Archive for category Social Learning

How to Use Twitter Lists

I’m currently facilitating a Social and Collaborative Learning Essentials (SCLE) course for the Australian Institute of Training and Development.  One of the course modules is about using social media to support learning.  During this module I facilitate a slow Twitter chat.  I post one question per day for 5 days about using social media for learning.  For many course participants this is their first experience of a Twitter chat – sometimes their first experience using Twitter.

For new users one of the challenges of getting value from Twitter is learning how to create a high quality feed of resources and conversation.  Once you start following many people your feed can become quite cluttered.  If your interests are varied you may find that the content jumps around from one topic to another as you scroll through your feed.  Twitter lists can help with this challenge.

One of the SCLE participants asked me how to use Twitter lists.  I created the screencast demonstration below to show her how to create a list, add people to list and subscribe to other people’s lists.  (If you’re interested – I created this screencast using Zoom.)

If you prefer to follow written instructions for using Twitter lists you can refer to the Twitter help centre.

For some useful ideas about how to use Twitter lists to improve your engagement with others look at How to Use Twitter Lists to Follow Thousands (and Appear Superhuman).  Note – I hate the title of this article.  For me the quality of connections and engagement matter a lot more than quantity and appearances.  However, the ideas for using lists are solid.

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Social Learning and Shadow IT

I’m currently facilitating a Social and Collaborative Learning Essentials (SCLE) course.  This course is offered through the Australian Institute of Training and Development.  It runs in a virtual environment over eight weeks.  This week I’ve refreshed the curated content used in the course.

One person whose work I always check on when I’m refreshing this course is Julian Stodd*.  I find Julian Stodd’s research, thinking and practice around Social Leadership both insightful and practical.  I also appreciate his philosophy that all his work is imperfect and is continually evolving.

Source: https://julianstodd.wordpress.com/2017/05/31/the-invisible-organisation-why-social-leadership/

In a recent series of Training Journal podcast interviews Julian spoke about power, trust and the social age.  I added Part 2 to the SCLE resources.  I was especially interested in Julian’s research on high value communities (of practice) in the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK.  Amongst his findings are that:

  • their most valuable communities are informal ones, not ones ‘given to them’ by the organisation
  • top communities are ones they were invited into – someone reached out to them to join the conversation
  • the primary focus of these communities are ‘conversations of improvement”
  • most important thing is ‘choreography of engagement’, the way people are welcomed into the community

The group studied use 17 different technologies to interact on a daily basis, of which 16 are not controlled by the NHS – they are ‘shadow IT.’  If organisations want to leverage the power of social learning they need to move beyond an environment of control.  This includes controlling the technologies being used to enable conversation and community.

If you do an internet search on the term ‘shadow IT’ you will find a lot of articles talking about how the IT department can regain control of the tools and platforms being used.  This is not especially useful to people in the organisation who are turning to tools that help them to get the job done, improve productivity and cut through red tape.

My curiosity was recently piqued by a white paper from Cognizant on 21 Jobs of the Future.  These are jobs that are envisaged to be required within the next 10 years.   One of these is ‘Bring Your Own IT Facilitator.’  The purpose of this role is to ‘fuse shadow-IT operations with digital workplace strategy.’  In describing this role Cognizant commented:

“We see the growth of shadow-IT as an immense opportunity for IT to collaborate with business units and individuals who have mastered the art of working without IT.”

While acknowledging the valid concerns that shadow-IT raises (just Google it) I find this a much more positive and useful perspective.  Shadow IT is here to stay.  People are finding value in using all sorts of consumer tools and platforms, as evidenced in the social learning sphere by Julian’s research.  If we are going to support people to engage in high value conversations let’s shine a light in the shadows (but not too brightly lest we kill the conversation) and embrace shadow-IT.

* Confession – I have a social learning crush on Julian Stodd.  Just look at the language he uses to talk about social interaction – ‘choreography of engagement’ is a beautiful phrase.

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Power Up Your Professional Development with Social Learning

As a leader and professional its critical to take charge of your own learning. Staying abreast of shifts in society and your industry and keeping up to date with research and evolving practices in your field are critical to remain relevant.  One of the most effective and flexible ways to do this is to connect and interact with others.

I am fortunate to co-host the Learning Uncut podcast.  At the end of every episode we ask our guests ‘What is the biggest thing you do for your own professional development?’

Many of them describe some form of social learning.  They connect with other people both inside and outside their own organisations.  They visit others in their workplace and look at how they work and discuss the problems and challenges they face.  They attend networking events and conferences as much for the conversations with other attendees as to hear from the speakers.

