Networking – A skill you can learn or is it simply nature?

This week’s post is written by Lesley Price (@lesleywprice).  Lesley is a co-founder of the #chat2lrn crew and now, although supposedly ‘semi-retired’, she works part-time for Learn Appeal  and continues to love challenging and being challenged! 

networking

In the Learning and Development community, we so often refer to our #PLN, Personal Learning Network, and the benefits we get from being part of a network. I attended the LPI Annual Conference, Learning Live two weeks ago and it was great to see so many people I knew. In fact, there were so many, it was difficult to find the time to speak to all of them. Over the two days, I had lots of interesting conversations about the event, catching up with people and hearing about things they were working on.

However, with many, I only seemed to have time to say ‘Hi – we must chat later’ or even worse, just waving across a busy room whilst making a mental note to speak to them over the course of the two days.  Some I managed to talk to, but others it was simply left with an acknowledgement and a wave. I was also introduced to people I had never met before, so my network is still growing.

I know that I have a very wide network, in fact a world-wide network which I find invaluable, but it then started me thinking about how my network evolved.   Was it by chance?  It is because of conversations I have when I meet people? Is it nature or nurture or maybe a bit of both?   If I can’t find the time to talk to everybody I know at an event, is it because I know too many people? Can your network get so big that it actually becomes unmanageable and if it does what can you do about it?

Is networking a skill that you can develop? Time is finite – there are never going to be more than 24 hours in a day.  Effective networking is not just about meeting people, networks also take time and effort.  So how much time does it take to maintain a network? How do we decide which parts of our network we foster regularly?  How do we work out the bits of our network that we can dip in and out of because they are self-sufficient and which networks do we neglect because we simply don’t have the time.

As if that isn’t enough, we also have to think about how we connect with our networks. Is it face-to-face, by using social media or by emails and phone calls?

I was fortunate in that I learned many of these skills from my parents, particularly my mother. She also taught me what I should look for when I moved into the workplace and that I could learn by watching and listening.

Personally, I believe that networking is an invaluable skill that we can develop, but how can we nurture it in others?  Join us in #chat2lrn on Thursday 22 September 0.8.00 PDT/11.00 EDT /16.00 BST to see if, between us, we can hone our own networking skills and learn how to foster them in others.

Leicester City, Brexit and Pokemon Go: 2016 mid-year review

This week’s post is from #chat2lrn crew member Ross Garner, an Online Instructional Designer with GoodPractice in Edinburgh. 

2016’s been a crazy old year. First Leicester won the Premier League, then the UK voted itself out of Europe. Now, children and adults alike are walking in front of cars and crashing into lampposts as they use their phones to hunt virtual Pokemon.

If you’d put money on any of the above, you’d be very rich indeed.

But are we any wiser this July than we were back in January? Or has the unpredictability of the past six months shattered our confidence?

On this week’s #chat2lrn, we’ll be asking how this year has been for you? How have your expectations compared to reality? How have your ideas changed? What has gone well? What failures have you learned from?

Here are three ideas to get you started:

We operate in complex systems

How did Leicester City overcome 5000-1 odds to top the Premier League? Sure, training played a part. But so too did management decisions, the culture at the club, the mistakes made by opponents, and no small amount of luck.

When you are designing learning interventions, how much do you consider the system within which you operate? Is training the answer, or are there other factors at play? Can the success of one team be replicated to another, or are other factors like environment, team dynamic or luck skewing the results?

In complex systems, where we have a big impact on some areas but less of an impact on others, do you need to nudge rather than lead?

Emotion trumps facts

Throughout the UK Brexit debate – and the US Presidential race – facts have been cast aside in favour of sweeping generalisations. Why do these generalisations stick? Because they chime with the real-world experiences of voters. Because voters have an emotional connection to the candidates and to the ideas.

When we’re developing a new learning initiative, is it enough that we think it will improve the performance of our colleagues or clients? Do our learners believe that? Does it make sense to them, in their context, without knowing what we know? How much do you consider our learners’ hopes, fears, or even their workplace happiness?

Fun matters

Pokemon Go had as many users in its first week as Uber had in 7 years. It makes over $1million in revenue every day. As we look at the seriousness of the world around us, it’s encouraging to see hundreds of people gather in one space to catch a pikachu.

But how does this help us as learning and development professionals?

