Mentoring Process: How to Prepare for the Working Life?

I joined a lecture on 5th May, which was organized by the other mentoring group. The topic of the lecture was ‘How to prepare for the working life?’, and was given by Aippi, our coordinator. For the mentors, this lecture is very helpful and meaningful, since we will graduate in June and job seeking should be one of significant issues needed to be considered now. For the mentees, it is better for them to be clear about how to seek a job and make relevant preparation earlier.

Before the lecture, Aippi asked us to think about what kinds of job we could do after graduation from Learning, Education and Technology Programme. We made some notes and then categorized into various types, which involved teaching management, teaching training, researchers, teaching, administers or trainers in company, and so on. It was a good beginning that we took into account our career planning with brainstorming.

There were some important issues about job seeking in Aippi’s lecture and presentation. First of all was application letter. The contents that should be showed in the application letter included brief introduction about educational background and working experience (since they would be illustrated in detail in curriculum vitae), your interests in the position, how you familiar with the employer and related areas, what is your contribution to the employer, what kinds of skills you master, what strength you have, and so forth. In addition, the mistakes and errors, such as spelling and grammar, cannot exist in the application letter.

Secondly was the curriculum vitae (CV). The CV should be two pages, and the contents contained (a) personal information, (b) the detailed educational background and working experience, (c) expertise, strengths, and professional skills, (d) language skills and ICT skills, (e) job intention, which is able to be the description of the position you want to apply. Besides the items mentioned above, we also discussed if adding personal picture on the CV and what types of picture could be selected. The conclusion was that it was a good idea to add picture, since to some extent it would get employer’s attention when he/she read our CV.

Thirdly was what the expectation of the employer. Aippi demonstrated this point particularly and elaborated clearly. From Aippi’s presentation, it consisted of (1) essential expertise, (2) good ICT skills, (3) language skills, (4) collaboration skills, (5) commitment, (6) ability to the active and take initiative, (7) ability to adapt for changes, (8) flexibility, (9) willing to learn more. Apart from those contents, one mentor indicated that ‘keep confidential’ was also one of important aspects the employ expected.

Fourthly was the interview. Before the interview, it was necessary to well know the circumstance of the employer (e.g. main business, enterprise culture, future developing direction, etc.) and the applied position, self-assessment on the basis of position’s requirements, workplace etiquette, and what questions you want to ask interviewers. We should wear the formal clothes and arrive at the interview 10 to 15 minutes early. During the interview, we need to shake hands with interviewers if necessary, speak clearly and softly, answer the questions honestly and politely, present intentions to contribute to the employer, display the skills and ability to work in this position, and so on. After the interview, we should send email to thank employer even though we were refused at the end.

Finally was to utilize social media as a tool in job seeking. There were many social media, such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Google+, etc., can be used to post our profile and CV, and create connection with various people and employers, so that it was possible to obtain information about employment, get an interview opportunity, or even a job.

At the end of the lecture, we were asked to talk about personal strengths and what should be developed, it was conducive for us to self-reflect and self-assess our current expertise, skills, and shortcomings. Today’s lecture presented a clear picture about the process of job seeking and relevant information, which would help me to make preparation for the working life and seek a proper job after graduation. 🙂

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Me As A Mentor

As mentioned in my previous blog post, the mentoring process is a personal developmental process which refers to a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or lesson knowledgeable person. It will be an ongoing process of learning, dialogue, and challenge. In the LET programme, every student has opportunity to experience as a mentee and a mentor, and the mentoring process is carried out as groups.

There is a group called ‘Happy Grumpies’ which has four mentors and two mentees. As one of mentor cats, I am able to keep coordinating with mentors and mentees during the process of mentoring, make efforts to organize and execute meetings as planned, and provide my contributions to achieve the original goals.

In the planning process, I am active to discuss and deliberate with other mentors collaboratively about mentoring meetings, which involves goals, methods, contents, activities, outcomes, and so on. I would like to share my own ideas, present different viewpoints, accept others’ suggestions, and work under self-regulation. In addition, keeping a positive motivation and emotion is the main point throughout the procedure.

