Learning


Visualize a solution that not only allows you to chat with other participants, but also enables you to view their social profiles and “friend” them. Imagine a solution that also lets you add your own links and related information, which then become part of the final archive.

-David Wilkins, Learning 2.o and Workplace Communities
T&D Magazine, April 2009

Social learning paradiseGuess what? WebJunction already has those essential elements to build a rich social learning environment. Back in March, I announced an e-learning experiment at WebJunction, in which we focused our social tools on an online course about customer service. The results are in and summarized in The Social Learning Puzzle: Putting the pieces together.

Wilkins and I share a vision of “establishing a true learning culture where all employees are actively engaged in both the teaching and learning processes.” But what the Wilkins article misses in its enthusiasm is the reality that providing nifty tools is not enough. There are barriers to the adoption of the whole notion of engaged online learning. As I said in my summary,the active participants in the cohort had an enriched learning experience, but the majority of the initial group did not engage.

I believe in the vision and I’m taking it step by step toward social learning paradise. If you have anything to share on the topic, please let me know. (info (at) webjunction.org attn: gutsche)

Webinar: Libraries as Learning Organizations
When: Tuesday, May 26, 2009, Time: 2:00pm – 3:30pm (EDT)
Co-sponsored by CLENERT and WebJunction
Registration Link: http://evanced.info/webjunction/evanced/eventsignup.asp?ID=1592

What makes a library a learning organization? What does it take to build an organization-wide commitment to team and individual learning? Why make the effort, especially in these economic times?

Our panelists, representing libraries at different mileposts on the road to becoming learning organizations, are finding their own answers to these questions and will share challenges, strategies, and successes about the four Bs of the journey:

  • BENEFITS of a learning culture
  • BUILDING the environment
  • BEING a learning champion
  • BEYOND to sustainability.

Hear ways to use technology appropriately to enable faster, more personalized learning and to institutionalize knowledge sharing. Because most learning occurs on the job, at the point of need, you will discover ways to create a positive performance environment.

Even if your library is not yet moving in this direction, you will take away ideas that you can use immediately to implement learning solutions individually and organizationally.

Panelists:

  • Sandra Smith, Training and Development Manager, Denver Public Library
  • Michele Leininger, Information Experience Director,Pierce County Library
  • Elizabeth Iaukea, Learning Manager, Pierce County Library
  • Julia Lanham, Human Resources, Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

Registration Link: http://evanced.info/webjunction/evanced/eventsignup.asp?ID=1592

I finally seized the opportunity to see Edward Tufte deliver his one-day workshop Presenting Data and Information. Due to his rockstar reputation, I had some overblown expectations—something more theatrical, with flashy graphics, head stands, perhaps a light show? I spent the first two hours feeling a bit let down until I realized how antipodal his message is to the marketing flash of someone like Seth Godin. Tufte’s presentation is all about delivering substantive content that is cognitively engaging—an approach that he modeled expertly, sans bells and whistles. While I had overestimated Tufte’s histrionics, he did not underestimate my (his audience’s) intelligence.

The workshop is directed more toward those in the business world who need to present data and information to address engineering problems, inform budget decisions, and the like. However, I found a couple of take-aways for trainer-facilitators.

1. The Super Graphic (or Return of the Handout)

There is a tendency (especially in online learning) to reduce data and information to a minimal amount per screen, or to stretch data sets out over a series of screens. This is driven necessarily by the compact pixel real estate of the computer monitor, but the outcome is to shrink information toward meaninglessness or to confound the viewer’s cognitive ability to make comparisons and draw conclusions by scattering the inputs and forcing super-human acts of memorizing.

Enter the SUPER GRAPHIC! This is a printed, efficiently annotated graphic, dense with data, legal size or larger, that allows the learner to scan the entirety of an information set, make comparisons from proximal visual, numerical and textual information, and derive informed, self-propelled conclusions. This kind of information presentation could/should accompany most online training. Many courses include downloadable handouts of resources as more of an addendum than an integral part of the learning. Why not design a course around a super graphic, using the online portion to direct the learner’s attention, inject probing questions, and allow interactions to demonstrate the successful intake of knowledge?

