Browse Tag by learning technologies

Twitter-lingo

Copyright I L Layton-James

Did you know…

There have been 659,042 Tweets in the Haitian Creole language of  Kreyol Ayisyen within a user group of 7,468 and Cymraeg (Welsh) is the third most popular language Tweeted with 261,083 Tweets altogether between 2,729.

These statistics have been gathered by Indigenous Tweets as reported by the BBC last week.  According to the article, Indegenous Tweets is “about encouraging minority language speakers to discover each other online”.

This got me thinking about how Twitter can be used to help people learn a language.  I’ve always been told that the only real way to learn how to speak a new language is to use it – regularly.  However, speaking a new language may not necessarily help you get to grips with writing it.

What’s a better place to interact with others in a particular language to try out your skill and improve them.

Here are some ideas I’ve had:

  • Set a ‘conversation’ activity in class to practise written language skills
  • Set an icebreaker task before the course asking students to research how to say “Hello, my name is, what’s your name?”
  • As the skills increase hold regular live Tweet meets where the tutor and group will only converse in that language.
  • Encourage students to join a wider community where they hold conversations with others
  • Create a blog to post regular conversation topics giving details of the time and duration of Tweet-meets
  • Upload a copy of each conversation to the blog to discuss further

Because Twitter is just another tool by which we can hold conversations, it’s important we think beyond the prejudice and barriers and start thinking creatively on how we can harness it for learning.  Of course, we don’t want to use these tools ‘just because’ but perhaps we need to start thinking more about ‘what can be’.

Classroom trainers have been very creative in the past about how to include different tools and activities to aid the learning process.  Just think about how we introduced video and DVDs to the classroom course.  The set up little group to collaborate using flip-charts, then PowerPoint.  We’ve introduced games and adapted them to encourage problem solving. The only difference now is we no longer have to be bound by walls and have a much richer collection of tools.

Are you using a hammer to crack a nut?

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Or do you really need the right tool for the job?

As some of you may have guessed, I’m a really big fan of social media.  I think it’s the best thing invented since sliced bread.  Now for the uninitiated, when I mention social media and in particular Twitter, the initial reaction is either  ‘oh no here we go again’ or ‘I can’t see the point in hearing what everyone had for breakfast’.  But social media is so versatile.  It’s just another conversation tool – just like the telephone.

What’s the betting that when telephones started to be installed in more homes, people just rang each other up to find out what they had done that day.  It’s a novelty thing. It’s a ” We just gotta try it out but I can’t think of anything profound so I’ll just say the first thing that comes into my head” sort of thing.  In fact, my mum still does that.  I’m not going to tell you my age but I think you’ll guess I’m not a kid any more but I still have to telephone ‘home’ every night when I travel anywhere.  There’s usually no new amazing news to hear so I just get “have you had your tea?  What did you have?”.

But of course we also use the telephone for some of the most important of calls as well as keeping in touch with our loved ones.  The same goes for e-mail.  I remember when e-mail was first introduced where I worked.  There were e-mails being sent all over the building just saying saying “hello, how was your weekend” even when we were just in the next office (or even in the same office).  It was a novelty.  Then came the policies on how to use e-mail responsibly, how to communicate correctly and all was good with the world.

What I’m seeing now though is e-mail being misused in as much as it is becoming a conversation tool.  Yes, I know it IS a conversation tool in a way but we’re seeing it being used for chit-chat again even if that chit-chat is work related.  Yet there are many more appropriate tools we can use for this type of conversation within a work environment:

Skype for example.  Here people can have real time business conversations either on a one to one basis or group.

If it’s more about collaborating on a project, what about using Google Docs and Google Buzz.

If we need to share research, discuss ideas, view and review little videos we’re planning, what about creating a Facebook Group for your team.

We are so blessed nowadays with a variety of different tools that do different things can we really look back at our current practices and say we are working efficiently?  Of course, we need time for a bit of research but sometimes, we just have to give it a go.

And that’s just what I’m just about to do now.  I’m going to create a team Facebook Group for collaborative working projects and see how it goes.  How about you?

6 ways for using podcasts in learning

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Recently I listened to the last CD of the audio book ‘The Elephant to Hollywood‘, the latest autobiography from Michael Caine. It was a requested Christmas present and I decided on the audio book rather than the hard copy or Kindle version for a number of reasons.