Some deliberately seek out people who are different in their background and thinking, introducing diversity into their network.  Many use social media to interact with others around the globe.  Your opportunity to engage with others is not limited by geography.

Get inspiration from what Learning Uncut guests have said about their social learning practices for your own professional development and that of the people you lead.

Tony Dunford

“Be as connected as you can with people who less corporate in their thinking and perhaps more radical in their views while being in the sort of learning space and so I have a number of connections with people in unions, people not in unions, people who work in startups, people are working in incubators and all that sort of stuff and someone I can’t remember who but there’s a great quote around the fact that if you look at your team and there’s not some awkward uncomfortable people who don’t look like they fit then you probably haven’t got the right people, and so I always like to make sure my network is a mix of all of that, who are challenging me to do uncomfortable things which is good because that’s what we need.”

Listen to Tony Dunford’s Learning Uncut Episode – Skills For Life

James Scoggins

“Well, at the moment, I’ll say Agile has been a real learning journey for me, so I’m a bit of a magpie. And there’s quite a few Agile team within BNZ. I just like to go and see how they work, so it’s going and spending a bit of time with them, looking at their visual boards and talking to them, what problems they’re facing. So, I think it’s just getting in front of other parts of the business and seeing how they’re doing things.”

 

Listen to James Scoggins and Renetta Alexander’s Learning Uncut Episode – Agile L&D

Kate Fraser

“For a long time I was a team of one and I know that lots of L&D practitioners are and so it was important for me to get out of our organisation and connect with other Learning and Development professionals. So that might be networking events I went to lots of those and also you know just finding out, key people to connect with and you know taking them out for lunch and having a chat and just being really proactive in speaking to others and learning from their experiences and trying to reciprocate where you can as well.”

I became quite active on social media for the same reason and I also participated in many, many, many webinars so that you know I was sort of keeping on top of you know what were the what were the key issues out there and most of it was about reaching out side of my organisation connecting with other L&D; practitioners and learning from their experiences rather than feeling like I had to do it all by myself.

Listen to Kate Fraser’s Learning Uncut episode – Making a Capability Framework Valuable

Gail Bray

“I’m a great believer in leading by walking around. So I tend to get out into the business and I’ll drive out to Sunshine Campus. We’ve got about five campuses and I actually go and talk to the teachers and I talk to the managers out there and we just chew the fat and how things are going. And I learn a lot from them. And I then bring that back into my team.”

 

Listen to Gail Bray’s Learning Uncut episode – Transforming Vocational Education and Training

Emma Weber and Marie Daniels

“I do invest in going to conferences. I also have coaches that I work with. But I think, going to a conference, you have the networking, the synchronicity of the people you might meet, you have the expos, you have experts, you have the keynotes. I think for me, it’s a really good investment.”  Emma Weber

 

“I’ve been lucky enough just to return from my first trip to the ATD. I was just blown away by the length and breadth of the exhibition hall. And just the sessions, and the line outside of the conference, the networking, and discussing sessions back with the Australian contingent. So for me, that being, maybe not the biggest thing, but the most exciting thing for my own development, probably in about the last three years.” Marie Daniels

 

Listen to Emma Weber and Marie Daniels’ Learning Uncut episode – Learning Transfer Bot

Your Turn

What will you do to connect and interact with others, powering up your professional development?

How could you support others to improve their own professional development practices using social learning?

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What I Learned This Month – August 2018

Using Personas in My Work

I’ve noticed that I’m using personas, especially the empathy mapping component, more frequently and fluidly in my work.  I posted a daily dispatch about this in late August.  I often share this introduction to empathy mapping with others if they are curious or I want to use the tool with them.

Use of an Online Collaboration Tool

I recently project managed the refresh of the Learning and Performance Institute’s Learning and Development Capability Map (yeah – it’s a mouthful – #LPICapMap rolls off the tongue easier).  The updated Map will be live in October 2018.  Our process evolved during the project and we realised that we needed to engage experts and leading practitioners around the globe to write or update skill descriptions.  We had a limited timeframe for our 40+ volunteers to produce their deliverable.  I set up a Slack group and added a channel for each working group.  I’m convinced that using this tool was critical to enabling the working groups to effectively work together under tight deadlines, and we would never have me the deadline if we had used email alone.

A Quiz a Day

This is a non-work example of learning as a by-product of an activity that has many other purposes – amongst them a bit of family fun.  I recently stayed with my parents overnight.  My 92 year old grandmother lives with them.  After dinner every evening my mum gets the daily quiz from the newspaper and whoever is there joins in answering the questions.  It’s great with social bonding, helps keep my grandmother’s brain active, and we all get to learn a little something and feel closer in the process.  Thank you Mum!

