Gems from my PLN

Mark L. Sheppard:

A great pair of entries from Ryan Tracey (@ryantracey) on the nature of the SME. This discussion leads us into the territory of “Unconscious Competence” as pioneered by Gordon Training International. Thanks to Ryan for sharing these gems.

Originally posted on E-Learning Provocateur:

In my previous blog post, Everyone is an SME, I argued that all the employees in your organisation have knowledge and skills to share, because everyone is an SME in something.

Sometimes this “something” is obvious because it’s a part of their job. For example, Sam the superannuation administrator is obviously an SME in unit switching, because he processes dozens of unit switches every day.

But sometimes the something isn’t so obvious, because we’re either too blind to see it, or – Heaven forbid – our colleagues have lives outside of the workplace.

Martha the tea lady

Consider Martha, the tea lady. Obviously she’s an SME in the dispensation of hot beverages. That’s her job.

But dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that she’s also an SME in customer service and relationship management. That’s her job, too.

Oh, and she speaks fluent Polish and Russian.

Gavin the IT grad

May I also introduce you to…

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Au clair de la Lune

Like many others, I was sad to learn of the passing of Neil Armstrong.

The Apollo missions and all they represented were a key part of my childhood, even as a Canadian. While I was only 14 months old when Apollo 11 touched down in the Sea of Tranquility, I remained captivated by the accomplishments of NASA and even the Soviet Space Program. Those were heady times, and I even remember watching the “handshake in space” live on TV.

Tonight as I look at a half moon still visible in the late summer sky, I think about those days when man walked the moon, and I’m saddened that we’ve not left Earth orbit for similar missions in the 40 years since.

Godspeed, Neil Armstrong. Your quiet courage and humble outlook were examples to us all. Tonight I give the moon a wink, just for you.

Pinterest: It took a while, but I get it. Finally.

Pinterest LogoIn many respects (for those who subscribe to such things), I am a typical Taurus, and stubborn as hell. I admit that there are times when I will resist trying new things until I know I can see the benefits for me. Once I “get it”, however, I’m unstoppable.

That paragraph accurately sums up my experience with Twitter. While initially skeptical, I have now – as most of you know – embraced the tool enthusiastically because I see the value from a personal and professional point of view. A secondary benefit is, of course, the entertainment value.

And then came Pinterest…

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Tweeting as a personal backchannel

I tried something “new” this past week and I’m surprised I didn’t think of doing it sooner.

I sat in on one of the many workshops we run for our Instructor cadre. Because I have an interest in the coaching function I decided it might prove interesting.

Because I already had Twitter open, instead of using something like Evernote directly, i thought, ‘why not make use of Twitter?’ I could jot down a few notes and add a hashtag and keep going.

While not a quantum shift, it is a potentially disruptive innovation in note-taking. In the same way that conference note-taking has become a public-facing backchannel, my approach opened up a generic topic to outside query or sharing. I liked the fact that I was immediately forced into a concise summary mode with 140 characters and because I have the RSS feed for my Twitter account saving to my Google Reader, the tweets are auto-archived. If I had also added the @myEN tag, I could have also saved critical tweets to Evernote (something I do when I save critical Tweets in my regular feed)

The one challenge with using Twitter is, of course, the hashtags. Because they are unregulated, you have to take come care with selecting one for your own use. One risk you also run is the relatively new technique of hashtag spamming. Some popular tags (e.g. #lrnchat) are now flooded with spam, rendering them largely unusable.

The final consideration in this technique is the material being discussed. A personal backchannel is good but consider whether or not you’re potentially disclosing information that should remain behind company doors. If that’s the case, tools like Yammer may be more appropriate than Twitter.

As with any other backchannel, it’s only worthwhile if you actually do something with the information. In my case Ie put together an internal summary for my colleague who was facilitating.

I’d be interested to hear of anyone else has tried this approach and what they thought.

Educational Ennui

With my wife tackling her B.Ed. (and hoping to transfer to my alma mater for Grad School) and one of my colleagues also starting the MA program I did, I’ve been tripping down educational memory lane of late.

That came to a head a little while ago as I participated in a FB message exchange with some of my former classmates as we responded to a query from one of our number about an instructional design challenge.  My friend Peter summed it up well:

As an aside, you have no idea how much I miss this kind of dialogue with you guys. This thread made my day.

With that, I got a pang of sadness.  Continue reading

Guest Blog – OpenSesame

I’m very happy to share that I will be writing another guest blog for the good folks at OpenSesame.

This opportunity came about because of a Twitter exchange today. I saw a great list of recommendations for making your e-learning a “best seller”. The focus of the article was more about external efforts and I though that there was a good basis for similar recommendations for internally-developed resources.

Long story short, I’ll be putting my writing hat on and the good folks at OpenSesame will generously give me a space for my words yet again.

CSTD Day 2 Keynote – Steven Berlin Johnson

I didn’t take a lot of notes for this talk because it was a little more of a history lesson on the nature of innovation and how it has evolved over the last few centuries. Content was drawn largely from his book “Where Good Ideas Come From: The natural history of Innovation”.

One of the early threads of his discussion was the evolution of one entity into another wholly unexpected one because of a user-driven innovation (e.g. Lloyd’s of London evolving from coffee house popular with 18th century ship captains to Insurance conglomerate).
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CSTD Day 1 Workshop – Harold Jarche

(Harold Jarche is Chairman of the Internet Time Alliance)

The focus of Harold’s session is on Social Learning and what this concept means to the world of Learning & Development. I’ve already had the opportunity to attend one of his PKM workshops, and I’m already a bit of a practitioner, but he’s always worth seeing. Having said that, Harold’s approach is somewhat eclectic and draws from a variety of disciplines and sources. If you don’t pay attention to what’s going on it might be easy to lose the thread of the discussion. That’s not a criticism, per se, just an observation.
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Formal learning is endangered?

During the CSTD conference, a few tweets led to a quick exchange on the demise, or not, of formal learning. Ger Driesen asked via tweet if formal was, in fact, dead?

So as promised, Ger, I wanted to add my thoughts and some clarification on what I think the current state of things are.

Jay Cross and Charles Jennings (and the rest of the Internet Time Alliance) speak of the 70-20-10 percentage ratio when it comes to learning in the workplace

However, when it comes to budgeting, comparatively little resources are made available – if at all – to support the informal and social learning efforts that constitute the bulk of these activities. Most of the available budget goes to formal learning efforts, and little thought is given to continuation activities or application of the learning, etc.

So, Ger, I know formal learning isn’t dead, even though we have all of this wonderful activities and resources like Social Media, Wikis, ePortfolios, etc. I do believe, however, that formal learning needs to have a bit of a re-think in the workplace. It needs to become more integrated into a continuous learning process so we can stop looking at these sorts of things as stand-alone “events”. By doing so we can (ideally) make select use of formal interventions only when needed for net-new material and harness the collective strengths of the organization’s knowledge base and SMEs to support ongoing and informal learning.

I look forward to continuing the dialogue with you.

….and we’re back!

After a slight hiatus I’ll be back here shortly with my not-quite-live Blogging from the CSTD annual conference & trade show.

I love these kinds of events, particularly with the advent of Social Media, because it really helps to facilitate the networking aspect. I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with familiar faces and Twitterers (apparently this is the official nomenclature for those who Tweet). I’ve also enjoyed the many new connections I’ve forged this week.

So…I take some time Friday morning to compile my assorted notes and tweets and provide the summary of the conference from this side of the fridge door.