Thursday, July 21, 2011

How Social Media has changed the way I think & learn (part 1)

So, some time ago I had an idea about getting social media used more at my workplace.  It's been on the back-burner for a while to avoid clashing with our busiest period, but that will be drawing to an end soon, and I now have a whole lot more tricks at my disposal thanks to Jane Hart's 30 Ways course. Here's a hint folks: she's running this course again - for free - starting on 29 August. Be there and remember sharing is learning!

Before I get started on my initiatives at work, it's worth taking a look at how my attitudes have changed over the last few months. The chief instigator would have to be Jane Bozarth, after I saw her talk at the Learning Technologies conference in January. Or perhaps I should blame Donald Taylor for organising that conference? I digress...  Here's the first of what will probably be a fair few posts about social media and learning.


This was a strange step for me at first. As someone who usually likes to reflect at length ('No, really?' you ask) the idea of getting anything worthwhile out of 140 character posts sounded like anathema to me. But the idea got lodged into my head - proving also that lectures still have some use - and I signed up for my account. Initially I followed the speakers from the conference, occasionally looked at my feed, but didn't do very much. Eventually I decided that you can only really learn by doing, dared a few tweets, and actually got some reactions. I started looking for more people to follow, realised some actually follow you back, read the articles they tweeted about, and suddenly it was like I had my own personal newspaper on learning. Oh wait, I do have one <!/jimmy_hob>

But what really kicked it up a notch was deciding to get involved in the backchannel at the Learning and Skills Group conference in June. At the last conference, I was utterly bewildered by the flood of tweets showing up on the screens. As I started to get into the swing of using Twitter more, I noticed people using hashtags to talk about conferences, particularly David Kelly's move of sharing what he had picked up from the backchannel. So along I went with a clear goal of getting engaged with the backchannel and picking up on ideas from the talks I couldn't attend. I found myself more engaged with the talks than ever before, frantically scibbling notes as usual, whilst thinking of short, succinct points to share on the backchannel. Plus I noticed how people were using the backchannel to raise digital eyebrows at contentious ideas, without disrupting the flow. Afterwards I collated all the resources I could find and put them on my blog, to share with the world through all the channels I could find. I went from 30 hits to over 300 in practically no time at all, and I started to see blogging in a whole new light - but that's for another post!

In short, Twitter has become a great extension of my thinking and learning, in a way that I can share with others, and be recognised for it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Reflections and backchannel resources from #forwardthinking

Here I go again with the backchannel - I'll be keeping an eye out for any more tweets to add...

Epic's new authoring tool GoMo Learning looks like a dream come true for anyone wanting to get content out reliably to mobile devices.  One of the main driving forces behind the development has been the need within the NHS for convenience - having content available at the point of need is critical for medical purposes, and seems to actually make the learning more effective.  And the number of platforms for delivery is increasing all the time - Lars Hyland points out that smartphone sales are now exceeding those of regular phones.  Anyone wanting to get a free copy of the research can contact Epic.

Next up was the generic Leadership & Management e-learning from Cross Knowledge in partnership with Epic.  I have to confess to being deeply cynical about the idea that something generic could be of any value - from studying online resources to Masters level I'm aware of the reusability paradox, that tends to make generic content irrelevant as a rule.  However I'd be willing to take a good look at this resource with my cynic glasses off, because they might just have hit on something deeply, well, generic about leadership by getting experts to share their experiences.  And heck I salute their determination in getting people to actually use e-learning in the early days - I've torn my hair out lots of times with the lack of hits that my carefully produced resources have had in the past!

Roger Schank's invention EXTRA builds on his assertion that 'learning is the creation, adaptation and absorption of stories'.  Sounds too heretical and against conventional wisdom to be true?  Then why is it our species has survived this long?  And why is it that conventional wisdom has promoted so little to corporate memory?  Advances in artificial intelligence has allowed for a search engine that can actually comes close to conversational sharing of stories.  I'll be interested to hear reviews from users...

Interesting tweet from @s0ngb1rd - she uses the iThoughtsHD app for mindmapping.
Craig Taylor has posted a blog entry about mind mapping.
Lars Hyland has a book recommendation: The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You

Photographs from @epictalk@maberdour and @kirstymeynell

My archive of #forwardthinking tweets is saved as
It seems that the #forwardthinking hashtag isn't exclusive to the Epic event - my favourite article mixed in with the backchannel is how the push for recyclable materials may actually be harming the environment!  Perhaps someone could produce an e-learning module for that....

Reflections on LSG11 - Chris Bones' keynote speech

Long overdue I know, but here it is...
Chris Bones has no small task ahead of him with the Learning & Development Research Project.  He has stated in no uncertain terms that the answer lies with people, and getting them engaged with process from the outset. Concentrating on social interaction and problem solving skills will get us half way there straightaway.  The rest lies in thoughtful implementation and the winning of hearts and minds.  This is something I agree wholeheartedly with.  Too often people are expected to follow the example of leaders without question, but as we move into an era where the case study has become irrelevant, the power of crowdsourcing is about to come to the fore - if only we dare to let it!

One point of contention I had was with his perception that online learning is only useful for updating information, and I noticed that a few eyebrows were raised on Twitter at this comment. Some perceptions need to be changed here...