Exploring social media and open education from the organisational perspective.

Tag: learning

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!


    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.

      Friday’s Finds: December 7th Edition

      Unfortunately, illness sidelined my FF last week. But I’m back!

      As the world becomes more interconnected and complex, networks—whether that’s learned through Personal Learning Networks developed in Connectivist Massive Online Open Courses or strategies to work in networks within The Coherent Organization—are proposed as the best means to best cope with this new reality.

      Sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics and revisit what’s driving these approaches. Not that it was entirely purposeful on my part to do this (I think I owe more to @FredWBaker for his many contributions to my reading/viewing list in that regard!), but seems that recently I’ve encountered (or have perhaps attuned myself to) more resources about complexity.

      This great article by Keith Morrison provides good context for our current state of complexity (and goes on to raise important points about the issues that complexity can have in an educational context):

      ‘Complex adaptive systems’ (Waldrop, 1992, pp. 294-9) scan and sense the external environment and then make internal adjustments and developments in order to survive in those changing external environments … The creation of a unique, and collective identity gives the system and its constituent elements a capability for survival, through increasing differentiation – they become unlike other systems, and, thereby, their uniqueness provides their niche in the world, and that unique situation contributes to their survival … Of course, being too different, just as being too similar, may be threatening to the system; finding one’s survival niche by being similar to, but also different from others, is tricky. This catches the partially antinomial nature of some aspects of complexity theory: cooperation together with competition, similarity together with difference, individuality with collectivity, connectedness with separation, necessary deviance with necessary conformity, diversity with uniformity, partial predictability with partial unpredictability, solipsism with the need to understand collectivities.

      It sounds an awful lot like the foundation for networked learning and Personal Learning Networks (PLNs). It also echoes the collective learning and agility envisioned by Senge for the concept of the learning organisation.

      I was also lucky enough to run across an article that helped me to situate Kotter’s older change management work with the great ideas I’ve been following through Harold Jarche and his colleagues at the Internet Time Alliance. Thanks to Harold, I learned that Kotter has apparently realised that resilience to change is best supported by agile networks of collaborative, connected learners. If I’m understanding correctly, Kotter’s old stuff was essentially about enacting change in closed systems.

      I also watched this TED talk from George Whitesides about establishing a science of simplicity. There’s a lot to take away, but I’ve pulled out a couple of great quotations below:

      “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” – Einstein

      “You know you’ve achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away.” – de Saint-Exupery

      Some other great reads that I enjoyed (including two that are side interests of mine):

      • Social Learning Strategies from Jane Hart. This is an amazing resource that I think I completely forgot about regarding the  implementation of social/networked learning (is there a difference?)! All answers are in here, I think!
      • Wow. This is the result of a study on what the new work skills/literacies will be by 2020 (link to study included in the article).
      • Jesse Stommel’s online learning manifesto. Bang on.
      • Bonnie Stewart’s companion piece, “MOOCs Are Not a System

      Friday’s Finds: November 23rd Edition

      This week I found a study that analysed the affective side of group formation in online courses. In particular, I thought that the following quotation about the  development of trust is true of any ICT-moderated context (such as a networked, virtual workplace):

        …members need to be able to trust and feel secure about the other members in the community in order to iteratively, recursively engage within collegial, constructive commentary. If that relationship is not established community members might view the constructive comments personally, and perhaps as offensive. Establishing the foundations of a compelling, resilient relationship between community members is essential before offering any kind of constructive criticism. Being able to express an emotion or offer feedback when communicating within a group signifies contented or comfortable group member dynamics that allow for deep interaction with one another.

      This interested me since I recently began working on a new team where a majority of my colleagues are collocated in another city. It also resonated with me given my interest in the formation of Personal Learning Networks and organisational climates that support networked, collaborative/cooperative learning.  Not long ago, Harvard Business Review provided some interesting tips for developing trust among virutal teams. I think it holds true for any sort of collaborative online work:

      • Leverage “swift trust.”
      • Pro-actively build interpersonal trust.
      • Communicate with predictability.
      • Share and rotate power.

      Ideally, as Jeff Merrell has observed in his classes, evidence of community will begin to emerge through ‘half-baked’ thinking—displaying trust towards the group—and passionate discussion. As Santos and Hammond (2006) quite aptly suggest, though, community formation is ‘not an automatic and easy process’.

      Bonus find: Check out this gem of a post on Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) from Harold Jarche. Wow.

      November 2nd – Friday’s Finds

      Today’s post is brief…!

