“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
International professionals have three unique courses to help them improve their English language skills in their workplace this Fall. With a focus on context of English use, these courses offer a lot of feedback and first-hand training to ensure that emerging English speakers are understood.
“Storytelling is our most natural and fundamental communication tool,” says Jennifer Orr, Program Coordinator for Speech Arts and Drama, MRU Conservatory. The addition of speech coaches offers unique value to the Enhanced Speaking Skills for Internationally Educated Professionals (IEPs) course.
She explains, “Our voices are most effective when our own thoughts and emotions are connected. English as an additional language (EAL) speakers often lose vocal range, confidence and expression as they work to speak in English. The language is not fully their own, so their voice isn’t either. We hope to change that.”
Kathy Dawson, Program Administrator in Teacher Education for MRU’s Languages Institute, agrees that in the case of IEPs, it’s not just what they say, it’s how it’s said in the context of their work environment. “Language training that focuses on this enhanced quality helps improve overall confidence.”
Pathways for Internationally Educated Professionals (PIEP) is a blended format course (classroom and online components) that also has a dramatic flair. With a weekly theme, participants role-play workplace scenarios with actors, then receive feedback from the language instructor, a business expert, their peers and the actors themselves. Kathy says they’re not focused on grammar per se, but instead looking for, “that which interferes with understanding rather than trying to be perfect.” She adds that the feedback is on a more complex level, “It’s not the standard ‘You used the wrong verb tense’, but more along the lines of ‘You mixed up she and he and your verb tenses were inconsistent so I couldn’t follow the story’.”
The rule of thumb for all enrolled in these courses is, “My language is only as good as it fits the context in which I’m trying to communicate.” Each workplace sets its own professional tone and has its own professional lingo that must be understood to facilitate effective communication.
In its final offering this academic year is the Communication Studies for Health Professionals (CSHP) course, which has targeted language integration techniques in the medical and healthcare fields. Kathy nods, “It’s been a great way to help healthcare professionals understand hospital culture so they can transition to the Canadian context more easily.” This was a course that also offered participants the opportunity to role-play with actors in medical examination situations. When CSHP is no longer offered, healthcare practitioners will be able to enrol in PIEP and gain workplace communication skills alongside fellow professionals in other sectors.
From a vocal perspective, the classes will be experiential and all students will be fully engaged in the process of storytelling,” Jennifer Orr attests. From vocal tone, range and expression to vocal strength and confidence, storytelling can be empowering. “When we tell stories we access our memories and experiences – and are free from the constraints of “formal” communication.” Orr states. “Storytelling brings the speaker into the communication moment and the audience to the speaker.” This, by extension, enables IEPs to assimilate and communicate with their chosen professions’ corporate culture.
That, as Orr put it is, “Powerful stuff.”
- by JLove
Change is inevitable.
The content we create is ever changing. New ideas mean new conversations, debate and exploration.
The way we reach out and connect with our world is changing. In a marketplace currently obsessed with the augmented reality of Pokémon Go!, it’s impossible to imagine where new ideas will lead.
The way MRU shares ideas is changing too.
“The goal is to get people thinking about issues that impact us locally and globally.” says one of the instigators of this new initiative Dimitra Fotopoulos, Program Director, Business and Professional Education for MRU Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension. “We are looking to shine a light on some of the amazing talent within the MRU community that can speak to these issues and provide some critical insights into them, to get a conversation going and hopefully create a dialogue.”
The inaugural speaker, Joanne Leskow, is an award-winning Organizational Change Management instructor whose keynote entitled “Loving Change” captivated the audience at the exquisite Bella Concert Hall in the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts, and promises to influence viewers online to embrace changes in their own lives.
“Joanne is so well versed in managing change and how it can be personal or professional,” says Fotopoulos, who adds, “she came to mind first because of her great expertise in the subject, the fact that she is an excellent public speaker, and most importantly that she connects so well with her students.”
It’s worth noting that many of the attendees of her session were her former students.
Moving forward, MRU Think Talks will showcase speakers and thinkers that resonate with the times, Fotopoulos explains, “We are responsive to what is happening around us and want to share our the expertise of MRU instructors, Faculty, alumni and community with others.” The hope is to amplify the exemplary idea-sharing these instructors do on a daily basis. “It’s a lot like what is currently being done in our classrooms, it’s just connecting with a larger student body online.”
