional practice.

Working as an educator, or someone who is highly engaged in the process of helping students learn, starts with a commitment to make this a career rather than a job. I have developed a vision related to how I want to be involved in each class I teach and I recommend the same strategy for you. You may find it useful to develop teaching goals for your career and link your classroom performance to those goals. For example, do you want to complete the required facilitation tasks, or would you rather put in the additional time necessary to create nurturing class conditions?

After developing a vision and teaching goals, you can create a professional development plan to prompt your learning and growth in all of the areas I have addressed above. While this strategy may require an investment of time, it is helpful to remember that we always make time for whatever we believe is most important.

Being an educator is not sustaining a focus on job functions, rather it is cultivating a love of what you do and learning how to excel for the benefit of your students. Becoming an engaging and transformative educator occurs when you decide teaching students is only part of the learning process, and you work to transform who you are and how you function, while working and interacting with your students.

When you transform your teaching or faculty role and become an educator, regardless of your job title, you also transform the learning experience of your students. You provide for them the critical element necessary for real learning to occur, substantive instructor involvement and engagement. More importantly, you humanize the learning experience and you can help to nurture their developmental needs. Students will leave your class transformed in some manner, having learned something they can apply to their academic pursuits, life, and/or career. You will be transformed and so will your students.

Asset Management – Save Money and Improve Productivity

Asset Management Is a Tool Every Business Can Use to Save Money and Improve ProductivityFor most businesses, the efficient tracking of their installed base or in-service equipment, and the management of their spare parts inventories are key factors in determining the prospects for internal productivity and customer service profitability. However, many organizations do not yet utilize a comprehensive asset tracking and management process to ensure the availability of quality data that can be used to generate the business intelligence that can ultimately save them money and improve efficiency. This is unfortunate, because the tools are readily available – it is simply a matter of making it a priority.What is Asset Management?There are many definitions of “asset management”, although most deal primarily with financial considerations. Some are based on evolving maintenance management systems; some on the management of factory floor equipment configurations; and some for the purposes of monitoring network equipment or even railway car and container locations. However, regardless of what situation or application your business deals with, the core definition remains constant; asset management is “a systematic process for identifying, cataloging, monitoring, maintaining, operating, upgrading and replacing the physical assets of the business on a cost-effective basis”.To be truly effective, the asset management process must be built upon a foundation of widely accepted accounting principles, and supported by the proper mix of sound business practices and financial acumen. It can provide management with an effective tool that can be used to derive better short- and long-term planning decisions. As such, it is something that every business should consider adopting – and embracing.After years of studying and supporting the Information Technology (IT) needs and requirements of clients in all major fields of business, we prefer to define asset management in a more dynamic way, encompassing each of the following four key components:
An enabler to generate and maintain critical management data for use internally by the company, as well as with its respective customers and suppliers (such as installed base or maintenance entitlement data).
A comprehensive process to acquire, validate and assimilate data into corporate information systems.
A flexible system allowing for either the manual acquisition and/or electronic capture and reconciliation of data.
A program with accurate and intelligent reporting of critical business and operational information.Asset management is not merely the identification and inventorying of IT and related equipment; it is the process of making the assets you own work most productively – and profitably – for the business. Further, it is not a system you can buy; but is, instead, a business discipline enabled by people, process, data and technology.What are the Signs, Symptoms and Effects of Poor Asset Management?Poor asset management leads to poor data quality – and poor data quality can negatively affect the business over time. In fact, experience shows that there are a number of common causes that can lead to poor asset management, including lack of business controls for managing and/or updating asset data; lack of ownership for asset data quality; and an out-of-balance investment in people, process, data and technology. In addition, some businesses may not consider asset management to be a critical function, focusing on audits only; while others may not consider asset data to be an important component of the business’s intellectual property.The primary symptoms of poor asset management are also fairly ubiquitous, and may include anything from numerous compliance and security issues, to uncontrollable capital and/or expense budgets, excessive network downtime and poor performance, under- or over-utilized assets, incompatible software applications, increasing operational costs and headcount, and non-matching asset data derived from different organizations and/or business systems.Moreover, poor ongoing asset management practices can impact a business by degrading customer service delivery, polluting the existing installed base of data and distracting sales resources with customer data issues For example, Service Delivery may be impaired by inaccurate depot sparing creating customer entitlement issues, increasing escalations to upper management and lowering customer satisfaction. An uncertain installed base lengthens contract renewal cycle-time, limits revenue opportunities and inhibits technology refresh planning. The result of poor asset management can ultimately be devastating to a business, often leading to one or more of the following negative impacts:
Increased Asset Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
Decreased workforce productivity
Increased non-compliance issues (i.e., SOx)
Decreased Customer Satisfaction
Lower Return-on-Investment (ROI) on capital investments
Decreased network/business performance
