Monday, May 23, 2011

The Mixed Messages of Social Media

Today is the second day of the ASTD International Conference and Exposition in Orlando, Florida. I have attended a number of sessions on different topics including leadership, engagement, relationships, and more. Through them all, a consist thread about Social Media was present.

It makes sense. Social media technology is rapidly advancing and has passed a critical tipping point in which it is no longer a barrier to social learning and is in fact an enabler of it. It is such a game changer, that it likely has application in every conference session, regardless of the specific session title and focus.

What surprised me though was that there was not unison in the theme. True, social media was a constant theme, but a larger then expected percentage of people were speaking against the power of social media. This cautionary view of was somewhat surprising to me. It was something that was present both in speakers and in attendee comments via the backchannel.

I started my conference with a session facilitated by Marshall Goldsmith on leading your own engagement and stakeholder relationships. First, let me be clear: I enjoyed this session very much. In it, Goldsmith shared some great strategies that attendees could put into practice to strengthen relationships. I look forward to using some of the skills shared.

During the session social media was discussed as it pertains to relationships. Surprisingly, it was brought up as a barrier to relationships. Examples of celebrity tweeters were shared, and a very cautionary picture of social media usage was painted: if you're using social media, you're wasting time. Those specific words were not said, but when statements like 'social media relationships aren't real' are made, that's essentially the message many receive. These thoughts were supported and echoed in comments shared by some attendees via the backchannel.

I don't have a problem with a cautionary tale of social media usage. The example of the World of Warcraft player that played over 140 hours a week? Yes, that's a problem; but it's a problem with the player, not the game.

With filtering, social media can be a tremendous resource, including being a huge enabler towards building relationships. I have many 'real' friends that I have met via social media. In fact, one of the things I have enjoyed most so far at the conference is connecting with friends in person for the first time. Before social media, I had never greeted someone I was meeting for the first time with a hug.

And that's just the personal relationships... Social media has even more in building your personal learning network. That's a blog post in itself.

Speaking today about social media having no value is like standing on a soapbox 20 years ago trying to get people to stop e-mail; it's a waste of your time, and a disservice to those you are speaking to. Social media is here, and it has fundamentally changed the way people communicate. Either you accept that fact and get onboard, or the world leaves you behind.

I'll share the advice I give to the 'naysayers' I speak with at events. Stop focusing on why social media won't work; start focusing on one thing can do with it. Stop talking about 'having no interest in hearing about what Ashton Kutcher had for breakfast'; start looking at how people with similar interests are using social media.

As learning professionals, it's no longer a question of IF we will be incorporating social media in our programs; it's a question of WHEN. Some organizations may take longer to get there, some may even fight it along the way, but ultimately everyone will need to get there just to keep up with the way the world communicates - just like we did with e-mail.

As learning professionals, we have an opportunity with social media. We can take the opportunity to explore and utilize this technology now, or be forced to use it in the future. We can pave the way ourselves, or we can follow the road others have paved for us. The point is, one way or another, we will travel the path. Our opportunity is to be the leaders that help our organizations navigate the journey.

Need a place to start? Start by realizing it's not about what you can't do; it's about what you CAN do.

And please, stop listening when people say that social media is 'dangerous' or 'pointless'. The value is there, and it is priceless. Anyone who says differently just hasn't found it yet.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

ASTD ICE 2011 (#ASTD2011) Backchannel - Collected Resources

Last Update: 6/9
The conference may be over but the backchannel continues!  I will add a 'Date Added' to each new resource that is added to make it easier for return visitors to see what has bee added since their last viewing. If you know of any additional resources not shown here, please let me know.

I am a huge proponent of backchannel learning.  There are many conferences I would love to be able to attend, but my budget can only accomodate one or two each year.  The backchannel is an excellent resource for learning from a conference or event that you are unable to attend in-person.

I find collecting collecting and reviewing backchannel resources to be a valuable learning experience for me, even when I am attending a conference in person.  Sharing these collections on this blog has shown that others find value in the collections as well.

This post collects the resources shared via the backchannel of ASTD International Conference and Exposition 2011, being held May 22-25 in Orlando, Florida.

