Benefits of PLN, Community and Professional Organizations

Today’s post comes to us from #chat2lrn crew member, Meg Bertapelle. Meg is a Senior Instructional Designer of Clinical and Product Education at Intuitive Surgical, a medical device company which makes the da Vinci Surgical System. You can find her on twitter at @megbertapelle


 

I just got back from attending the DevLearn conference and I’ve been struggling to pull together my “take-aways” for the last week (while also trying to catch up at work after being gone for a week). My gut was telling me that the best part was the people – but is that really OK? I mean, my company paid a lot of money to send me to this conference, and the best part was the people?

#chat2lrn pre-chat LIVE at #DevLearn 14

#chat2lrn pre-chat LIVE at #DevLearn 14
Thanks to @tomspiglanin for the picture via Twitter 🙂

 For me, it really is true. The sessions might have been the spark, but the conversations and connections with all of these great smart people really were the best part. I was able to connect with people in person that I normally only communicate with over the internet. While we have become great friends and I respected and trusted them all before I met them in person, the connection was much stronger, and our communication was more efficient, in person. We’ll leave THAT distinction for another chat (maybe talk to Helen Blunden), but my point is that meeting people in person (or seeing them again in person) this time has really brought home to me that I would not be anywhere NEAR as good an instructional designer, employee, problem solver – and even thinker – without my Personal Learning Network (PLN). Whoever first said “we are smarter than me” is SO right. (btw, apparently there’s a book – I haven’t read it, but I should put it on my list!)

 I have always captured some great information and ideas from attending a conference. In fact the first conference I went to was DevLearn in 2010. The sessions I went to and people I met (can’t possibly name them all) are the whole reason I am here today, part of the #chat2lrn crew, writing a blog for a Twitter chat where we can discuss and debate really interesting things with really smart people. The great ideas don’t wait for a conference though – people in the L+D community, in my PLN, come up with ideas, share interesting stuff and have wonderful debates and discussions on Twitter, or Skype, or LinkedIn, or Google+, and it’s happening ALL THE TIME. Without this community (that’s you!), I might still be creating really horrible training materials and calling them good! LOL

So thank you, all of you, for being the greatest benefit of all in my career. Thank you for allowing me to tag along – and possibly contribute in some small way – with your PLN. 

What about you? What have you found to be the benefits of having a PLN, or participating in a community or professional organization?

Let’s discuss during #chat2lrn on Nov. 13th, 8:00 PST/11:00 EST/16:00 GMT. Hope to see you there!

 

Civility in the World and in the Workplace

This post is written by one of our facilitators, Patti Shank, so it may not reflect the opinions of the entire Chat2lrn crew.

I find the world to be a far less civil place than the one in which I grew up. Tolerance today seems to mean tolerance for those who share the same opinion. I’d like to see a return to civil discourse. One where we can learn from each other without  being in fear of being called names.

I see people expressing glee at putting others down. In fact, it seems to be a Facebook meme to do so. I told my Facebook friends a while back that I would be unfriending anyone that couldn’t act “civil.” And then I did so. I do not want to discuss things, even minor things, with people who do not know how to be tolerant and civil. The world has plenty of cruelness and I don’t see any purpose in adding to it. I am fine with spirited discussion. I learn a lot from it.

Civility must mean more than “politeness,” says Guy Burgess, Ph.D. and Heidi Burgess, Ph.D., Co-Directors, Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado in their essay, The Meaning of Civility (http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/civility.htm). They discuss civility in public discourse meaning the need to:

  1. Separate people from the problem: Focus solutions and not upon personal attacks.
  2. Obtain technical facts: Resolve factual disagreements and when this isn’t possible, determine the reasoning behind differing interpretations of factual information.
  3. Limit misunderstandings: Make continuing efforts to understand the views and reasoning of opponents.
  4. Use fair processes in appearance and fact.
  5. Look for win/win solutions.

My workplace is civil. We often have extreme differences of opinions about work-related things and the world in general. I am often “over-ruled” by others. (Waaa.) But we argue the merits of a proposition (#2, above) rather than about the people involved (#1, above) and win/win solutions (#5) are usually sought. We’re not perfect, but after reading 1-5 above, I think we do quite well. I have been in organizations where this has not been the case and the outcomes have been devastating. People simply stop communicating, or communicate only in cliques.

In his book, Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct, Dr. P.M. Forni, a professor at Johns Hopkins University has provided a list of twenty-five rules that are essential in connecting effectively with others, including:

  1. Acknowledging others
  2. Listening
  3. Being inclusive
  4. Respecting even a subtle “no”
  5. Respecting others’ opinions
  6. Keeping it down (and rediscover silence)
  7. Respecting other people’s time
  8. Thinking twice before asking for favors
  9. Refraining from idle complaints
  10. Not shifting responsibility and blame

How importance is civility in getting your work done? In being able to learn? In having a world worth living in? What is our role in restoring civility to a world run by email, cellphones, and multitasking? These are some of the questions I wanted my PLN to help me answer. I hope you will.

