Archive for category Work Connect & Learn

Promoting Twitter for Professional Development – approaches and resources

Jane Hart runs an annual online survey of learning professionals to identify the Top 100 Tools for Learning.  Twitter has been voted as the No. 1 tool in this survey for the past seven years.  In the past two years it has transformed my professional development, and I take every opportunity to encourage others in my organisation and profession to use Twitter.

Twitter Top 100.jpg

In this post I share some approaches and resources that I have used to help others to get started with Twitter.  I have run informal group sessions inside my organisation, and a pre-Conference ‘learning lounge’ at the 2016 Australian Institute of Training and Development Conference.   Recently I’ve included resources on why and how to use Twitter in a self-directed micro-learning program created to build digital and network skills and habits in my organisation.  Additionally, on-the-spot opportunities frequently arise to discuss Twitter and show people how to get started.

Explain the Why

To the uninitiated, Twitter, along with other social media platforms, can appear to be a place where people go for gossip, celebrities and cat videos – in short, a waste of time.  This is why it’s important to focus on the WHY and bust some myths before moving to the HOW to use Twitter. This is as true for group presentations as it is for spontaneous discussions.  Helen Blunden of Activate Learning Solutions discusses this more fully in her blog post How Do You Start Out in Twitter? Find the Why First.

One Hour Customised Workshop

I ran my first one hour Twitter workshop as part of a ‘lunch and learn’ professional development series in early 2015.  I searched for existing resources and found Helen Blunden’s post on How to Promote Twitter for Professional Development to Your Colleagues.  I downloaded her slide pack, updated it to reflect changes to the Twitter interface since her post, and customised it.  Customisation included stories of my own experience and the opportunities that had  been created actively engaging with others on Twitter and building my network.  I included Twitter profile pictures of the people involved in my stories, explaining how I had built my relationship with them and the way we had collaborated.  This was the most powerful part of my presentation as it illustrated the spirit of generosity and reciprocity that can be generated in online networks over time.  I could see the light bulbs going on for people.  I also identified Twitter accounts relevant to my audience so I could suggest useful people and organisations for them to follow.

See Helen’s post for tips on how to promote and attract people to your event.

During the session I moved between the PowerPoint material, demonstrating things on my laptop, and supporting people to try things out on their laptop or devices. I had another experienced Twitter user present to help support people – it’s important to have enough support to get people hands-on during the session.

You can view my presentation below and download it to update and customise it if you would like to use it.  If you compare it to Helen’s presentation you’ll see where I have re-used versus customised content.

Half Hour Pre-Event Demonstration

The AITD invited me to run an informal 30 minute ‘learning lounge’ on the morning of Day One of their 2016 conference.  The intent was to encourage and equip attendees to join in the conversation on the backchannel.  What a great initiative!  Instead of just telling conference-goers that they should use Twitter, it equips them to get started and gives them an active conversation to join in so they can see benefits immediately.

I was unsure how many people would attend a session at 8.30am prior to Conference kick off.  The session had been included on the conference agenda, and one of the AITD team told me that whenever they responded to a query about the conference they had encouraged people to come along.  They must have done a good job at this – there was around 80-100 people at the session!  I checked existing Twitter experience with the group and what they hoped to get from the session.  It was great to see some active users who had come to support those new to Twitter.  Others had signed up several years prior, but not known how to use the platform effectively.  Several people did not yet have accounts.  So, a mixed group.

Instead of using a slide pack I demonstrated directly from my iPad which I projected using a lightning to VGA adapter (a little pricey at AUD$75, but a useful tool).  I chose to project from a mobile device rather than a laptop as attendees would be using mobile devices during the Conference.  My goal was to quickly get people comfortable enough with ways of engaging with others on Twitter (e.g posting, replying, retweeting, quoting tweets, using hashtags) that they would follow and start participating in the #AITD2016 backchannel.

You can download the session run script.  I followed it fairly closely and found that it flowed well.  I had been concerned that there wouldn’t be enough content in the backchannel before the conference had started to demonstrate some of the functionality so had asked some of my Twitter buddies to post.  It turned out there was plenty of content to use, so it was easy to demonstrate everything in the script.  I only just got through everything on the script in 30 minutes, and didn’t have time to check that novices were hands-on trying things as I demonstrated.  I did offer to provide individual help to anyone who needed it after the session, and provided a job aid for iOS mobile devices.  Note that the Twitter interface does change over time, so suggest you check this job aid (created May 2015) before reusing it.

Although not in the script some people were interested in how to use Twitter lists, so I demonstrated this in an extra five minutes at the end of the session.  Lists are a very useful filtering mechanism, although a little advanced for an introductory demonstration.

