Computers as Catalysts for Humanizing the Learning Experience

This TED Talks Video by Salman Khan is perhaps the most compelling case for technology-assisted learning, peer-to-peer learning and learning communities (and by extension, communities of practice) that I’ve ever seen. In fact, educational philanthropist Bill Gates liked Khan’s idea so much, he invested 1.5 million dollars into it.

This 20 minute video is truly inspiring and entertaining to watch. It focuses on K-12 students but I’m sure you’ll all make the leap on how this works with adults and professionals.

What is truly inspiring is his message of computers as a catalyst for humanizing the learning experience, which is a refreshing change from the message that it dehumanizes learning.

Online Gaming and Social Media: Everyone Is Doing It and So Should You

The big news in my RSS reader this morning was the Nielsen Report that Internet users, more specifically American ones, prefer online gaming and socializing to e-mail.

 

Some of the headlines regarding this news called for a crackdown by American businesses to protect their bottom line from employees abusing the Internet. This has merit to a certain degree, but this is much more related to organizational culture than anything.

Rather, I’d say forward-thinking organizations should leverage the fact that individuals are using more complex and social media and use it to their advantage. With so many adopters, there really is no excuse for organizations to resist using technology as a means for enhancing learning and development.

References:

Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

5 Ways to Use Social Media for Professional Development

It is interesting to see Byrony Taylor’s take on how to use social media for professional development. I personally don’t listen to podcasts (number 3) but I do all the others most definitely. I would add that I also use Amplify, Twitter and LinkedIn as professional development tools.

  1. Be part of an online community
  2. Attend a conference or an event remotely
  3. Listen to podcasts
  4. Take part in a tutorial or watch a video
  5. Start writing a blog

Reference:

Are We Using the Term Social Learning too Loosely?

I’m glad that the always thought-provoking Janet brought this up. There comes a time when we need to really look at what the activity of learning really is. It is nice to find a new model every day that explains what X might be but unless we are truly analysing these models, implementing them, testing them, juxtaposing them, really, all we are doing is surfing the Web.

And as a side note, very few people I know have the chutzpah to title their blogpost “The clusterfuck known as social learning”. 😉

Janet quotes Gary Woodill:

Learning through the use of social media is a set of implicit assumptions that if people are using something called “social media”, then “social learning” must be taking place. This is a confusion of the means with the ends.

I think, when it comes to the new social learning crowd, we’ve got us a case of groupthink. I’ll be the first to say I’ve been part of the problem. However, I think we’ve got to slow down before we flood search engines with models that are not models and definitions grounded in little more than what someone else said.

Reference:

The Importance of Learning in Talent Management Strategy

Cornerstone OnDemand has published a new white paper titled “Failing to Learn: Why Learning is Critical to Strategic Talent Management.”

Focussed on best practices, the paper addresses how learning is essential for:

  • Onboarding: Avoid making new hires sink or swim in your organization.
  • Performance: Develop employees in the middle, not just high and low performers.
  • Succession: Do more than just identify skill gaps, actually address them.
  • Compensation: It’s not just about the money.
  • Social networking: Don’t hide the knowledge and expertise in your organization.

Talent management can empower your employees to thrive and help your organization retain them. But the irony is that most talent management solutions are missing the one critical component that will make that business impact a reality – learning.

Reference:

How Social Media, Organizational Dynamics and Social Change will Shape Communities of Practice over The Next 10 Years

Social Media has changes many things, including the way experts envisage online communities of practice. The following is Cormac Heron’s account of leading author and expert Richard McDermott’s reflections on how Communities of Practice have evolved and where they are headed.

Richard McDermott was there to give a bit of his background in personal and professional experiences of the last 20 years. 10 years ago they thought that these were the main characteristics of online communities:

  • Informal
  • Voluntary
  • Independent of an organisation
  • Some face-to-face occurrences
  • Passionate Leader
  • Supported
  • Light-handed management

But on revisiting them consequently the following were thought to be more relevant:

  • Goals were set out
  • Governance
  • Reporting to the highest level
  • Integrated into organisation
  • Passionate Leadership
  • Part of the actual job description

According to Heron, Richard then ended his keynote by hitting them all with this stonker:

How will the emergence of new social media, current organisational dynamics and social change shape the role and impact of communities over the next 10 years.

Reference:

A Qualitative Study of Five Authors of Five Blogs on Training and Development

A qualitative study of five authors of five blogs on training and development is my thesis which was defended on August 26 2008 and submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Arts (Educational Technology), Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Abstract

This study analyzed what it means to be a blogger in the field of training and development—an edublogger—as well as the credibility of blogs intended for the training community. The specific research questions were posed from the insider’s or emic perspective. The objective of this study was to attempt to paint a portrait of an edublogger and uncover areas for further research.

A phenomenological qualitative research design methodology was used in an attempt to observe the connections between edubloggers and their readers, which is in harmony of the spirit of the blogs as well as to understand the essence of experiences in the blogosphere. A grounded theory was constructed from a cross-case analysis—case studies were developed using interview transcripts of the 5 bloggers and artefact analysis of each of their blogs over a 4-month period—with the intention of identifying key phenomena.

Common themes related to the edubloggers’ motivations, writing style, community building and other general practices were uncovered as. In addition, a substantial set of emerging questions specifically relating to readership and the qualitative assessment of blog content were noted.

Update March 1, 2010: My thesis has been published into a book entitlted Edublogging: A Qualitative Study of Training and Development Bloggers