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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Intrinsic and Extrinsic Influences on our Digital Identit(y/ies)

Great reflection piece by Andy Coverdale about Digital Identities.

I’m convinced that both the intrinsic (critical practice) and extrinsic (confessional practice) influences are necessary for properly forming identity. I’m still wondering what the particular influences are in the digital realm. I might have to dig out Sherry Turkle’s Life on the Screen

Coverdalle's Diagram of Postmodernist Social Practices

In researching approaches to digital identity, I recently came across a model which i found particularly interesting. In their schema of experiential learning, Usher, Bryant et al. (1996) describe how lifelong learning can be understood in relation to two continua (autonomy to adaptation, and application to expression) which create four specific contemporary social practices: lifestyle, confessional, vocational, and critical.

The idea of identity formation is particularly evident in the two opposing practices of the confessional and the critical

So how does identity formation within these two practices translate to the formation of digital identities and reputations, and to the representation of self on the social web?

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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

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Learning Communities: e‐Portfolio Edition

Mostly focussed on new graduates, the Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts: Issue 2: e-Portfolio Edition has some great applications for professional communities of practice, collective expertise and talent management.

From the Editorial:

This issue of Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts focuses on the use of digital portfolios, or e-Portfolios to support learning. The series of seven articles evolved from presentations given at the second Australian e-Portfolio Symposium, held in Brisbane in early February 2009. Queensland University of Technology.

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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.

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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.

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7 Keys to Reading Faster

This is actually a blog post from last November from thinksimplenow.com. The irony was that I was so overwhelmed with all the reading I had to do for school at that time that I wasn’t reading my regular favourite blogs 😉

I will be trying out this technique!

Want to read faster?

In this article, I’m going to share the lessons I learned that doubled my reading rate, allowed me to consume over 70 books in a year and made me a smarter reader. I’m also going to destroy some speed-reading myths, to show you it isn’t magic but a skill anyone can learn.

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Visualizing the Transition from Learning 1.0 to Learning 2.0

On the wiki page devoted to VizThink’s Visual Learning Group, Brent Schlenker asked others represent the  transition from Learning 1.0 to Learning 2.0.

I contacted Brent a few weeks ago, manifesting my interest to participate. I’ve got something brewing…

The Evolution of Workplace Learning
The Evolution of Workplace Learning

Peter Stoyko has already come up with an information graphic. It focuses on how social media/Web 2.0 tools have facilitated learning as well as how mapping and graphic/visual facilitation have facilitated learning.

I’m thinking there is a link between the two actually. I believe they feed one another somehow. I’m not sure how to formulate it yet, but it definitely has some of the following elements.

Technological improvements /  Web 2.0 technologies make it easier to:

Can you think of other links? It would most definitely help me out in developping my own information graphic.

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Blog Design Study

Smashing Magazine present their findings of their study of top blogs.

  • Part 1 discusses layout design and typographic settings.
  • Part 2 discusses navigation design, information architecture, advertisements and functionality (RSS-feeds, tag clouds, pagination, etc).

What Smashing Magazine has to say about their study:

We have identified 30 design problems and considered solutions for each of the problems separately. We have posed 30 questions which we would like to answer with our blog survey. Below we present findings of our survey of popular blog designs — the results of an analysis of 50 popular blogs according to Technorati’s Top 100.

Also from Smashing Magazine is their helpful post on 15 Desktop Blogging Tools Reviewed. I actually wrote this post using BlogDesk. Not too bad, just took some getting used to. I will try ScribeFire (a Firefox plugin) for my next post.

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The Capacity to Recall vs. the Capacity to be Resourceful

In a post entitled Brain 2.0 : eLearning Technology, Tony Karrer discusses whether or not it is more important to be knowledge-able rather than knowledgeable. The basic premise is whether or not is more important to:

  • store a bunch of information in our minds that we can recall at any time (recall), or
  • know which information to access, where to find it and how to verify it’s accuracy (resourcefulness)

This reminds me of the research methods class I took a few years back. During one of the first lectures, we learned basic statistical formulas such as alpha coefficient and chi square. Now numbers and I aren’t always friends. I can work through formulas by following instructions but it takes all my concentration to do so and I often make mistakes. I have a tendency to inverse numbers a lot too. Anyhow…

I asked the professor when would it be appropriate to use chi square as opposed to alpha coefficient (I know now that they don’t do the same thing but I’m still not clear on what it is that they do). He answered that it depended on the data and when I would have my data, I’d need to listen to the data. For the exam, all I needed to do is memorize the formulas. Oh boy. That is perhaps when I decided I’d look for a thesis topic that would lend itself well to qualitative inquiry!

I need to learn things in context. If I know why I’m learning something or I have a set use for it, I’m more likely to remember it. So at this time, I can’t remember the formulas for either. But I know that they are available online. The thing is, that right now I have no idea when to use them, nor can I assess the validity of the resource. So I got a B in research methods, lowest grade during my whole MA, but I passed, but not without developing a total aversion to statistics. How absolutely unfortunate.

Tony Karrer refers to Brent Schlenker’s There is no Brain2.0…so why Learning2.0?, where Brent evaluates the pros and the cons of the e in eLearning, something I’ve addressed in another post. He argues that:

We must better understand the learning process in order to create better content and experiences. Its not just behavior that we need to understand. We MUST understand the human brain. (link from original post)

Absolutely, we need to understand how the brain works in order to design better content. If more people did, we’d have less of these page turning eLearning course with information recall assessments at the end of them. We’d create simulations and problem-based learning courses. And if we created these types of courses, perhaps “training” would give individual tools to make contextual decisions rather then be bounded to a set script.

Now I agree with Brent that technology is an important factor and that is where the “e” comes in. However, the technology can be used to store the tools and resources (formulas, language rules, procedures, etc) that we don’t use on a daily basis so that we can concentrate on thinking.

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