Program Planning – Final thoughts

Program Planning is coming to an end – one more assignment to go. I really enjoyed the course!

One of the mandatory elements was keeping a blog and posting every week. Although coming from a self-directed environment makes me cringe at the thought of weekly assignments, I quite enjoyed reflecting every week on the readings. Okay, maybe it wasn’t every week but I did my best to reflect on each week’s readings either on the blog or in my head. I also appreciated learning the study material through other people’s eyes on their blogs – very enlightening experience. Using blogging as an instructional tool proved to be a great learning reinforcement strategy.

As someone who combines being a program planner, an instructional designer and an instructor in one person, I was able to stretch my mind during the course and see a bigger picture of the program planner’s job. My absolute favourite part of the course was making an instructional plan for my upcoming workshop. When it comes to new concepts that were new for me, they include involving various stakeholders and juggling the power dynamics of their involvement. Evaluating the program was also extremely useful as I had never thought there were so many potential opportunities for evaluations before, during and after the program planning and its delivery. Teachers talk about utilizing teachable moments (opportunities for learning that are not planned but arise as the lesson progresses); In program planning we can talk about moments when we re-evaluate what we are doing and adjust our program according to the needs of the participants.

To complete the CACE certificate I need to sign up for two more mandatory courses. I will miss the bloggers from this one! All the best to everyone! Huge thanks to our facilitator for her support and feedback all the way from Germany!

Week 10

Having completed week 10, I am able now to identify different delivery formats and justify the appropriateness of a delivery format based on Caffarella’s seven factors. The organization I work for delivers learning online so none of the seven factors are obstacles that we cannot cope with. However, we do recognize the fact that online learning is not for everyone. If a local learner does not have a computer or feels they need teacher-driven motivation and deadlines, they are free to register for a f2f program elsewhere. When a pre-arrival newcomer to Canada from Egypt or Kazakhstan signs up for our courses, attends online classes despite different time zones and learns independently from our learning materials asking questions via Skype, we know that nothing beats online learning ;)


Week 9 – Marketing

The American Marketing Association defines ‘marketing’ as 4 P’s. According to the 4P’s explanation “marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.” (Week 8 Lesson Plan Outline)

  • Explain what the four P’s of marketing are

The four P’s are Product – Price – Place – Promotion.

Program Planners must know their “products” so they can provide their programs’ comprehensive descriptions and choose the right programs to fit the needs of their audience (Caffarella 2002).

One of the Program Planners’ tasks is to determine the cost of a program. The program I am involved in is fully subsidized so there is no cost to its participants.

The location of a program must be consistent with its audience and budget and content design. In the case of online programs, tools such as web conferencing and learning management systems replace the physical location of a program.

Promotion – some programs are mandatory; some are in high demand. Some programs fail because of insufficient promotion. Although a huge part of my program promotion is done by the centralized referral system, we still engage in sending out brochures to remote locations, making personal visits to schools and settlement organizations, creating eye-catching website design, sharing ideas on Twitter and Wiki that is free to view for all, sending out a monthly newsletter by email to subscribers, presenting at various professional development events locally and nationwide and last but not least spreading the word by a professionally-made video on YouTube.

  • Describe each element in the marketing progression called AIDA

AIDA – Awareness Interest Desire Action

Awareness – how to let the target audience know that there is a program that might be good for them;

Interest – how to make the target audience interested in finding out more about the program.

Desire – the program outcomes fit the target audience needs so they start wanting it.

Action – the motivation level is high and the target audience is ready to “buy”.

  • Give examples of a variety of traditional marketing tools

In the case of my two-day workshop, there seems to be no need for a promotion strategy. The workshop is an in-house professional development event based on the needs of our employees. However, to engage the participants and catch their full learning potential, I, the program planner, must ensure that the participants are fully aware of the value of the workshop and what they will take away from it. The more attractive, inviting and motivating the promotion, the more likely the program will succeed.

Some traditional marketing tools are:

–          Word of mouth

–          Face-to-face outreach

–          Business cards

–          Brochures and leaflets

–          Newsletters

–          Newspaper and magazine ads

–          Exhibits and booths

  • Give examples of a few online social marketing tools

Listservs, Websites, Google Ads, Web 2.0 tools such as Delicious, Ning, WordPress, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, just to name a few.

  • Identify particularities of certain learner populations that require special attention in devising a marketing plan.

As I mentioned in my comment on Krista’s blog this week, an online program’s marketing strategy might depend on traditional referrals and printed promotional materials. This is due to the fact that the program is subsidized and the target audience, English as Second Language immigrants, must meet some funding eligibility criteria.


Week 8 – Creating instructional plans

  • Describe the difference between a program planner, instructional designer and facilitator

It is good to finally arrive at an answer to my question that I posed at the beginning of the course
in relation to the difference between a program planner, an instructional designer and a teacher. It turns out, in many cases, if not most, all of the three roles are embraced by one person. The sequence of tasks between
the three roles is: from Program Planner to Instructional Designer to Instructor.

