Archive for March, 2014

Social Learning Skills Review

As part of the Social Learning Practitioner Program I’ve reviewed my own social learning skills and that of my team. In this post I reflect on my own social learning skills – my next post will look at my team.

Dabbling – and the Impact of Public Transport

Over the past 12-18 months I have been exploring (“dabbling in”?) a range of social networking and learning channels, often as an extension of a face-to-face event such as a conference, course or physical networking activity.  I’m comfortable using the technology of Twitter, LinkedIn and online community platforms.  Until recently I’ve been unsure of the value of putting time into participating in online social networks.  After all, there’s always work deadlines and family commitments, not to mention sneaking in some exercise.  Having recently switched from driving to work to using public transport I decided to do an experiment and spend at least 30 minutes a day online during my commute simply looking around – exploring new information and connections.  Not only have I enjoyed it, I’ve also found the exposure to new ideas stimulating and my increasing competency with online technology very satisfying.

Social Learning Contract & Moving out of Conscious Incompetence

The other concern I’ve had is that I want to be a creator and a contributor – to give more than I take from any space, organisations or groups I’m involved with – which I think Harold Jarche alludes to when he talks of the social learning contract.  And I’ve been unsure of how to achieve this in the online world.  The seek-sense-share model of personal knowledge management advocated by Jarche and Jane Hart appeals to me – figuring out how to do this efficiently in a way that works for me will enable me to contribute, collaborate and create.  I think I’m just moving out of conscious incompetence to a smattering of conscious competence in some aspects of online learning and collaboration.  I’m looking forward to this accelerating by completing the SLPP activities – one baby step at a time.

Network Diversity

The most striking aspect of my personal review is the need for greater diversity in my professional network in order to:

  • access to a wider range of information sources and ideas (improving my ‘seeking’ and ability to solve problems), and
  • increase my opportunities to collaborate with others (improving my sense-making and sharing).  

I’m doing as Dion Hinchcliffe suggests and rethinking how I work in the collaborative era (see Dion’s blog post 2 March 2014).

I’m really excited and motivated by the SLPP program, and looking forward to all of the practical activities coming up!

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Setting Up a Blog and why Blog Anyway?

I have just set up a blog to record and evidence my activities on the Social Learning Practitioner Program.  This is the first time I have set up a blog, so was feeling quite the rookie and prepared for the process to be a bit frustrating.  Which it was to a degree, but I stayed calm (after all computers are rational and logical so I needed to think like one to get it to do what I wanted) and worked my way through the minor technical challenges.

What Platform to Use?

I opened up Jane Hart’s A Practical Guide (PG) to the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013 to get started.  When I read that she uses WordPress for her blog, I figured that this was as good a reason as any to choose it.  Next decision was whether to set up my blog on wordpress.com or wordpress.org – I followed the PG link to What’s The Difference Between Running Your Blog on WordPress.com & WordPress.org (a helpful, clear article).  I learned that with the full control that WordPress.org provides comes the need to do more for yourself and heightened security risks.  As I’ve got a lot of different online technical skills to develop, I opted for the simpler WordPress.com, although I followed the recommendation and paid to get the domain name ‘michelleockers.com’ rather than ‘michellockers.wordpress.com’ – for the reason that I don’t know what I may want to do with the blog in the future and the latter option means I keep the SEO value and traffic I build up (gotta dream a little!).  Had a false start at this point and ended up with both domain names.  I couldn’t figure out how to cancel the ‘wordpress.com’ domain name (if you know how to do this please leave a comment), so will just ignore it for the time being and focus on this blog.

Customisation

I chose ‘Fusion’ as it’s free and plain.  At this stage I’d rather focus on content and functionality than a fancy appearance.  I liked the monochrome colours as I can add a burst of any colour I choose through other media.  While there were only a few other items that I could customise without handing over more money – static or dynamic front page display, title, tagline, header image (no colour options on this theme) – this step quickly became about the questions of what my choices communicated about me and why I want to blog.

My Purpose and My Blog

While knowing that I can change the site title, tagline and header image at any time reduced the pressure to ‘get it right’ first time, I still wanted these elements to say something about me and why I am blogging.  Harold Jarche’s post how blogging changed my life for the better resonated with me.  For many years I’ve been clear on my overarching purpose – ‘to continuously learn and support others to learn.’ Blogging is a tool that I think will be tremendously valuable in living this purpose.

I want to blog:

1. To learn – to consciously SEEK new ideas and information that I can use now or in the near future (or that simply grabs my attention and who knows where it may lead) and to make SENSE of it – to consider it, think about it, connect it and figure out what it means for me or for others I am connected to.

2. To connect – to reach out to others, engage in conversations, and build my network (which means I am then able to learn more too).

3. To contribute – to support others to learn, grow and achieve their goals, either intentionally through applying what I learn or through the connections I make, or serendipitously and perhaps never knowing that I have helped someone else through sharing on my blog, or sharing ideas developed through my blog.

I trust that my customisation choices reflect something of these aspirations.

As for the experience of writing my first blog post – my inner critic is telling me it’s  “too long”, but then at this stage it’s mainly for me, and I did learn some new technical skills and clarified why I am blogging, so it’s probably just right.

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