Exploring social media and open education from the organisational perspective.


A sign that reads
Photo Credit: tnarik via Compfight cc

I’m excited to share that this blog is moving! New posts should be happening soon in my new space. I hope to see you there!

UPDATE: I’m still adjusting and finding my way around my new site, so forgive me if I have a few  hiccups along the way. To subscribe to my new blog by RSS or email, visit the right-hand side of my initial post.

Thinking About Heutagogy

Happy to see this collection and a group forming around the topic. This is definitely an area I’d like to examine more closely as time permits…

Heutagogy Community of Practice

A few people have been thinking about heutagogy or heutagogical practices recently here in WordPress land, so let’s repost a few of these ideas here for everyone to read:

What do you think about when you think about heutagogy? Please share!

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I thought I’d revisit this post. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I started blogging since my world has been surrounded lately by such an amazing assortment of worldwide learners, many of whom are taking their initial steps into open, networked/connected learning. I remember thinking after the first orientation session, “I have to blog my THOUGHTS? What do I know with any authority?” To top it off, only a few other classmates were in programs focused on adult learning-most were K-12 focussed. Only one classmate, my friend Kevin, was interested in Human Resource Development/workplace learning topics. I wondered what the application might be to my circumstances. I wondered what my dad and Kevin had gotten me into.

But blog I did. I started by writing about issues I’d been thinking about since my Trends in Human Resources Development (HRD) course from the summer-how knowledge flows in organisations-and how I thought it could relate to my very virtual workplace. Then I thought: Who would read this? I wasn’t sure but decided to worry less about that and try to connect the material we were discussing in class with my own experience and my organisation’s needs. I decided to treat it like a reflective journal I had kept as part of an assignment a year earlier… and I pretended it was just a conversation between me and my prof…

So I hit publish and just went for it. I tweeted out my new post, Alec picked it up and shared it, and the comments went from there. Even if I’d not received responses, the exercises were great for me to synthesise what I was learning. And that was more important than any correction from a critic, typo or other scariness.

I recently published an article in Hybrid Pedagogy. I’d be a liar if I said it was a breeze publishing with ‘authority’ on a subject-it was slightly terrifying. However, like this post, I was pleasantly surprised again.

So, my advice: Blog what you’re thinking. Blog your questions. It brings surprising rewards.


My Twitter Class of ’08 by mallix, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  mallix 

As you may have noticed from my last entry, I am interested in how virtual knowledge sharing networks—virtual communities of practice—can be fostered and maintained through social media and/or other e-strategies. In organisations, it is proposed this continual sharing and learning helps the firm to remain competitive and able to respond to change. Also, there is huge potential for tacit knowledge to be shared, and with  downsizing currently taking place across my organisation, knowledge management has become a critical issue. Particularly of interest to me is the retention of tacit knowledge, since previous cutbacks in my organisation have caused a gap in mid-career employees whose organisational experience could ladder into upper management positions.

It seemed logical to me, then, to start with a fundamental question: What stimulates a virtual community of practice to share knowledge?

According to Daniel, Schwier & McCalla (2003), the development of social capital

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O HAI #etmooc

    In less than a week… it’s #etmooc time! Are you warmed up  yet?

    This is just too good not to share. Loved this.

    User Generated Education



    Early in my training as an educator, I was exposed to William Glasser’s conceptualization of basic human needs and their importance in creating a healthy educational setting.  They are:

    • Belonging – Fulfilled by loving, sharing, and cooperating with others
    • Power – Fulfilled by achieving, accomplishing, and being recognized and respected
    • Freedom – Fulfilled by making choices
    • Fun – Fulfilled by laughing and playing

    They resonated deeply and made sense to me.  Instructional strategies and learning activities should build in ways for learners to get these needs met.

    The needs of freedom and power are of special note to this essay/topic:

    • Freedom – This is the need to choose how we live our lives, to express ourselves freely, and to be free from the control of others. Helping students, especially younger ones, satisfy this need does not mean giving them the freedom to do whatever they want to do…

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    Friday’s Finds: January 4, 2013 Edition

    bear vs shark by mallix, on Flickr
    Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  mallix 

      I’m feeling a tad guilty that I didn’t write a reflection on 2012 last week, but c’est la vie. I also haven’t been reading as much as of late due to the fact that I’ve been steeped in various projects. However, here are some interesting things I’ve encountered:

      • This handy guide to different major learning theories—visualised!
      • One method to automatically populate Twitter lists, which was recommended by Michelle Franz .  
      • Cultivating a Personal Learning Network that Leads to Professional Change: A dissertation on Personal Learning Networks (PLNs). There is tons of theory and context (and I’m sure other goodness that I have yet to fully dig into).
      • A really insightful article about agile project management—a process that makes sense given the increasing complexity of work problems and our own cognitive limitations.
      • Need a guide to help your self-directed learning? The Peeragogy Handbook (v1) is out! (download or print version).
      • Edited to add: This amazing resource from Harold Jarche on how social networks can help enable the shift towards the ‘coherent organization’.

      C’est tout!

      This is important work. I’m certainly going to be watching for the full analysis!

      Learning in the workplace


      As you will remember the Caledonian Academy conducted some research during the recent Change11 MOOC run by George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Dave Cormier.  The study generated a lot of data, which has been sitting on my desk for some months now. The hypothesis for the study was that we would observe different learning behaviours and different approaches to learning in MOOCs among those with different SRL profiles.