      Great thinking:

      • This week I made the most obvious of discoveries through a couple of conversations: Knowledge sharing *is* communicating. (Sometimes we overcomplicate things.)
      • More on heutagogy: This article provides a framework from pedagogy to andragogy to heutagogy, the latter of which is a core competency for the 21st Century—a must read! Note: I’ve been reading that we’re no longer in a knowledge economy: we are in a collaboration economy.
      • One of the reasons I’d love to learn how to conduct a network analysis is to uncover connections and relationships that are hard to locate otherwise—it’s so related to Knowledge Management (KM)! I also thought that this observation of the potential impact of networked arrangements on organisations in this article was particularly interesting: “…interconnectivity is beneficial but also brings in vulnerability: if you and I are connected we can share resources; meanwhile your problems can become mine, and vice versa”. Is this a dark side of networks?

      Interesting Finds:

      • The etymology of the Personal Learning Network seems to go back as far as 1998. Thanks Clint!


      Adult education and lifelong learning orientations in the organisation: are adult learners ready?

      According to the dominant discourse in Human Resource Development (HRD), much organisational learning and change seems to hinge heavily on individuals’ abilities to continually learn and improve (and share with one another—networked learning/collaboration would seem to fit in here). This improvement then leads to innovation and lends a competitive advantage to the organisation. Aside from the need for this culture to be modeled and reinforced by leadership in order to become ingrained in a firm, I wonder how this considers adults’ readiness to learn and the ability to self-reflect in order to know how and what to self-improve? How many adults are lifelong learners? According to Jocelyn K. Glei in a recent article on self-improvement on one of my favourite cultural blogs (for creatives!) organised by Bēhance, the 99%, we tend to learn enough to become proficient and then we stop there. In fact, a former coworker of mine remarked to me recently that the idea of learning, beyond training courses, is not worthwhile in her view; she’s more concerned with keeping up with daily life and raising a child and doesn’t see the need for continuous learning. I doubt she’s alone in that perception.

      When most of us learn a new skill, we work to get just “good enough” and then we go on autopilot.

      I’m not sure that I’ve seen much that addresses learning orientation in HRD and I think the reason for this is due to the fact that adult learning is generally not well considered by the field. I thought I’d share a little segue of some previous reading and writing I’ve done about how the two do intersect, mostly to suggest that readiness is likely best addressed by adult education.  According to Yang (2004) (sorry, not accessible by Google Scholar), the varied philosophical orientations to adult education—humanism, liberalism, behaviourism, progressivism, radicalism—only differ with HRD’s human capitalism through how each perceive the purpose of learning (HRD situates learning in psychology, which comes with a certain set of—my words—incomplete assumptions about knowing/learning).  Yang posits that the emphasis on rational, cognitive processes from the liberal view and learning through practical experience from the progressive position are a point of overlap between HRD and adult education due to “…each of the fields [valuing] both ideas and experiences” (2004, p. 136).  Humanists aim to support individual learners to facilitate individual self-actualization, while critical/radicalism’s aim is to remove oppressive structural barriers so to allow for individual development.  Human capitalism in contrast, values individual development to leverage individual and organizational productivity.  Yang (2004) also identifies similarities within the seemingly disparate perspectives of critical/radicalism and human capitalism:

      …human capitalism emphasizes the role of learning in improving individual and organizational performance.  It often draws on the economic side of learning outcomes.  In contrast, radicalism assumes that most social and institutional efforts of organized learning tend to reinforce and perpetuate the status quo.  It thus believes that most social and organizational systems have constrained the potential development of their members.  Consequently, radicalism shares with human capitalism a belief of social implications of learning.  (p. 138)

      Through these connections between HRD and adult learning philosophies, Yang clearly situates (2004) the various theories of adult education within HRD theory and practices.  He points to the adult learning theories of self-directed learning, critical/radical pedagogy and transformational learning as evidence that adult learning theory is capable of enhancing individual and organizational learning; he suggests that adult education, with its expertise in adult learning, is in a unique position to leverage HRD’s goals of learning, performance and change in the workplace.

      So adult education can provide an important role in furthering HRD’s organisational ambitions. Interesting, no? So back to individual readiness. If we want to encourage individuals in the organisation to continuously learn and improve what are we doing to foster this sort of environment and how do we help to encourage this sort of orientation? Juergen Juffa, in the article I reblogged last week, suggested 10 ways that self-directed learning can ingrain this sort of culture. But how does one learn—as an adult in an organisation—how to continuously learn? What is the incentive and where does this orientation come from? It seems as though it has to become somewhat intrinsic and it seems as though there needs to be some sort of shift that will allow space to learn/try things out. Glei observes the following about those who go beyond the status quo:

      1. Experts tend to operate outside their comfort zone and study themselves failing.

      2. Experts will try to walk in the shoes of someone who’s more competent than them.

      3. Experts crave and thrive on immediate and constant feedback.

      4. Experts treat what they do like a science. They collect data, they analyze data, they create theories, and they test them.