Getting from Reflection to Action – Guest Post by Dave Kelly

We are delighted to welcome Dave Kelly as our guest blogger this week to talk about reflecting on learning.

This chat has taken place; view the chat transcript here  the next #chat2lrn will be on Thursday 4 April, 08.00PST/11.00EST/16.00GMT

I’ve just returned from the Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando. It was three great days chock-full of lots of learning content from a great number of really smart people. I love conferences, and learn a lot while attending them.  However, I’ve always felt that the most important part of the conference experience isn’t the conference itself; it’s what you do afterwards.

Reflections in Mirror BallReflection is a critical part of our learning process, and yet it’s something we rarely build into the learning programs we design.  Reflection provides an individual the opportunity to process the experience and build connections between new knowledge and existing knowledge.  That opportunity to pause, to reflect on the learning and build context within our own experiences is hugely powerful.

Whenever I attend a conference (or any significant learning experience) I try to allocate time over the next day or so to pause and reflect on what I’ve learned and consider what it is I will be doing differently as a result.

Two important points: I always try to schedule time within  a day or so of the experience.  Reflecting quickly is important, as it’s very easy to go back into the office and fall immediately back into our routines. Try to set aside some time to pause and think about what the most important things you learned about from the experience were, and how you can use that knowledge in your work.

The second point? Document and share what you have learned. This is a natural part of reflecting. It not only helps those you share your knowledge with, it also helps to better clarify and contextualize the learning for yourself. Share your reflections with your co-workers, your peers, and with the community at large (using the conference hashtag, if applicable).

Reflection is a hugely important part of the learning process. I think we, as learning professionals, need to provide more opportunities for reflection in the learning experiences we build. We tend to dump content without providing opportunities for reflection, and we need to change that. It’s through reflection that context is built, and it’s through context that learning becomes meaningful.

Please join us to discuss reflection on our own learning, and getting to action, on Thursday 21 March at 16.00 GMT and North America DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME CHANGE ALERT :: 12.00EDT/09.00PDT :: 

Looking forward to seeing you there! 

DaveKellyemail

LnDDave@gmail.com

twitter@LnDDave

informationhttp://davidkelly.me

Intra-transparency & Openness: Guest Post by Mark Britz

We are delighted to have Mark Britz as our guest blogger this week to prompt our discussion about Intra-transparency & openness.  Think about how transparency and openness, or the lack, might affect your organization, and bring your thinking caps to our chat this Thursday!

Welcome Mark!

Intra-Transparency and Openness

To begin let’s find common ground. Transparency and Openness are two quite popular terms today that often are used interchangeably and, although similar in relationship, are not identical. Here may be one way to think about it.

Transparency is not necessarily permeable. There is a membrane that separates the visible activities from those viewing them (ever see a mitochondria under a microscope?). Transparency should not be confused with invisibility either. With transparency, the membrane surrounding the activities is visible; a structure is clearly in place so the activities do not interact with those outside the membrane. Zoos then are transparent; Observers are free to observe but not to touch, or physically interfere. In organizations, similar membranes can exist, such as hierarchies.

Openness, however, allows a more free association between actions. A more permeable layer exists. With openness, interaction is not only welcome, it’s encouraged. Openness, to continue the zoo analogy, is more like a petting zoo; observers are free to observe but also to touch, stroke, feed and play. Through these interactions, the observers are co-creating the experience for all involved. Openness in organizations means that involvement between different groups takes place.

As noted, transparency and openness are typically discussed in terms of business, politics and government. But these two ideas are ultimately about people and their conscious decision to be transparent and open, as well as their actions and decisions within each action that encourages or defeats transparency and openness.

Most attention today is on transparency and openness at public, or “inter”, levels. And more and more are learning the importance of these ideas for themselves as they individually build Personal Learning Networks outside of the organization. It’s critical that the “intra” exists to invite innovation, flatten inhibiting hierarchies and create thinking, feeling organizations.

Can an organization be transparent and open externally, yet not so internally? Or is the lack of internal openness in the face of external openness unsustainable, as the hypocrisy will ultimately cause the organization to implode? And can the opposite ever be true? Can an organization with a transparent system maintain a closed public-facing persona, or is the membrane between intra in internets too thin?

It would seem, then, that there would need to be a mirroring of sorts as an organization is ultimately an organization of people, and people, being inherently social, are now endowed with tools to amplify, expand and connect their ideas and actions.