      What did we do?

      SRL Profiles: The first component of the study was to ask participants to complete an SRL profile instrument* we had developed for the study. The instrument was adapted from a number of pre-existing SRL self-report  instruments (full details, and a copy of the instrument are here), most notably the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (Pintrich et al 1991) and a more recent Self directed Learning Orientation scale developed by Raemdonck (Gijbels et al …

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      There is a lot of great information here about building a PLN. While the article specifically references workplace learning, the steps involved with building social capital are the same for everyone. (Social Capital is a key component of Personal Learning Networks.)

      John Stepper

      Working out loudRecently, I’ve been talking to dozens of people about career insurance – how working out loud can help them shape their reputation and control their career. In almost every conversation, people were unsure of how to build a purposeful network.

      Where do you start? How do you find the right people? What’s the best way to get to know them?

      In each case, though, it turned out they already had access to several existing networks. They just weren’t leveraging them.

      Here are the 5 examples we discussed that can help you amplify your contribution, build relationships, and discover more possibilities.

      Leading with generosity

      As Keith Ferrazzi says, “the currency of networking isn’t greed, it’s generosity.” And so the best way to build relationships is to lead with generosity – to think of how you can contribute to the network and thus gain access and gradually build trust.

      That starts…

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      Friday’s Finds: December 14th Edition

      Meeting Table by mnadi, on Flickr
      Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  mnadi 

        When teams begin to work in matrices, collaborating across functions and geographies, the skills, behaviours and competencies required for work must also change. This is what I heard yet again this week in a networked learning webinar that I attended. I also learned that leaders around the executive tables across the globe—regardless of industry—are demanding significant performance gains from staff in times of limited human resources.

        This recent article from Chief Learning Officer describes the issue well:

        According to the Bersin & Associates study, large business investment in social learning tools nearly doubled in 2011 to $40,000. Social learning is no longer an experiment. Companies increasingly use it to drive innovation in their learning organizations. By allowing employees to collaborate, share ideas and exchange information, organizations are empowering users to teach one another and are supporting conversations that naturally foster creativity and problem solving.

        The investment in social learning is another example of U.S. companies reinvesting in training to address the skills gap. It also signals a turning away from formal classroom training and traditional e-learning programs to only deliver learning workers need, just in time…

        The recession only increased the pressure on learning organizations to become more cost effective, leverage online social learning and align more closely with business needs. These pressures also forced a change in roles within the learning function. Traditional classroom instructors are now delivering more training online and in one-to-one sessions. Learning organizations are moving beyond order taking and are building consulting skills to provide effective recommendations and solutions to business partners.

        Again, the statistics on firms’ current capacity for networked performance show that there is a lot of room for improvement—only 1/3rd of employees are currently displaying capability for networked learning.  We cannot ask individuals to work harder, only smarter and the key to doing this comes down to embedding networked learning activities into daily workflows to help drive network performance. Again, informal learning is where the greatest gains lie and in times of tight budgets, this is welcome news. We all need to learn to ‘work smarter’ and Jane Hart has been working on determining how to introduce this to learners in organisations. (I’m looking forward to seeing where this work leads.)

        Though informal learning is the area that provides the greatest impact, networked learning skills should be reinforced throughout other learning activities in the organisation, including formal training. Note: formal training should include intact teams and those who work together through workflows to help allow time for teams to learn and practice how to work and learn together in more of a networked environment. Employees who work together should learn together: Learning together helps to build an understanding of the need for reciprocity, it can enhance relationships and it also ensures that the learning is relevant to the task at hand.

        One interesting example of formal learning that integrates networked learning involves the identification of informal leaders to problem solve issues, motivate their peers and reinforce learning. The idea behind this: Informal leaders are ideal candidates for integrating networked learning activities because of the dynamic between them and their colleagues—they are both connected to the ‘ground’ to help peers see the relevance of the learning to everyday workflows and informal leaders have the respect of their cohort needed to motivate and reinforce what is being learned. Here is one example of how to do that:

        1. Informal leaders were gathered and selected to be included in training (in this case, the training was to address safety issues)
        2. These informal leaders reviewed safety stories and identified behaviours that were reducing performance. They then identified what should be done differently and how they would influence their peers to achieve this goal (in this case, improving workplace safety).
        3. Following this, informal leaders delivered a training session for peers where they identified issues through stories, and suggested ways to work differently to become a safer workplace.
        4. These sessions inspire reciprocity—a key part of networked learning/work—as peers, who trust their informal leader colleagues, begin sharing stories about why the issue is important… and in essence learn from each other.

        Pretty innovative stuff, IMHO.

        Some really interesting thoughts and comments about narration of work as it applies to the introvert in the workplace. Worth the read!

        John Stepper

        The idea of working out loud – using social platforms to make your work observable and to narrate your work in progress – is becoming more popular. Yet even some who see the value of working out loud will say it’s not right for them.

        “I don’t like to toot my own horn.”

        “I’m more comfortable quietly doing a good job.”

        “It’s fine for extraverts, but what about everybody else?”

        Well, working out loud is good for introverts, too – maybe especially so. Here’s why.

        The power of introverts

        Over 3 million people have viewed Susan Cain’s TED Talk on “The power of introverts.”

        In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But…introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.

        And in her book, “Quiet”, she makes a…

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