Our Pole Star Story
From the beginning, the idea was to develop a program that would make the greatest impact in the lives of everyday people, just like you and me.
Pole Star Experiential Learning had its beginnings as an Experiential Learning Internship at the college level. Created by Kevin A. Cojanu, Ph.D., our founder, and president, he wanted to do something that would be a game-changer in the world of business to make a difference in the lives of everyday people and to change how people achieve success in the workplace. Therefore, over these past several years, he has been developing and continues perfecting an experiential learning model with virtual internships that we have come to know today as Pole Star Experiential Learning, or PSEL. Kevin’s biggest influencer, David A Kolb, who like John Dewey, is considered to be one the fathers of experiential learning; and has been one of his greatest inspirations. He has taken his principles and combined them with other innovative minds in the field and brought them forward to the modern digitized workplace.
Kevin saw that there has been an ever-growing skills gap, one that education struggles to keep pace with because of how rapidly the working environment changes.
This has caused a misalignment between post-secondary education and workforce requirements that has been suppressing economic growth and productivity. Leaders have blamed the skills gap, thus creating the necessity for people who not only understand how operations in various industries function, but are flexible and possess the knowledge of how to apply theory to practice as well as the ability to apply transferrable skills from one industry to another. Gone are the days where an employee stays in one industry for years until retirement, therefore, these agile competencies are desperately needed now!
Over the years students have been able to take what they are learning in the educational program of their choice and also gain practical experience in the field that they are seeking once they’ve completed their coursework and are ready to transition into the workforce. Students gain critical competencies that will differentiate themselves in the workplace and hone professional presence. The primary objective has always been based on individuals taking leadership roles, learning from and recovering from mistakes, and gaining substantial confidence in order to be effective decision-makers and leaders in their field.
Today, and thousands of virtual interns later, his innovation in experiential learning has blossomed into various methods of delivering experienced leadership as a valued service product. It is changing the face of employment readiness. Pole Star Experiential Learning is unlocking individual work potential and our participants are earning a place of distinction within their organizations and enhancing their ability to climb the career ladder to the levels of success that they aspire to.
Our Values We Embrace
Trust– Trust ourselves and everyone we touch to trust themselves.
Teamwork– Support each other with Teamwork to meet the success of our clients.
Quality– Provide the best Quality learning experience possible.
Respect– Provide the love and Respect everyone deserves in our diverse world.
Passion– Deliver Passion to everyone who we touch and touch us.
Creativity– The world is built on Creativity, so express ideas with gusto.
Change– Change is the only constant in the world, embrace it.
Commitment– The experiences of others shapes our Commitment.
Diversity– Diversity is what builds a socially responsible society – we must embrace it!
Community– Always work to promote the success of a Global Community.
Culture– Continually grow our Culture on inclusiveness and caring.
Our Perspective, The Pole Star Learning Model©
We Combine learning models from some of the most prominent minds of experiential learning theory to develop a modern approach to rapid competency skills development and advancement.
Kolb's Learning Cycle
The experiential learning cycle is the most widely recognized and used concept in the Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) (Kolb 2015; Kolb & Kolb 2017). The simplicity and usefulness of the four-stage cycle of experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting is the main reason for its popularity. It is an adaptable template for the creation of educational programs that actively engage learners in the learning process, while providing an alternative to the overused and ineffective traditional information transmission model.
Gibb's Reflective Cycle
Kolb’s model, as already mentioned, is a simple explanation of how learning takes place in many of life’s circumstances. However, Professor Graham Gibbs expanded on this model in 1988; and we believe it is the perfect coaching model to help people with the reflection and planning process. People typically do not naturally seek to evaluate their actions throughout the day unless a problem or challenge arises. Often, it is a mistake. A PSEL professional Development Leader acts as a supervisor, observing behavior and waiting for that teaching moment to take the student through this learning process. We then encourage action. We let them test and prove themselves and their proposed solutions to see what works and what does not.
The Dreyfus Model of Skills Acquisition
We understand the value of learning from failure. Mistakes are opportunities for professional development. What’s the difference between a beginner and competent practitioner? Knowledge and context. As one gains experience, the individual’s mental model becomes more and more complex. An expert can intuitively solve very complex issues. This process, therefore, allows for the emergence, growth, and development of various competencies and skills. Stuart E. Dreyfus called this process the Acquisition of skills of which he developed a five-stage model:
Reflection can prove to be a difficult step in the process for some people; especially when they have had negative experiences with others reviewing their performance in the past. PSEL has adapted more holistic styles of coaching to address these types of issues. Motivational Interviewing is typically a wellness counseling method that helps people resolve ambivalent feelings, improves self-efficacy, and insecurities to find the internal motivation needed to make the necessary changes to be successful. It is a practical, empathetic, and a short-term process that takes into consideration how difficult it is to make life changes.