Reblog – Visual Note Taking

While I haven’t digested this article in its entirety, I’m seeing more and more of these kinds of approaches to note-taking and information mapping. I’ll add some comments later, but this was simply too fantastic a post NOT to reblog. Thanks, Jackie!

User Generated Education

As should be the case, there is ongoing discussion among educators about the skills that should be taught to their learners.  One such skill is note-taking.  Note-taking is typically classified as a study skill and taught as it has been through the history of institutionalized education – the outline.

When I started researching brain-compatible learning (see neuroscientist John Medina’s Vision Trumps All Other Senses),  I was exposed to the mind-map as a tool for organization, comprehension, and note-taking.  Mind-maps have several benefits:

. . .  and according to Giulia Forsythe:

As Temple Grandin says, “the world needs all kinds of minds.” and some of those minds “think in pictures”. Doodling is a form of external thought that allows you to visualize the connections you are making while thinking. In the conscious mind, doodling can assist concentration and focus but even in the unconscious mind, while doodling and day…

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Gems from my PLN

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.

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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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…

Continue reading

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

LRNCHAT Reflections from Feb 10.

>Tonight’s #lrnchat posed an interesting and completly hypothetical ‘what if’ scenario: What if you could wipe the slate clean for corporate learning and do it all over again?

Well, I can say that this one definitely sparked some serious interest among the participants, especially those who decided to join #lrnchat for the first time.  The transcript of the chat doesn’t really show what a number of us were likely thinking: something a long the lines of, “ooh, so many ideas, and so little time”, but then some of the neat ideas really came through….of course these are all the ideas that we L&D professionals keep in our personal wish lists, but it’s nice to let them our for some fresh air once in a while.

Harold Jarche (@hjarche) was probably the lone voice of dissent and asking why we would wipe the slate clean, equating some of the theoretical concepts of the chat to, as he said, “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”, and that we might work more effectively on changing behaviours and other similar efforts.

It really was a neat thought, even though it was counter to the intent of the discussion (of course, that’s really the point of these things.  If we all agree, then we’ll never see the counter-arguments that are likely to smack us in the face like the handle of a stepped-on rake. While I didn’t actively pursue Harold’s line of inquiry (I was having too much fun thinking up new ideas in the fantasy land we’d created) but I had cause to think of it later.  Although, upon relfection, I didn’t really see anyone step up and say “hey, wait, we already do this stuff!”

Maybe the sum total of what Harold and the rest of us were saying is this: we really do need to do things differently if we’re going to drag mainstream corporate learning out of the weeds and make it more efficient.  So perhaps we stipulate to the status quo and make the commitment to changing how learning is perceived, created, managed, and delivered.  While there was a good focus on the processes and the approaches that need to change, there was also – not surprisingly – a lot of interest in the technology components. What I found interesting about that was, it wasn’t a “this tool sucks” kind of polarization (and I studiously avoided any “Death to PPT” slogans) but it was more conceptual.  We need tools that are accessible and easier to manage both in terms of generating content (note I didn’t say “course”) and also in terms of hosting, distribution, and access.  Clark Quinn suggested that you should pilot small, then “leverage the hell out of the results”, but I think this is where the @Quinnovator and I may differ on approach. While pilots are a good idea, the risk you run by limiting the pilot by business unit (or “silo”) is that while you may have convinced one set of stakeholders of the wisdom of your approach, but then you may have to start the whole process over again to get the rest of the organization on board.  So, limit the scope of content, but I’d suggest not limiting the reach.

I could see shades of Tony Bates in some of the commentary about openness and lack of barriers.  Learning should, I think, be something that people don’t have to fight for and has to be embedded at all levels.  We also threw ideas around about creating networks and communities, and gaining access to experts “at the moment of need”.  We also recognized a need to ditch the concept of a “course” and just replace it with regularly available informational and instructional assets that are easy to keep up to date.

On that note, @LandDDave posted a good picture that reflects what he thinks e-learning should look like…and I can’t really disagree conceptually.  For your own version, go to, and do a print screen.  Save it, and think about it.

So maybe the path to success involves a little bit of revolution.  A key member of my PLN, Holly Macdonald (@sparkandco) posted a neat little blog entry asking whether you want to be a victim or an activist.  If you ignore some of the G20/WTO-type imagery and think more along the lines of Ghandi, you might just be onto something.  It may take a slightly subversive approach to makign the kinds of changes we really want to see….without wiping the slate clean and having to build it all over again.

All in all, another inspiring and thought-provoking #lrnchat.