Your Turn

What about you?  What is something you’ve learned recently?  How have you been learning?  What group activities do you build learning into or see it as an incidental outcome?

What could you share with others?  (Nudge for all the leaders reading this – sharing your learning with your team is a great way to role model and encourage continuous learning.)

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Preparing to Facilitate Social and Collaborative Learning Essentials

Earlier this year I facilitated the Social and Collaborative Learning Essentials course for the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) for the first time.  This is an eight week online course that helps participants get more intentional with social learning.  The course is conducted using social learning approaches.  Participants engage with content, each other and the facilitator (me!) in a number of online platforms and a series of webinars.

It was the first time I had facilitated the course, which was designed and curated by Patrick Phillips in 2017.  As I start to prepare for the next session to kick off on 25 September, I’m reviewing lessons learned from last time.

The course includes an action learning project which is the critical to support participants to apply their learning.  This project asks participants to develop or update the social learning strategy for their organisation.  They can do this as a standalone strategy, or integrated in their broader organisational learning strategy.

Several participants were active in the course online platforms (Curatr and Slack) early in the program, discussing  the challenges and opportunities that they felt social learning may help address.  It was these participants who went on to create the most comprehensive and well-considered strategies.  Their ideas and approaches formed progressively throughout the course and they used each other and me as a sounding board.  I built on this by adjusting the fortnightly webinars to  be hosted discussions rather than content delivery sessions.

I was surprised by how well the participants’ strategies came together in the final two weeks as they synthesised the entire course content, their discussions and insights into their own organisational context.  Each presented their strategy in a different format and style, and emphasised approaches and techniques that suited their context.  I’m confident that the participants who actually presented their strategy in the final course webinar got the most value out of the course.

The next time I facilitate the course I shall present a summary of some of the strategies developed by previous participants in the introductory webinar (with permission of course).  My intent is to give people a sense of what is possible and motivate them to working on their action learning project.  I shall also adjust some of the discussion questions in the initial modules to help participants clarify the organisational issues or opportunities that they would like to apply social learning to address.

One aspect I’ll give more thought to in the coming week is how trust built among the participants who were more active.  I’d like to identify what factors or dynamics helped to build trust, and consider what I can do to nurture this among the next course cohort.

You do not have to be an AITD member to complete the course.  Register here for the next course.

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Opening Space for People to Tell Their Story

One of my goals in 2018 is to find a new town to live in as I travel around the east coast of Australia.  I’ll be covering a lot of territory with my daughter, driving from place to place and staying in Airbnb accomodation for eleven months.  Our plan is to stay in most places one week – occasionally a little less, and occasionally a little more.  I’ve been thinking about how we can learn about life in the towns we visit and figure out what it might be like living there.  One of the most important ways we can do this is to talk to local people and create the space for them to tell us their stories about their life in the town.

Thinking about how to elicit people’s stories reminded me of a day I spent with Laura Overton of Towards Maturity in early November 2017.  She was visiting Sydney, and I introduced her to two Learning and Development colleagues that I had worked with previously.  During our conversations with these two people I learned new things about them as a result of the way Laura opened up the space for them to tell their story.  She was genuinely curious and had no agenda other than to listen and find out how they thought and worked, and what influenced them.  I was so impressed that I made a video about this experience, and am sharing it on my Working Out Loud page for the first time today.

 

 

 

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How I Use Social Tools with my Team

The Learning Rebel, Shannon Tipton, asked me to prepare a short video to show how I use social tools with my team.  She is gathering a collection to support a presentation titled ‘Creating your 21st Century Toolbox‘ at the Training 2016 conference in Orlando.  I thought this would be a nice supplement to my previous posts on how my team has supported the development of internal Communities of Practice.

In the video (5min 30secs) below I describe how I use a mixture of internal and external social tools to work, share resources, and learn with my five-strong Capability (i.e. Learning and Development) team.  Featured tools include SharePoint, MicroSoft OneNote, and Storify.  Other tools we use include Twitter and Diigo.  The video also mentions that we use these tools with (1) our internal Capability Community, which includes local Capability Managers in our operational sites and (2) other people working on projects with us to develop learning programs.

You may notice that there is more content / activity in some of the tools than others.  This reflects the gradual adoption of specific tools and evolution of our working practices as a team.  One recent development is the request from my team that we increase our use of discussion forums to make it easier to stay up to date with each other’s work, and to share resources and learning more fluidly.  That put a smile on my face!