Well, it tells us that fun matters. Yes, we do a serious job. And yes, performance at work is important. But that doesn’t mean that developing a team, and striving towards a common goal, can’t be fun. What can we do to promote fun? Can fun improve productivity?

We’ll be discussing this, and your own ideas, at our #chat2lrn mid-year review. Thursday, August 28, at 8am Pacific, 11am Eastern, 4pm BST. See you there!

Device Agnostic Learning Design: Are You a Believer?

Today’s post is written by Andrea May, #chat2lrn crew member and Vice President of Instructional Design Services at Dashe & Thomson in Minneapolis, MN. Andrea is an instructional designer, project manager, wife, mother, Girl Scout troop leader and theater artist. Find her on Twitter @andreamay1.

device-explosionHow many different electronic devices do you interact with on a daily basis? My guess is that most L&D professionals will say at least two, perhaps a computer and a smart phone. Some will add several more to that total. Tablets, smart TVs, gaming systems, smart watches, e-readers, and many other devices have made their way into our daily lives. I’ve even seen wi-fi enabled refrigerators that can hunt for coupons and notify you when you are running out of milk.

Now consider the two or three devices you use most often. For many of us, those three devices are a computer/laptop, a smart phone, and an iPad/tablet. We use each device for different purposes based on its strengths and weaknesses. Your smart phone is ideal for dashing off quick texts, providing turn by turn directions to your destination, getting answers to questions while on the go, and even for making an occasional phone call. But the screen size is less than ideal for doing actual work or taking a course online. Tablets provide a nice hybrid for some tasks, but they don’t fit well in your pocket and it is still challenging to use it for the tasks that would seem best suited for a PC with its full keyboard and mouse and much larger screen.

But what if more content was designed in such a way as to be device agnostic? eLearning courses, for example, that work just as well on a smart phone as they do on a PC, could set users free to interact with that content exactly when and how they choose. The user could choose a device based on their preferences rather than on the needs of the content. Exciting stuff!

The trends are heading in this direction. So what do we, as L&D professionals, need to consider in order to design content that is essentially device blind? Join us this Thursday, March 24th 09.00 PDT/12.00 EDT /16.00 GMT on Twitter for #chat2lrn and share your ideas on enabling device agnostic learning content.

 

Virtual reality: Can it change how we learn?

This week’s post comes from #chat2lrn crew member Ross Garner. Ross is an Online Instructional Designer at GoodPractice and a member of the eLearning Network. You can reach him on Twitter @R0ssGarner

Virtual reality is back – and this time, it works

If you’ve spent any time on Twitter in the past couple of months, or have attended any Learning and Development conferences, you’ll be aware that the industry is abuzz with the news that virtual reality (VR) is about to go mainstream.

Forget the crummy graphics of the 1990s. For the first time, VR seems like it’s about to live up to it’s name. Realistic visuals and surround-sound audio are creating an immersive experience that can finally trick your brain into believing you are somewhere else.

vr

Woman Using a Samsung VR Headset at SXSW. Image courtesy Nan Palmero on Flickr.

Facebook, Sony and HTC are all launching headsets later this year, and Google Cardboard has made it affordable to try VR in your home.

pMeanwhile, companies like Magic Leap are raising millions in investment as they develop sophisticated augmented reality (AR) devices that combine simulated graphics with the world around you. Think Minority Report, or this YouTube demo.

But what does this have to do with L&D?

To quote blogger, speaker and #Chat2Lrn friend Donald Clark:

“In my 30+ years in technology I have never experienced a heat so intense and shocking as that I got when I first tried the Oculus Rift.

“As a learning professional, lots of applications flooded my mind. But more importantly, and this IS important, I thought of learning theory.

“The big problems in learning are:

  • attention
  • emotion
  • doing
  • context
  • retention
  • transfer

“This technology tackles these head on. We may be on the threshold of delivering educational and training experiences that are compelling and super-efficient, in terms of these positive attributes in learning.

“There’s also a bonus – this is a cool, consumer device that young people love. 2016 is only the start. VR is not a gadget, it’s a medium and a great learning medium.”

NATTC NAS Pensacola

U.S. Navy personnel using a VR parachute training simulator. Image from Wikipedia.

So what’s next?

VR is already used to train the army, pilots and surgeons, but what applications can you think of for VR and AR?

Is this going to be a technology that L&D grabs and exploits? Or will the cost and difficulty of implementation leave us lagging behind the entertainment industry?

Join in using the hashtag #chat2lrn and discuss these and other questions on 11 February, 2016, 08.00 PST/11.00 EST /16.00 GMT.