Before each meeting with mentees, mentors and I engage in online meetings earlier to discuss the specific contents and relevant issues in detail on the basis of plan. I express my thoughts energetically, negotiate with other mentors, make necessary changes, and work individually to fulfill the assigned portion. In the implementation process, I do not merely provide theoretical and technological knowledge I have obtained in LET programme, share the experience and reflection in learning and practice; but also encourage mentees to take part in discussion and presenting their own points of view, stimulate their interests in the activities, activate positive emotion and attitude to think and perform, so that it is conducive for them to facilitate expertise and skills and promote learning motivation through the mentoring process.

After each mentoring meeting, I would like to reflect the whole process and find out the important and meaningful issues, such as what are the good points, what is the challenge, what should be paid more attention, what need to be improved in the following meetings, and so forth. Through the reflection, I can take into account mentoring process from all sides and then combine plan and implementation in an effective and practical way.

The mentoring process is significant and beneficial for me. As a mentor, I make behavioral, emotional, and cognitive contribution in the procedure, which is to fulfill the main goals and subgoals as planned. In addition, this process also directs me to assess and self-reflect my expertise and skills one more time and in a deeper level in order to have a positive influence upon my future development.

Mentoring Process: The 5th Meeting

The fifth mentoring meeting was held on 29th April, 2014. Because it was hard for us to have face-to-face meeting, we decided to implement it online. There were three mentors and one mentee joined this meeting, and we met on Adobe Connect context. The topic was ‘technological tools’, as the same as our plan.

Before starting the meeting, we had a chatting together. The mentee talked about her projects in LET programme and Business Kitchen. She was very happy to apply the theoretical knowledge into the practical projects. For me, I had the same viewpoints with her. The experience of combining theories with practice is meaningful and significant for us, which is conducive to internalize the academic knowledge, and improve the problem-solving skills as well.

Since the topic was ‘technological tools’, therefore, one mentor who was responsible for this meeting introduced and presented different tools, which were new for others.

One True Media. It is a free media editing tool, which is similar to Wevideo and Vemeo. It can be used for adding mix effects, transition, and text and music sharing. The style of product is chose by the users, and the product is able to download or post to the public contexts, such as Facebook, YouTube, and so on.

Room21online. It is similar to Moodle and Edmodo. It is a free online social learning environment, and all of the users can engage in the learning process under this learning community.

voki. There are three sections in voki home—Voki, Voki Classroom, and Voki Presenter. Voki is a service that the users can create their own speaking characters in this environment; it also can be used as an educational tool. Voki Classroom is classroom management system, which is similar to Moodle and Edmodo. Under Voki Classroom, the teacher can (1) add and manage students, (2) add and manage classes and lessons, (3) review students’ Voki assignments, (4) create each lesson on its own Web page, showcase students’ work, and set the lesson, (5) get support from dedicated support team. Voki Presenter is like Prezi, where the users create presentation and share with others; it still can be used as an educational tool. However, only Voki is free for the users, the Voki Classroom and Voki Presenter need to pay.

All of the technological tools mentioned above are very interesting and useful for us, no matter if we are students now or teachers in the future. We can apply various technological tools in the learning setting, working setting, and even daily life, which are helpful for us to become an expert in learning, education, working, and life.

Because this was our final mentoring meeting between mentors and mentees, we also presented our own opinions and ideas about mentoring process at the end of meeting. For me, I did not only learn much theoretical and technological knowledge from mentors and mentees, but also enjoy and obtain many experiences and skills in the mentoring process, such as how to plan, organize, and execute activities; how to stimulate people to get positive emotion and motivation, how to coordinate various issues, how to achieve the targets as planned, and so forth. For the mentees, they will become mentors in the next academic year, I consider they can also learn much through our mentoring process which will be helpful for them to become competent and excellent mentors. 🙂

NAPLeS Webinar: Multilevel Analysis

On 1st April, I participated a webinar in Naples, the theme was ‘multilevel analysis’ by Ulrike Cress. The ‘multilevel analysis’ (MLM) is a new knowledge for me, and I have never come into contact with it in the learning process. After reading the suggested article and joining the webinar, I understand what the ‘multilevel analysis’ is, and why it is an appropriate statistical approach in collaborative learning (CL) and computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) research. However, the hierarchical linear model (HLM), as the statistical approach for the data multilevel analysis, is complex for me, so I am not able to understand it deeply and even apply it.