 

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A Few of My Favourite Blogs

feedly logo

I subscribe to a range of blogs using Feedly as my RSS Reader.  This makes it easier to keep up to date with industry blogs and reduces email clutter.  I currently have 488 unread Google alerts and 211 unread blog posts in Feedly. I could do better with regularly checking and reading my subscribed feeds.  I tend to Feedly categoriesfocus on a small number of my favourite blogs.  Here I reflect on what I enjoy about three of these.

Harold Jarche

Over 10 years of blogging Harold Jarche has published 2,650 posts. Two themes I enjoy are Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) and networked working and learning .  He continually evolves his thinking on topics, reusing, updating and refining content.  I like his approach of writing primarily for himself.  If others find value in his work then that’s a bonus.  I use this as a model for my own writing.  It reduces the pressure , and helps me to focus on learning and improving my practices.  While not quite stream of consciousness, I can see his thinking and work developing over time.   He has compiled his “best posts” into two e-books.  I’ve read the first, Seeking Perpetual Beta, which he Perpetual Betadescribes as “a cohesive narrative that covers learning, working, and managing in the emerging network era”.  While he writes clearly I sometimes feel too trapped by my paradigms to see how to apply his vision of the future of work in my world.  His thinking stretches me and motivates me to question the status quo.  His practical guidance on personal and organisational knowledge management is valuable.  I completed his PKM in 40 days program in 2014.  This gave me skills to filter relevant information and make sense of it.  His model of “How Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) add Value” is a useful framework.  It has helped me speak with people in my business about why and how we can better use our ESN.  I look to Harold as a pathfinder, helping me to find different ways of working and learning.

Helen Blunden

Helen and me working together - after I got to know her through her blog

Helen (on right) and me working together – after I got to know her through her blog

Helen Blunden writes on her business blog, Activate Learning Solutions.  While not as prolific as Harold she does write often – 13 posts in first 2 months of 2015.  Helen writes about modern learning approaches, her networking activities and working experiences.  I most enjoy the case studies where she describes programs she has developed and how she worked.  Her social on-boarding case study is a good example.  The open, detailed way she writes gave me a good sense of who she is and her professional approach.  Helen is inquisitive, interested in others, seeks to understand the business environment and people, designs practical solutions to improve performance and results, and has an eye for detail. After several months of reading Helen’s blog and connecting with her online I met her briefly at a conference in mid 2014.  Face-to-face she was consistent with her online persona.  I felt that I knew her well from our online interaction and portfolio on her blog.  I did not hesitate to engage her to help develop a Community of Practice.

Sacha Chua

Sacha chua

Finally, the blog I get the most pure pleasure in reading is Sacha Chua’s Living An Awesome Life.  Sacha is in the midst of a five year semi-retirement experiment that she started in her late 20s.  I admire her courage and resourcefulness in making this happen.  The way she thinks is fascinating.  She is an astute observer who asks interesting questions, breaks down a topic into smaller pieces to analyse and develop  insights, and provides helpful visual summaries (sketchnotes).  Her writing is simultaneously intensely personal and broadly relevant – as exemplified by her recent post on common goals.  Her blog is a place to think and learn.  She posts almost daily, and she has written over 7,000 posts in 14 years.  Her motivation, originality, openness and willingness to share are inspiring.  She makes me want to live a better quality self-directed life.

You can imagine my delight when I recently saw a video of Sacha and Harold discussing blogging and PKM on YouTube.  The two take very different approaches to developing their thinking and managing their blogs.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rme5I0MEsWc?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

What are your favourite blogs and why? 

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Sharing Resources and Links with my Team

I enjoy it when someone shares a useful tip, tool or resource with me.  If they’ve thought carefully about my interests, know what’s relevant to me, and offer it to me in a “place” that’s convenient to me, then it’s a great gift from them.  This helps me to think about what and when to share with my team – to do it in a way that my sharing is a contribution and not noise or a burden.  I am also very conscious that I am role modelling new behaviours within my organisation, so want to help people to see the potential value in sharing by doing it judiciously and well.

The internal group with whom I work most closely are the Supply Chain Capability Community. The Community includes 12 people in a range of roles who collectively develop, plan and implement initiatives to improve business performance through the technical knowledge and skills of our people.  I share links and resources with this group in a variety of ways:

1) Verbally or in email with an individual or small group – a resource relevant to the specific topic or context e.g. an article on why measuring performance impact is more important than ROI shared directly with a team member who was designing a new evaluation approach for a learning program.

2) Scotty tweetPosting a link on Twitter and @mentioning specific team members – this works where the team members I want to share with use Twitter (4 out of the 12).  I thought I had done this several times, however when I did an advanced search on Twitter for examples I could find only one where I shared an article on leadership styles in different cultures with a team member who does a lot of work in Indonesia.