Clive Thompson, Wired Magazine stated:

“… The reputation economy creates an incentive to be more open, not less. Since Internet commentary is inescapable, the only way to influence it is to be part of it. Being transparent, opening up, posting interesting material frequently and often is the only way to amass positive links to yourself and thus to directly influence your Googleable reputation.”

-Thompson, Clive (March 2007). “The See-Through CEO”. Wired.

Being truly transparent and open as individuals in an organization is much more than simply posting “interesting material”, a link, or narrating our work using social media tools. Although these tools do make it easier to communicate, that communication is hollow if it is devoid of opinions, challenge and even dissent. Transparency is a good and noble goal, but membranes that only reveal the interworking, allowing flaws to be seen but not corrected, fall short.

Openness is a major progression and, on an individual level, is scary, especially in uncertain economic times. But without openness, trust cannot exist (look at any good marriage). Openness must be welcomed within and across levels. It should not only be encouraged, but modeled and acknowledged. Workers locked in industrial era ideas about work, hierarchies and jobs need to know that it’s safe to reveal their own strengths, weaknesses and opinions to truly move the organization.

Former CEO Margaret Heffernan in a recent TED Talk titled Dare to Disagree stated:

“Most of the biggest catastrophes that we’ve witnessed rarely come from info that is secret or hidden. It comes from info that is freely available – we can’t, don’t want to handle the conflict it provokes. When we create conflict we enable the people around us to do their very best thinking.”

On April 14th, 1912 The SS Titanic, led by Captain E.J. Smith, moving at a reported 22 knots, raced to New York City. Ignoring warnings, foregoing lifeboat drills and maintaining a dangerous (record breaking) pace, she struck an iceberg in the north Atlantic. Hours later, she lay at the bottom of the ocean with over 1,500 tragically lost lives. In hindsight, the information was widely available, yet no one, it seems, challenged the decisions that had been made.

What prevented the crew from influencing decisions? What if transparency, and especially openness, had existed amongst the White Star Line’s layers of leadership?

Today the economy is strained; workers and organizations have an equal stake in the survival game. Never has the ability to connect been easier. Never before has the ability to have conversations become more available; to extend and expand ideas over time and space. Sharing information is not enough, processing ideas is not enough, filtering out the noise is not enough. Transparency and openness are needed, yet can they truly rise above and avoid the fate of becoming nebulous buzz words like engagement or synergy?

“Open information is fantastic, open networks are essential – but the truth won’t set us free until we develop the skills, the habit and the talent and the moral courage to use it.”
“Openness is not the end, it’s the beginning.”

– Margaret Heffernan

Please join us on Thursday 16 August at 16.00 BST/11.00EDT/08.00PDT to discuss intra-transparency & openness in our organizations.  Share your thoughts about how much you agree with Mark, the implications for your organization, and what, if anything, we can do about it.

Looking forward to seeing you there! 

Mark Britz

Mark Britz

Mark describes himself as Manager of Learning Solutions, Social & Informal learning aficionado, eLearning Designer, ISD, Intapreneur, CNY ASTD President and #lrnchat -er. You can find Mark on Twitter at https://twitter.com/britz and read his blog at http://learningzealot.blogspot.com/

On-Fire Learning: Guest Post by Tom Spiglanin

Image

We are delighted to welcome Tom Spiglanin as our guest blogger this week who is sparking this week’s discussion about On-Fire Learning. 

fireIn a recent article, I described on-fire learning as, ‘what the self-directed active learner does at every turn and with every opportunity, zealously looking to grow with each new experience and encounter, always seeking to improve performance.’

In short, the on-fire learner never misses an opportunity to learn something, and that learning is often serendipitous. When the new knowledge is merged with the existing, new ideas are synthesized, and ideas are the fuel of innovation.

From birth, we’re always learning. Some of this is “pre-wired,” such as learning to crawl, stand, walk, talk, run, and more. Much learning is experiential, between the individual and the environment: I burn my hand on the hot pan and learn to sense heat before touching it the next time. Early learning is also social. Rules are learned from authorities, and many of those rules are broken with other children.

Children are so marvelously inquisitive.

Somewhere along the way, most people lose that natural inquisitiveness. They go to schools where rules are expected to be followed. Learning becomes formal and standardized. As they age, play becomes less free-form and more organized. After school-age ends, many head to universities to pursue more formal education. People become employed and are subjected to new rules and expectations. Outside work, they take on financial responsibilities that make successful employment that much more important. The life of Peter Pan, never growing up, looks more and more attractive.

The organization’s perspective

Many organizations followed the university model of instruction when it came to developing employees, placing sage on stage and asking him or her to share what they know in classrooms. New technologies later enabled students and instructors to be distributed around the world, and elearning offered an alternative delivery mechanism. All the while, the underlying approach to education in the workplace remained largely unchanged.