      She notes that self-control, determination and self-analysis play a big role in higher achievement. But self-analysis is not easy. Coaching can assist here for individual activities, but as Mezirow suggests, in any major shift in (cognitive) thinking, an individual must be ready to be uncomfortable. And I’m not sure that this readiness is easily predictable due to gender differences, culture, emotion and other ways of knowing also being in the mix.

      So… how can readiness be fostered through an organisational climate? Can we safely assume that everyone is ready to learn continuously with the ‘right’ environment?

      Reflections on choosing knowledge appropriate management strategies… and a li’l project proposal too!

      I’ve been ruminating lately about the best way to encourage a knowledge sharing environment in my workplace. Mostly I’ve been thinking this would take place through a shared space amongst employees and I’ve been trying to determine the benefit of informal/nonformal environment and who would be the best target group to test (likely my unit if nonformal or consultant groups/open to others if informal). I believe that those who work in learning are best suited for this type of project given that our focus is on organisational learning. As I mentioned before, this is a task that will not necessarily be easy because tacit knowledge is rooted in experience and it is not often easy to communicate for others in the organisation to learn and act upon. No matter how I decide to do this it will be a demonstration project of sorts because it will incorporate the idea of knowledge sharing in the learning organisation and will somewhat explore the idea of putting theory to practice amongst a group of individuals working in the field of learning. This is important to me because it seems that the field of Human Resource Development is chock full of theory right now with very few field studies to back up its assertions.

      The way I see it, perhaps the most important thing for an organisation to do to encourage knowledge sharing is to establish an environment that is conducive to allowing it to flourish. As I’ve said before, sharing experiential knowledge will help our colleagues, and consequently, the organisation’s ability to change and grow. In the public service this can lead to any number of positive improvements, for example, such as better customer service, more strategic use of public funds in projects or even enhanced public policy. This sort of an environment should theoretically be in place in a learning unit such as ours (and our cohorts across the country).

      Right now I’m leaning more towards finding something topical that binds the group together and engages the group but a week ago I was headed towards an informal professional development-style group. I was keeping in mind our presentation from Dr. Schwier about different engagement levels in informal, nonformal and formal online community groups. Subsequent to that, having watched this video by Daniel Pink on motivation, and given how values-driven employees in my workplace tend to be, I want to set up the structure that would seem to help create the most appropriate atmosphere for employees to share and learn from one another (and maybe even innovate!). I think an informal network of sharing journal articles, tools and findings would good but I worry that without having set any sort of cultural precedent of how to share the engagement would not be there at all. Maybe it’s better to start with something that is task or project-driven. Maybe it’s because a discussion I had with one of our consultants at work led me to consider the need for upfront assessment. And this maybe also because of this article, which reminds me of Kevin’s earlier comment that knowledge management (KM) should be ingrained in work practices.

      Everybody discusses knowledge management, but how can it be used and how can we successfully apply it?

      So… I’ve set out looking for KM strategy models and I’m back to pondering my own unit’s needs because I think I can identify one that was expressed in a recent meeting: lack of knowledge about and experience with our regional Learning, Training & Development (LTD) planning. I have four years of direct experience with planning that both our consultant groups and my fellow coordinators do not and it’s not serving anyone to keep that knowledge with me. But how would we go about this for the upcoming planning process? According to Greiner, Böhmann, & Krcmar (2007), KM strategies should be selected depending on the need. I spoke a couple of posts back about tacit knowledge, which is one part of KM strategies—and possibly the trickiest to capture and share. The other part is explicit knowledge. There are two main ways that KM attempts to capture and share knowledge. According to Greiner et al. (2007), there are a number codification strategies where information—such as team workflows—are captured and stored in places such as databases. Codification is particularly good for capturing processes that are repeated. There are also personalization strategies, which are useful for exchanges of knowledge. Personalization strategies are useful for problem solving and innovation amongst networks of people and often take place through discussion forums or wikis, for example. It is important to note that the approaches are usually blended (see the article for other combinations and their typical uses), and while it’s atypical to blend codification and personalization, it may be possible. As the authors comment, “some KM initiatives with the objective to improve process efficiency mainly relied on the codification strategy and also used instruments like discussion forums or newsgroups to give their employees the opportunity to exchange knowledge and best practices directly,” (p. 11). This is good because I’ve identified a need that focusses primarily on two main groups of people that, if I am correct in my assertion, need both codification and personalization as part of the KM strategy for the LTD planning. I think this may even allow room for innovation through dialogue and exchange (by reflecting on what has been improved or could still be improved post-experience, which would be important for a learning organisation). So, with that this is what I propose to weave in with our impending launch of planning:

