Sunday, 30 January 2011

Reflections after Learning Technologies 2011 Part 2

Ok it's time for the second part of my reflections after the two days of Learning Technologies 2011 ( #LT11UK ). In this second post I will focus on my second goal that I had set up for the conference, namely:

To learn more about how to use Social Media as a means to Learning in an organization.
There is no doubt in my mind that Social Media can be used for learning new things. I have used Twitter and my blog for some time and have learned a huge amount of stuff that I would probably not have been able to learn without the use of these tools. So from a personal point of view I am in no doubt that learning can be enhanced by using Social Media tools, but what about whole organisations? Is it really possible to have a large organisation with high security demands on their IT environment to embark on the SoMe journey?

Two of the sessions I attended dealt with Social Media and how it can be used for learning in organisations and here are my thoughts on these two seminars:

Seminar: Using Social Media for workplace learning

This seminar was spot on when I read the title and since it was facilitated by one of my favorite Twitter-friends Jane Bozarth it was a must-attend seminar for me. I have read Jane's book "Social Media for Trainers" and enjoyed it very much. It's a hands on book with a great deal of tips for trainers who wants to enhance their trainings by using SoMe tools. 
I was a bit concerned before the session that it wouldn't give me so much as I have been following Jane on Twitter for some time, read her blog and book. 
But I was wrong.
Hearing the message right from the horse's mouth (sorry Jane, no offense intended) is something completely different from reading books, blog posts and tweets. The energy, the knowledge and the humor she showed during her presentation gave me a lot of energy. It was a session both for those were completely new to Social Media and to those who, like me, are already using some of it but maybe not for training enhancement purposes.
By giving examples of solutions she has taken part in creating, Jane showed us that this is not an impossible thing to do and that using these tools has some clear advantages, such as:

  • they are already existing, no need to start extensive IT-projects to create the solutions.
  • they are free (at least some of them, and those that are not are generally not that expensive)
  • people are already using them. Why bring new tools to people when they already are using the needed tools?
  • since people are already know how to work with these tools, the tools don't steal focus from the learning experience as a new tool tends to do.
Even though I was very satisfied with the session, there were some things I would have liked to know more about. For one thing I would have loved to hear about evaluation of some of these projects: 
Are there evidence that using SoMe tools this way is more effective than not using them? 
From a trainer point of view, does it require more or less resources from me? 
and so on...
But the main thing I really missed (but I am not sure I will ever get to hear this) was to hear one of the LMS providers downstairs at the exhibition respond to Jane's statement that Facebook can be used as an LMS just as well as any of the commercial LMS's. That would for sure have been an interesting discussion.

So a big thanks to Jane Bozarth for sharing her extensive knowledge in this area. It's always rewarding to hear a true expert talk about their field of knowledge. I will definitely make sure that everyone in my department takes a close look at the works of Jane Bozarth.

Seminar: Getting started with Learning Technologies.

This seminar was one that I had been looking forward to. Craig Taylor who ran the seminar is once again a person I have followed with great interest on Twitter. We share many of the same challenges wanting to introduce SoMe tools for learning in our very different organisations.
The target group for Craig's seminar was those who didn't know much about SoMe tools and wanted to learn more about them. So once again I wasn't sure that the seminar would give me that much. 
But did it ever. 
Craig is an amazing source of inspiration. The way he presents himself and his subject really makes everyone understand his true passion for these matters. He is a man who loves what he is doing. Even though he has to fight some hard battles to get what he wants he still keeps on fighting. Simply because he knows that it is the right way to go. 
Craig walked us through some of the major SoMe tools out there, such as Twitter, Social Bookmarking tools, YouTube, blogs, wikis and so on. He did it with such an energy, especially when talking about Twitter, that I am pretty sure that he got some new followers after this session. 
One thing that got me really interested was when he described an un-conference he had run with trainers in his organisation. The purpose with this un-conference was to learn the trainers about SoMe tools. I have myself been thinking of doing something similar with some of my co-workers so this part really inspired me and I hope that Craig will share more of the setup with me so I can go ahead with this.
I would also like to mention the way Craig used his Powerpoint presentation as it was one of the best presentations I have ever seen. Not only was it really nicely designed. He had also added automatic tweets for each slide (I know he was nervous that this wouldn't work). For the audience that hadn't seen this before it was like magic. 
This was to me the highlight of the two days. It gave me so much energy to hear Craig talk. I left the seminar with the feeling that I just have to take the bull by the horn and start pushing my own organisation just like Craig has done with his.

As you probably have understood now I definitely fulfilled my second goal of the conference. The two seminars mentioned here were the main pieces of the puzzle but also by talking to all the fantastic people who attended the conference (some mentioned in Part 1) was also a big part in this. 

In my next part I will talk more about my third goal on how to strengthen our L&D department in terms of brining real value to the business.
Stay tuned for more!

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