  • I have hundreds of books and just rarely get the chance to read for pleasure these days (something I have to change);
  • I spend a lot of time in the car or in hotels and at the end of a day’s training my eyes are too tired to read;
  • Michael Caine was reading his own book which was the selling point to me as it would certainly bring it to life;
  • I had previously bought his last audio book (then on tape back in 1993 and enjoyed that one too);

It was something that I listened too in snippets each trip I made. However long the trip, it sped by listening to his distinct tones. I laughed out loud and cried in places. I love driving anyway but looked forward to my longer trips so I could hear more.  Although at time it was clear that he was reading it because at times there was a little less fluidity to the narration, on the whole it was pretty much like listening  to the stories as if being recounted from memory with the help of notes.

When the last CD came to an end I could have listened to it all over again. I probably will because, as often happens even when listening to the radio, I zone out at times and don’t actually listen to every word.   Maybe some extract of the story sparked a memory or it took me back to one of the films. So the next minute or so the voice just became background noise.

Some weeks after finishing the audio book, I wouldn’t be able to recite it back to you or even give you details of what was said in a particular chapter.  However, certain things will trigger memories of parts of the book and they became clear in my mind again.

Then I began to reflect on my experience and thought how closely it linked to listening to podcasts for learning and what we could use them for.

 

1. Tell a story

If you are planning on a monologue, consider making it more along the lines of story-telling.  Perhaps someone could share a little anecdote about how celebrating a colleague’s birthday in the staff room complete with birthday cake and candles literally sparked a full blown fire evacuation, two fire engines and lots of fire crew.  Yes, folks it did actually happen – I was there – and no it wasn’t me!  Not only would it be an amusing story to tell but something to use as a learning discussion point.

 

2. Chunk it

Even though the audio book took a while to get through it was divided up into CDs and then chapters on each CD.

 

3. Keep them short

It will depend on the type of podcast and your audience of course but consider keeping them between 20 and 30 minutes.  This makes it easier for people to fit into their busy schedules; it’s quicker to download and manage smaller audio files too.

 

4. Have a conversation

Try and go for a more conversational style piece such as an interview or a simple discussion between two or more people.  We tune out to a single voice much more quickly which is why I think I might have ‘zoned’ out at times even though I found Michael Caine’s story-telling fascinating.  Think about why we like listening to the radio.  After all, it’s been popular for decades.

 

5. A roving report style

Why not go for more of a reporter style podcast?  With some creative writing and some keen amateur dramatics people involved you could report on an ‘incident’  where the reporter might have been one of the first at the scene. 

 

6. A quick briefing

podcasts could even be used purely to introduce the programme or provide some background behind an initiative. It’s a lovely way to get the human touch into your self-paced online programme instead of recording a video of yourself.

 

Really, if you just think about how radio is used, your podcasting world is your oyster and very easy to include in your solutions.  There’s plenty of audio recording software out there.  Try Audacity which is free.  You’ll need to also download Lame with it if you want to convert into MP3 files and it has a really good selection editing tools.

What podcasts do you listen to and how are they useful to you?

 

Online courses must die!

I just love Twitter even though it’s sucking the life-blood out of that work/life balance of mine (what work/life balance? my husband says). Anyway, last night I was catching up on the stream peering through my blurry eyes when I came across this super blog post by the e-Learning Provocateur (@ryantracey). The title is alone ‘Online courses must die‘ warrants a read. It’s an old post (in social media terms anyway – going back to July last year) but no less topical for that. It certainly lives up to the title of the blog – provocative.

It’s full of very thought provoking stuff and matches my own ideals one of which is using authoring tools for the right job. So often they’re the proverbial hammers cracking nuts with equal devastation.

I’ve popped a reply on Ryan’s post but it has piqued my interest that I may well explore some of those points further.

Read and enjoy!

Content v Technology

Since the Learning Technologies Conference and Exhibition, there have been some great blog posts pondering on the results and looking to the future. I was also interested in the short Voxpops interviews (Voxpop1, Voxpop2) with a selected few from the event. The question posed to interviewees was “What changes would YOU like to see in L&D for 2011?” I was going to do a short review of what people said in their interviews but instead thought I’d just capture the main points in the Wordle you can see above.

It’s interesting that the advice for L&D is to focus on the learning, the learners, the business goals, performance based.  Surely that shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone and it’s a shame that we needed reminding.  There was a lot of references to the learning being effective.  Quality certainly should be at the heart of developing our staff.  In order to produce quality learning we need to make sure the learning is relevant, learner-centred, bite-sized with plenty of practical application and which can be assessed in a more realistic method that handing out quiz questions no matter how you dress them up.  It’s our responsibility to help people learn to do their jobs well which has a direct effect on the bottom line.  We shouldn’t be teaching them how to pass tests – where’s the learning in that?  Give them work-based projects instead.  Help them feel they are contributing.

