Practice Makes Perfect, or at Least Expert

The premise of Tony Schwartz’s article is that any talent, skill or ability can be developed like a muscle, that is by working it out, by pushing past the comfort zone, breaking it and then resting. It reminds me very much like Steven Covey’s 7th habit, Sharpen the Saw.

Schwartz refers to Aristotle’s “We are what we repeatedly do” explaining that repetition and practice is the key to real performance improvement as well as overall benefits for focussing, being creative, empathic and less stressed.

If you want to be really good at something, it’s going to involve relentlessly pushing past your comfort zone, along with frustration, struggle, setbacks and failures. That’s true as long as you want to continue to improve, or even maintain a high level of excellence. The reward is that being really good at something you’ve earned through your own hard work can be immensely satisfying.

Here, then, are the six keys to achieving excellence we’ve found are most effective for our clients:

  1. Pursue what you love.
  2. Do the hardest work first.
  3. Practice intensely.
  4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses.
  5. Take regular renewal breaks.
  6. Ritualize practice.

He details these keys in his post, giving tips on how one might start on this path of self-improvement.

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Social Networks for Lifelong Learners

Jeff Cobb recommends 20 social networks for lifelong learners. He states that:

When most people think of social networks, they think of Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or similar sites, but there are many other types of social networks popping up on the web. Some of the fastest growing networks are designed specifically for education. These sites allow people to learn in a social context through discussion, file sharing, and collaboration.

While many are school-based networks, the following I find are well geared towards workplace learning:

LearnCentral – LearnCentral is an open environment that is half social network and half learning community. The site can be used to create courses, host meetings, connect with other education enthusiasts, and find learning resources

Udemy – Udemy encourages members to teach and learn online using the site’s many free tools and applications. Members can create their own online courses or search for courses that have been created and posted by other people.

Academici – This web-based site for academics and knowledge workers makes it easy to network, collaborate, and conduct commerce online. Members can post articles, share resources, and much more.

Academia.edu – Academia.edu is an online community that helps academics connect with colleagues and follow the latest research. Members can also share their own research and be notified when someone searches for them on Google.

iMantri – iMantri is a peer-to-peer community for people who are seeking mentors or offering coaching in a particular area. Members can use the site’s tools to assess their competencies and find people who are either willing to help or in need of help.

Check out Jeff’s full list for other novel sites for life-long learners.

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

Innovation: The Top 50 Inventions of the Past 50 Years

Absolutely fascinating.

Of course the jet airplane and in-vitro fertilization are there.

But what surprised me was that GPS technology is around since 1978! And even more surprising, to find high-yield rice. You *do* learn something new every day!

To select the 50 most pioneering inventions of the past 50 years, PM consulted 25 authorities at 17 museums and universities across the country. Their collective expertise spans aeronautics, biology, physics, medicine, automobiles and technology. An initial call for suggestions resulted in a list of 100 inventions, which was then circulated for a formal vote and reduced via a points system determined by each expert’s top picks. Any such list is open to debate, of course.

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The Nature and Structure of Communities of Practice

The following is the introduction to an article that Keith De La Rue wrote wich was published in the KM Review (KM Review | Volume 11 Issue 5 | November/December 2008).

It echoes a lot of sentiments that I have about the nature and needs for sustainability of communities of practice.

Very insightful.

The theory and practice of communities

Despite everything that the modern KM practitioner knows about communities, collaboration and technology, communities of practice (CoPs) often fail and collaboration often breaks down. In order to establish an effective CoP, it’s necessary first to think about the nature and structure of a community and recognize that it’s an entirely different entity from a work group or a project team. As such, it must be treated differently, too. In this article, author Keith De La Rue examines the pitfalls associated with CoPs and why helping them to grow and flourish requires a better understanding of three words: “community”, “practice” and “technology”.

Read the full article (PDF)

Similarly, I refer back to a post I made earlier this year about Lilia Efimova’s diagram distinguishing a community of practice from a team or a network.

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A Practical Guide To Implementing Professional Development

Yesterday I blogged about the rippling impact of professional development. Today, I share with you a resource I found.

This Continuing Professional Development (CPD) strategy, framework and employer’s guide is published by Skills for Care and the Children’s Workforce Development Council, and Skills for Care’s 2009 CPD case studies publication. Though it is destined to all employers in adult social care in England, it provides an excellent model for anyone wanting to develop their own strategy.

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

Learning Management Skills

One of the areas where I’ve often seen people struggle is when they move from being technical experts to managing a project team. The following article which addresses moving from technical expertize to management expertize is one of a series of phenomenal articles which can be found at http://www.mindtools.com/.

Any management promotion can be a challenge, but it’s especially hard on people with strong technical skills, but who have little or no management experience. In this article, we’ll explore how to make the transition, and what you can do to excel in your new role. We’ll also include links to several other resources that can help you strengthen the skills you need for success.

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E-Learning Study Shows Rippling Impact of Professional Development

ScienceDaily reports on Boston College researchers who engaged in large-scale randomized experiments with the purpose of studying the impact of online professional development for teachers who aimed at improving their instructional practices as well as their subject matter knowledge. In the e-Learning for Educators: Effects of Online Professional Development on Teachers and their Students study, what they observed was not only that engaging in professional development had an impact on the teachers’ performance, but that it had a rippling impact on their student’s achievements.

Boston College Associate Professor of Education Laura O’Dwyer reported that:

“The studies also show that teacher participation in online professional development can translate into improvements in targeted student outcomes.”

In addition, study Director Lynch School Associate Professor Michael Russell stated that:

“Given the positive effects found across these studies, it is reasonable to expect that on-line professional development is an effective strategy for supporting teaching in difficult-to-staff content areas, like mathematics and science.”

One could easily transpose these findings to the workplace training world and make a case for the importance of professional development of training professionals. The more we know, the more we can help.

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

How Some HR & Training Professionals are Informing their Practice with Research

Last night I attended a CSTD event focussing on how Research Meets Practice and how some HR & Training Professionals are informing their practice with research. I personally attended 3 of the 5 sessions (which was the formula for the evening).

Dali Hammouch, Senior Advisor-Capability Development, Rio Tinto, discussed on the impact of space on human dynamics and had us reflect on the importance of the physical spaces of the environments in which we learn. Dali is interested in how the configuration of training or meeting environments enhance or hinder communication. Fascinated by the results of his own experience, he decided to look at studies in human and physical geography in order to inform the way in which he set up his environments.

Saul Carliner, Associate Professor, Concordia University, discussed the perception of customers of workplace learning services that is how do other individuals in the organization perceive training and its overall impact. There are a lot of things we assume about training and how others perceive training efforts but Saul decided to start looking at the research and see what it informed him about perceptions. Surprising results so far!

Kenneth Brown, Associate Professor and Henry B. Tippie Research Fellow, University of Iowa discussed how he leverages theory and research to improve utilization of e-learning. Kenneth draws on the validated theory of behavioural change (transtheoretical model of change) and a theory of technology usage (technology acceptance model) to develop a practical model which aims at predicting e-Learning adoption and use. He is currently testing his model.

Being a huge believer of research into practice, it is encouraging to see how other professionals are focussing on the evidence provided by research into to design environments, make statements or implement programs.

For more information about the importance of research into practice, I dug up the two following blog posts: What Is Scientifically Based Research? by Stephen Downes and The worst of best practices and benchmarking by Clark Quinn.

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

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.

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today