Do we live in a magical age or do we merely live among many magicians?
working out loud requires guidance
“micro-learning” is a new approach for a new age
the year you were born determines your values and needs
community is any group of people using social tools
we learn differently in the last 10 years than we did in the previous 10,000
the experience API (xAPI) tracks what you’ve learned
social learning requires a platform
Now, you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because, of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.- The Prestige (Film, 2005)
The definition of this new, not new, over-hyped, trending idea is pretty vague. Plus I’m not a fan of yet another formal intervention commandeering the term “learning”. I get it, it’s easy. Yes, these things can lead to learning but in itself, it’s not. Learning is a verb, a process, not a tool or technology. Donald Taylor did well to pull together a definition in his latest post and referenced some of the others who had opinion such as Nick Shackleton-Jones and Donald Clark. I also recommend seeing what Gary Wise had to say.
Micro learning’ is learning from content accessed in short bursts, content which is relevant to the individual, and repeated over time to ensure retention.” – Donald Taylor
Content, short burst, relevant. I think he’s right, but these terms still leaves lots of wiggle room. And given I have the space to work with as do all the vendors, I contend that 10,000 years of evolution has really been defined by micro-learning and most specifically micro-learning in the form of conversation. Small “nuggets” in the form of quick quizzes, video vignettes, audio clips and demonstrations have value but rarely contain the trust, specific context, emotion and right size of information (knowledge and even wisdom) that are found in our interactions.
In a brilliant example of showing your work, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters shared his process for writing the songs on the album Sonic Highway which included having conversations with random people in various cities, copying and pasting snippets into a song outline, and reflecting on the experiences. I admire this transparency, an example of the real learning that Charles Jennings speaks of; experience, practice, conversation and reflection.
This song in particular, the last track titled “I Am a River”, caught my attention. The lyrics, “the channel’s changing, the heart is racing, from voices on a wire” gave me great pause as I thought of technology today and the very important human component within. Here Dave shares details about writing the song of which he says:
I thought it was a beautiful idea that there’s something natural and prehistoric (Minetta Creek) that runs underneath something as monolithic and futuristic as New York City. And maybe we’re all connected by something like that.
The fact this river is covered, out of sight, and is continually being built upon is an interesting metaphor for us, our human story today. We are natural and prehistoric, a great connected river of humanity being buried under increasingly changing technology; the voices on the wire.
“Is that what you want? Is that what you really want?” – Dave Grohl.
Last evening I hosted a webinar for the 70:20:10 forum. This organization works to help people and organizations shift to an organizational framework which supports and enables informal and social learning opportunities along with formal learning for the betterment of the workers themselves and the bottom line of the organization.
The topic of my webinar was Demystifying 70:20:10 – Using the Framework to Transform Your Learning Strategy. An important topic as many 1. See the effort as being more about adding informal and social opportunities to formal learning and/or 2. Are tripping over the numbers, taking them literally and trying again to create informal and social in the organizations.
Content aside, I strove to put my beliefs into practice for this event, but make no mistake it was a traditional webinar format with me as presenter, slides, objectives and attendees. My belief? Putting “social at the center” – I see that when we put energy there in our organizations, the openness and transparency it affords can improve formal learning by providing a critical feedback loop with ongoing formative evaluation. Additionally more open social activity can inform experiential (informal) learning through working and thinking out loud about our own practice and efforts. When people engage with others and share their work, peers can learn from their failures, successes and the half-backed ideas to inform their own work.
Although my slides for this webinar, mostly just evocative images, were developed first, the greater energy was in developing the questions to ask in the chat box. I presented a question every 2 or 3 slides and acknowledged and commented on many of the answers given. These were not simple yes/no, I asked about their own experiences, observations and opinions. Not an uncommon or revolutionary practice but maybe the frequency was and several times the attendee’s responses redirected my presentation. When the Webinar officially ended, the conversation really heated up. For about another 20 minutes the flow of interchange was deep and rich. Success of course can only be measured in outcomes and that remains to be seen but many left saying they were energized, armed and inspired.
Putting social at the center of this webinar put the people and their interaction first as the social activity swirled around the the content (object) and not the other way around. The event was informal and relaxed as I didn’t desire to be seen as a content expert but maybe more as a conversational one; guiding and modeling interaction in a virtual environment. The comments and conversation really worked to enhance the presentation as it went along and ideally the experience will inform the attendees future efforts.
I know it has informed mine.