Catching the Wave

This week’s post comes from Dr. Greg Ketchum. Dr. Greg is a former clinical psychologist-turned CEO and media workplace and career coach. He presides over an executive talent firm, providing coaching and recruiting for executives and Fortune 500 companies. A unique mix of psychology and coaching expertise gives Dr. Greg a great understanding of people and what it takes for career success. You can find him at 
TalentPlanet® | www.talentplanet.com, and on Twitter @drgreg. You can also find him in his KPIX & KRON TV Workplace & Career Segments on YouTube and his Workplace and Career Talk Shows from CNET & XM Satellite Radio.


Catching the Wave:

How to Catch the Wave of Massive Change Happening in Enterprise Learning and Development

Catch

Summarized from webcast delivered with Andrew Bateman at Human Capital Institute July 14, 2015

View the PDF of Webcast slides here: Catch the Wave or Get Left Behind

Rapid Development of Learning Technology:

The rapid development of technology enabled learning is driving major changes in how learning happens inside the organization and in the role of the Learning Professional. This evolution is causing learning leaders to confront and examine a number of questions about the future direction of learning within their respective organizations. Here are some of the questions that we will examine today.

  1. Traditional Vision of the Role of Learning: The traditional view is that the learning
    function assesses the learning and skill development needs of the organization and
    then either creates or acquires the appropriate learning resources to fulfill those
    needs. In this view the business leaders and their business goals are the main
    customers of the learning function.
  2. Emergent Vision of the Role of Learning: The emergent view of learning is that your employees are your main customers and that the role of learning is to help them maximize their potential. It’s best summed up by these quotes from Bridge’s
    website.

    1. “Rather than shaping your employees into a particular mold that achieves an
      organizational goal, L&D now focuses on helping employees reach and discover their potential — it’s about growth and personal aspirations.”
    2. “L&D now focuses on helping employees with personal growth and aspiration.
      Developments in collaborative, blended, and social learning help make learning
      interesting, engaging, fun and continuous.”
  3. What is Your Vision? Given these two starkly different visions of learning what is
    your vision of the role that learning plays in your organization now and in the
    future? Without clarifying your vision of the role and goals of learning in your
    organization both now and in the future no amount of dazzling learning
    technology will help you. This is the bottom line.
  4. You’ve Got Your Vision and Goals: Now What? Once you’ve nailed down the
    vision and goals of learning how do you make those key decisions on what kinds of
    learning technology, content, and programs you’ll deploy to drive your goals?

    1. The Fundamentals of Learning: With all of the advances in learning technology it’s easy to lose sight of the enduring fundamentals of learning. That is, how does the best learning happen, what role does learning play in each of our lives, why do we seek learning, do we learn better alone or in interaction with others, etc. These questions aim to look at how we’ve evolved as creatures and what role learning has played in that evolution. If we didn’t learn that certain plants are poison, or that lightning can kill you, or other things like that we would have never survived as a species. From this perspective learning is what has kept us alive as individuals and a species and that suggests that the drive to learn is as strong as any other native drive such as for food or shelter. This is a rich and deep area to explore: How do we learn? Why do we learn?
      • Darwin quote……“I believe there exists, & I feel within me, an instinct for the truth, or knowledge or discovery, of something of the same nature as the instinct of virtue, & that our having such an instinct is reason enough for scientific researches without any practical results ever ensuing from them.” — Charles Darwin.
    2. Mix of Modalities: What mixture of technology, in-person, classroom, social,
      self-directed, crowd sourced, casual, on the job, and other learning modalities
      will you employ and for which groups and individuals?
    3. Laying the Ground Work: Before you bring in any new learning technology
      what ground work do you need to do to ensure that the solution you’ve chosen
      is right for your organization and that you’ve set yourself up for success?
    4. Realistic Expectations of Learning Technology: What can learning technology do and not do? What’s realistic to expect as to the benefits both to the individual and the organization from technology enabled learning? What role does human interaction still play as an essential element in learning?
    5. Leadership Development, Bench Strength, Succession Planning: If learning is increasingly becoming an end user, self-directed exercise how do you achieve your goals for these three areas?
  5. The Big Question Remains – Engagement: Given all we’ve discussed, one of the
    biggest questions remains as to how you get your employees to engage with any of
    your learning solutions whether they be technology, classroom, person-to-person,
    virtual, or group based?