Online social media are now causing organizations to look differently at workplace learning. These media offer new ways of connecting employees with experts and information within the workplace, and the traditional approach of sage on stage no longer fits. While I see these developments as significant steps in a positive direction, they still meet only a small fraction of an individual’s performance and development needs. Research studies suggest, “that informal learning accounts for between 70 and 95% of workplace learning” (Jarche, Informal rule of thumb).

Encouraging informal learning

Because creativity and innovation are a natural result of an on-fire learning style, and because online social media now connect individuals to others and information in ways never before possible (more fuel for the fire), organizations today need to find ways to develop (or foster) self-directed, on-fire learners in the workplace.

Adapted by Tom Spiglanin from Wikimedia commons artwork by user Gustavb and released to the public domain.

Individuals need to be empowered to develop knowledge networks and filter knowledge they gain from them for the benefit of their workplace. At the same time these organizations struggle with concerns about exposing intellectual property or proprietary information, so they create policies to protect against that but may also inhibit or stifle on-fire learning.

In my post, “Social Learning from the Employee’s Perspective,” I identified three things I believe organizations can focus on to encourage self-directed “on-fire” informal learning among employees:

  • awareness of knowledge networks and the value they offer for personal and professional development;
  • recognizing that interacting with others through online social media often results in learning, whether it was an expected outcome or not; and
  • stimulating and encouraging employees to proactively use knowledge networks to benefit their performance in the workplace.

As learning & development professionals, we can lead the charge toward this rekindling, by becoming the change we want to see and igniting and supporting change in those around us.  We are in a unique position to influence the organization through our work and connections to the disparate functions of the business.  We should take advantage of that wherever possible to encourage and support our organizations to reap the benefits from what we know and continue to learn.

Please join us on Thursday 19 July at 16.00 BST/11.00EDT/08.00PDT to discuss becoming and encouraging on-fire learning in our organizations.

Looking forward to seeing you there! 

Tom Spiglanin
Tom Spiglanin

For almost fifteen years, Tom has been developing learning strategies, educational products, and instructional designs for the Learning Systems Center of The Aerospace Institute, the educational division of The Aerospace Corporation. He also facilitates learning public speaking and communication skills in the classroom and increasingly online using social media.Tom earned his Ph.D. from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and his B.S. from the University of California at Riverside. All views expressed are his own and not those of his employer. You can find Tom on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tomspiglanin and read his blog Thoughts about workplace learning

Social learning – the mindset

  1. The benefits that social technologies can bring are wholly dependent on our willingness to embrace the mentality that created it.

  2. Talks on social media are more often than not populated with the familiar logos that embody the success of these new technologies that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Inevitably followed by a exponential curve reaching for the skies.

  3. Share

    Sat, Mar 10 2012 17:19:58
  4. But the impact and growth of social media has really very little to do with these tools.

    There are much stronger, more fundamental forces that have been driving social media’s success.

    Social media has tapped into our very nature as social beings – openness, trust, transparency, community. The very fabric of being human.

  5. Share
    “A revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new tools, it happens when society adopts new behaviours” – Clay Shirky, Us Now
    Sat, Jan 28 2012 14:21:27
  6. There is NO doubt technology has enabled a new kind of interconnectedness and new opportunities for learning, but the benefits that social technologies can bring are very much dependent on our willingness to embrace the mentality that created it.

    As Marcia Conner and Steve LeBlanc say;
  7. “Social learning is not just the technology of social media (…) Social learning combines social media tools with a shift in the corporate culture, a shift that encourages ongoing knowledge transfer and connects people in ways that make learning a joy”
  8. The fears and barriers that so often crop up when businesses are looking to implement social learning technologies are often more than tactical issues, slowing the process of implementing technology, but attitudes and reflections of a culture that is slowing down the progress of the company as a whole.

  9. Vlatka Hlupic writes;

    “The need for a new mindset and leadership skills has never been more urgent, but translating it into action remains a challenge for many”

    “Leaders come to realise that while it may not initially be easy to give up power, more power and influence are gained subsequently by letting go.”

  10. So what comes first?- the leaders comfortable with the shift in formal control and with the trust in employees to act in the organisation’s interest?

    – or the technology that enable networks to form across the formal boundaries of a hierarchical organisation?
  11. Share
    Can you still have 21st century learning without 21st century tools?
    Mon, Feb 06 2012 21:08:13
  12. – or indeed, can you really benefit from “21st century tools”, without a 21st century mindset?——————————————————————————————————————————-This is the topic to be addressed at #chat2lrn this thursday (15th of March) at 4pm GMT. If you’re interested to learn more about this topic;
  13. Recommended reading

  14. Share

    Mon, Mar 12 2012 08:17:04
  15. Please feel free to express your view and/or recommend additional resources in the comments.