Increased number of internal and external auditsThe causes of poor asset management can be many; the symptoms pervasive; and the results devastating. However, the good news is that there are specific solutions available that can help any organization avoid these pitfalls.The PETRO Asset Management ProcessMerely “chasing data” is a poor substitute for a formal asset management program and can be a daunting, expensive and extremely unrewarding task. In order to realize the full benefits of an asset management program, the first order of business is to move a paradigm shift away from the large, reactive and generally ineffective mass clean-up projects that typically accomplish little or nothing; and focus, rather, on the implementation of a set of prescribed, proactive processes that are eminently collaborative with the customer, partner or service provider. Something more is needed; and that something more is a formal asset management process.The asset management tool that is ultimately chosen for use by the organization should be one that meets its specific – and sometimes, unique – needs. This is clearly a case where “one size does not fit all”. Whether the situation calls for merely an improvement made to an existing tool, a revised or re-engineered process, or a completely new approach, each organization’s needs must be carefully evaluated and assessed, and a customized solution must be designed and implemented to achieve the best results.Some organizations may already have the requisite internal skills and experience to build an asset management solution on their own, while others will need to seek out professionals that have significant experience in the design and development of the specific types of processes and applications that will be required, ranging from data extraction, to data assimilation, to associated systems development and implementation. Although many solutions may look good on paper initially, the “devil is in the details”, and the details will play a critical role in the prospects for a successful implementation.Whether designed internally or through an independent systems integrator, the implementation will need to focus on the specific aspects of analysis, development and reporting to ensure for the delivery of a complete solution and implementation. Many businesses mistakenly believe that they can build an effective asset management tool virtually “out of the box”. However, while the concept is easily enough understood, the unique complexities of each organization’s IT environment are such that in almost all cases, outside assistance will be needed.To address the myriad complexities that define individual business organizations, we have developed our own asset management process, known as PETRO. Encompassing five key areas of focus, PETRO, utilizing a Six Sigma approach, can serve as the foundation for the design and implementation of an effective end-to-end asset management solution. The five key components include:
P – Pre-Inventory: Review and Prep of Baseline – Review and validation of company assets, spares, inventory, installed base records and required reference data; establishment of a framework for conducting the inventory, network audit or data extraction; establishment of a baseline for making comparisons.
E – Extraction: Customer Network Data Acquisition – Acquisition of data from physical inventories, automated network discovery tools or database record extracts in various formats.
T – Translation: Mapping of Data – Interpret, map and restate data from acquisition format to a format that may be matched to the Company’s baseline data.
R – Reconciliation: Matching, Reconciling and Editing – Validate the inventory/extraction results to the baseline; matching and validation of inventory/extraction results to the Company’s record baseline, and the generation of associated user reports.
O – Original Assimilation: Transform, Integrate and Load – Process of assimilating data into corporate systems; conversion of reconciled data into identifiable data elements with attributes and values consistent with Company data requirements and definitions; integration of transformed data into unique, consolidated, identifiable data instances meeting the business data requirements; loading of transformed, integrated source data into the Company’s records.The first pass of the PETRO process establishes a “clean” records baseline that must be maintained over time. Since the success of any asset management solution in the long-term is directly related to the quality of the ongoing data maintenance program employed, the respective process and system interfaces must be designed to support the ongoing updates and assimilation of data to the Company databases through the specific touch points where asset data is updated or changed. In other words, the quality of data must not only be ensured throughout the entire process, but the ability of the solution to maintain data quality over time, and through all individual touch points, must also be protected.Ongoing Asset Management Process at the Touch PointsAn ongoing asset management solution (also known as Move, Add, Change, Delete -MACD-process is a streamlined version of PETRO that concentrates on ongoing control processes. It is a repeatable, consistent process, mutually owned by the managers of the touch points (either inside or outside the organization) and the master database of record. It should ensure the quality of the data updates through timely and efficient processing of update (delta) records.In situations where data is passed between different organizations, extra care should be taken to develop a collaborative process that is transparent and ensures the quality of the data updates. The depth and complexity of the PETRO process should be proportional to the volume and frequency of the updates as well as the cleanliness of the data at the touch points. The processes can range from Customer Self-Service for small manageable accounts to Fully Collaborative for large accounts with heavy volumes and frequent data quality issues.Key Components of the Ongoing Asset Management ProcessThe key drivers of the MACD process consist of the following four components:
A Comprehensive Data Extraction, Translation and Reconciliation Process – Development of both the processes and the standards for collecting data updates (electronic or manual). – Performance of an automated, or semi-automated, process to validate, translate and reconcile the results. – Creation of a MACD Data Manager to store and track interim records during the ongoing PETRO processes – Development of automated status reports throughout the process transparent to all MACD touch points – Coordinating data updates at the touch points and/or outside (customer) locations.
Process, Policy and Procedure Development – Conducting the required MACD asset management process analyses and evaluations at all touch points. – Designing and developing processes and capabilities to support PETRO implementation. – Defining the policy and procedures required in the asset management process for both the near- and long-term.
Requirements/Systems Development – Developing all functional and systems requirements; coordinating and engaging IT in the development of an automated system to analyze, extract, translate, reconcile and assimilate Company data. – Development of working models and systems, as needed, to support the asset management process.
Data Maintenance – Development of processes to support the asset management process for long-term implementation, including ongoing data maintenance and integrity. – Development of meaningful Asset Performance Monitoring and Control processes.

