Having side projects is a great way to invest my time doing what I love. In addition, they help me experience and learn new skills and improve my techniques.
Table of Contents
Education, Learning & Development
Welcome to my realm! Education and learning have always been my passion - learning about learning and obtaining my PhD in social sciences, training and coaching other educators and team members, developing curriculums, and teaching young and adult English learners.
I've tried it all - from traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms to blended and virtual teaching.
Topics that interest me the most revolve around learning and reading strategies, languages, culture, and communication skills.
How does this L&D thing work?
First things first – find out what the learners need. Need analysis is always a good place to start. Then, after learning what the gaps are, I play with ideas about the content and delivery. Basically, it comes down to asking many questions before starting training, workshops, and seminars.
But it's not just the trainees that learn and develop – I do too. Every training session teaches me something new - how to set better aims and goals, develop more interesting activities, evaluate the training, and use the results for a new round.
Here are a few exciting projects and roles that helped me explore different topics and work with interesting people.
Languages and Cultures for Companies
Currently, my I am exploring intercultural communication within (German) companies. The questionnaires are ready, and I am one step closer to discovering more about intercultural awareness and practices in different companies – from international startups to big traditional corporations. After that, we'll see if there's a place for improvements through seminars and workshops.
Languages and Cultures for Educational Experts and Parents
One of my recurring projects is planning, organising, and delivering workshops and training for educators and parents of multilingual children. I love learning about the topic from my clients and exchanging knowledge and personal experiences of raising and educating children who speak more than one language. Even though speaking more languages brings many benefits, this multilingual journey can be challenging.
Education and Learning
One of my latest projects was preparing educational content for the international market. Akademie für Lernpädagogik focuses on bringing the science of learning closer to parents and educators. They deliver workshops and training to those who want to help children develop their focus and motivation for learning. Now, they are expanding and creating content in English - this is where I come into the picture.
Collaboration with KoHo Pedagogy has brought so much joy and resulted in many interesting projects. As the name Know-How Pedagogy indicates, their mission is to create and shape educational content and motivational learning surrounding. We share a common goal - to equip educators and parents with tools necessary to develop love for learning in children. Some of the topics we focus on revolve around motivation for learning, learning strategies, routines and the role of parents in education.
Together with the founder, I prepare and deliver training and workshops for educators, helping them develop their training skills. Providing successful training is an exciting journey. To design a training session tailored to the customers' needs, it's essential to learn WHAT their needs are. That's why I prepare surveys and organise focus groups. It's not about just teaching – it's about teaching what matters and what's relevant to our audience. Then, we come to the content creation and selection of activities. And after finishing the session, it's feedback time.
My expertise in learning and education came in handy when I worked in the publishing industry. This was an utterly exciting role – project coordination and team leading. Now, you might wonder what these two things have to do with learning and development. I supported content creators in understanding how learning works and what reading strategies we should include in our materials. As a result, we created and published traditional and digital tasks that made learning more interactive and engaging.
During this exciting project, I authored and co-authored additional learning materials for SEN learners (special educational needs).
As an educator, I worked with young and adult language learners. Each group has something special, and teaching them helped me learn. Children fascinate me with their enthusiasm and imagination. Teaching English to seven-year-olds meant re-learning how to play. On the other hand, adults bring substantial prior knowledge and experience that form a foundation for their learning. They want to take charge of their learning journey and find the most relevance in task-oriented learning that aligns with their own realities.
My Learning Projects
As a learner, I am a frequent visitor to LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udemy, Udacity, and other learning platforms. I like hearing what others have to say about the topics I already know well and challenging myself to see things from different perspectives. Even more, I like deepening my knowledge about the topics that interest me and applying that knowledge to my projects.
