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Permalink to My ICOM Experience : Rob Sanderson

My ICOM Experience : Rob Sanderson

My Grandma used to tell a story about how when I was a young she would take me for a walks to help learn about the world; meet new people, see new things. We never made it past the end of the block, as she would lovingly retell “it took us three hours just to get that far because you touched and tasted every damn thing you passed until you knew exactly what it was”. But she didn’t stop me because I was learning, and a method of understanding I notoriously had throughout my younger years. However, it was technique I had to lose as I entered public school and not everyone cared for their stuff being tasted.

In a way it’s a shame that I wasn’t allowed to keep experiencing school through my taste buds. I mean, it’s probably healthier this habit was squashed so early on, but I like to wonder what I could have learned if I hadn’t been forced to fit in that box from the start. The lights that could have been flicked on, the discoveries I could have experienced if I had not been forced to stop doing things my way and be ‘more normal’.

Which is, unfortunately, what so much of education has become – pushing people into categories and boxes. It’s a system premised on giving you a quantified measure of how you stack up against your peers. Throw in hormones and finding out what second-base is and it’s no wonder the stress of school leaves so many individuals sour.

As a student I was lucky, because I fit within the perimeters of the system — I was smart enough, laughed enough, stayed out of the way of the right people, and came out relatively unscathed (despite not being able to taste most things). And I’m lucky when it comes to education as I have a twice-baked opinion, having the opportunity to do it all again as a teacher. But getting to go through a second time with a different perspective opened my eyes in a way that they can’t be closed again.

While school worked for me as a student, I get why some people’s experience is not as awesome; everything about being a teacher has shown me that there cannot be a prescriptive ‘right way’ to learn in any setting, no boxes will ever work. That having a collection of individuals put in one room necessitates diversity in lessons and ideas, and how they are communicated. It should be an institution of working together and innovation, but unfortunately, these are the ideas traditional education doesn’t have time to deal with.

In University you’re taught these amazing innovations of education, these new ways to engage students, to help them access materials, to make each learners day special and important and not just feel like they’re trying to get the right boxes checked off. What they don’t teach you is that schools are not ready for these sorts of changes, and most of your innovations will be met with ‘no’ and ‘stop’ before they’re even out of your mouth. And as a recent graduate, it is extremely disenchanting that the educational profession was, once again, not letting me work my way, to my potential.

Enter ICOM. The lens of education may be shifted, but here is a place that has let me spread my wings as not only as a teacher, but as a learner. As a learner I’m challenged daily on the best way to think about and execute my ideas – collaborating to make positive change rather than finding ways to make old solutions fit new problems. As a teacher, my ideas are welcomed and embraced as I’m privileged to work with our whole team who have education as their focus – not grades, not pass/fail ratios, not worrying about whether this is ‘how it’s been done before’, but education. Authentic education.

With ICOM, I’m able to truly teach and to truly learn, like I’ve been once again invited to keep touching and licking every damn thing I pass until I understand it – it might not be conventional, but hell, that’s ICOM.

Rob Sanderson is an Instructional Designer and Project Manager and is based in Calgary, 


Permalink to My ICOM Experience: Laura Gosselin

My ICOM Experience: Laura Gosselin

From the time I was young, I have always loved learning. I had a curious heart, which was inevitably kept beating by the mysteries of the world and the intrigue of my father’s physics lectures and experiments. “Why is the sky blue?” I’d say, “What are those big dots in the sky? What happened to the dinosaurs – where are they now?” So full of wonder and excitement I’d endlessly ask my father anything that came to mind. There was never a question or a problem he couldn’t solve. I didn’t always feel at home, but I did when I was exploring.

I desired knowledge, solutions, and learning from everyday things – not just school, and not just from my father. Of course I loved school, minus the math, with all its endless provision of knowledge for that little, artsy-nerd-brain of mine. School was the cat’s pajamas, but I soon found most of my education came from something else very special in my life.

I gained strength and growth from my friends, and my family. As a child I climbed trees, rode my bike in the “mountains”, and tried to catch jack rabbits with my bare hands (failing horribly, mind you). But my mom, my dad, my brother, my best friends, everyone I met through sports, school… they were the ones who left a lasting impression; Ahmar at the convenient store, Carol the hair dresser, and Mr. Evans, my English teacher. Without moments like these in life, I wouldn’t have such a passion for learning, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today.  Ahmar taught me to smile and laugh, even when I’m just out to buy the paper.  Carol showed me the intelligence in everyone, no matter whose hair they cut. Mr. Evans showed me that I have a voice, and I should express it with quiet confidence, not just in writing but in everything I do.