Leskow offered a thoughtful presentation, drawing from her personal and professional experiences. Its roots were in reflection, not merely information. Through her guidance, the audience was compelled to take stock on how they themselves deal with change and how a shift in perception might offer a different, and perhaps more rewarding, life experience.
It’s this type of connection that Fotopoulos encourages, “MRU Think Talks will be aligned with our program offerings so participants can quickly identify what courses or training they would need if a particular topic resonated with them. “
With more scheduled to follow in the Fall, Fotopoulos and her team are excited, “We are looking forward to a dynamic and engaging series where people have an awareness or understanding of topics that they didn’t before, and they can ask themselves, “now that I know this information, what’s next for me, my job, my family
Enjoy Joanne Leskow’s MRU Think Talk.
Watch, Think & Share.
MRU Think Talks
On point. Online.
– by JLove
Last week, Calgary’s Kenn Borek Air flew an emergency evacuation of two Antarctic-based patients in need of medical care. The Twin Otter plane flew 2,400 km and successfully landed on it’s ‘landing skis’, ski-like apparatus resembling aquatic pontoons, on compacted snow in total darkness only to turn around after ten hours and transport the patients to Punta Arenas, Chile. The crew of this mission was made up of some courageous pilots, medical professionals… and flight dispatchers.
Sylvain Duclos is an instructor/facilitator for MRU Continuing Education’s Flight Dispatcher Certificate. “It’s a profession like no other,” he admits. “You make all the decisions. The result of your actions and decisions are felt and seen right away.”
With this recent mission, it’s obvious that these trained choices made on a day-to-day basis are actually saving lives.
Duclos says the program’s content is, “broad-base and touches on all subjects in aviation.” From the basics of how an airplane flies to specifics like, “Commercial Aviation Operations, flight planning, Air regulation and procedures, flight safety and Aviation weather and more… it is a very unique career path.”
Describing the profession as mostly, “unknown,” Duclos says the program has much merit. “It’s a great way to get ready to write the Transport Canada written exam in a hands-on, engaged, interactive atmosphere. Once the course is completed and exam written, a student/candidate can apply for a Flight Dispatcher position with various airlines anywhere across Canada. It’s not geographically binding.”
With a transitional career market, those with an interest in aviation might find their careers take off with this certification. “There is movement in the industry at the top,” he adds, noting the retirement of long-serving aviation experts, “which is felt at the lower levels as well. The long term outlook is good.”
With clear skies towards that horizon, graduates from MRU have an advantage, Duclos explains, “The local airline industry is aware of this course and has hired from this class repeatedly over many years.” So for those who have had a departure from their career or are looking to plan a new destination on your radar, Duclos confesses that it’s a rewarding field. He stresses, “There is a real sense of accomplishment…of a job well done.”
The rescued Antarctic-research patients are grateful for the aviation crew for the evacuation mission. For the flight dispatchers involved, their training and expertise saved lives. For many who are looking for a fresh start, registering on the flight-path towards a flight dispatcher career just might save theirs.
Registration for MRU Continuing Education’s Flight Dispatcher Certificate is now open for Fall 2016. Click here for more info.
- by JLove
“I hate the term ‘new normal’.” Steve Armstrong insists, indicating that change is inevitable and those in leadership positions must not be complacent. “When you’re the leader… you are always accountable.”
Armstrong is a MRU Continuing Education instructor and author of You Can’t Lead from Behind. He will be a keynote speaker at Resilience & Recovery: How to survive and thrive in a new normal on June 25th, 2016. His presentation, Organizational Resilience will offer professional advice from his experiences in disaster recovery operations ranging from the 9/11 attacks in 2001 to this year’s Fort McMurray wildfires.
“You cannot be strategic and operational at the same time.” Armstrong proclaims.
