Browse Tag by social media

A look back on my 2010

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

A Happy New Year to one and all. For my first post of 2011 I thought I’d look back on my 2010.

2010 was a year of firsts for me:

1. I started Tweeting
2. I started blogging
3. I got my first iPhone
4. I delivered my first presentation to a room full of strangers

It won’t come as any surprise to you all then to hear what my top tools for 2010 were!

One that has to be near the top of the list is Twitter which has proved to be an invaluable professional development tool. It’s been nearly a year since I began my Twitter journey and I will review my first year at another time.

The others, in no particular order are:

WordPress which I use for my blog
Evernote – very useful for collating my research articles and planning my blog posts
Hootsuite – helps me manage my social media posts
Google calendar – to share with friends and colleagues
Feedly and Google Reader to help collate my blog subscriptions
PowerPoint 2007 (not yet got 2010)

The overall number one tool for me in 2010 though has got to be my iPhone (although other smart phones are available) which has helped me use my beloved Twitter at more convenient times. Snatches in between sessions, waiting for a train, sat in the dentist’s waiting room – always connected. Before my iPhone, it was often inconvenient and frustrating to use Twitter. Although I could access it from my normal mobile phone via text, it was cumbersome and using it on my laptop meant I was probably interrupting some other piece of work I should have been concentrating on.

My smart phone gives me easy access not only to Twitter but to my top tools as listed above and:

    • e-mails (all accounts)
    • my contacts and calendars
    • all blogs I subscribe to
    • my Amazon account
    • video snippets on YouTube
    • podcasts
    • my Skype account
    • a collection of online newspapers
  •  
      my Kindle collection

In fact, I will go as far as to say, my iPhone has become my mobile office.

What are my predictions for top tools in 2011? Well, I’m guessing my new Kindle I had for Christmas might be playing a big part in 2011 for me. My iPhone, of course will still be there as the contract doesn’t come to an end until 2012. It is debatable whether I will stay with the iPhone – but smartphones are here to stay.

Behind the mask of cyberspace

Image by Serge WOLFGANG from Pixabay

The need for education not eradication

 I had a conversation today about the dangers of the internet and why a lot of sites are frequently banned from access in some organisations. The concerns raised were about how easy it is for people to take what is written on websites at face value. Because it’s been published on web pages it must be true. It’s all very well encouraging us to access anything we need by a quick search on Google but people can be anyone they want to be in cyberspace, they said. Sites are blocked in case people get the wrong information. Even students in our schools and colleges are copying and pasting what they believe is valid into their course work and believing everything in blind faith.

It is true that anyone can pretend to be anyone with bogus qualifications and exaggerated expertise. But has it increased or just become more visible? Can you believe everything you read in the newspapers? For centuries we have used tools to help us carry out tasks easier and quicker. Fire is dangerous, destructive and indiscriminate in its devastation but we learned to work with it, tame it, harness it and use it for our benefit. With inconsiderate behaviour it will rage out of control again.

Admittedly we have seen many examples of fraudulent acts using the power of the internet. You should see my junk folder – it’s full strangers offering me hundreds of thousands of pounds for just doing them a little monetary favour!. Did they appear all of a sudden because of the internet? No, they just used more traditional methods of delivery before. There were scam letters, chain letters, bogus ‘cowboy’ companies offering deals via flyers posted through your letterbox. The bad guys no longer wear black hats to help you recognise them quickly but there are clues if you look closely. Dastardly people will always be around – and they will always find new ways of continuing their dastardly deeds. Of course not everyone offers misinformation on purpose it just may be inaccurate or biased. This doesn’t mean we should stop using the same tools, banning their use …. just in case! That’s like cutting our noses off to spite our faces. It’s like depriving ourselves of holidays in the sun in case we get burned.

Once upon a time, I worked in an NHS library services. We taught junior doctors about critically appraising written journal articles because even though they appeared in reputable journals, it didn’t mean that the reports were as accurate as they seemed. The introduction of the internet meant we needed to educate users on heightened risks. We taught our medical staff not only to critically appraise official journal articles but also how to use the internet appropriately, provided them with guidelines, a list of reputable sites and the dangers of pure acceptance.

What we need is a little education. We need to help our staff and learners use these tools safely and responsibly – help them learn and work smarter, more effectively and more efficiently. Instead of throwing your arms up in horror and banning these powerful tools, let’s educate and manage staff and watch your productivity grow and their engagement increase.

Novel uses for Twitter – a different kind of book club

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

For those of you out there who still think Twitter is a banal social networking site good enough only to find out what’s going on behind the scenes of ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ or Steven Fry’s latest gastronomic delights, I have some news for you.