Sometimes I stray from my best self, and I’m not the person I always want to be, but it is the people that bring me back. They bring me back to learning something new about myself, to continue to live passionately, with love and a silly spirit.  And now, at this stage in my life, I have found my new home, a source of endless provision of knowledge – ICOM.

Oh my gosh, did I just say ICOM? I had no idea that’s where this post was going…

ICOM…yes, this is where I learn from the people I meet every day. Enthusiasm bursts in every conversation, and there is so much unique sharing, whether it’s in online chat or in a meeting. It’s hard not to get excited about your day.

I am a fairly new fish thrown into a fairly wacky pond, and I couldn’t be happier. Here, I will both fail and succeed, as long as I keep moving to the beats of a curious heart. ICOM, thank you – let the exploring begin!

Laura Gosselin is a Videographer and Motion Graphics Designer and is based in Calgary, AB


Permalink to My ICOM Experience: Justin St. Cyr

My ICOM Experience: Justin St. Cyr

Ever heard of the Ebner Effect?  In 1992 Swiss pharmaceutical group Ciba (now Novartis) commissioned two research scientists, Dr. Guido Ebner and Heinz Schurch to conduct experiments.  Together they exposed cereal seeds and fish eggs while they were growing to an “electrostatic field” – basically a high voltage field with no current.  The results were astonishing.  They grew a fern that no botanist was able to identify; a primeval corn that had up to twelve ears per stalk; wheat that was ready to be harvested in just four to six weeks.  Oh, and a giant trout that went extinct in Europe 130 years ago complete with “trout hooks”.  The implications!

Ok, how ‘bout this one.  1952 at the Luke Airforce base in Arizona, when test pilots were first testing new powerful jet prototypes.  Nine pilots died in eight weeks.  The tower would lose contact with the pilot followed by a devastating crash.  One pilot reported that he felt immense pressure followed by blackness and suddenly he was on the wing of the airplane looking around the clouds, when he looked in the cockpit he was surprised to see himself in the cockpit flying.  Apparently nine pilots down; coupled with the out of body experience was the threshold at which they decided an investigation was warranted.  The US Air Force built a centrifuge to test the test pilots. Turns out, they were blacking out due to the number of G’s they were pulling.  The force pushes all the blood from the brain and forces it to the abdomen and legs.  When this happens the brain loses contact with the body.  Our brains are constantly helping us draw our environment and keeping us grounded in our 3D space.  This is called body schema.  When the brain can’t find the body and body schema kicks in, strange things occur.  The most common experience is out of body vision; such as a pilot seeing himself in third person stumbling through a hallway.

Alright, last one.  I promise!  It’s the late 90′s and Nathan Cohen is in a fight with his landlord.  Being a ham radio operator is a hobby of his but his landlord won’t let him put his antenna out the window of his apartment.  This is frustrating and Nathan thinks he’s going to have to move after he gets back from his trip to Hungary for an astronomy conference.  At the conference he hears a talk by a man named Benoit Mandelbrot, the inventor of fractals.  Mr. Mandelbrot explains that fractals are a great general way of explaining the way things move, work and look in the universe.  Nathan then wonders “Hey, what happens if I apply a fractal pattern to my antenna?”.  So when he gets home he bends some wire into “the snowflake of Helge Von Koch” which is a fractal shape.  He then attaches the wire to his radio INSIDE his apartment. Whammy!  It works first shot, and wonderfully!  He then makes smaller and smaller antenna’s with more and more self similar geometry until he ended up with a perfect cell phone antenna.  They’re small, they can receive many frequencies and they’re energy efficient.  Without Nathan’s discovery our cell phones would be sporting separate antenna’s for wifi, phone, 4G, LTE, Bluetooth etc.

Every day I get to learn new things from amazing and interesting people that surround me at ICOM.  Those three stories are just a tiny sample of information and discoveries that others have introduced me to.  This environment changes you constantly.  When you’re surrounded by people with a thirst for knowledge and passion to share that knowledge, you turn into a sponge.  There are no secret development techniques here, helping someone else is helping yourself. While we do  garner a lot of information from the courses we build (and I meant a lot), the diversity, talent and energy of this company is where the treasure lays.  Every day that ICOM Experience changes me.