Whether dealing with natural disasters or economic crisis, he endorses clarity and risk assessment for businesses hoping to survive the situation and thrive in the aftermath. “You can’t focus on day-to-day while looking forward to the future.” He reiterates. “When I was leading giant operations, I had tactical leaders. I pulled out of day-to-day… I looked weeks and months out.” This division of resources is a luxury that many smaller businesses dealing with a struggling economy can’t afford. To which, Armstrong identifies, “You have to block out a period of time in the morning to be strategic. Try to surround yourself with folks that will help you think that way.”
To all leaders, he advises, “Be 100% focused on your objective or mission.” His military background serves him well. “The second rule is to make sure that everyone working for you knows the objective. The rest,” he concludes, “is how to get it done. You can motivate and manipulate… engage people and protect them… but always treat people with respect and dignity.”
The mission provides the foundation on which to make decisions; and Armstrong has had to make some tough ones. “If the mission is clearly articulated then employees (like soldiers) have three levels of consensus… ‘I can live with it’, I can’t live with it’, or ‘I’m all in’.” The last of which is the team all leaders would like to build; a team who pulls together and operates best in a time of crisis.
Ethos is a Greek term describing the characteristic spirit of culture. In business, that can refer to everything from the integrity of leadership to corporate culture, team-building and trust. “If an organization doesn’t have ethos,” Armstrong exclaims, “they’ll never build it in the crisis.”
In his book, he describes a time when, in service, he was asked to jump over the edge of a cliff, landing site-unseen. He was tested to place his trust in his commanding officer, and, due to the trust that had been established, he didn’t think twice about taking the plunge. This type of established trust in leadership he explains using a military adage, “Always explain the truth about what and why something is happening so they (employees) believe you when you don’t have time to explain.”
Whether he likes the term ‘new normal’ or not, he is a leader who is certainly prepared for it.
Shawn Cable has always been a team player.
The former Calgary Roughneck professional lacrosse player describes himself as always having had, “and entrepreneurial type spirit.” But he admits, “I’d be lying if I told you ten years ago that I’d be the owner of a mattress recycling business.”
His company Re-Matt began in 2014. Cable describes it as, “a mattress recycling business intent on eliminating all disposal of mattresses in city landfills across Alberta.” The idea came from a field trip his Mount Royal University Continuing Education Supply Chain Management course took to a Sears factory. “At the time, I was working in Oil and gas,” he explains, “but like many people, I didn’t know how secure my future was.” So, he pitched the idea of mattress recycling to, “a group of buddies I met for breakfasts to bring new ideas to the table so we could all work for ourselves one day.” The group approved.
Cable did some research and found out that there was no one else in this environmental and much needed niche market. “People are paying to take mattresses to the landfill already,” he gleaned, “the landfill is charging a $20 minimum. We charge $15. So, you’re saving money and keeping it green.”
Business seems to be good. In May 2016, Cable touts that, “we had our best month to date. Over 3000 mattresses.” That’s 3000 mattresses that won’t clutter Alberta landfills! Instead, Re-Matt recycles up to 95% of the materials from them. Mattresses are broken down into their original components like fabric, steel and wood. “We find places for materials to go that have a better end use.”
Existing businesses are looking for his service. He has signed partnership contracts with the likes of mattress retailers like The Brick, Sleep Country and Sears who are all trying to service their customers with a greener solution. Cable and his team just signed an agreement with Fort McMurray to bring their used mattresses down to his Calgary warehouse.
From an early analysis, “The biggest obstacle is transportation,” he says, “It can be costly.” This is merely a pothole on the road to success for Cable who summarizes the landfill landscape, “Landfills don’t like mattresses. They don’t bury well. They take up space. Now that there’s a solution, everyone’s trying to find a budget to do it (recycle).”
Speaking to his experience with Supply Chain Management at MRU, he reports, “It helped tremendously. It’s a logistics-based business. There was a lot of valuable information that I learned from the program.”
The secret to Re-Matt’s early success is something that he doesn’t lose a lot of sleep over. “It’s a little bit of craziness mixed in with doing your homework…and putting your money where your mouth is.”
Spoken like a true innovator.
“Good content marketing is about cultivating brand loyalty.” says Jenelle Peterson, Director of Business Development & Marketing at Mount Royal University’s Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension.
In MRU Continuing Education’s new Content Marketing Strategy course, which Peterson will be teaching from June 22-Jul 6, 2016, students will learn, “how social media, SEO and content marketing work together to create a prolific online strategy.”
“Content marketing is such a buzz word,” she explains, noting the success of companies like Lululemon Athletica and Calgary-based WestJet Airlines in providing some unique and successful marketing content. But the benefits of content media on a brand are seemingly becoming more universal, “it’s not just for marketers.”
“We’re starting to see people from a broader spectrum of industries taking marketing courses so they have a deeper understanding of how it benefits their company or organization.” Suggesting that it’s not just about ‘getting the sale’, content marketing is becoming more and more about building a relationship with clients, prospective clients and the community at large. “It can be an awesome tool for entrepreneurs, mid-career marketers who want to get an edge on where this industry is moving and for any business leader to have a good understanding of how content cultivates brand loyalty.”
Peterson is focusing on key elements including, “how you curate that content, what kind of content you create, who you share it with and how you’ll share it.” Using a mixture of case studies and success stories intertwined with working through strategies for organizations her students represent, the course promises to help, “build a content marketing toolkit.”
Celebrating her first year at MRU, she’s championing content initiatives from some of her MRU Continuing Education colleagues. One noteworthy example is the recent launch of MRU Think Talks. This is a video content offering that showcases MRU Continuing Education instructors, innovators and community members as they present on their areas of expertise. “It’s providing quality content that is useful to our multiple audiences,” she notes, “and since it’s all going online, it’s a way for MRU innovation to start building relationships with a global market.” It’s ideas like these that she will be sharing with students.
Describing her day-to-day prescription for content marketing success, Peterson claims, “It takes a team. It’s important for all of us to engage our subject matter experts for their expertise and assistance in bringing relevant and valuable content to our diverse audiences. It’s those relationships within our organization that allow us to build trust and loyalty in the marketplace.”
To register or learn more… click here.
Ernest Barbaric recognizes trends and changes. “In Calgary,” he explains, “We haven’t had marketing conferences. It’s nice to have a grass roots initiative like SocialWest.” Being connected with Calgary social media guru Mike Morrison of @MikesBloggity has put Barbaric once again in the speaker’s spotlight for the sold-out event.
Founder of the Social Media for Business certificate program at Mount Royal University Continuing Education, Barbaric notices that there’s a change of behaviour happening (literally) under our noses. People are constantly connected to their digital devices. His presentation, “Trends that are defining digital marketing in 2016 and beyond” on June 16th at 11am sets out to identify and explain this shift and how it affects the way businesses and individuals communicate.
“This connectivity is changing our priorities,” Barbaric suggests. “If you have a phone and it’s not connected to wifi, there’s a sense of loneliness even in areas where there are other people.” Recognizing how most have adopted this perpetual dependency on digital technology, he offers, “People would rather have someone steal their wallet instead of their phone.”
This not only changes the way people speak to people, but also drastically affects how businesses and other organizations or brands speak to people, which is why his SocialWest audience is there. “There’s a movement towards social becoming a media buying platform.” he says, “There’s more focus on paid (advertising) and a big rise in automation.” This affects the role-responsibility of a traditional marketing team for any organization. “As things progress, it changes what marketing teams do to maintain these systems.”
If a marketing team were Aretha Franklin’s band, you would have a standard line-up of drums, bass, guitar and keyboards with Aretha wailing the message to your audience. Now, with new tools and audience expectations, Barbaric explains that social media is like adding, “a triple-necked guitar with a keyboard on it that plays itself,” and ups the ante, “with a DJ who samples Aretha Franklin – and 50 other artists – and adds a light show.”
There are some for whom digital media is the bright light in an economic downturn in this city. Barbaric concurs, “Business who can sell their services online have global access regardless of where you’re from. Locally,” he touts, “there is still money, but it becomes a more competitive environment.” Survival is for those who can evolve. He identifies, “those who are squeezed out are people relying on the status quo.”
Those leaving his SocialWest presentation will glean, “a sense of what they need to do to prepare for the future.” According to Barbaric, the future has much potential and we’re not too far behind to catch up. “There’s a lag… between American and Canadian markets, between different generations and between big and small businesses.” But to those willing to make the changes, he estimates that there’s “a decent amount of runway.”
Connect with Ernest at SocialWest.
Connect with others who are growing their digital brands too.
And remember, you’re not alone… if you’re connected to the internet.
- by JLove
Mount Royal University’s annual Employee Awards ceremony recognizes the dedicated behind-the-scenes work of faculty and administrative staff in supporting learners to achieve their goals.
Two of our Continuing Education instructors received Distinguished Teaching Awards.
After a video presentation about instructor Joanne Leskow, Dean Charles Webber presented the award acknowledging her outstanding work in the classroom. Joanne has taught in the Leadership Development and Organizational Change Management program since 2009, as well as teaching corporate clients.
Joanne’s student Jose Bellorin noted in his nomination letter, “Joanne delivers a great experience. Her classes are very well-planned and interactive.”
Instructor Scott McLean was recognized for his work with the Children’s Mental Health online program in Community and Health Studies.
In 2008 Scott was instrumental in updating the curriculum for the Children’s Mental Health program. He continues to teach several of the courses to students across Canada.
Scott was also part of the team that won the Effective Team Award for Indigenous Helping Practices, a new social work course that focuses on Aboriginal culture and providing connection to community elder as part of the helping process.
Barbara Lindsay, Administrative Assistant for the Business and Professional Education team, received a Distinguished Staff Award only a year after joining the faculty. Her colleagues’ nomination letter commended Barb’s “sparkly personality, generous attitude, astute professionalism and strong work ethic.”
As well, we were proud to acknowledge several long-serving Continuing Education employees.
- Elaine Danelesko
- Terry Dowsett
- Maureen Bray
- Christine Schnurr
- Christina White Prosser
- Dimitra Fotopoulos
- Karen McCarthy
Congratulations to all of today’s award winners, and thank you to everyone who works to make the Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension a great place to work and learn.
— photos by Krystal Hurt
Calgary might be the only major city in North America not suffering the winter doldrums these days. The recent beautiful weather coincides with the release of our Spring/Summer calendar.
Among our career-focused certificates and programs are personal development courses. Spring and summer are the perfect time to focus on your interests and hobbies.
Apply your green thumb to our popular Yard & Garden courses this May and June. In addition to our courses on landscaping and gardening for Calgary’s unique climate, we are offering two new courses: Growing Food in the City and Creating Biodiversity with Insects.
On the topic of greenery, you can complete our Floral Design Certificate of Completion in only three weeks. By using the Block Code FD123 you will save 10% on course fees.
In our Photography courses, you can finally learn how to use that digital SLR camera you bought. Take courses toward your Certificate of Completion or individual courses of interest. We even have a Mountain Photography Workshop in Banff the weekend of July 24-26.
Maybe you’re planning on selling your house this year? You can learn about Home Staging in order to maximize the sale.
Our new Healthy Aging courses help you plan for retirement or help aging family members live their best lives.
Be your best self with arts and wellness courses. In addition to the courses above, check out:
Want to work out some of the winter kinks? Our Massage Therapy students give treatments in the Practicum Clinic for only $20-30 for a one-hour massage. Book here.
Don’t forget the children and teens in your life. MRU Kids is celebrating 25 years of offering fun and educational summer camps.
Here’s to your season of self-discovery!
— by Karen McCarthy
A lot of New Year’s resolutions focus on self-improvement. Some of them are notoriously difficult to achieve and good intentions quickly fall by the wayside.
One relatively easy-to-keep resolution is to engage in lifelong learning. Taking a class can fit into even the busiest schedule.
There are many reasons to continue your education: to improve your workplace skills, to earn a credential or to prepare for a career change.
Those are common reasons to learn, easily measured by your professional results. But are you aware that numerous studies indicate that lifelong learning improves your:
- adaptability to change
- brain health
- long-term cognitive ability
- interpersonal skills
We would love to promise that it can also help you lose those last 5 pounds, but that’s a whole different New Year’s resolution.
Classes are starting soon — classroom, online, evening, weekend. Start looking for your learning opportunity on the Continuing Education website and happy learning in 2015!
— by Karen McCarthy
— photo by Kevin Yee