As the world changes, Toastmasters International is changing with it. That means offering more and better opportunities to grow and learn. Toward that end, the organization has exciting news to share: After much thought, research and analysis, Toastmasters is revitalizing its education program. This program will debut in the second half of 2014.
District 39 Chief Ambassador Announced
Tracy Fletcher-Bowman was appointed by Toastmasters International as our Chief Ambassador for the project. She will lead the District’s Ambassador team and serve as a conduit between the development team and the Ambassadors. Toastmasters International will be selecting some of the Ambassadors; Tracy will select the rest. She is looking forward to working with the new team and the District to help each member best utilize this exciting new program!
Revitalized Education Program
Background and Update
In Toastmasters’ early days, Dr. Smedley didn’t see the need for a formalized education program and believed that the opportunity to practice speaking and leadership offered the greatest value to the member. Over time, the need for written instruction and material evolved to meet the demands for consistency as the organization grew from one club to several hundred. The very first manual produced by Toastmasters was the “Manual for Toastmasters Clubs” published in 1928.
With the availability of the materials, the club experience became transportable and replicable. In 1942, Basic Training was introduced; the predecessor to today’s Competent Communication manual. Over the years, the Basic Training manual evolved through several iterations, changing from 15 speeches to 10, the sequence of some of the speeches changed and it was rewritten to match the norms of the day. In 1984, the Basic Communication and Leadership Program manual was revised to accelerate member recognition and involvement in the Advanced Communication and Leadership Program, a program which in 1978 was divided into three separate manuals, each based around a specific theme and featuring five different speech projects. During the 1980s, the Advanced Communication and Leadership Program became completely integrated into the Toastmasters education system. More manuals, including Technical Presentations, Persuasive Speaking and Communicating on Television, were developed throughout the 1980s. The Competent Leader manual, which formally introduced recognition of leadership learning into the education program, was launched in 2006.
In retrospect, it’s clear that the education program was developed in a building-block fashion; one piece after another in response to member feedback and requests for additional learning opportunities, yet without the benefit of a master plan, what we call Instructional Design today.
In 2010 the Board recognized the need to modernize the communication program and more completely support leadership learning as part of the member experience. Since that time, the Toastmasters educational experience has been evaluated in a way that’s never been done before. Board committees have focused on identifying the skills, competencies and attributes learned through the education program; they surveyed members to better understand what they’ve learned through the program and how they’ve learned it; they talked with Toastmasters leaders, past and present, to understand their unique leaderships journeys through the organization; and they’ve analyzed all of the Toastmasters learning materials to find where our materials fully support learning and where there are gaps.
From all of the research, we’ve identified the core competencies that are the foundation of Toastmasters learning: • Public speaking • Interpersonal communication • Leading and managing • Leading strategically • Confidence
These core competencies, and the many sub-competencies that support them, are the structure of the revitalized education program that is currently under development.
This is the largest project the organization has ever undertaken and the deepest revision to the educational program in our history. The new program will provide members with: • Customized learning, based on the core competencies, that fits their personal goals. • Earlier recognition to reward success and encourage continuing achievement. • Projects that challenge members, require increased effort as they progress and result in demonstrable proficiency gains. • A formalized member-mentoring program. • Online access and achievement tracking.
As you can imagine, developing and deploying this new program is an incredibly complex task. There are many factors we must consider, and here are just a few: • How does this affect the club meeting? • How will the new program integrate with the recognition programs (DCP, DRP)? • How can we ensure more consistent member mentoring? • How long will the overlap period be for members working through the existing program? • When will the program launch?
A few of the questions can be answered today: • The format of the club meeting will continue to have speakers and evaluations, Table Topics, a Toastmaster of the day, and of course the Ah Counter. • We anticipate the overlap period will be 24 months. • To ensure that the education program is fully developed and structurally sound, we will conduct beta testing with selected members and clubs. The timing of the beta testing will be announced in late 2014, with a program launch in 2015.
There is a significant amount of the new education program that is still under development, and Learning Masters and Ambassadors will continue to be a vital part of the process to ensure that members and clubs around the world are represented, and that we’re able to carry messaging about the program to clubs in person. For now, we ask for your patience and understanding. The organization’s commitment is to develop and release an exceptional program that meets members’ needs today and into the future.
Toastmasters International appreciates the assistance of the Learning Masters in assuring that we understand how learning in Toastmasters occurs now and in the future. The organization is also indebted to the all of the Ambassadors who are and will continue to help introduce these concepts to each club. It’s been a tough job because program details haven’t been available and they have received more questions than we as an organization have answers to, yet.
As information becomes available, it will be shared with the Ambassadors, who will share it with you; you can also find details in the Toastmaster magazine and on www.toastmasters.org.
For more information about the Revitalized Education Program visit: http://www.toastmasters.org/Members/RevitalizedEducationProgram.aspx