SharePoint post 702010 share

3) Posting a link or message about a resource on SharePoint newsfeed with a comment about why I am sharing this link – this is useful where the item is of potential value to a larger range of people in the group.  In the example I highlight a case study on the 702010 Forum in which we have organisational membership.  I don’t share resources in this way very often (despite there being a lot of relevant resources I could share) and have just resolved to add this to my daily sharing habits.  The other thing I could improve is to limit number of characters in post so people don’t need to click on ‘Show more’ to see the whole post, especially if links are at the end of the post.

4) Knowledge sharing sessions with the group during our SharePoint blogfortnightly Community teleconferences  – we’ve replaced status updates with knowledge sharing and learning discussions in these regular catchup sessions.  Format is presentation followed by discussion.  Presentations are most commonly on a topic (e.g. Gamification through badges), a work practice (e.g. how we can increase manager support to learners), or report back on ideas from an external event such as a course or a conference. I’ve also written a blog post on a topic with linked resources and asked people to read and reply to questions before the session (example shown is for a discussion on Working Out Loud). Participation in online discussion has been low and the group interacts far better in synchronous discussion than asynchronous (I hope that the Work, Connect and Learn program will help increase online interaction).  This is a valuable forum for our team to Work and Learn Out Loud together, and we shall continue to use and fine tune it.

5) Diigo – I set up a Diigo account for the team to use to curate and share online resources.  I am the only one who curates on a regular basis; however there are several team members who are comfortable using Diigo for joint research to meet a specific need.  Below is an example of curation of research into modern approaches to learning design.

diigo future design

6) “Learning Links” blog posts – I have started to share short collections of resources on a SharePoint Learning Linksspecific topic relevant to the group (e.g Social learning) on our SharePoint blog.  I write a short commentary about each resource and any overall themes.  As I bookmark items to Diigo I tag them with “LearningLinks” if I think they my be worth including in a post at a later date.  My intent had been to do a weekly Links post, but I’ve been erratic so have diarised this.  I shall also start posting these collections on my internet blog in case they are useful to others outside my organisation.

Diigo is at the heart of my resource sharing practices, allowing me to bookmark and tag links that I can re-use and share in a range of contexts and ways.  Being able to store links in a library that I can access anywhere I have an Internet connection means that I can share good quality resources at the right moment and with the right people to create value rather than generate noise.

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Get Strategic with Social Learning

Get Strategic

I originally posted this in early 2015.  I also shared it as part of a multi-part case study on building a Community of Practice in maintenance and engineering at CCA.  Four years on my practical application of social learning and all that I learned about effectively enabling it remains relevant, which is why I'm sharing it in my September 2018 newsletter.

For several years I set up and led an Academy  in Supply Chain at Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA). One of the most important things I learned in my time with CCA was how to effectively use social learning to add strategic value to an organisation.

In October 2014 I spoke at the Learning At Work conference held in Sydney, Australia about my development as a social learning practitioner, and how this impacted the application of social learning in my business unit.  If you want to harness the power of social learning more intentionally and effectively this case study about the evolution of how I got strategic with social learning will give you ideas and pointers. 

I am now available to work with your organisation to develop and implement effective approaches to help your people to connect with others inside and outside your organisation who have common interests, challenges and opportunities.  This enables them them to solve problems, improve processes and innovate together creating a high performance environment and impacting business results. Contact me at michelle@michelleockers.com or call me on +61 404 899 532.

A Moment of Insight

My reflection as I prepared to present at the conference and how this triggered an insight that shifted how I was using social learning.

When I was approached to speak at this conference an organiser asked me to describe what I was doing that may be of interest to the audience. She then wrote a session description and gave it a title. Unusually, this was not sent to me for review before the conference brochure was published. I was surprised by the session title that she chose - "Sneaking In The Social." Gosh, I thought I was experimenting and role modelling!

Reflecting on the title and preparing this presentation was a turning point - it was time to move from 'sneaking' to 'enabling'. It was two months before the conference, and I wanted something useful to share. I decided to get strategic with social learning. CCA adopted the 702010 framework at least four years ago, however we had applied social learning in a limited fashion in the context of this framework. In April 2014 we added 'continuous workplace learning' as an explicit element of our Supply Chain Capability strategy which expanded the endorsed role of our Capability team beyond structured learning programs to supporting informal learning. In September 2014 we defined a specific social learning initiative to contribute to a high priority initiative in our business unit strategy. This was the point at which we moved from experimenting with social learning to enabling it.

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