Generally, the individuals’ interdependence and their learning process are always taken into account in CL and CSCL. Because it is admitted that individual is able to get benefit when working in the group, and collaboration and interaction can improve learning (Cress, 2008). Therefore, the research about CL and CSCL are necessary to be divided into two levels: individual level and group level. For the individual level, the variables involve individual learners’ prerequisites, knowledge construction, cognition, etc. For the group level, the variables involve the tools, learning environment, teachers’ instructions, etc. If the aim of research is to analyze CL or CSCL based on the group level, the multilevel structure of data needs to be used (Powerpoint by Cress, 2014).

The multilevel structure of data may cause stochastically non-independent problems. And the stochastic non-independence ‘can have three different causes: compositional effects, common fate, and reciprocal influences’ (Cress, 2008, pp.72). Compositional effects can happen when group members are already similar before the study begins, thus it is not possible to assign students to the groups randomly. Stochastic non-independence may also happen when group members share the common fate, which results in the increasing of similarity among group members during the experiment. This situation occurs in most CL and CSCL settings. The third cause of stochastic non-independence is reciprocal influence and it is often existed, especially in the small group. A single member is able to decide the whole interaction procedure within group members sometimes. For example, an active member enables to motivate the entire group members to discuss and communicate energetically; but an inactive member with destructive behaviors and speech enables to destroy the good atmosphere and positive discussion among other group members. The interactional and reciprocal influences among members within groups increase differences between members of various groups (Cress, 2008).

Through comparing those three effects in CL or CSCL research, we find out that it is possible to minimize the compositional effect by randomization of individuals to different groups, but common fate and reciprocal influence cannot be eliminated at all (Cress, 2008). That is because CL and CSCL are based on the ideas of creating non-independency, and the individuals are expected to interact and learn from each other. Thus, the aim of CL and CSCL should consider the effect of non-independency, and the multilevel structure of data will be worked as an intended effect (Powerpoint by Cress, 2014).

In Cress’s presentation, she does not list possible solutions for the analysis of multilevel structure of data (hierarchical data), such as working with fakes, groups as unit of analysis, slopes as outcomes, hierarchical linear analysis, but also their pros and cons and other useful messages. Through the learning in the webinar, it helps me to rethink about the research of CL and CSCL in the following learning process, e.g. what kind of level (individual level or group level) will be examined in the research? What analysis approach is appropriate to this level?, and so forth. If we are able to implement research in an accurate and advanced method, we will find out the key elements which improve learners’ learning process and enhance their learning outcome in CL and CSCL.

References:

Cress, Ulrike (2008). The need for considering multilevel analysis in CSCL research-An appeal for the use of more advanced statistical methods. Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 3, 69-84.

Powerpoint by Cress, Ulrike, 2014

Mentoring Process: Business Kitchen (The 4th Meeting)

The fourth mentoring meeting was held at Business Kitchen at 9 a.m. on 17th, March. All of the mentors and mentees in LET 1 and LET2, Aippi, and Pirkko joined the meeting together. The content of meeting involved three sections: Mia Kemppaala and Johanna Bluemink made presentation respectively, and visiting of premises.

Business Kitchen is not unfamiliar for me. Since the first Christmas party with classmates, Edutool students, and teachers was held in Business Kitchen, and I also participated a project in Demola last spring. Therefore, it is nice to have one more opportunity coming here and enjoy the presentation given by the people who are working in Business Kitchen.

Mia Kemppaala is a facilitator in Business Kitchen, and she has been an Edutool student in our programme. There were three segments in her presentation. Firstly, she offered a brief introduction about Business Kitchen. And she talked in detail about Demola, OuluSES, and Game Club, which are the branch organizations in Business Kitchen. Then she displayed her learning experience in Edutool. It is clear that she obtains a lot of expertise and technology which have significant effect on her career. Finally, Mia showed us her interesting and meaningful working experience in Business Kitchen. Through her presentation, we know that she has not any knowledge and experience about business before working in Business Kitchen. But the expertise of collaborative learning and technological tools she has learned in Edutool programme are made the most of in her working process. She can collaborate with the colleagues to get innovative and new ideas, apply technology effectively, and get the achievement. I can feel that she is enjoying her job deeply and has transferred the theoretical and technical knowledge into practical working experience successfully.