Justin St. Cyr is a Content Design Team Lead at ICOM Productions


Permalink to My ICOM Experience: TJ Waltho

My ICOM Experience: TJ Waltho

Right now, somewhere on a range road in Southern Alberta, a badly-shaven ghost of post-pubescent Me is cruising around in the ghost of a red civic hatchback. He is smoking a ghost cigarette strictly for vanity, whipping his ghost hair back and forth to some ghost music (probably Spirit of the West). He is certain being an adult is as simple as smoking Export A Golds and getting drunk off mixing a 40 with Redbull. He is, in all sense of the word, a dumb-ass. He is floating through his fine arts degree, wandering through his life aimlessly.

Why, you ask is he such a dumb-ass? Welp, besides the obvious, he just lacks direction & motivation like most dumb-asses. He grew up in a very… let’s say… white-collar family. It’s not that he lacked support or love, they just didn’t understand the “Fine Arts” grey area in their black & white world. I doubt his parents even know what his current job entails, let alone what the whole company does (I still shudder every time I see my mom type the individual letters to google.com in the IE address bar, only to then search for Hotmail to check her email). Bottom line, he didn’t have a mentor. Someone to slap him on the back of the wrist and say “kaa-kaa” then take his hand and pull him away from the shiny objects of meaninglessness, like a little toddler inching towards dog doody just ‘cause he doesn’t know any better.

But now, after he’s been on this waterslide that is the ICOM Experience for the better part of a decade, having whizzed past his fair share of next game wins’s and that’s what she said’s around the pool table, out came “Current Me” on the other end, wading in a pool of experience & knowledge, warm with the glow of leadership & mentorship. And in that waterslide, unbeknownst to me, I picked up a little something–no not a public-pool-contracted foot fungus–just…something.

I believe it was an interest. An interest in where ICOM was going; I caught a taste and I needed more. I became invested in the company’s well-being. And [shameless cliché alert], realized it was the people here that made this career path so inviting. I made friends with my co-workers, and not just awkward-watercooler-talk friends, but real let’s-go-out-tonight friends (without 40’s and Redbull this time). My time at ICOM has taught me to value these relationships, to maintain and foster them (you can check the goals on my annual performance review for proof), same way my mentors did when they started out around a pizza box. My mentors challenge me, and respect me. They are my confidants, my sparring partners, my personal Deepak Chopras. But above all else, they care about me. Ghost me finally had footsteps to follow. Likeminded individuals who were invested in my future—no, in our shared future–and I wasn’t about to let them down. This was the new, Current Me.

I’ve come to quickly learn at ICOM that once you’re in, you’re in for keeps, like immediately gaining a pack of 100+ older siblings willing to stick up for you. But it doesn’t come without its price though; you’ve got to raise the bar, work hard, but above all, you will be held accountable for fostering ICOMs beloved culture. You don’t just get to come in and stick your nose in your computer. We want you to look your colleagues in the eye, laugh with them, lean on them, be honest with them, support them, because–not to get all Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday on you–but because when it comes down to it, they’re going to do the same for you. And while we are looking for ways for technology to keep us all moving faster and more efficiently, we can’t forget how important smiles, kind words, games of crud, and walks to the coffee shop are.

Sometimes, I think back to that dumb-ass – and what he is now, am now, and it makes me wonder if I’ve ever helped anyone along their path, smoking their own ghost cigarettes. Maybe I’m showing someone the way now, giving them footsteps to follow in. Heck, I had a guy call me his mentor (I heard you Sam, I know you said it, no take-backsies).

But anyways, you can see I owe much of my personal development into adulthood (if you can even call it that) to ICOM . I have worked hard here, and ICOM has worked hard for me. ICOM took a risk on Ghost Me 7 years ago after I showed them my movie trailer for Brokeback Biped, a mockumentary movie idea I had about a boy who falls in love with a 3D character rig, think Her meets Brokeback Mountain (still waiting on a royalty cheque Spike Jonze)

*shakes head*… getting off track here…

Point is, ICOM took a chance on me. I couldn’t help but respond to their belief in me. For every extra hour I’ve worked, every instruction I’ve debated, idea I’ve promoted, ICOMs leaders have been there, willing to meet me half way. And yes, I’m in my current wading pool at the end of a long waterslide, but I have many more waterslides to go down (I just love waterslides), building and maintaining new relationships on the way down; learning new things from my leaders and mentors at each dip and turn. I will continue to do my best for them, to progress at ICOM. ICOM is home for me. That is my ICOM experience…although Current Me is still badly shaven.

TJ Waltho is a Senior Content Design Team Lead at ICOM Productions and a neophyte Harley Davidson motorcycle rider.


Permalink to My ICOM Experience

My ICOM Experience

We asked several different ICOMers from various roles and departments to reflect and answer the following question, “what learning or change do you see reflected in yourself as a result of YOUR ICOM experience?” Over the next several weeks we will be sharing their answers and responses as part of our next blog series “My ICOM Experience”.


Permalink to ICOM Experience: Back to School

ICOM Experience: Back to School

It is that time of year; the time when leaves begin to change colour, when you feel that slight chill in the morning air, and when students everywhere go back to school.

For most of us at ICOM, those school days are all but a distant memory, replaced with the realities of real life commitments, work, families and bills. But as we look forward to fall, we thought, “what better way to pay homage to the forgotten routines of our days in school, than by re-living school picture day?”

We submit for your viewing enjoyment our updated team photo gallery, inspired by our former high school yearbook photos. Upon viewing, you may realize as we did, some things never change!

Enjoy!


Permalink to Jared’s Perspective: Learning and Technology

Jared’s Perspective: Learning and Technology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am fortunate to be asked to speak at events regularly. These events range in size and are on a wide variety of topics from leadership and organizational change to learning and people development. Last Thursday, I spoke at the HR Trends event presented by the Talent Pool. My topic was Learning and Technology.

The first speaker, Javier Lozano, Chief Information Officer for the Calgary International Airport, covered the basics on this topic. He offered tremendous insight about leveraging social media, even demonstrating its reach by taking a photo of the group and tweeting it. Using the hashtag #HRTrendsYYC, he later reported that this photo had reached 34,000 people.

I took a different approach to this topic. Instead of espousing the virtues of technology, I engaged the audience in a discussion about how they recruit, how they train staff and how they might think differently about everything they are doing. Instead of a talk, my session evolved into something quite different. It challenged. It engaged. It resonated. And, really, isn’t that the goal of any effective learning?

After the session ended, I was approached by several organizations, all of whom wanted to learn more about using technology in HR to their advantage. Invariably, they wanted to discuss, engage and explore.

When we think about leveraging technology in learning, there are countless ways to be effective. However a quote from our CEO, Greg Surbey, really sums it up for me. “When you bring the world of learning into the world of technology– but don’t forget that you’re really in the world of learning – then that is the right formula.”

It is this formula that allows us to continue to be successful at ICOM. And, for me personally, it has always been about the learning first and the technology second.

Jared Tabler is the Vice President of People, Brand & Culture at ICOM Productions and an adjunct professor at MacEwan University


Permalink to Ask an ICOMer – Steve Kabachia

Ask an ICOMer – Steve Kabachia

Whether we like it or not, learning results in change, and I’ve seen a lot of accidental change as a student and educator. However, when I stumbled upon a place called ICOM Productions, I fell into a place where the first step is to target the desired change. Only then, did they begin designing the instruction and, ultimately, building meaningful e-learning.

I found that exciting and interesting, but more than a little daunting. Sure, I’ve identified curriculum outcomes, developed lessons and assessments, planned courses and lessons, evaluated progress, nurtured change. But, I’d never relied on an entire team of young, creative, energetic experts to bring my instructional design to life. And, I’d only ever designed course explicitly for another person once in my life, and that was for a semester of home-cooked lunches. At ICOM, I would have to let go of my courses and allow them to grow and then thrive outside of my immediate control in array of learning environments both near and far. Frankly, the thought of freely giving over control – of development, of creation, of implementation – terrified me.

Fear, though, can be an excellent motivator.

