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

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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

VIRTUAL WORLDS – an enhancement to learning or a distraction?

While the debate continues about the nature of learning and its place in modern organisations, technology does not stop and new solutions, tools and techniques appear every day. At the same time, macro-economic conditions and local budgetary issues exert a range of pressures on learning professionals and those who seek to service them with new tools that enhance the individual’s ability to learn.

The desire for experiential elements in learning design and delivery is built in to the training, armoury and philosophy of every trainer – whether working face to face or in purely virtual situations. Technology has brought a gleam in the eye and a smile to the faces of learning enablers historically constrained by the lack of available methodologies. The ubiquity of the 70-20-10 learning model is now widely accepted, opening the way for a synergy between the formal and the purely social in learning.

Requirements for demonstrated competence to prove compliance are critical to many sectors of business. Yet the assessment methodologies used are rarely much beyond the 19th century techniques of examination and interview.

The use of Virtual Worlds in which the “learner”, whoever they may be, has the chance to develop, practice, and perfect skills and demonstrate competence in an environment as close to real life as is possible is a tempting prospect. Empirical and evidential research provides strong evidence that immersion simulation speeds up the journey to competence and increases the enthusiasm and attention that participants give to learning interventions.

But there are issues – cost, the ability of technology to deliver realistic simulations, time to develop them, attitudes from management and regulatory bodies. Virtual Worlds have been around for a few years.  The technology has advanced along with our understanding of learning.  Has their time now finally come?

Judith Christian–Carter (@judithels) created this analysis to get our juices flowing

Pros:

  • Life-like, interactive and immersive learning
  • Safe, experiential learning
  • Problem-solving and decision-making learning
  • Can be used for a wide range of subjects, topics, knowledge, skills and behaviours involving both people and objects
  • Instant, responsive feedback
  • Appropriate use of gamification design techniques enhances the learning experience
  • A variety of development tools, such as proprietary gaming engines, existing virtual worlds software, bespoke authoring software and common software tools, can be used
  • Many developed assets can be reused in other virtual worlds

Cons:

  • Can be expensive to produce depending on the development tool used, eg proprietary gaming engines
  • Depending on the complexity and required learning outcomes can be both time-consuming to design and develop
  • The inappropriate use of gamification design techniques can reduce the learning experience

#chat2lrn on Thursday 26 April at 16.00 BST/11.00EST will explore the potential, the benefits and the hurdles that influence the use of everything that could be called a virtual world.

Some more places to look:

Gamification and Learning: Two Truths and a Lie –  http://bit.ly/ItVUVd

Are Virtual Worlds (still) Relevant in Education? – http://bit.ly/ytvQn3

 3D Virtual Worlds are NOT Dead, Dying or Disappearing – http://bit.ly/w9iu6q

Immersive Learning Simulations 2008 – eLearning Guild Report  http://bit.ly/IXWxrt

Want to have input into some Virtual Worlds development?

For those of you interested in Virtual Worlds, this is the environment being developed by DPG –  here is a link for you to watch and to help bring it to life – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbaCWVO-j9I

This is something that @MikeCollins007 is working on developing with DPG and it looks like it’s got great potential to support existing programmes or to be used to provide low cost online events / conferences.

DPG are looking for willing volunteers to come and get involved in some virtual events or even host some virtual events absolutely free of charge. They are genuinely passionate about developing this tool and pushing the boundaries as to what they do in this space and want input from as many of the L&D community as want to be involved, and have some fun on the way 🙂

If anyone else is interested in taking a ‘spin’ and having a closer look then they should contact Mike at mike@wearesome.com