2. Give the learner time to think

Several times during the workshop, Tufte asked the audience to study a data set or super graphic in one of his books, which we all had stacked in front of us. And then he stopped talking. Attention was not focused on the stage but on the pages of our books. There were some low murmurs of people sharing observations but the room of 400+ was otherwise quiet. This went on for five minutes—an eternity of “dead air” in broadcast parlance.

This was an aha! moment for me. Not only is it okay to give learners some studying-thinking time during instruction, it empowers them to absorb, reflect, and contribute to the formation of knowledge. It allows real learning to take place. Isn’t that more important than filling up every second of audio space?

Do I recommend going to see Tufte’s presentation next time he’s in your neighborhood? Sure! Yes, you can buy all the books for approximately half the price of the workshop, but you would miss the directed tour through the material and you would miss Tufte’s modeling of effective delivery.

Elliott Masie has just released his Learning Resources Barometer, the results of a survey to determine how learning budgets and resources are enduring the tough economic times.

The survey measures the increase or decrease in:

  • learning budgets
  • learning departments
  • volume of elearning modules
  • volume of f2f classes
  • amount of employee travel for learning
  • use of social learning
  • and more…

Check it out to see if there are any surprises. While you’re there, take a look at the Social Learning survey results. Where do you think your staff training sits on the scale of things?

There’s a great online social bookmarking service that recently came to my attention (Diigo.com) that the CLENE community (and all interested in staff development and training) can use to share bookmarks of interest with each other

diigo logo

diigo logo

Playing around today, I set up a CLENERT group at: http://groups.diigo.com/groups/clenert and added a few of my own bookmarks.

Diigo has many nice features including:

  • RSS feed for new content (http://groups.diigo.com/rss/clenert/bookmark)
  • Ability to comment on and discuss bookmarks
  • Automatic caching of bookmarked pages!
  • Ability to view new bookmarks as a slideshow (great for those of us who are visual)
  • Browser based bookmarklet (which allows highlighting, commenting AND virtual sticky notes–so you can annotate those bookmarks!!)

If you want to try it, simply go to http://groups.diigo.com/groups/clenert, click join and add a few bookmarks.  I highly recommend adding the “diigolet” bookmarklet to your browser toolbar–it makes bookmarking and annotating a snap!!  If fact, Pandia Search Engine News just listed it as #1 among the top 5 bookmarking tools.

There are many more possibilities here… I think Diigo lends itself beautifully to collaborative working/learning projects.   So, whaddya all think?

Here’s a 4 minute intro video:


(If video doesn’t play, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RvAkTuL02A)

We’re conducting an experiment over at WebJunction. And you can help us discover the answers. It’s called the Learn Together Project.

The challenge: can we take a self-paced, online, non-library-specific course and give it meaningful, social engagement with library context?

The course: The Customer’s Voice, a course in improving our anticipation and satisfaction of customers’ (patrons’) expectations

The setup:

  • We (WJ) create a group as a virtual classroom.
  • We invite people in the library world to join the group and sign up for the same course at the same time. (This is where you come in.)
  • We have a live-online kickoff meeting to get the learning juices flowing.
  • We proceed independently through the course.
  • We share our insights and comments in the discussions, and share library-relevant resources with the group.
  • We feel increased motivation and energy to learn and to apply our new knowledge to improve customer service on the job.
  • We learn together.

If you want to participate in our social learning experiment, join the group, enroll in the course, and we’ll see you at the kick-off meeting.

A big thanks to Janie Hermann for bringing this great article to our attention: How to Present When People Are Twittering.

twitter2Olivia Mitchell goes against the conventional wisdom and points out eight benefits to having an active twitter back-channel among your participants and then she takes one step further and suggests that there are even benefits to having your own Twitter back-channel while presenting!

Mitchell has some great advice for managing that back channel and concludes:

Presenting while people are twittering is challenging. But isn’t it better to get that feedback in real-time when you can do something to retrieve the situation – than wait till you read the evaluation sheets a few days after the conference – and find that you bombed?

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