Self-Directed Learning

In my organisation we have been developing a self-directed micro-learning version of our Work Connect and Learn program.  This program aims to build digital, networking and knowledge management skills and habits.  Program ‘modules’ are shown below.

WCL Topics

Twitter is included as a topic under ‘Online Networking Tools’ in the Connect and Network module.  Justine Jardine has done a great job curating and presenting content in the program.  We’ve applied a ‘less is more’ philosophy, providing just enough commentary to introduce a topic and links to resources for people to explore independently, plus suggested activities.  (As an aside, a discussion forum is provided for people to respond to some activities and interact as they wish as they complete the program and try out new approaches and tools.)

The list of topics and links to curated resources is below, followed by the suggested activity.

WCL Twitter Activity

How About You?

Have you used any of these approaches to encourage and support people to get started using Twitter for professional development?  Perhaps you’ve used other approaches?  What are your observations and tips?  Please leave a comment in reply.

 

 

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Work, Connect & Learn Program Q&A

Community logo with textIn September I delivered a webinar on the Work Connect and Learn (WCL) program for the 702010 Forum.  Helen Blunden, who developed and facilitated the first program delivery, co-presented.  While the webinar recording is only available to 702010 Forum members, the presentation content was largely drawn from posts we had each made as part of the evolving Community of Practice case study hosted on my blog.  There were a lot of questions raised during the webinar which we weren’t able to respond to so I have posted responses below.

Q: How long has the program been up and running? How many employees are currently in this program

We have run the program twice – in February / March 2015, and April / May 2015. Since then we have been supporting application of the skills and behaviours covered in the program through ongoing Communities of Practice.

250 people participated across the two programs – 200 in the first and 50 in the second. In hindsight, the first group was too big and diverse for us to effectively support and properly engage everyone as a ‘community’ in the program. Note that it was the diversity and different entry level of skill with online tools rather than the group size that created the biggest challenges for keeping all participants fully engaged in the program. The second group had a clearer common practice / domain area and similar entry level skills. We were able to track and enable participation more effectively with this group.

Q: What program did you utilise to facilitate the webinars, and did you record them for individuals to view at a later date? Also, were the webinars interactive, or more of a presentation?

We ran the webinars using Lync (now called Skype for Business). We recorded webinars, put them (unlisted) on YouTube and posted links to recordings in SharePoint discussion forums. This was particularly helpful in a shift environment to people whose work shifts precluded attending scheduled sessions. The webinars were a mix of presentation and interaction. Lync/Skype for Business includes chat, polls and whiteboards. Some webinar activities were conducted using MS OneNote (wiki functionality). We also used teleconference during the webinars so we could have verbal discussions without intranet bandwidth challenges. We deliberately used our day to day corporate tools.

Q: From a planning perspective- how long did it take to build the WCL

The analysis / performance consulting phase occurred in November 2014, design in December 2015, and development of both the program and the online community spaces was complete in early February 2015. Taking into account the Christmas break, this amounted to one month for analysis and approximately two months for design and development.

Q: What were the challenges in creating the shift to this type of learning?

Some of our people don’t spend a lot of time at a computer or use mobile devices as they work. In this case it’s difficult to establish convenient habits and ways of engaging in online knowledge sharing and collaboration. Even where people have good access to technology, for many using SharePoint and mobile tools for learning were quite new. However, through the program people realised that they have collaborative tools at their fingertips which they can use in their work practices.

The other challenge is to help people develop habits to check and use the forums, think to ask a question or share what they are doing. In the second version of the program we put a lot more emphasis on activities to help people form habits.

Q: Do the maintenance personnel have their own computers at work, do they share computers, etc?  What is the access to the technology needed?

See the question above. Our maintenance personnel will be moving to mobile mobile devices in 2016 as part of introducing a mobility app for our core maintenance management system. To support this initiative we will provide training/hand-holding on use of the mobile devices, and will also run a tailored version Work Connect and Learn for this group.

Q: What role, if any, did managers play in helping to create and/or facilitate this culture of learning?

WCL has now been delivered to two groups. For the first group, our Maintenance and Engineering Community, managers participated alongside team members. Their participation was important to role model behaviours and encourage others to engage in collaborative learning and working. For the second group, our Systems Community, managers were not participants.

Because this style of learning and working is different to previous approaches we have used, we developed a change management plan which started with engaging the managers as a first step. We held teleconference discussions with them prior to commencing each of the programs so they were aware of the aims and what they could do to support their team members to get the most out of the program. We provided them posters and talking points so they could introduce the program to their teams and discuss their commitment to it before launch.

