What I Learned in May & June

‘What I Learned In <Insert Month Here>’ is a bit late so I joined May and June together in an effort to make me feel better about it.

Recently, while watching the Game of Thrones, my mind drifted to a question that was floating around in my mind.  Namely, “why do I even have this monthly blog post?”

The reason was that I was reflecting on a couple of months that were chockers with learning.  It seemed that every day and evening was filled with something that was making me think or something that I was actively doing to further my knowledge and skill so I thought:

Was I putting unnecessary pressure on myself by writing about it?”

You’d be thankful to find out that just before the horrid wedding scene in the Game of Thrones, I had come upon my answer which was….Nope.  Not at all.  By writing it all down I’m also keeping a record of it all. I may not capture everything – but I certainly capture the BIG A-HA moments for me.

So here it is. A rundown of what I learned in May and June…

Virtual Classrooms with Webex

I’ve been on a HUGE learning curve here Webex Training Centre as I grapple with running, supporting and coaching our employees in these online tools.

Admittedly, I like Webex (I love Adobe Connect more but let’s not go there as we have some fickle IT issues that means we cannot deploy it unfortunately) but dare I say it, I’m missing the actual design and development of live online classroom content as the tables are turned now.  I’m not in the role of a designer anymore but a coach who supports the business with these tools.  However coming from a background of consultant and designer, I feel that I can offer more robust advice in the design of these if needed – which my clients appreciate.

Also, this month was a first for me as I participated in a virtual classroom with an Asian audience.  This presented its own sets of challenges – not with the technology but with the local vernacular, slang and idioms.

Having these tools that connect us to a global audience made me realise that we need to be aware of our own language, words and actions so they translate to a wider audience – we’re not presenting to just Australians anymore and frankly, this is exciting for me.

In my “books”, I don’t want my “classroom” to be constrained by people who come from a certain background, race, religion, colour, creed, nationality or gender.  We are lucky to now be part of a world where technology has allowed us all to have a voice and learn from each other – to equally contribute, participate and share.

Technology has “equalised” us – and this is a good thing for learning.

Virtual Learning Show

I participated in various sessions of the Virtual Learning Show described as a global online live learning show where various presenters give talks on a range of topics.  The sessions were so good that I bought the recordings so that I could also see the ones I missed.  However, it’s also an opportunity to see how Colin Steed (@ColinSteed) and his team moderate these events and just by observing them, I am picking up some useful hints and techniques when it comes to facilitating my events on Webex.

One particular instance that stands out for me was when the presenter had audio trouble and the moderator came in, explained what may be happening in a gracious manner and had expertly created an environment that didn’t stress the presenter nor annoy the participants.  It was brilliant.  I recall thinking, “this is how my online persona should be – cool, calm, collected and gracious”.

One session that really blew my mind was Elaine Giles (@ElaineGiles) talk on Virtual Learning: From Desktop to Devices.

Capture

She gave us some excellent tips on how we can run our live online training from various devices as well as some great references such as:

Of course, these are all Apple so I have to do a search on equivalent apps for Android (as I’m one of these people who has not fully transferred over to Apple – I have an iPhone but this does for me now).

At one point, Elaine was showing us the capability of showing video via webcam on your device and she panned over her desk.  Immediately you could see the chat of participants go into overdrive.  We were all impressed with the desk set up of gadgetry goodness.  My key take away for this session was “don’t be afraid to experiment.  You may not need all these gadgets – in fact, it may be best to keep it simple – but don’t be afraid to trial things and see what happens as you’d be better for it because you will be able to see what works and what doesn’t.”

Elaine has kindly agreed for me to use the photo of her workstation here…

Are you ready?

virtual_training_office

Elaine’s workstation – in every sense of the word…

I also have to thank Elaine as she helped me out a couple of times last month by letting me know the best deals for mobile wi-fi in the UK (London here we come!).  Then later, with an accidental downloading of malware Snap Do browser. She came in and saved my day! Thanks Elaine! Who said that a PLN is not of any benefit?  Tell them, they’re dreaming.

Mobile Learning Webinar with Rick Zanotti who interviews Clark Quinn and Dawn Mahoney

This interview is a must see (as they say) and you can see it here.

I had to watch it twice just to really grapple with Clark’s practical and real life definition and explanation of mobile learning (and not because there seemed to be a stuffed meerkat on the couch behind him).    It was a new way of looking at mobile learning and gave me ideas of how to present this to my management and stakeholders.  It changed my mind about mobile learning and it piqued my curiosity to learn more.

Sharepoint Surfing…

This is one major knowledge and skill gap for me and I’m trying to grapple with how I can learn more about it.  I took out a subscription to Lynda and watched all the podcasts of the various functionality but there’s no denying it that the only way I will learn is by actually practising – mucking about with it so I asked my fellow team member who is a guru in Sharepoint to set me up with a test account – a play page – so that I can muck about it in without fear of breaking it.

One of the ways I was thinking of ‘killing two birds with the one stone’ was to then build a SharePoint site for our organisation specifically for L&D people to build, share and collaborate on L&D related topics – an online community.  However, my preference always draws me towards Yammer simply because this conversation is opened up across the organisation and my perception is that people seem to share more on Yammer than they do on Sharepoint.

I’m in two minds about this platform and need to explore its full functionality, features and benefits if I am to consult to my clients about it.  More work is needed here.

I’m going to sit and stew on that for a while longer….but it leads me to….

Dumb Idea Out There in Yammer? My Dream of a Connectivist Corporate MOOC

Let’s face the facts.  The #ETMOOC  Educational Technology MOOC through Professor Alec Couros and his merry band of helpers was a transformative learning experience for me.  So transformative is that it STILL has an active online Google+ community that STILL contribute articles and posts.

I would love to recreate this in a corporate environment to radically transform our staff see learning and create a real cultural shift around it.

I have a dream. A dream to create a cMOOC experience with our corporation using the tools that we already have – either Sharepoint or Yammer (but erring on side of Yammer simply because you can access it 24/7 and on any mobile device).  When I asked the question to the Yammer Community, they were quick to respond with supporters in this idea but also with suggestions of using MindFlash as the platform.

However the challenge here is NOT to use another platform – that is, I’m not looking at creating a new LMS – or following the xMOOC experience.  I want the cMOOC experience where it’s more free flowing and people can come and go, and contribute what they want and when they want.  If I was going to go down the xMOOC side, it will ‘formalise’ the learning which is not what I want to do…

I wrote my idea in this blog post on how I might structure a Digital Literacy cMOOC which generated some comments.

However, maybe going great guns and creating a cMOOC might be too wild for everyone so instead, this month, I’m doing something else and chunk down the topics – and roll out the topics separately – as stand alone topics – each with their own private Yammer group.  So if I don’t build the cMOOC in its entirety, I will build its components and THEN create the cMOOC wrapper so-to-speak.

The first topic to be rolled out will be Twitter: How to Grow Your Network and Develop Professionally delivered as a series of live online events with its own Yammer community (which I used to upload various reference documents and podcasts for people to read because obviously, I want them to use Twitter to do the ‘connecting’ and ‘sharing’ to a wider community).

Capture

Twitter for Professional Development Yammer Group. The poll is there to get some data so that I can refer to when the live online events roll out.

 

Is Learning Design Mature Enough in Australia?

I was a panel member of the Learning Cafe monthly webinar and the topic was on learning design in Australia.  Read about it here.

What did I learn here? Basically, don’t have a massive fried meal before you’re presenting in a webinar.

Oh, and ADDIE is old fashioned.

EduTech 2013

I think I’ve said it all in this blog post here.  Suffice to say I had a fantastic time and met many of my PLN in person – and many more.  I even met Charles Jennings in person (and he was also in my presentation).

I may have influenced a few people in the Corporate and Government Congress to join Twitter.

So my job here was done…

MOOCS

There’s a few cMOOCs on the go with me but luckily, I pick and choose the topics and contribute where and when I want.  I’ve been enjoying the #OCTEL MOOC because there’s a lot of different readings and activities that are customised around our requirements and commitments.

I started another cMOOC called Making Learning Connected (read what I thought of the first week here) and already, it’s shaping up to be a good one – well for the first week.  Every week we have different activities to do and I’ve learned different tools that are available to create some funky stuff.  It really just gives me an excuse to be creative and muck around with some tools.  If you would like to know more, check it out here.  Already here are some tools I have been experimenting with on this MOOC:

  • Taxgedo
  • Word Cloud
  • Zeega
  • Meme Generator

Unfortunately the second week we had to hack a toy and I looked around our house trying to find some toys.  I found some stashed away by my husband who collected them.    When I told him what I wanted to do with them, basically break them down and take video of them, he nearly had a heart attack.  So they go back into the cupboard again.

So will I finish the Making Learning Connected MOOC? Unlikely because of an upcoming overseas trip – but hey, there’s always lurking.

toys

I told my husband I wanted to hack these pristine, still in their boxes, toys from the early 80’s and he nearly had a heart attack.

 

New Tools that Have Captured My Attention

@jjash tweeted a photo of herself with a dinosaur and that immediately sent me to iTunes to download Dinosaur AR – an augmented reality app that includes a dinosaur in your photos.  As you focus in on your subject, a dinosaur comes alive in your viewfinder and you can move it around to capture the right moment it roars.  Naturally I had to get my husband in on the act and told him to ‘act scared’ without telling him what I was doing – and here’s the result.

Another one I’ve been mucking about is with Aurasma. You can download the app from iTunes and then point your camera to a print and this green critter jumps out and about.  It’s a bit amusing to say the least…

Capture

Zeega – is another tool that you can use to mash up music, text and photos and create a slideshow.  This created a bit of fun for me.

Tackk – is another tool for creating a website

Vine – I’m still fascinated by Vine.  You might say, ‘isn’t that just a gif maker?’ but I think I’m fascinated more about how people have used it to create different Vines.  Of course, Vine is now on Android so I downloaded it onto the tablet with the intention of exploring the tool further – when I get some time! (Has anyone used it on Android – seems to freeze  on me…)

And Last of all…Sad Cat Diaries

What’s a post without reference to a cat.  In May, I learned that cats are sad.

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About Activate Learning Solutions

Helen Blunden is the founder of Activate Learning Solutions and Third Place. She has over 20 years of experience within learning and development across private, public and not-for-profit organisations. With a specialty in performance consulting and networked learning, Helen believes that workplace learning is integral to business success. She has a passion for enabling people to learn beyond the classroom and believes in the power of networks and communities to drive collaboration and meaning within the organisation. From facilitator-led instruction, online and blended, Helen deploys social and informal learning such as enterprise social networking, collaboration tools and emerging technologies that have been proven successful and embedded workplace change.
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