Lessons from a knowledge hoarder (or how I stopped hoarding and learned how to share in a network)

by alison

This (almost) marks the end of my eighth class. When I started this semester I was a little unsure of what the experience might be like. I knew that I enjoyed Twitter as a news source and as a place to keep in touch with friends, but I had absolutely no idea how much the education community has recognised that this is a tool that is part of the larger global shift to ICT that is changing the way we all work, live, connect and learn with one another. What a pleasant eye opener!

The same shift is happening in workplaces—Workplace 2.0. Once I started to realise some of the possibilities available to me, I set myself an overarching goal to try to always look for relationships between what we learned in class and organisational and adult learning. I also set out some specific goals to supplement my wish to understand how technology can, should and likely will be influencing the workplace in the not-too-distant future and how I can affect positive change in my workplace:

  1. Seek out, connect and share with others with similar interests in Human Resource Development, Knowledge Management (KM), and anything to do with using technology for learning purposes.
  2. Learn more about the theories associated with this mode of learning.
  3. Learn more about the apps I was sometimes using (I’m looking at you, HootSuite!) and add some more tools to my arsenal that would be available to employees in my organisation.

I read voraciously. I sought out hashtags that provided me with the most up-to-date ideas on the topics I was interested in. I forgot to share things I found with my classmates for a little while (I’m talking about you, ImageCodr!). Oops. But that was the pattern of the course: trial and error. For example, I learned that TweetDeck is very useful on my MacBook but that the app constantly breaks on my iPhone.

Throughout the course I also experienced small diversions. After Dave Cormier spoke to our class about Rhizomatic Learning, I was intrigued. After discovering through Dave that he was influenced by some poststructuralists I had never studied, I poked around about Deleuze briefly, followed Tobey Steeves and also watched Dave fend off positivism to learn more. What I learned in the video, though, taught me more about the theories we were studying in this class than anything else. Dave talked about the sliding distinctions between networks that George Siemens makes (‘knowledge or people I’m connected to?’ asks Dave), the structure of MOOCs, the DS106 effect on students, etc. This reinforced my learning of the theories that provided the foundation for a lot of what we’ve done in this course.

Ultimately what was great about the experience was how I could direct my own learning based on my own needs. The biggest hurdle I faced was, oddly enough, sharing. I had no idea that I intuitively just hoard information—I look for what I need and then carry on. This has been a big change for me because it took some time to realise that we do play different roles within our networks at various times and we each share the load of the learning. There is too much to do on one’s own.

What can I take back to my workplace? Well, I’ve written a paper that I consider a bit of a culmination of sorts of some of the questions I had about learning to learn in a network in Workplace 2.0. It reflects on my organisation and its current goals to implement technology into the workplace and I hope to share a summary of my findings with a working group that has been tasked with this topic (I’d like to suggest that the scope of technology use for learning be broadened). In the course of doing this paper I also expanded my workplace learning network of like-minded colleagues to a courseware designer on another floor in my building, an Instructional Designer in Ottawa and another colleague studying for his Master of Educational Technology in Montreal. I now share and receive articles and tools periodically with this group!

Most importantly, though, I met Jeff Merrell. He was one of the first people I connected with on Twitter—my home base—and it was through following his KM-tech list and by haunting his blog that I found a lot of great people and resources (edited to add that he’s a great resource and I love that he’s about corporate social responsibility). It was through him that I found Allison Littlejohn, whose spot-on research into learning in workplace networks greatly influenced me. But there were so many others, both in the class and outside of it, who influenced me in other ways too.

And these are only a survey of my experiences during the course.

But, again, the class is ending but really this is just the beginning of my foray into learning in the Information Age. I know that sounds cliché but it’s the truth. I’ve been dabbling in the #EconoMOOC, I’ve joined LinkedIn to participate in the Center for Learning & Organizational Change discussions. I want to keep learning about networked learning and knowledge management. I’d like to participate in #Change11 as time permits and I’d like to keep blogging. I’m a lifelong learner, so I just keep setting goals and continue learning. There is no end for me, but there will be even more sharing in the future.

For more, here’s a link to my Prezi. (I’m glad I finally had a chance to delve into learning how to use it.)