What I Learned In April

I cannot believe how quickly the months go by this year but in all honesty, I’m secretly thankful for it as it brings me closer to our overseas holiday!

This month has been a bumper learning month for me.  I started a new role with the Virtual Learning team that saw me help, assist and support our internal clients with their virtual classrooms (Webex), podcasting and Sharepoint online workspaces.  I’m still learning the latter as I’ve not had much exposure to Sharepoint but even though I don’t find the consulting aspect difficult, it’s the hands-on technical abilities that I need to become more proficient so that I can answer my clients questions.

In the last four weeks, I have also learned the impact of social media on our small team.  I’ve been dabbling more and more with Yammer and at times, I feel guilty that I spend more time with this system than I do with Sharepoint.  But it’s bringing up interesting questions about how our business clients can effectively use both in their learning programs and also why use one over the other?

By far, my preference is Yammer but the business prefers Sharepoint (and besides, our team supports this tool).  Although, I’m told that with Sharepoint 2010 is integrated with Yammer so we won’t have an issue with that.  In my own time, I do my own research to see how this will all work as I’m seeing that our team will need to be across this too and possibly include it as another service offering to our clients.

Yam Jam

A colleague and I moderated our first ever Yam Jam last week.

Promoting our Yam Jam

Promoting our Yam Jam

Here are our questions:

Introductory Question

We decided to post our Yam Jam questions in the MAIN STREAM to be able to pick up people who happened to be online at that same time.  It was suggested to us that we should have used a Yammer Group so that we didn’t clog the main stream with all replies but sneakily, this is exactly what we wanted to do.  We wanted people who would have otherwise lurked to join in on the conversation – and not have them join a Yammer group first.

Q1) How do you use Yammer?

Q1) How do you use Yammer?

Three Questions were asked in the space of an hour and overall we had lots of meaty responses from people – many of whom had seen the questions in their main feed and just responded – much like a real time Twitter chat.


Even 4 days after this Yam Jam, Lachlan and I noticed that people are STILL responding to the questions as they may not have been online at the time of the Yam Jam.  We will wait another week before we start to collate the responses into a document of some sort that will allow us to discern the key messages, value and benefit of Yammer to the organisation.

I also met Colin Steed (@ColinSteed) via a Skype meeting to discuss how he uses Yammer in his learning programs at the Learning and Performance Institute UK. He gave me some ideas and helpful tips on how we could apply them into our learning programs. The meeting was quite valuable for me because it only cemented the importance of this tool in our organisation and how L&D must see its value or risk being behind.

I would say that this Yam Jam was a definite highlight in my L&D career – for something so simple to do (I was in bed recovering from a chest infection), it was first of its kind for our L&D department to be involved in and funnily enough – only a handful of L&D people actually participated in it unfortunately.


Ever since finishing #ETMOOC, I’ve been trying to find a cMOOC that had the same ‘buzz’ about it.  I stumbled upon Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning.  We just started Week 3 and you can see the results of my work in the following links:

I’m enjoying this MOOC because it has a bit of structure about it and you can feel that it’s building up to something.  The Google+ community is relatively quieter than #etmooc and it seems that there’s more collaboration on the OCTEL forums but I’d much rather contribute within the G+ communities because it’s simpler and easier to get to.  I appreciate the comments on these posts by people who are doing the MOOC and even though many of the participants are from Higher Ed or other educational sectors, I have learned so much from them that can be applied in our corporate workplace with some tinkering and simplification.

You can tell who’s from academia and who’s not.  Usually the blog posts that have links, cited references, and written like an academic paper are ones that are unlikely to have come from me!

(Although I have been building a steady collection of such posts in Evernote because these people are effectively doing the research for me.  All I need to do is to digest it, reflect on it, see how it may be applied in a workplace context, then go try it out).

The Bane of My Existence: Online Compliance Training

Everyone knows my stance on compliance training…


This shouldn’t even come into the “What I Learned” post because basically I learned nothing from this month’s doing mandatory compliance training except that I don’t like our LMS and how difficult it is to find, access, and complete our training.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate ALL online learning programs – I don’t.  I have completed some fantastic programs in the past but for this year, the experience of getting to that online course has been less than ideal…

Business MOOCs

There’s a little part of me inside that is waiting to create our first ever business MOOC using Yammer as our platform.

One little devil in my left ear, is saying, “Go on, do it!” and an angel on my right shoulder is saying, “wait until there’s more people on Yammer, wait until you have buy-in and support from your L&D department because they won’t know what you’re talking about.”

And then, me in the middle asking, “if I was to get a team together to create a MOOC, what will be our course? Will they know what a MOOC is? Will we get bogged down in details, politicking, control and all those little issues that arise with a group of people who may not understand what it is about, why we are doing it, and the point of it – especially if they may not have done a MOOC or used Yammer before?

It always seems to be an issue of timing for me.  Most of the time I seem to be slightly ahead of everyone, but then I wait, hesitate, or just get on with my normal day to day work. Before you know it, someone from the business has contracted a vendor to just go ahead and do it bypassing L&D altogether and then we all think it’s bigger than Ben Hur and struggle to incorporate it into our own L&D practices – rather than us being the trend setters.

It just goes to show me that I need some influencing skills.

I’m seeing it more and more from my Yammer colleagues who have the same mindset but who are having issues with their own management trying to get them to see that there’s other ways to get the job done…

I finished reading an e-book by Inge de Waard (@Ignatia) called How to Set Up Your Own MOOC for Business, Not For Profits and Informal Communities which got me thinking as to how to set one up in our own company.

MSLOC Twitter Chat

I participated in three excellent Twitter chats this month from the students of MSLOC430 who discussed digital connections and knowledge sharing in both a “within organization”. I have attached the Storify link to the chats (except for the last one).

These chats were moderated by Jeff Merrel (@Jeff Merrell) and I thoroughly enjoyed them because the questions were actually well thought out, got you thinking and reflecting and the level of responses were quite detailed with many people linking other references to their responses.

I was also paying attention to how Jeff moderated the sessions, the types of questions, how he responded to others so that I could model the same behaviour with our Yam Jams.

  • Chat 1:  What are the general conditions and individual behaviors that foster meaningful digital connections? That lead to community? 
  • Chat 2: Explored the intersection of Enterprise 2.0 and personal learning networks focused on adoption of social technology.
  • Chat 3: How describe value of digital connections in E2.0 & PLNs?

I Learned that You’re Never Too Old To Learn

My mother recently retired and in an effort to broaden her own networks rather than stay home with my father and be in each other’s pockets 24/7, she decided to join the Country Women’s Association.  The meet every week and there’s always some activity – whether civic or crafty going on.  Unfortunately, the craft is knitting!  (And she doesn’t knit).

I felt honoured when she asked me to teach her how to knit so that she can join the activities of her club members.  Finally, as a daughter – I could teach my mum something!

I taught mum to knit!

I taught mum to knit!

Fun Stuff

Three videos that got me thinking (and were posted onto Yammer that got many people responding to these because they somehow connected with them were the following):

About Helen Blunden

My unique super power is that I see learning experiences in everything I do. #alwayslearning
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