At the same time as calling for more effective learning, there was also a call for it to be more efficient and to make use of more online learning.  The danger of taking our effective courses online is we may leave out what makes it effective in the first place.  That’s all the learner-centred stuff.  The conversations, the group work, the feedback, the questioning, the collaboration.  Where will that all go?  So they become efficient but now their ineffective.  Efficient without efficacy actually leads to more inefficiency.  Without good quality learning, people won’t learn well (or at all in some cases).  So what happens?  They make more mistakes in their work and/or have to retrain.  If they retrain using the same ineffective materials as before, what’s going to happen?  Yep – a never ending circle.

What’s encouraging is the recognition that training – the formal stuff – is only  a small part of the development of individuals in the workforce but it’s what happens after they’ve had the formal training that really embeds the learning.  We’ve heard a lot about formal training accounting for only 20% of our knowledge on the job. The rest being attributed to informal learning.  However, there’s a little more to it than that as Clive Shepherd points out in his ‘The New Learning Architect’ but performance support will be the cement that makes the learning stick after the formal events have long past.

What I also found interesting from the Voxpops (considering we were at a the Learning technologies) conference was the low key references to using technology for learning.  Oh yes, there was a whole floor at least dedicated to technology but when speaking to the L&D people not the vendors, there was little emphasis on using new media or more technology in their solutions.  James Clay’s post ‘Focus on the technology or not’ puts it brilliantly.  He says:

… it is vital that practitioners are aware of the potential and availability of technology. When they know what is available and importantly what it is capable of then they can apply technological solutions to their learning problems.

L&D should more than capable of designing an effective solution that meets adult learners’ needs but a more efficient delivery means the more likely it has to include new technologies thus creating a huge skills gap. It’s no longer about content versus technology but about content AND technology. In this media filled world where people are always connected and will find it very difficult to avoid using technology to communicate, work, rest and play we can no longer separate the two. We need to think of the technology as the enabler. L&D really need to become more tech savvy and keep up to date with research. They need to try things out and exercise their creation and innovation muscle. Think about using technology not normally considered a learning tool for a learning activity (see Milo). I know we shouldn’t try and shoe-horn a particular piece of technology into a learning solution just for the sake of it but if people are already using the technology in their working or personal time, isn’t it about time we can help them continue to use them for learning.

To quote again to James’s post:

you have to start from somewhere and by explaining the potential that learning technologies offer, you are starting from a good place that will open minds to future potential and possibilities

Overall, the message I got from listening to the VoxPops was that following a logical blended approach to designing learning solutions in organisations is definitely the way L&D can become more than just the ‘training department’.  L&D can become the cement that holds the organisation together by becoming more cultivators of learning.  Helping learners learn for themselves and providing more performance support.  By increasing their knowledge, understanding and skills in using new media tools for more efficient delivery of learning, L&D will ensure their longevity in the organisation by becoming an integral part of the bricks and mortar.  Organisations will pay a high price if they don’t invest more in their L&D professionals.

Learning Technologies Twitter back channels

Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

Following on from my previous post where I reflected on my own visit to the Learning Technologies exhibition in London Olympia last week, I felt the need to catch up on the Twitter backchannel to help me get a feel for what was said at the conference on Level 3. The conference was rich with my learning gurus and those who would soon be on that guru list.

If anyone wanted to be convinced about the value of Twitter, this is definitely one example. It was (almost) like being there again but this time I had the luxury of checking out the links within the tweets for further information. Hail the backchannel. And hail @learninganorak who did a sterling job of Tweeting updates throughout the two days (I honestly don’t know how you do it – you must have bionic fingers).

From there I was able to catch up on various blog posts reflecting on the event both from the conference and the vendor floors. Everyone has a different perspective but there was a common theme about the mis-match of focus between floors as I mentioned in my previous post. Then I thought – hey, how about collating all these blog posts in one place and sharing them.

It was such a brilliant idea that I was pipped to the post by Cathy Moore. It certainly saved me a job. So rather than me repeat the super job Cathy has already done why don’t you check it out for yourself. And just so I feel I have contributed to the list here are a few more. Happy catch-up.

e-Learning Centre’s review
Craig Taylor’s reflections
Nowcomms Learning Technologies exit poll (an interesting read)