Tag Archives: learning technology

Why tweet, and who gives a hoot? What Twitter does for me

30 Jan

I read, write and think about learning, knowledge management and collaborative work — it’s a lot to keep up with.

My Personal Learning Network (PLN) and Personal Knowledge Management/Mastery (PKM) practice has become vital to my professional growth . Of all the things I do in support of these efforts — blog, write articles, read, synthesize (what PKM calls “sense-making”), share, meet, respond and react — it is Twitter that I get the most questions, doubt, and even hostility about.

I want to share here why I use Twitter, and how it helps me.

I begin by saying I was late to it. I was skeptical, and more than a little derisive about those tweeters constantly tethered to their phones. I did not dive in: I was hesitant, lurking, dipping my toes in one digit at time. So, to you doubters, I was there with you not long ago.

Now, in two-years’ time, I can’t imagine my professional life without it!

With that said, it is NOT about Twitter itself. Twitter is a tool, like a hammer or a saw — they are useless until used purposefully. Twitter will be gone in 5 (or 10?) years, replaced by something(s) else. While I have found great value in applying Twitter to develop my PLN, it needn’t have been Twitter. It just worked well for me. You might find another tool that works for you. Great! It is the practice, not the tool.

Some ways I use Twitter to propel “real” work:

  • Capture thoughts and notes in real time, often with a hashtag (#, as in #learning) to help categorize it for myself and others.
  • Share and “favorite” useful tweets to let the most pertinent comments rise to the top and become easy to find.
  • Find like-minded people across the hall, or across the globe, with whom to share and learn. I have built my PLN from scratch, relying on Twitter for 90% of it. There is generally a true spirit of generosity and openness that’s remarkable.
  • Follow and learn from experts and leaders, to see what they are thinking, reading and see who they are following. Because Twitter is a-symmetrical (unlike Facebook, for example) you can follow anyone without the need for that person to reciprocate. (This difference was articulated nicely by Harold Jarche, which — and whom — I found via Twitter.) I follow @BarackObama, but he doesn’t follow me… yet!
  • Twitter storms. A synchronous (live) twitter event around a particular topic, these are generally moderated in a Q/A format with some opportunity for intros and self-promotions. Twitter storms are extremely useful to share and hear ideas, “meet” new like-minded people, and enjoy some PD time. Best of all, the transcripts are available after to remember and reflect on the storm’s activity.
  • Like Twitter storms, tweeting during — yes during! — live events, classes and sessions proves to be very useful. It creates a “back-channel” to help make sense of the information, and adds instant and long-lasting value by providing insights into what others make of it. In addition, it is a great way for me to experience an event even if I’m not there. It is so valuable!

The most common reservations I hear:

Who cares what I think? I care what I think (or thought last week or last year). You also might. And if not, that’s fine too. It is a micro-blog tool, a way to share thoughts and activities. The value is in the stream to reflect upon later, to discover others who cared, reactions to forming ideas and activities as they grow. When you share an idea or thought, you never know how others — or even you, after some time passes — will react. I saw Dr. deGrasse-Tyson stop, mid-talk, to tweet a thought. If it is worth noting, it’s worth saving. And, if worth saving, it’s worth sharing.

What can you learn from 140 characters? It’s not enough! Enough for what? To jot a note? Or ask a colleague a question? Or refer your friend to an article or video you found? 140 characters is plenty. In fact, I have found over time that the space limit actually helps sharpen my writing — and thoughts — down to essentials. Remember: It is not a replacement for other forms of communication!

It’s a fad that’s going away. As I say above, it’s true: If we’re still using Twitter 10 years from now, I’ll be quite surprised. The same is also true of Facebook, email (please, let it be so!!), and wired telephones (who has long phone conversations anymore!?). Tools come and go, but building PLN and PKM practice will remain.

It’s too informal. It’s frivolous. Depends on who’s wielding the tool. It can be feathery light or as serious as life-and-death (literally, as #BlackLivesMatter showed).

– I don’t have time. If you find it useful, you’ll have time. You don’t have time to change a tire on your car on your way to work, unless you need to change the tire.

Find me @BenCpdx… I’ll leave the bird on for you. If I’m the recipient of your first tweet, it would be an honor and I promise to reply.

bdc twitter

Creative Commons and Discovery Learning

10 Apr

I’m not a graphic designer. I’m a very amateur photographer, and a mostly-non-recording Imagemusician. So, I’ve had little reason to pay very close attention to the Creative Commons movement, and how it is changing the way creators and consumers of digital media interact.

But with a little help from articles like this, I’m realizing more and more that how we share, use, re-share and reference resources that are readily available and a mere click away has a lot to do with the way we learn today. And even more about what ways in which we’ll be learning in a very close-at-hand tomorrow.

It references back to ideas about learners as their own curators and creators instantly enhance learning. For adult learning and professional development, it will be interesting to see the ways this intersects with the move towards “big data” and the movement towards available data crunching and graphic display technology that has been the buzz in the business world recently.

Is Constructivism the only path forward for adult learners?

18 Mar

Constructivism, wherein learners are best served by the ability to construct their own order, meaning and eventual deep understanding, has long been one of several competing (conflicting?!) learning theories.

However, with the rise of technology in learning–and all learning is technology driven to a large extent–we are seeing an ever greater emphasis on learners being the curators of their own learning paths. With the world awash in content, I hear more and more frequently from educators, trainers and e-learning SMEs that there is little point in creating new content on nearly any given subject when there are quite likely 10 easily found sources that have already done it better.

So, is the answer just to post links to existing content and let learners have at it? There are those who essentially recommend as much. Accordingly, the Internet becomes a constructivist paradise of learners connecting, synthesizing and creating new models in an ever-virtuous loop.

But I think most of us would agree that this assigns too much agency to the average adult learner: busy, distracted, and deep in the WIIFM learning mode. However, content creators have a valid frustration: “Hasn’t somebody already put together this learning path already?”

There is a middle ground: The trainer and e-learning practitioner as content curator and facilitator.

There is a lot more to be said, and in the coming weeks and months I hope to say some of it in these posts. For now, I just pose the problem: How do we effectively engage learners into wanting to become the self-directed learners that Constructivists say they should / could be?

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