Browse Month by January 2010

Becoming a Tweeter

On my ‘travel’s around various blog posting recently there have been a few articles on how people are using Twitter so I thought I would share how I became a Tweeter. I have never been much of a social animal – ever. I feel very comfortable in my own company and my husband often has trouble persuading me to get out of the house and ‘party’. If had to contact anyone, I would always wish they were on e-mail. Growing up as a very shy child right into adulthood, it took a lot for me to interact and I would get very nervous meeting people. Fortunately, with the support of wonderful work colleagues and, in recent years, my husband the shy wall flower is now a trainer who thrives with every new challenge. Who would have thought it? Indeed, early last year I even delivered a presentation to a huge room full of people. While I was nervous, the adrenaline pumped, I took a deep breath, smiled and made sure I was myself. Nerve wracking – yes – but afterward it was exhilarating and I was so proud of myself.

You would think that social networking would be right up my street; but my view of social networking for ‘fun socialising’ wasn’t for me. If I am not the social animal in a face to face social environment, how on earth could I be one virtually? Besides, you need to have someone to be social with and because of my lack of real life socialising, who on earth could I socialise with virtually?

No – it didn’t seem my kind of thing.

What changed my views? Well, curiosity I guess. That and the fact that a few years back I began delivering courses on blended learning and e-learning and began experimenting with social media. Everything I looked at, I tried to think
how this could be used for learning as well as socialising. I was hooked. I had joined Facebook some time before but didn’t get on with it at first. Mainly because most of those I knew socially were technophobes or just not interested in social networking. It was also very ‘open’ and I am very guarded about what I share with people as regards personal information. I really only wanted to share my personal musings with a select few, not everyone who wanted to be my ‘friend'(creepy!).

It is much better now with the security settings. Then, about a year ago, I thought I would try this Twitter thing. At first I sat there in twitter waiting for something interesting to happen. I followed a few celebrities but got bored hearing about their everyday lives and also like an eavesdropper hearing a one-sided conversation as they ‘replied’ openly to their followers. I quickly unfollowed and rarely logged in. The trouble was, I didn’t really know what I wanted to use it for or, indeed, how to use it effectively. I was drowning in this virtual sea of tweets.

It all started to come together for me when I decided what it was going to be my learning vessel. Somewhere I could get bite-sized snippets of information and, perhaps, keep in touch with experts in the area of learning technologies and e-learning. I have gained so much from it already. It is also a brilliant dissemination tool through which I will share great resources I have come across in my blogging travels and, hopefully, enrich others’ lives with widening their professional network or otherwise through my tweets. There is so much more to learn though. I just don’t have the time to be a Twitterholic and I am thoroughly confused about ‘hash tags’ amongst others. I also find the Twitter site itself difficult to use and much prefer a Twitter aggregator such as Tweetdeck on my desktop. I think without something like Tweetdeck, I would have fallen by the wayside long ago. Once you are following a large number of other people, scrolling through Twitter to keep up with their latest tweets is time consuming and frustrating. With Tweetdeck or Twirl you can sort your Tweets. This has made it much easier and quicker for me to scan and home in on those that look interesting.

If you want to know more about Tweetdeck, check out Joe Hague’s post and this YouTube video for those who like a demonstration.

There are a few things I learned along the way so here are my tips:
• Twitter can be a time vampire – you have to be very self disciplined
• Accept that you may not be able to read every tweet every day
• Use the search facility if you think you might have missed something interesting
• Use something like Tweetdeck or Twirl and either disable the audible alert or only open at specific times and manage your tweets superbly
• It’s ok to unfollow people (some people can be too prolific)
• it’s ok to not return the favour if someone follows you

By the way – if I had an iPhone I’m sure I would become more of a Twitterholic


Positivity – the key to engagement

Yesterday evening I was watching the One Show in the hotel while away delivering a training course. Now this was on as background noise while I was eating but I became interested in the subject.The report was one of a series looking at the seven deadly sins and this time looked at pride.

Although the report was less about pride and more about self-belief, the experiment that followed was an interesting one. A presenter gave a problem solving task to a group of people. The instructions were to spend a specific amount of time thinking about the problem to make plans and he left with the words ; “it should only take you a couple of minutes”. There were 5 people in this group and immediately, 2 of the group took the lead making decisions and, essentially, resolving the problems. Here comes the second part of the experiment. The group was then tasked with counting dots on a screen in a very short period of time. To cut it short… the presenter returned and asked two of the group to leave.

The remaining 3 were praised for their exceptional results and that, in fact, they had scored higher than he did earlier. Their reaction was superb. They all expressed surprise and, I guess, just a little pride in their results. Impressive – how good must they have felt?

Wait – there was a third task. This time the group reconvened and was given another problem to solve. Guess who were the three who improved the most? Yes … it was the three people praised in the second task. In fact, they hadn’t scored that exceptionally, and the presenter hadn’t done the task himself at all so there was nothing to compare. However, the three who were given such positive praise were the three who naturally took a back seat in the first task while the other two quickly took the lead and made the decisions.

What was the result? The three who took a back seat in the first task, gained confidence and became more involved this time round. Now why does that surprise everyone? This is the power of positive feedback and what effect it has on our performance and motivation. This can be linked to all aspects of our lives:

Children whose parents praise them when they do well rather than scold them when they do not will find their behaviour improve and grow;

Employers who especially give recognition for work well done and hard work reaching goals will likely see an improvement in their workers’ and motivation and performance;

L&D professionals who build their learners’ confidence by boosting their confidence with positive phrases and
encouragement will result in more motivated learners, better quality work and improved rates of application back in the workplace.

None of the above need cost a thing – the right words are often enough. It’s amazing what effect positivity has on our whole world.

Let’s make a better start to 2010 with a pledge to have a more positive affect on those around us.

Dipping my toe into blogging

Well, a new year, a new decade and a new resolution. Now, I don’t normally make resolutions. Mainly because I rarely think them out properly and it is usually about giving up chocolate (which is just impossible). However, this year, I’ve decided to do something different. Instead of making rash New Year’s resolutions on 31st December only to be broken on January 3rd (if I get that far), I had decided to make a few ‘future plans’ to change how I live and work. There is no major pressure, but a goal to fulfil by the end of the new year. That way, if I falter, there is no feeling of failure. I have some personal ones relating to a healthier lifestyle and some professional ones.

This is the first one. Last year, I registered with WordPress with all good intentions to start a blog. But I hadn’t got a clue what I was going to write about. I needed time to think… to decide what I was going to use this for. To be honest, I still don’t really know so I’m just going to ‘suck it and see’.

My professional interest is in learning and development and, in particular, learning technologies. It has become my passion (my husband may say, my obsession). I am far from the experts whose blogs I ravenously digest at regular intervals, but I have my own opinions. And, really, that’s all that a blog is – one’s opinions. I have to start somewhere. So here I am. Blogging. So if you are interested in anything to do with learning technologies, blended learning, creating engaging e-learning, you may find something interesting at some point here.

I have always been a very private individual so this is so such a new experience for me. I shall try it for a year and see how it goes. Take a deep breath Laura and ……. Jump!