    • Our View: Building an engaged audience for your learning solutions starts with
      having compelling content, and with understanding the natural role that
      learning plays for us as individual human beings. Without either those building
      an engaged learning audience just isn’t going to happen.

So, what do you all think? Do you agree with these steps as a process to “catch the wave” of change?

Join in and discuss these and other questions during #chat2lrn this week on 28 January, 2016 at 08.00 PST/11.00 EST /16.00 GMT. Hope to see you there!

Trends, Goals, and Professional Development…Planning for 2016

“Ajay is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a Certified Training and Development Professional but considers himself a Workforce Revolutionary. Ajay is a 3-time published author with John Wiley & Sons recently publishing his third book titled, “The Trainers Balanced Scorecard: A Complete Resource for Linking Learning and Growth to Organizational Strategy” (http://amzn.to/c3Qsk0). He is also a multi award-winning writer receiving the 2014 and 2015 prestigious TrainingIndustry.com Readership and Editors’ Award for Editor’s Choice and the Top 10 most read articles. Ajay regularly appears on the #1 Montreal Talk Radio morning show discussing workforce performance issues.”

Visit his (uncensored) workforce performance blog, Workforce Revolution

The 35th anniversary of John Lennon’s death just passed but his words remain…“So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over. And a new one just begun.”

Yes. Another year is over and what have you done? If you are unable to fully answer this question don’t worry, you are not alone. The end of a year comes upon us quickly and it is often difficult to reconcile considering the promise a start of the year offers.

Each of us begins every year with renewed vigor and energy then in the end, which we believed was so long away, comes upon us with little notice. If you feel deflated from the passing of another year I have bad news…another one is around the corner. But here’s the good news. If you don’t want to experience disappointment the same time next year then do something about it now.

Moving Forward By Looking Back

The first step to achieving your end of year expectations is to first take a moment to reflect upon the past year. Learning only takes place if you are able to recognize what you can learn from past experience.

Begin by taking inventory of your experiences in the past twelve months. Human nature is to focus on the mistakes rather than successes. Both provide valuable learning lessons and it is essential that you not repeat the failures and attempt to leverage the successes.

When reflecting, take note of everything you observed/experienced in the past twelve months. What were the fads disguised as trends? What were the trends that meant well but never delivered on their promise? What did you learn from them? What experiences did you take away? Answering these questions is key to achieving your next twelve months objectives.

Goal Setting Isn’t Goal Achievement

Reflect upon the goals you set. Did you set any at all? Disappointment is only measured based upon the goals you initially set. Otherwise your disappointment is a waste of time…the only disappointment you experience is why you never set goals in the first place.

If you did set specific goals at the beginning of the year then measure how well you’ve achieved them. I assume you’ve achieved some to your complete satisfaction, you achieved others to the extent to say you met them (but not to your complete satisfaction) and then there are the remaining ones that you didn’t achieve at all. Focus first on the ones you didn’t achieve and then the ones you could have done better achieving.

If you failed to set goals then you are solely to blame for your end of year ineffectiveness. But don’t wallow in the disappointment learn from the experience. Set specific goals for the next twelve months but be sure to set them up so you can track your progress throughout the year. And, never make it a shopping list of goals. Plan too many and you will set yourself up for certain failure this time next year.

Professional Growth Is Not Optional

Finally, take care of your own professional growth. It simply amazes me how so many learning practitioners I come across don’t place any effort into their own learning. How can you not practice what you actually preach unto others?

The second error many practitioners make is to be myopic in their development. Stop focusing on what you actually do. While it is relevant to maintain your expertise it is equally important to develop holistically. To be taken seriously by your leadership, think about complimenting your skills with learning that lifts your value and expertise to be more inclusive of ancillary concepts and roles.

Give Yourself a Year-Round Present

Christmas is around the corner. Why not be kind to yourself. Plan your 2016 with learning events and opportunities by subscribing and/or registering for courses and conferences throughout the year. This will guarantee your professional growth and lead you to reflect favorably when 2016 comes to an end.

We hope that the past twelve months have been good to you. What I mean by that is not only in successful attempts but also if you didn’t achieve your objectives. You must be able to look back on both experiences to add to your personal growth. My wish for you is to take these experiences and leverage them for a more fruitful and exceptionally successful 2016.

