Archive for category Social Learning

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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Social Learning Skills Review

Personal Social Learning Skills

I last reviewed my social learning skills in March 2014 when I commenced the Social Learning Practitioner Program.  In this time I have become a regular user of Twitter for professional development and networking, and shared examples of my work as an organisational learning practitioner on this blog and through webinars and conference presentations.  My post on Becoming A Social Learning Practitioner summarises key social learning activities and tools that I now use on an ongoing basis.  Of these, the ones I use most often are:

* Twitter – for fluid networking, sharing of resources, participation in Twitter chats and conference backchannels

* Feedly – a reader that collates posts on blogs that I follow plus presents resources from Google Alerts that I have set up

* Diigo – to bookmark links and summaries of online resources on topics I am researching, or that I may want to use in future

* Evernote – to gather my thoughts on topics and projects

I particularly enjoyed Harold Jarche’s online Personal Knowledge Management course (PKM in 40 days) and find the seek-sense-share model a useful framework to organise my ongoing learning activities.  I would like to improve my learning by establishing a daily / weekly / monthly routine of seek-sense-share and ‘housekeeping’ activities.

I have also become more resourceful in using the internet to find resources to learn new skills or address performance problems.  I also draw upon my larger, more diverse professional network to seek specific resources or answers to questions.  Opportunities have started to arise to collaborate online with others, and I’m looking forward to co-hosting an asynchronous Twitter book chat #LrnBk commencing 19 January

Team Social Learning Skills

I have been applying my social learning skills in my workplace and introducing some of the tools and practices to the Capability Community in my business unit.  In the ten months since I last reviewed my team’s social learning skills the group has largely continued to communicate and support each other in the same way – via email, phone and teleconferences.

We upgraded from SharePoint 2010 to 2013 mid last year, and have been migrating shared files from servers to SharePoint document libraries.  This has moved us to a common document repository, and increased sharing of links to documents and document-centred collaboration.  A OneNote notebook has been added to our SharePoint site which we have started using like a wiki to keep meeting notes and project status information.  These are extensions of existing ways of working, hence not a big leap for the group to take.

WOL BarriersWorking Out Loud is a bigger change in behaviours and work practices.  There has been a slight increase in people talking about what they are working on and sharing resources using SharePoint, and we have completely replaced status reporting with knowledge sharing in our fortnightly Lync meeting/teleconference sessions.

Common comments about Working Out Loud online reflect the need to build desire, support new behaviours and develop skills across the group to fluidly use our online space to connect, share resources, and collaborate to solve problems and improve work practices.  I shall soon post about the Work, Connect and Learn guided social learning program that we will launch in mid-February to enable this.

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2015 Blogging Goals

Goals

My Goals for this blog in 2015 are:

  1. Complete the Social Learning Practitioner Program – write at least one blog post for each activity (by March 2015)
  2. Support completion of 702010 Practitioner Certification through the 702010 Forum
  3. Reflect on what I am doing in work and professional development, the results I am getting, and develop action plans for improvement; hold myself accountable by reviewing progress against these plans
  4. Deepen learning from other activities (especially conferences, webinars, Twitter chats and reading)
  5. Build and contribute to my Personal Learning Network
  6. Build a long-term archive that I can use to remember what I’m learning and see differences over time (my thanks to Sacha Chua for this goal – it’s from “A No-Excuses Guide to Blogging” which I am using as a resource to improve my blogging).

Key Topics I will focus on this year (yes, I do intend to be focussed this year…):

  • social learning
  • showing your work / working out loud
  • Communities of Practice
  • Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs)

Specific Improvements I will make to my blogging:

  • shorter posts
  • more frequent posts – minimum two per month
  • visual representation of content, especially Sketchnotes and mind maps (I am a novice so expect big learning curve)
  • create and maintain outlines to sustain pipeline of blog posts

What about my SharePoint blog on the internal ESN?

To minimise duplication of effort I shall write as much as possible on my public blog and link from SharePoint where the subject matter supports organisational goals (which should be the majority of posts).

Additionally I will use Sharepoint blog to:

  • communicate internally about Supply Chain Technical Academy activities and programs (Monday Weekly Wrap / Featured Program)
  • encourage others within my organisation to show their work / work out loud ( post daily tips as a micro-learning flow)
  • acknowledge and thank others (especially, but not exclusively, through Thank You Thursday campaign)
  • share links to relevant external resources (similar to Harold Jarche’s “Friday’s Finds“)

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