      Target Group:

      1. The consultant/coordinator group in our learning unit (of which I am a part) who facilitate the implementation phase of the LTD planning with our business line clients. I believe they need the resources housed centrally and more importantly, the consultant and coordinator group need to be exposed to enquiries, discussion and other exchanges that take place between our unit and our clients during planning. So far I’m the one with most of this experience.
      2. The business line clients who we work with to gather the needs assessment/planning information accurately. We are using a planning document that will be new to the clients and in the past it hasn’t been easy collaborating with the group effectively in the past. I believe they need resources in a central location as well and they need to be able to seek help and have discussions on their planning through dialogue on a discussion forum.

      Tool (for both codification and personalization): SharePoint. Because that’s what is available to me internally and it’s familiar to both us and our clients.

      Intended Outcomes:

      1. Increased understanding and knowledge sharing (collaboration amongst the groups) related to our planning process.
      2. Improved data gathered.
      3. Increased knowledge amongst consultant/coordinator learning unit colleagues about facilitating planning and working within the process.

      Steps for Implementation:

      1. Pre-implementation survey to determine current knowledge related to the planning process and any additional resources or supports that may be required. I’d like to try to target some tacit & explicit knowledge needs in the questionnaire if possible.
      2. Based on responses to the survey and past experience, load resources in predetermined central location and initiate some discussion topics that are related to surveyed needs.
      3. Provide orientation training to both the consultants/coordinators on how we will use the discussion forum and how resources are found/organised.
      4. Monitor discussion forum and update resources as necessary and rotate monitoring schedule so that as many of the learning unit as possible are exposed to the knowledge sharing and discussion for their own learning and discovery.
      5. Post-planning survey once plans have been received and submitted for national review. This would help to determine how participants have increased their knowledge since their initial self-assessment/survey (Kirkpatrick Level 2).

      That was epic! Any thoughts on my plan of action? See any gaps? Have you ever done anything similar in your work? What did you do?

      Can virtual work teams become virtual communities of practice?

      *Quiz* No image , No photo! by purprin, on Flickr
      Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  purprin 

      Wow, last week’s post generated a lot of great discussion that helped reframe my thinking leading up to the informative presentation on community by Dr. Schwier to our class on Tuesday.

      In particular, I’m grateful for having gone into the presentation with Dr. Schwier’s comment from my last post echoing through my thoughts. The idea that we can only set up the conditions under which communities can form, develop and potentially thrive was particularly resonant for me. And it got me thinking—besides the benefits for organisations, what would be in it for potential community members (such as work units) to want to be a virtual community, let alone one that shares knowledge?

      I suppose I was coming at this particular issue from a bit of a business-centric standpoint as HRD is a yet-to-be defined field that is dominated by this standpoint. (I should add that I personally try to apply a critical approach to my work as much as possible.)

      Struggles of praxis and an undefined field aside, for my course project I’m thinking I’d like to inquire into the potential for a professional development-geared community to develop amongst two virtual learning unit teams (of which I am also a member). Could two these two virtual teams whose core work is in supporting organisational learning—and whose members theoretically should have similar vested interests—become a learning community? As I saw during Dr. Schwier’s presentation, there needs to be some sort of incentive there to encourage ‘intensity’, which is one feature of functioning communities. Dr. Schwier presented metrics for nonformal, formal and informal group intensity, or depth of interaction. Both the formal and informal groups showed great intensity in discussions in different patterns, the development of which demonstrated that community had developed. In the formal groups, this development was likely due to the ‘forced’ time spent together and in the informal groups the same is seen when topics are of interest to different members. In nonformal groups, the metrics showed a dearth of ‘real’ discussion—real community—being able to form. The reason being? Probably because there are no incentives that draw the group together. And as my colleague Laura Bechard rightly pointed out, the metrics hold great implications for the development of Communities of Practice.

      So, in a virtual workplace with a responsibility towards learning, what would be the draw towards the development of a Community of Practice? I’m not certain that the site of our work would be enough as many of my coworkers do not specialise in learning, nor is that the focus specifically of their work or potential interests and career aspirations (much of it can be administrative in nature and driven by financial policy). Maybe the question is: What is perceived as a central need or point of inquiry amongst these two teams? I could be wrong, but I think the groups’ interests are potentially too divergent. Instead, I suspect that our sister learning consultant groups (we have four other groups of learning units across Canada) would be more likely to develop such a community due to the similarity of their work experiences.