A program planner does the needs assessment and creates a profile of the learner group. Next, he/she makes a list of objectives for the course based on the needs of all stakeholders. An instructional designer takes over and creates an instructional plan of the training, a series of lessons and activities for the potential learners. This would likely be a general outline (not a minute-by-minute lesson plan) and would include information about handouts, equipment and general teaching approach. Finally, an instructor creates specific lesson
plans outlining the exact timelines and activities for the day, makes handouts and supplementary teaching resources, finds suitable readings and multi-media, invites guest speakers, and possibly scripts the lesson. The instructor would have a much more precise idea of who the actual learners were going to be, and would adapt and adjust the more general activities of the instructional plan accordingly.

  • List eight components of an instructional plan
  1. General information – time and date, title, location
  2. Objectives – course aim and objectives
  3. Assessment
  4. Content/topics
  5. Activities
  6. Resources for the instructor and participants, including room arrangement
  7. Transfer-of-learning
  8. Budgetary
    and other considerations
  • Describe a process for creating instructional plans

First, I need an instructional plan template, which will help me organize my work. It is absolutely vital to have a good template in hand because it allows for analysis and documentation of what happened. Being a reflective practitioner, I always go back to my instructional plans to evaluate what took place and determine what might need to be changed. Next, I write down 3-5 learning objectives, depending on the length of a program, using Bloom’s taxonomy, which is indispensible in creating specific, relevant and measurable goals. Once the objectives are ready, I start thinking about how I will assess that the participants have achieved the objectives. After I have nailed down the assessment part of my plan, I start working on activities that will help the participants to achieve the objectives. I keep the objectives in mind at all times. The final step of creating instructional plans is always going back to the beginning and analyzing every single item on it and linking it to the objectives and the program aim.

  • List and apply two criteria to an instructional plan to determine its likely effectiveness

a)   Participants’ reflection on the workshop outcomes.

b)  Transfer of learning

  • Create an instructional plan for a two-day workshop

Done and submitted by email.

As to the video of how not to teach, it was hysterical…anyone, anyone?

Week 7 – Writing Learning Objectives

The expected outcomes of Week 7 were:

1. Give examples of qualitative and quantitative methods used to select and prioritize program

  • Qualitative methods: opinions, beliefs, observations
  • Quantitative methods: numbers, evidence, research

2. List aspects of importance and feasibility when considering which program ideas to implement

  • Importance: urgency, influence, people affected, contributions to individuals’ knowledge and skills, contributions to organizational objectives and productivity, contributions to the wider community/society
  • Feasibility: potential results, quality and availability of resources, difficulty level, risk assessment, commitment to change, political, economic and environmental factors

3. Define “alternative interventions”

  • Alternative solutions are ways of dealing with a knowledge gap that exclude educational programs.

4. Explain the difference between program goals, program objectives and learning objectives

  • Program objectives – broad aims stating the overall purpose of a course
  • Program objectives – specific goals, either learning or organizational
  • Learning objectives – what a learner will take away from a course
  • Organizational objectives – what an organization is hoping to achieve by running a course

5. Give examples of measurable and non-measurable objectives

  • Non-measurable objectives: improve writing, learn French
  • Measurable objectives: learn how to write an email, learn how to use linking words in writing, learn how to introduce yourself in French

6. Write “SMART” objectives for a training program

  • By the end of this course, you should be able to list 5 benefits of learning online.
  • By the end of this course, you should be able to post a new topic and answer to an existing topic on the discussion board.
  • By the end of this course, you should be able to make your own Personal Learning Environment mind map.

Brief, but done. It’s time to start writing an instructional plan for the next assignment. Let the fun begin!

Program Planning_Week 4 Reflections


In an ideal world, the program planning process would be smooth and all stakeholders would have one goal in mind: how to meet the learners’ needs. However, a truly learner-centred approach is hard to achieve and only possible, I feel, if the program planner is the trainer himself, and there is no one else involved in the process. Although this is not entirely true either: a program planner may bring his own beliefs to the table – those
influenced by bigger context such as culture and religion, which may thwart the learner-centred planning.

Nevertheless, the continuum of felt and ascribed needs is an interesting concept and puts a different light on the learner-centred approach. Must we always have learners’ needs in mind when planning a course? It would be fair to say that the delivery of the already planned program should be 100% learner-centred. However, learners are just one of the stakeholders and the needs of the other groups involved, e.g. licensing bodies and funders must be met to the same degree as those of the learners. “In other words, program planners must be able to analyze the context of programs they are working with to determine where along the continuum the program they are designing falls” (The Week 4 Lesson Outline).

For instance, a learner says they need to learn more grammar. Do we jump on the grammar bandwagon right away? If the learner works one-on-one with a tutor, their needs might be addressed and focused on fully.
However, if they go to school, the task-based approach will be “imposed” on them because that is the teaching methodology of the bigger stakeholder.

When there are more groups involved in program planning, “everyone wants a piece
of the pie,” as Krista says. Negative influences such as personal and political agendas, egos,
pressuring, suppressing differences, and not listening to everyone’s input may hinder the program planning process. It’s not an easy job to do to plan an adult education program. Jer’s analogy to a juggling act is right on the money, and while juggling, the program planner’s actions must be founded on ethical practices, reminds Jo-Anne.

Week 4 readings were interesting and insightful. They gave me an understanding of how power dynamics can influence a planning process and what an ideal planner should do; a good one will be able to balance his
beliefs/needs and those of other stakeholders to develop a great program. This, however, would take
exceptional negotiating and people skills.