After visiting the premises of Business Kitchen, it is Johanna Bluemink’s time, who is the manager of Business Kitchen. Her presentation was executed in a different way, which various quotations were used to show her learning, working, and thinking processes. She has rich learning experience, such as chemistry, English teaching, education, etc. and has already gotten PhD degree and work as a researcher in the University of Oulu before working in Business Kitchen. She is still no knowledge and experience about business, but effectively applying the expertise what she has owned into the practical working and get benefits. And now she is learning MBA and has acquired more expertise in business fields. Through her presentation, I can see a professional female, who has children to take care and career to engage in, but she is able to keep learning all the time, and has critical and creative thinking in the career.

By means of Mia and Johanna’s learning and working experiences, I have a re-understanding about the expertise I have learned in LET programme. In my previous viewpoint, I consider I can merely work in the educational fields, such as school, university, or educational research institution. The number of jobs available is limited. However, Mia and Johanna’s experiences make me change the inaccurate viewpoint. Actually, the expertise of self-regulated learning and collaborative learning, and some technological tools can be effectively applied in many fields and assist me to adapt to new area. Meanwhile, learning different kinds of knowledge and skills in the working process are also helpful and meaningful to my career development.

Mentoring Process: The 3rd Meeting

The third mentoring meeting is held on 24th February, and the topic, as the same as the plan, is ‘Master’s thesis’. There are two reasons to select this topic: one is we, as mentors, are busy with the individual Master’s thesis currently and there are some experience can be shared with mentees. The other one is mentees have just completed their research plan in this month and they may meet some difficulties in the procedure which need to be solved. This meeting will not only help mentors to reflect the working process and find out some existed issues, but also assist mentees to think about their own thesis, eliminate confusions and questions, and get some useful ideas and suggestions about implementation of thesis.

As usual, our mentors plan the specific activities in advance. I created a presentation in Prezi and shared to each mentors before our meeting. Since one mentor is busy with taking care new baby and the other one is working, we only have one Skype meeting but keep connection on Facebook group. However, it is also efficient. We discuss the contents of the meeting, negotiate the specific details, assign individual tasks, and decide the deadline. Especially, we emphasize the matter of time and make a consensus that it must manage the time strictly during the meeting with mentees in order to inspire them to focus on attention and keep positive motivation.

There are four mentors and one mentee join the meeting, the other mentee forgets the time and makes an appointment with doctor. After introducing the agenda of the meeting, it is time for mentors to demonstrate the working procedure of Master’s thesis, which involves theoretical framework, research questions, data collection, data analysis, current condition, existed problems, and so on. During the presentation, we can ask the questions that are interested and want to know, and acquire presenters’ answers and illustration. This process is very meaningful for me, since I am not quite clear about other three mentors’ research. I merely know their theses are about game, but what kind of game, how they collect and analyze data, what result they expect, and other relevant issues; I have no ideas about them. Therefore, their presentations are conducive for me to understand clearly, such as what Kodu game and series game are, how they are applied in learning, and what benefits for students to play those games, etc..

Then the mentee talks about her research plan. It is about collaborative learning, and she has already got the data from the LET programme. Although she has completed the research plan, there are also some problems and issues she is not quite clear. Thus, she decides to broaden her minds through read more articles, and hopefully today’s mentoring meeting is still helpful for her.

Finally, it is the case studies, and the aim is to assist mentees and mentors to understand how to plan and carry out data collection and analysis on the basis of various research purposes. One mentor and I selected Master’s theses from library, picked out the authors’ interests and research aims as the case, and make mentees and mentors to plan what theories should be used and how to collect and analyze data in order to fulfill the research aim. Then we show the authors’ actions in the theses. After that, we compare and evaluate the ideas between ours and author’s, and make a discussion from our own viewpoints.

Through today’s meeting, I consider we achieve the implementation and goals we planned, manage the time effectively, and keep a positive and active atmosphere between mentors and mentee. For me, I do not only understand other mentors and mentee’s research field, and increase my interests in applying computer games in learning and teaching as well, which will be possible to become my new research area to explore in the future. 🙂

The specific meeting contents are presented in the following Prezi: