Onboarding: I’m Not Your Circus Animal

Hula Hoop by Daddy Yankee
“Jumping through the hoops”

I understand the necessity of onboarding newcomers to an organization – whether a non-profit church or ministry, a for-profit business, or an education program. In fact, I am specifically trained as an instructional designer (learning experience designer) to custom develop these onboarding programs.

However, my issue is that there has been no accommodation made to credit newcomers with prior experience and training. Instead, all newcomers are expected to begin at the same entry point, regardless of their levels of experience and training, and then they are all funneled through the onboarding program as uniformly as possible.


There needs to be a condensed version of the onboarding training program for those who aren’t entirely new to the content, just to the organization. You know, personalized learning pathways, with different pacing, access choices, and levels of competency and completion? How about a self-paced, untimed, open-sequenced curation of microlearning tutorials with badges or certificates for completion?


Here’s an example.

My husband is a disabled military veteran. When he was active duty, we traveled and therefore had to change churches. We weren’t church hopping in a consumerism sense, we were just relocating. This happens every time we’ve had to move as private citizens as well. We like to live in the same city of the church we attend. So, we’ve been through an endless repetition of onboarding programs, some short, some very lengthy, but all with the goal of making sure we’re all on the same page.


But we’re exhausted from this constant return to “zero” and never moving forward to where we were before we ever relocated the first time. How many times can someone be expected to repeat from the beginning? It’s all the same hoops, different organizations. Can we test out? Can we show evidence some other way? Can you really get to know us before you shove us into your menu of classes and programs? Can you assume we’re just new to your organization and not new to the content? Do you even know our faith story and how long we’ve been in the faith? It’s like making grandparents repeat Kindergarten just because they moved into a different house.

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Fake Facts

Smh. Homeschool FB group screenshot. January 17, 2018

Smh. Homeschool FB group screenshot. January 17, 2018


Being the Doctor of Education that I am, when I saw this post on a homeschool FB group, I just had to respond and correct the mistaken belief. Needless to say, I was summarily dismissed. 1) Pet beliefs regarding instructional strategies must be subject to the overall educational goals and objectives from the top down. This type of content matching activity doesn’t guarantee alignment to needed life skills and academic goals. It merely reinforces the ability to play the game, Concentration. 2) Matching content between sources isn’t a standard method for establishing academic scholarship, which should be the goal. What it does is set up students to match one poor source with another poor source of aggregated content. 3) Establishing credibility isn’t about reputation and accuracy, it’s about truth reflected in authority and expertise. This is what allows for the discerning of truth through analysis of facts.

My Posted Reply

We generally want our sources of information to be reliable, trustworthy and accurate with the end goal of finding believable truth as opposed to mere content matching. There are many websites that collect articles from other sources without regard to legitimacy. If you find a few of those “aggregator” websites, then of course their content will match and they’ll be accurate to each other. Instead, look holistically at several indicators for credibility. This is a good general life skill. Any of the websites below will provide guidance; however, no one source will have the complete answer–which is why I offer a full assortment of credible sources on credibility. These sources are primarily from colleges which is another end goal because we’re training our kids also in the academic skills they will need for college success, one of which is writing the research paper, a specific skill set in academic life.

Education organization, faculty and support guidance
Weida, S. and Stolley, K. (2013). Using Research and Evidence. Purdue Online Writing Lab. Purdue University. [2013-03-11 12:10:43].
Columbia University. (2018). Evaluating the Credibility of Your Sources.
Illinois Valley Community College Writing Center. (2017). Choosing Credible Sources. Stylebook. Illinois Valley Community College. [May 2, 2017.]
Montecino, V. (1998). Criteria to Evaluate the Credibility of WWW Resources. Education and Technology Resources. George Mason University.
University of Wisconsin Green Bay. (2017). How can I tell if a website is credible? [2017-02-09 08:40 CST].
University of Maryland University College. (2018). Is My Source Credible?
Rusten, I. (2013). What Is A Credible Source? The Beekman School.
University of California Santa Cruz University Library. (n.d.). Start Your Research: Evaluate Your Info. University of California Santa Cruz.
North Carolina State University Libraries. (2015). Evaluating Sources for Credibility. [tutorial].
Coates, S. (2011). Finding Credible Sources. University of Oklahoma’s School of Library and Information┬áStudies. [LIS 5503: Information Literacy and Instruction class project, Spring 2011].
EasyBib, a Chegg service. (2017). C. Evaluating Sources.

Medical organization guidance
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Deciding Whether a Source is Reliable.
National Library of Medicine. (2012). Source Credibility. [26 November 2012].

Reference source guidance
IAC Publishing, LLC. (2018). What is the definition of a reliable source?

General Internet source guidance
Mertes, Z. and Schmidt, D. (2015). About
Fleming, G. (2017). Internet Research Tips: Finding Reliable Online Sources. [June 17, 2017].

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