Professional development by podcast

I feel like we’ve made online learning really transactional.
— Maria Andersen, on the Teaching in Higher Education podcast

It’s a challenge to find (and fund) relevant professional development opportunities as a self-employed person launching a new company.

I network a lot to keep connected to communities and ideas. I try to build learning networks from those connections but I have gaps in my learning networks. Recently I discovered the Learning in Higher Education podcast by Bonnie Stachowiok. The podcast focuses mostly on improving digital pedagogy, a subject near and dear to my heart. I’ve binged so many episodes of this podcast while neglecting my weekly favorites like Reply All, Game Plan, and On the Media. (there’s just not enough time for all my favorite in a week).

As I’ve binged I’ve realized how valuable this podcast is for my own professional development. I’m binging not just because I love the subject but because the perspective is so useful as I build the future of career education. I’m taking notes and thinking about how I’ll integrate play into courses or use new edtech resources. On the episode, Learning is not a spectator sport, I yelled in support, banging on my steering wheel, when the guest Maria Andersen said

You don’t actually learn until you engage with it.

With the flood of mediocre online learning experiences out there this rang so true. My goal as an instructional designer is to get students to engage with the content (without discussion forums) so the concepts stick. And thanks to this podcast I’m learning ways to do just that.

The host’s teaching skills are what makes this podcast such a joy to listen to. Not only am I getting incredibly useful content, she presents it in a thought provoking manner, much like you’d expect your favorite professor to do.

And then there’s the curated resources alongside the podcasts. This podcast is a goldmine for anyone who wants to improve their teaching, coaching, or facilitation skills. As an entrepreneur and instructional designer, it’s opened up a new way of thinking about professional development and growth.

Basecamp perks are next level

My fav podcast, Gameplan, is back at it again with a fab episode on employee benefits. In Your Company Could Be Tricking You with Perks, the hosts speak with CEO and Founder of Basecamp Jason Friend to get his take on employee perks. In this episode you can forget ping pong tables and unlimited vacation, because Basecamp is killing it with employee perks that encourage employees to get out of the office and have a life.

“I don’t like benefits that encourage people to stay at work. Many companies have a lot of perks that are about keeping you in the office. It’s actually kind of a subversive effect. They’ll have an on-staff chef and they’ll make dinner for people. That to me, you shouldn’t be eating dinner at work. That’s the wrong place to eat dinner. So we do stuff that’s go home and do stuff.”

Among the many many many perks they offer:

  • Charity match
  • $100/month for massages offsite
  • Fresh fruits and veggie CSA share at home
  • Pay for hobbies that aren’t related to your job

On top of that, they offer summer hours: a 4 day, 32 hour work week. And they do it without reducing pay.

It’s worth listening to the whole episode to hear more about Jason’s take on what it means to be an employee, not offering equity, and not using perks as a recruiting tool.

The biggest perk according to Jason: having your full work day for yourself without coworkers “stealing” time.