Please share your experiences from the past year with the #Chat2lrn community. What are the fads or trends that you believe added value or were a waste of time? What was your wish list from last year that you achieved or wanted to achieve? What is going to inspire you to achieve your goals in twelve months? Join us on December 17th, 8:00am PDT, 11:00am EDT, 4:00pm BST for a #chat2lrn discussing these and other questions.

Allow me to leave you with a closing John Lennon thought and my sincerest wish to you that seems appropriate for this post:

“A very merry Christmas, And a happy New Year. Let’s hope it’s a good one. Without any fear.”

Please take this Poll:

Skills for Informal Online Social Learning

Anchal is the owner at Design Storm, an e-learning company that provides innovative, simple, and effective corporate learning solutions.

Informal online social learning is “of the learners”, “by the learners”, “for the learners”. Where technology is owned by the learners, we tend to assume that if they’re interacting on online forums, they must be learning. Is it this simple?

According to Marshal McLuhan, while technology augments certain aspects of our lives, it also truncates other facets. So as technology augments connections with people, does it reduce “depth”? As it multiplies access to information, does it lessen “focus”? When it increases the ability to contribute to a subject, does it reduce credibility of information? When it makes it easy for us to learn on our own, does it take away the concept of “linearity” in learning?

If technology affects these aspects, do we then need special skills while learning informally online? What could these skills be? Here’s a probable list:

Forming a Network

Connectivism theory suggests that “learning is a process of building networks”. To be able to learn online socially, we need to actively create a network of amateurs, experts, and enthusiasts who interact with us to create a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts. Learning to create a focused network that feeds into our knowledge base is a skill we need to develop.

In the tweet below, Professor Alec Couros reaches out to his network on Twitter to help his students learn the power of a network.twit_blog

Going Beyond Lurking

Most interaction on social media sites is said to follow the 90-9-1 rule. According to this, 90% of the users on a social networking site are lurkers, 9% are contributors, and 1% are creators of content.While some learning researches believe that lurking itself is a large part of learning socially, we surely can learn more if contribute and create content.

Mindcasting Instead of Lifecasting

Lifecasting is sharing information about what we had for lunch, where we went vacationing and so on. If this is what we do with our network, chances are we’ll not learn much.

Mindcasting, a word coined by Jay Rosen, involves adding value, contributing original ideas and thoughts, sharing experiences, vocalizing tacit knowledge, stating the previously unnoticed obvious points, and so on.The more we learn to mindcast, the more we get a chance to clarify our own thoughts and to run them past a peer group.

Acquiring Knowledge Non-linearly

As Marshal McLuhan said, “People don’t actually read newspapers. They step into them every morning like a hot bath.” It doesn’t matter from where you enter the hot water bath or from where you exit it. Similarly when we dip into our network, we learn non-linearly with little structure. We need to learn to create our own structure and our own connections. Learning non-linearly is a special skill that today’s workforce needs to develop.

Cutting through Clutter—Filtering information

We receive a barrage of social information. Not all of it is relevant. One of the key skills is to quickly filter out the noise. Those who do this will be able to successfully use the online medium for learning informally. We need to learn to be active gatekeepers of our own learning feeds.

Discerning Correct Information 

With the power to contribute to the knowledge pool of our peers, also comes the risk of picking up or sending out information that may not be accurate. We need to develop the awareness to cross check, and the ability to discern reliable resources from unreliable ones.

 Avoiding Distraction and Dealing With Shortened Attention Spans 

“We shape our technology, and thereafter our technology shapes us.” – Marshall McLuhan

We quote reducing attention spans of millennials as a pet peeve. It is an active result of the technology where reading lengthy articles has been rendered obsolete by short video clips, 140 characters and pithy feeds.

Not getting distracted by a friend’s birthday pictures may not sound like a skill, but it is one we will need to soon actively start developing. For example, being able to read through an article and analyse the depth of its contents is a skill that needs to be fiercely defended and developed.

Curating Content

Content sharing and curation is a natural result of online social learning. To use curation to find the correct information for the correct purpose is a skill that will help us develop a personalized ecosystem for learning.

Creating and Maintaining an Online Portfolio

Our online interactions are available for all to see. They become a social portfolio of who we are, and where we’re heading. It’s a skill to create a strong online portfolio, with appropriate representation of the people that we are.

Do you agree with this list? What other skills can you think of? Should we, as learning professionals, help build these skills, or should we let learners build these skills on their own? Let’s discuss this Thursday, December 03, 2015, at 4pmGMT/11amET/8amPT in #chat2lrn.