We have also followed up with managers to keep them abreast of what is happening in the Communities of Practice on an ongoing basis and to specifically seek support at times (e.g. ‘Did you see this post from your team member – it’s great – you might want to leave a comment to support them.’)

Q: What about keeping the community going after the program, community management/facilitation – who is taking the lead on that?

The National Engineering and Maintenance Managers facilitate this community with support from the Academy. We ran a coaching program on community facilitation for these people.

The Systems community is facilitated by Academy team members in conjunction with 1 or more Super Users from within the business. The closer level of involvement of the Academy is due to the tight integration of the Community of Practice with our internal systems certification program.

Q How much intervention is required to keep it going – to have it self managing?

We are not yet at the point where any of our communities are ‘self-managing’. We’re considering creating a ‘Community and Knowledge Manager’ role to increase focus on building effective Communities of Practice.

Q: What was the name of the gamification that you used?

We didn’t have a gamification platform to use and the native SharePoint community gamification didn’t suit our purpose.  So we kept the game simple and tracked it manually.

Q: Have people used video to show their work practices and share them across the geographic areas?

In our Systems community some people have made screencasts. In our maintenance community short videos are sometimes posted to illustrate equipment problems and fixes. Our maintenance people have sometimes used FaceTime to show each other what is happening on a production line to help with troubleshooting.

Q: Is the shared learning moderated to ensure consistency and quality?

Consistency and quality comes from generating an open sharing, learning and working environment within the community. There is no screening or review of discussion forum or newsfeed posts before they are ‘publicly’ viewable. The intent is to surface and clarify misinformation or misunderstanding and utilise the expertise available in the community to provide accurate information or better ways of doing things – or to co-create these.

There is an element of moderation on the ‘Knowledge Bites’ which are user-generated ‘how to guide’s and similar content. However the moderation is undertaken in public view. A traffic light system is used to highlight content in development, under expert review and where expert review has been completed.

Q: What has been the feedback from the participants?

I am preparing a blog post to summarise program evaluation. In the meantime, high level summary of what participants found useful and suggested improving after the first delivery of WCL is below. Overall the program was well received by those who had good daily access to the tools needed to participate.

Useful Improvements
Tools & how to use them

Awareness of new ways of working, connecting & learning

Connecting to others

Social networking

Knowledge sharing

Access to information

Target audience was too wide

Access to tools by tradespeople

More interaction in webinars

Support resources / job aids

Follow on support for continued learning

Technical problems with early webinars

Q: Can you enlighten us on what the specific performance outcomes were as these are quite hard to define.

Refer to this post for more detail on the evaluation approach and performance outcomes / metrics used for the program and communities of practice.

Q: You mentioned measurement before, during and after. How long after did you measure impact and what did you learn?

Refer to this blog post for an overview of the evaluation approach. I will soon add a post on evaluation immediately after the WCL program. Refer to this post for a medium term view of how our communities of practice are progressing.

Q: I’m interested to know if CCA has seen a shift in engagement and performance as a result of these initiatives?

Shifting a learning culture and embedding knowledge sharing into work practices takes time. We have seen specific examples of improvements in work practices and processes, although could not yet make a link between the program / communities of practice and overall business unit performance or engagement. The results have been encouraging enough that our management team is supportive of continuing with our social learning initiatives.

Q: How would you scale this type of program to other areas in the business?

One way is to develop a self-directed curated version of the program, as described in response to the question above.

A ‘public version’ of the guided social learning program could also be run that supports the development of skills for collaborative working and learning in the network era without activities being linked to a specific community of practice.

Q: When wouldn’t this approach work? What sort of things would you definitely not use this approach for?

Compliance training needs more ‘control’ than a semi-structured community-based social learning approach provides. Hands-on novice level job skills would better be suited to on the job training supported by performance support resources such as job aids and checklists. Beyond these two instances knowledge sharing and collaboration supported by networks and communities offer significant advantages over ‘training’.

Refer to previous answers regarding access to computers or mobile devices, plus basic familiarity with the tools used. This familiarity can be developed via preliminary learning / support activities before commencing the full WCL program.

Q: What are the next steps for this program?

There are several things we are now doing with this program to reuse and adapt it:

  • Curating key content for self-directed use by both people who have completed WCL and need refresher or performance support, or for independent use across the business.
  • Updating the social guided learning version of the program to support the launch of additional, targeted communities after our peak Christmas season.
  • Adding preliminary components to support people to develop familiarity and confidence with mobile and online technology as a pre-requisite to the WCL program.

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