THe Difference Between Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing

It utilizes an assortment of digital channels like SEO (search engine optimization), social media and PPC (pay per click) to entice audiences towards a prospective brand. Digital marketing uses internet as the core medium of promotion which can be accessed using electronic gadgets like computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones.Internet marketing techniques such as search engine marketing (SEM), e-mails form an integral part of digital marketing. Moreover, it also includes non-internet channels like short messaging service (SMS) and multimedia messaging service (MMS), callbacks, etc. All these different channels form an integrated part of digital marketing. Digital marketing is considered a BTL Below-The-Line marketing as it targets a smaller and more concentrated group and works on forming loyal customers and creating conversions.SMO or (SMM), on the other hand, is a branch or subset of digital marketing that excels at promotion using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and so forth. It makes the use of social media for the purpose of marketing. Social media relies heavily on the interaction of the users, sharing information and forming a community of sorts and hence has a ‘social’ element to it. It utilizes the creation of artistic content which is presented accordingly to lure the audience towards your products or services and create a brand following.According to Zephoria Digital Marketing Consultants, there are over 1.71 billion monthly active Facebook users worldwide. This means that statistically Facebook is too big to ignore and hence, should be a vital part of your social media marketing strategies. Online video consumption on such platforms has been on a steady rise and is the next big thing in terms of marketing strategies. SMM is also a BTL Below-The-Line marketing as it relates to segregated groups formed over common interests on social media platforms.Companies looking to address their marketing needs need to choose between a digital marketing agency or a specialist agency. If you are looking for someone to plan out your entire marketing strategy, then a digital marketing agency would be a good choice. However, if you are looking for someone to only handle the social media aspect of your strategy, then you are better off working with a specialist agency.With the extreme popularity of digital media, people are more willing to incorporate digital marketing into their everyday lifestyle. As per the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) report, Internet ad revenues in the United States reached a staggering $27.5 billion in the first half of 2015.This has opened up several job opportunities world over. There is a high demand; however, we experience a dearth in the skilled workforce as people are still coming to terms with the rapid evolution of digital media.To meet the increasing demands of talented individuals, there are several online courses in digital marketing available. A quick Google search on this topic will enlist a host of institutes that offer the mentioned lessons. The courses run for a number of days where all the related topics under the umbrella of digital marketing are addressed. Students gain valuable insights into the subject that enables them to carve a niche for themselves.The digital marketing course includes basic understanding of marketing and advertising concepts and fundamental knowledge of statistical and analytical tools. They are also given comprehensive information about email marketing, SEO/SEM, pay per click, mobile marketing, online video among others.Social media marketing courses include an in-depth understanding of the principles of social media, major social media sites, social media strategy and measuring social media. It offers a look into the strengths and weaknesses of the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc. and delves deeper into the newest trends surfacing on social media.Social media is an indispensable part of digital media strategy. SM platforms are leveraged for the purpose of branding of a product or service as it provides a more interactive medium open for a two-way conversation. Digital marketing is more relevant in terms of creating brand awareness, marketing or reputation management. Although they have different online applications, they serve the larger purpose of brand advancement and customer conversion into leads and sales. Consumers have become more brand conscious with active participation and most spoilt for choice with the plethora of options available online. Their share in the overall marketing strategy has grown manifold rendering traditional strategy techniques obsolete. The rate at which digital media is advancing, it won’t be far fetched to imagine a future where virtual reality has transpired to every aspect of our existence.