      What do you think? I’m off to check out what Daniel Pink has to say about motivation in the meantime…

      On the importance of social capital in knowledge sharing within virtual communities of practice…

      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 is an important piece towards fostering knowledge sharing in these groups. In other words, a cohesive, functioning community must develop. And members must trust one another. It makes sense, right?

      Social capital can bridge cultural differences by building a common identity and shared understanding. The fact that building social capital requires continuous interaction enables people to identify common interests and build trust. This raises their level of shared commitment, and encourages a sense of solidarity within a community. Furthermore, from the perspective of organizational management, Prusak and Cohen (2001) claim that social capital can promote better knowledge sharing due to established trust relationships, common frames of reference and shared goals.

      The authors go on to describe other issues that can occur with groups that are not part of the same institutional or organisational culture and how virtual learning networks such as EC&I 831 have some similarities to virtual communities of practice. They also remark that when groups are actively working together to share knowledge, there has been evidence of economic gains. Correspondingly, that would then also likey imply that performance is enhanced. They also say that just because groups trust one another and are able to cooperate, this doesn’t mean that social capital has been attained—it often has as much to do with how well members of the community connect, relate with one another and share a common language. These are called the structural, relational and cognitive dimensions of social capital ‘clusters’. And no one yet has the answers on how exactly to predict when social capital will be produced but it’s likely due to reciprocity and an awareness of social/group norms in the same way that we lend our neighbour a cup of sugar one time and along the line, when I need a couple of eggs…

      But I’m thinking that virtual knowledge sharing communities of practice would be useful in my workplace, where my colleagues are located across multiple timezones. Even interdepartmentally this could be helpful, for instance, for our learning unit counterparts to discuss best practices, share ideas and materials. And the tacit knowledge is recorded!

      I’m just wondering how to bring it all together—how do you build social capital? Do you think trust is key? Awareness? Common language? Reciprocity? What, in your experience has been the key ‘ingredient’ for a group to start openly sharing knowledge (virtual or not)? What, in your view, would be the most helpful for encouraging knowledge sharing in a virtual situation? What’s working for you in our virtual learning community?


      Prepping the garden fennel for pickling

      Prepping the garden fennel for pickling!

      Welcome to mycourse blog! A little bit about myself…

      My name is Alison and I currently live in Regina with my partner Adam. I am on my eighth of eleven classes towards my Master of Human Resource Development (MHRD) degree, which is a nice complement to my work as a learning professional. This is my third degree at the University of Regina! I am what would be described as a lifelong learner, having spent the bulk of the last 16 years studying art, graphic/web design, arts education, yoga and now HRD.

      Clearly I love learning! Other passions are gardening (the above picture is fennel from my garden that I started from seed!), indie music and good design—I make time for these activities as much as I can between work and school. At the moment I am into my iPhone (obsessed with Instagram right now), Adobe CS5, and anything made by Mac. I confess, though, I don’t entirely ‘get’ iPads. I’ve also developed an (unhealthy?) obsession with reading about the environment and the economy courtesy my Twitter feed. Only through Twitter can one connect to an Egyptian blogger—I learned more about what was going on during the Arab Spring through him than I could through most major news outlets. I also watched live internet feeds of the protests through Al Jazeera. This is a direct benefit of our new, ‘wired’ world and I think it’s pretty incredible and amazing.

      Speaking of Twitter, I really love it and I think there is so much potential to develop communities of practice through the medium—I would say it was these sorts of possibilities that led me to enrol in this course. Where else can you ask the hive mind for input and share ideas back and forth?! I also think there is major potential for social media and open education concepts to be applied within organisations and I look forward to learning more about how to go about this. This potential is especially relevant to the my workplace. We are striving to create cultures of learning by becoming learning organisations, where informal learning and knowledge sharing are key to firms’ competitiveness. It also has application to formal training delivery, since the region I work in extends all across the West and into the Territories; in-person learning is not always the most effective or efficient means to that end. Given this reality, distance learning and blended learning solutions have become more and more prevalent… and I want to know how to make them even better!

      I’m sure there are a great many other things that I will be able to learn from and share with my course colleagues to take back to my workplace. I look forward to it!

      Side note:
      Are you an amateur typography nerd? Do you like em dashes as much as I do? I’ve figured out how to make them in WordPress.