In my role at ICOM, I collaborate with an incredible array of talented people, and work with truly inspiring and driven clients in at least a dozen industries.  Together, we explore the limitations of e-learning and push these boundaries higher up Bloom’s Taxonomy in order to elicit higher level thinking from our learners. Along the way, they’ve helped me identify the gaps in my own knowledge of learning and education, in technology, as well as industry, and supported my attempts to fill those gaps. From the beginning, being surrounded by passionate and supportive learners has allowed me to explore new paths along a life of learning.

While only in my second year at ICOM, I’ve been witness to and a part of defining our own learning goals. As a result, I feel an enormous sense of privilege to be entrusted with opportunities to drive innovative models of learning that create new  environments for learning, deliver material and ideas to engage and challenge learners in ever evolving ways, and build our own capacity for driving learning in a variety of settings. But, it all starts with defining what our learning can be.

To strive for a defined change, that is Learning for a Change.

Steve Kabachia is the Instructional Design and Project Management Team Lead at ICOM Productions in Calgary, AB


Permalink to Ask an ICOMer – Ben Ainsworth

Ask an ICOMer – Ben Ainsworth

What does learning for a change mean to me?

This may be a bad time to ask me this question. I am still in school and will be writing the Chartered Accountancy Uniform Final Exam in September. These days, learning means long nights in the university library after a full work day. It means cramming my head full of procedures and principles. It means two solid months of study during the most beautiful time of year and turning your friends down 90% of the time whenever they call to do things. At times, learning seems inversely correlated to fun.

But these are just short term sacrifices.

The skills I learn will provide me with a foundation upon which I will add more and more knowledge throughout my life. These skills will change the way I approach complex situations and help me to recommend the best course of action. This hard work will enable me to provide expertise to a company with a product that truly makes a difference.

And that is exactly what ICOM does. Through a variety of mediums, ICOM has managed to find new and exciting ways to enable people to learn. It can be highly interactive and pleasing to the eye. People are able to absorb ICOM’s brand of e-learning and build upon their own knowledge foundations, using it to change the way they perform tasks, approach different situations, and avoid dangerous hazards. ICOM has shown that learning doesn’t have to be boring or repetitive. It has also shown that e-learning can be cost effective.

In many circumstances, e-learning is the most cost effective method of training available. An example of this would be our latest work in virtual reality. Commissioned by one of our oil sands clients, an employee can now walk around an exact copy of their mine site and equipment without even setting foot outdoors. They can check for issues and familiarize themselves with incredibly expensive equipment that can be incredibly dangerous when used incorrectly.

This ensures that the employee knows what they are doing and what hazards to look out for long before they ever step foot on a busy work site. It also means you are not tying up valuable equipment to perform training in the middle of a busy worksite. This saves on vehicle down-time and decreases the possibility of accidents in the workplace.

It is expensive for companies to maintain in-house training departments with salaried employees and high administrative costs. ICOM provides a scalable, comprehensive learning management system that can track an employee’s progress, identify weaknesses, and be accessed from anywhere. Our courses can be updated at any time as new processes, advances in technology, or changes to the company occur.

Learning should be stimulating, interactive, and modify your behavior. It should be cost effective for a company to institute and monitor. ICOM’s products are able to satisfy all of these requirements. I love working for a company that produces an excellent product and has fun doing it. The e-learning industry is on the rise, and ICOM is leading the way.

Ben Ainsworth is an Accountant with ICOM Productions and is based in Calgary, AB


Permalink to Ask an ICOMer – Ryan Jones

Ask an ICOMer – Ryan Jones

Learning for a change can be interpreted many different ways, in fact that is what I love about it. Everyone has an instant vision when they hear it.  If, at first,  you think of finally learning the material you’re interested in, you would be right, but learning can also be about making a positive change.  There is no wrong interpretation of what has become our slogan and rallying point at ICOM. The reason learning for a change is so powerful is that it can mean something different to everyone and still have a common theme, positivity.

Every time I look at a new project I don’t think about what we have done, instead I can be heard saying “You know what would be awesome…” whether it is learning a fluid simulation program, setting up a custom video camera mount or creating a virtual reality environment, the goal is always the same.

Half of the software programs I used in school are either completely new versions or have been discontinued years ago.  What I really learned in school was how to learn.  ICOM has a culture that allows people like me to learn and push the limits every time we take on a new challenge, in fact it is encouraged.

After 15 years with ICOM Productions I am still Learning for a Change.

Ryan Jones is Director of Technical Development & User Experience at ICOM Productions and is based in Calgary, AB

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