I recently came across a book club run entirely online with discussions taking place on Twitter. The book club is LrnBk Chat, a brainchild of the social media guru Jane Bozarth. The book club runs like this:

A new discussion topic is announced on the dedicated blog (LrnBk Chat) giving details of the book to be read. An agreed number of chapters was agreed at 2 being manageable and series of dates are listed for each. On the morning of each discussion period, a series of questions are published on the blog to consider when reading the set chapters. The conversation starts and so it continues.

So people can follow the conversation, a dedicated hashtag is used – in this case #lrnbkpull for the latest topic being discussed.

Although the conversation is designed to be carried out on Twitter, Jane decides to use Hootcourse (“an online classroom …instead of cumbersome forums or complicated lesson-plan formats, HootCourse uses a combination of the most popular social networks and blogging platforms to provide a new type of online classroom”). Hootcourse allows bookworms to sign in using their Twitter or Facebook account.  Hootcourse can post comments publicly to Twitter or kept private but I’ll go into this another time.

‘It’s a book club, Jim, but not as we know it!’

It just goes to show that with a little creative thinking and shaking off of those blinkers which are narrowing our views and create some really engaging alternative activities to be run online.

So what if you can’t use Twitter or Facebook? What if your organisation blocks these sites. Well, let’s see what you have already that can be used just as effectively. Take a look at the online tools you currently have in your organisation for communication. They may not be used for learning at the moment but we can always high-jack them. We did it with PowerPoint after all.

You may well have a VLE/LMS (virtual learning environment/learning management system) such as Moodle to run your online courses. These provide communication tools in one place including forums and blogs as well as a live chat facility that could be used along the same lines as Twitter. So, for instance, you could create your own book club (or work on a case study in stages) and arrange a time to meet for the live chat or just continue using an asynchronous discussion if this is more appropriate.

What creative ideas can you think of?

Social Media for Trainers

A review of Jane Bozarth’s new book

If trainers are to secure their futures, it’s important to evolve beyond training and be there where the learners are most comfortable. They need to find out what social media is all about; really all about – not just what they hear in the hyped up media. They need to understand the pros and cons, what they can use it for and above all, try it out for themselves. Jane Bozarth’s Social Media for Trainers is a great place to start. You may also be interested in a previous post where I reviewed an interview Cammy Bean had with Jane on her virtual book tour.

Although the book concentrates on the most popular of social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as general tools such as wikis and blogs, Jane stresses that the tips and ideas can easily be transferred to similar tools such as Yammer and Elgg to mention just two that may be allowed within organisations’ firewall.

The book demystifies these tools in layman’s terms. It highlights the advantages and disadvantages of each and when and how we could use them. But what the uninitiated would really find useful is the ‘how to get started’ section. As you read through the wealth of ideas for learning activities within the formal training environment you will also discover how to help your learners continue their learning back in the workplace with various social media tools. You will also discover a little about other media tools you may not have thought of as learning tools such as TeacherTube and SlideShare.

However, as technology evolves quickly, the downside of printed material (as the author points out at the beginning of the book), information can often become out of date at the point of publication. This has happened with Google Wave (a promising collaboration tool) which has since been discontinued.

Unusually, the glossary of terms appears at the beginning of the book and is a perfect place for it to be to prepare you for the read.

The book is more than a bunch of ideas on how to use social media tools in your training. It goes beyond training and how trainers can become part of the ‘spaces in between’ the formal training events to nurture and facilitate learning back in the workplace. It will help trainers help themselves grow and ensure their viability in organisations. But even more than that, it gives trainers an opportunity to try the social media out for themselves.

So if you want to get to grips with starting and keeping the conversations going beyond the training room – read this book.

If you want some tips on how you can persuade others that having conversations is where the learning is at and social media will help them do it – read this book.

Or if you want to start your own personal social media learning journey – read this book and start your own conversation.

Taking a SatNav approach to learning!

Photo by Samuel Foster on Unsplash

 

In Donald Clarks recent post, 7 tactics for training in a recession, I found myself agreeing with many of his thoughts.

Donald’s 7 tactics are:
1. Dump daft duplication
2. Last century courses
3. Courses too long
4. Tyranny of time & location
5. Crap evaluation
6. Non-scalable
7. It’s the technology stupid

He says:

“Achieve more with less to optimise limited budgets and time. The world has changed and we can be reactive and get dumped upon, or take it upon ourselves to reshape our own learning landscape. Fast access to learning needs to be available 24×7 at point of need. This is the norm in the real word and it should be the norm in learning. We need to provide Satnav help for learning journeys, not big, thick, fixed atlases. Flexible responses to your organisation’s needs, not fixed, repeated, timetabled courses. Focus on productivity and promise impact, not happy sheets and course passes. Reduce carbon footprint, reduce travel & meeting costs and above all scale – EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY.”