The projects in this area include creating learning materials, educational videos, books and eBooks, and online courses. Content creation is a place where I get to explore and further develop my creative side. However, it is more than just taking a pen and writing - it involves identifying the topic I want to work on, researching, deciding which form to take for the content, formalising the strategy, and producing. The final stage incorporates learning about and using different software suits for creating courses, videos or eBooks. Some of the things I've tried are Camtasia, Doodly, Adobe Photoshop Express, Moodle, and Vellum.
So, here are some of my projects in content creation.
Creating content for English learners helped me grow as an educator and author. I got a glimpse into the processes in the publishing industry and gained some of my first experiences working with a team of authors.
Most of these projects were carried out in collaboration with different publishers whose primary focus was helping learners achieve their potential.
- In 2010, Klett Verlag in Croatia aimed to create and publish additional materials for EFL learners. My first task was a textbook evaluation and its comparison to the National curriculum. After identifying the content that needed changes and adjustments, together with colleagues from Slovenia, I co-authored Znam za više 5. This additional learning material offered explanations, examples, and tasks for improving knowledge (and grades). Creating this textbook also helped me grow and develop as an EFL teacher, which was my full-time job at the time.
- Another project came soon afterwards. Pearson Profil asked me to analyse and evaluate their learning materials for primary and elementary school learners. Based on the analysis, I suggested topics they had to include to align their materials with the National curriculum. This project was truly fulfilling as I got to work on content that promoted intercultural values. Their Discovery series is one of the best I've worked on.
- From 2013 to 2015 I collaborated with Profil International. Our workbooks Building Blocks 4 and Building Bridges 8 were the result of our work on adjusting learning materials for SEN (special educational needs) learners. I researched fonts for people with dyslexia and explored ways to simplify the content and integrate different types of learning tasks into our materials.
The videos listed here were created for the International Research Unit for Multilingualism at LMU. These educational videos aim to help educators and parents understand how children acquire and learn languages and how these multilingual experiences shape their world.
Language Development explains how children acquire languages. It describes the phases of language development and some of their characteristics, such as over-regularisation and overgeneralisation.
Power of Multilingualism shows the benefits of speaking more than one language from four different perspectives: workplace, culture, socialisation, and brain development.
Multilingual Development presents some interesting facts about languages (e.g. there are around 7000 languages spoken worldwide), definitions, and different types of bi/multilingual development.
Challenges of Multilingualism shows that speaking more than one language and living in multilingual surrounding is not always easy. A few of my friends shared their struggles and challenges parenting little multilinguals.
Books and eBooks
The topics I explored and presented in my books have two things in common - learning and parenting. Three books in three different languages :)
Richtig lernen leicht gemacht is my first book in German. It was written for parents who want to support their children in developing learning routines and motivation, planning their learning and boosting self-regulation.
This project was interesting in terms of the language - the idea came from my eBook in Croatian, was further developed in English and German, and finally translated into German.
After editing and proofreading, a friend of mine designed the graphics and voilà - the book is now available on Amazon.
Kako učiti kod kuće? Vodič za roditelje is an eBook that describes some of the strategies for better learning. It aims to simplify the theory behind cognitive and metacognitive learning strategies and explain the importance of motivation and self-regulation.
Parenting: Easier Said Than Done? is a combination of theory and personal experiences that present parenting as fun, exhausting, amazing, excruciating, and fulfilling journey. This book shows that there is no golden rule or magic wand that would make us universally perfect parents.
Team Leading and Coordination
One of the most challenging and fulfilling projects I've worked on was textbook digitalisation. It was the very beginning of creating digital learning materials based on EFL textbooks for elementary school learners in Croatia. And I was a part of it.
As a team lead, I oversaw teams of content creators and editors. Together, we digitalised over 6000 tasks and made learning more interactive and engaging.
During this time, I learned that team leading is more than just optimising workflows. It is about the ability to motivate, inspire, guide, and coach. That means having the right skills and behaviours to enable the team achieve their goals. And, since the research has shown that leaders are trained and not born, we can better understand the importance of continuous learning and growing.