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few years, it has been abundantly clear that learning and development HAS to change. The way we work and live has changed. We are constantly having to do more with less; find different and creative ways of delivering (and I don’t mean training here). If we need to know something what do we do? We ‘Google’ it – we ask a question from our wider networks via Twitter, we share our likes, our opinions, our expertise through blogs and harvest from RSS feed readers.

When are we likely to do this? At home, on the train, the bus but rarely at work. Why? Because we’re not allowed to. Or, if we are allowed to – we haven’t got a clue how we could harness this collaborative technology. Perhaps it’s because we don’t really understand their value. It doesn’t help when the media, in order to sell stories, write misleading (and even fabricated) headlines leading to businesses banning their use.

After all, do we start banning cars because the idiots behind the wheel are irresponsible? No! We all have to learn to drive safely. We take tests to prove we are capable. We know rules and the consequences if we break them.

This analogy brings me nicely back to Donald Clark’s SatNav help for learning. Perhaps we should start thinking about how we can help learners continue to learn, and support them in their roles. But before we can do that, we need to learn how to drive this new technology properly ourselves. Until we know what they can do, we will never be able to understand how they can be used for learning and collaboration in the workplace. I think this is where L&D can really become indispensable.

Trainers need to be more than trainers concerned only about single events and tick-box exercises to appease the gods and become learning consultants helping others navigate their own learning journeys. Before they can help others they need to help themselves to reduce their own skills gap, open up their minds and try these tools out for themselves – take control of their own development and experiment. I realised very quickly, if I was to survive in the world of learning I would have to embrace new technology.

OK – I’ve always had more than a little interest in how technology could make my working life easier having moved from manual typewriters, to electronic then to the clunky early PCs (oops – giving my age away there!) but I would never describe myself as a techy geek. I guess this continued interest in technological progress helped and I acknowledge that there may be others who are totally disinterested. But just like it’s now almost essential to be able to drive to widen our employability, it will be essential to learn to use these tools to the same end.

There are plenty of resources available out there. Jane Bozarth’s book ‘Social Media for Trainers‘ is one great resource to start with. Keep visiting for a review as well as some extra tips for using new learning technologies. In the meantime – go on – dip your toe into that water – there are plenty of learning technology lifeguards out there to help you (me included).

Supporting learning in the workplace through social media

How trainers can use social media

 

On my usual trawl through my Twitter stream, I came across a Tweet by Cammy Bean sharing a great interview she had with Jane Bozarth.


The interview lasts about an hour but it flew by. The interview is primarily to promote Jane’s new book “ Social Media for Trainers: techniques for enhancing and extending learning”. I was so impressed with how this could really help classroom trainers who are keen to start introducing social media into their programmes but are wondering exactly how to do it, that I went straight to Amazon to buy a copy. Unfortunately, it isn’t out yet here in the UK but I’ve put my order in.

From the interview though, one key point was close to my heart:
Jane says that “it’s naive and vain for us (trainers) to think that what really made a difference in an employee’s success or failure is the three weeks spent in a classroom with us…. What really makes or breaks an employee’s success in an organisation and up to whether they stay with you has a lot to do with what goes on in that workplace and we need to find a way to be more present there” She also mentioned that if trainers intend to be viable for another 20 years – we’d better.

I have often been disappointed in my past life as an IT trainer, that I couldn’t be there to support my learners after they left the 3 hours, sessions. They were mine for 3 hours (sometimes 6 if they decided to enroll on a double session) and there was an awful lot crammed in for them to try and remember. I knew most of them wouldn’t even touch the applications for ages. Yes, we sent them away with user manuals and the number of the help desk, but I really wanted to do more. There was just no scope for that. The trainers had to be out there, delivering 4 out of 5 days.

When I delivered training for an external training provider, we rarely had the opportunity to offer support to our learners in the work place. The learners were mine for days at a time with even more for them to try and remember when they went back to their organisations. There wasn’t any formal support offered when they’re back in the workplace but I just can’t stop there – I offer my Twitter address, Facebook page, or email and am always happy to answer any questions or talk round a problem. This is where social media is a valuable asset. And even better if we can get to talk to each other too and share ideas. If I can do this for people coming from all sorts of companies, just think how much more valuable social media can be within one organisation to provide workplace support.

We need to look beyond training and more to learning by providing more performance support to help people when they need us most.

What support do you or can you offer your learners after they leave the formal course?