Official ASTD International Conference and Exposition Resources
Conference Website Home Page
Conference Program Guide
Conference Program Guide - Keynote Speakers
Conference Program Guide - Conference Tracks
ASTD Conference Daily #1
ASTD Conference Daily #2
ASTD Conference Daily #3
Session Materials
Essentials of Social Media for Learning (online program starting June 14)

Conference Summaries and Recaps
ASTD2011 Day One by Robyn Sayles
ASTD2011 at Orlando 5/23 by Ayako Nakamura (translated by Google Translate)
ASTD2011 at Orlando 5/24 by Ayako Nakamura (translated by Google Translate)
ASTD, American VOV - Learning Network has a clear vision of learning! by Karen Phillips (translated by Google Translate)
Some Things We Learned at ASTD by GoToTraining (Added 6/3)
ASTD New Journal: May 24th, 2011 by Evert Pruis (translated by Google Translate) (Added 6/3)
Fierce Connects with Global Community at ASTD by Jaime (Added 6/3)
What I Learned at ASTD 2011 by Mark Miller (Added 6/3)
Highlights from ASTD ICE 2011 by Kelly Meeker (Added 6/3)
A Photo Review ~ #ASTD2011 by Robyn Sayles (Added 6/3)
eLearning, Social Learning & Mobile Learning Trends from ASTD 2011 by Molly Horn (Added 6/9)
#CPLPTalk Chat Transcript (topic was ASTD2011) (Added 6/9)
New eLearning Tools Roundup – #ASTD2011 by Cammy Bean (Added 6/9)
Return to ASTD by Owen Ferguson (Added 6/9)
The ASTD Conference 2011 kicks off in style by Katherine Farnworth (Added 6/9)
ASTD ICE 2011 Recap by Robert Ryan (Added 6/9)
ASTD Wrap Up by Scott Erskine (Added 6/9)
Learning and Development Trends from ASTD by Herrmann International (Added 6/9)

Session Specific
Visual Notes from Smart Goals notes by Jeannel King; session from Glenn Hughes
Technologies that can support Informal Learning slide from presentation by Saul Carliner
Falling in Love all Over Again with ISD – with Allison Rossett at #ASTD2011 by Cammy Bean
High Impact Low Cost Experientials to Energize Leadership Training (slides and exercise files) by Sardek Love
The Future of Leadership (handouts) by Jazmine Boatman and Rick Wellins
ROI Institute A session of Jack Phillips of the ROI Institute by Evert Pruis (translated by Google Translate)
Resources & Handouts from my #ASTD2011 Talk by Lisa Haneberg
Marcus Buckingham - opening general session at ASTD 2011 by Evert Pruis (translated by Google Translate)
Falling In Love All Over Again with Instructional Design slides by Allison Rossett
Rebuiding Trust in the Workplace by Evert Pruis (translated by Google Translate)
Verse 1 of 3 Kirkpatrick Trainer Song ASTD 2011 video posted by BigKid
Verse 2 of 3 Kirkpatrick Trainer Song ASTD 2011 video posted by BigKid
Verse 3 of 3 Kirkpatrick Trainer Song ASTD 2011 video posted by BigKid
Donald Kirkpatrick's Final Presentation ASTD 2011 Emotional video posted by BigKid
Tony Schwartz - We're Working The Way Is not Working by Evert Pruis (translated by Google Translate)
How do YOU prefer to Learn? Audience Responses from "9 Elements to Design Learning and Influence Behavior" by Kimberly Seeger (Added 5/31)
10 Tips to Market Yourself and Your Business session handout by C Michael Ferraro (Added 6/3)
Learning Innovation with Today's Tech Tools Follow-up document to session by Larry Straining (Added 6/3)
Fierce Talks ROE at ASTD by Jaime (Added 6/3)
David Rock – the Neuroscience of Engagement by Evert Pruis (translated by Google Translate) (Added 6/3)
Disney's Approach to Inspiring Creativitiy - # astd2011 by Christian Barbosa (translated by Google Translate) (Added 6/9)
26 Proven Tricks to Enhance and Engage Learning session handout by Marc Ratcliffe (Added 6/9)

50 Ways to lose / INVOLVE Your LEARNER by Kimberly Seeger
Building your Personal Learning Network (PLN) by Jane Bozarth
Review of the #ASTD2011 Mobile App by Benjamin McCall
ZebraZapps Quick Tips by Judy Unrein
ASTD International Conference: Must Attend Sessions! by Benjamin McCall
Free Resources from the Marshall Goldsmith Library
THIS is what Social Learning Looks Like by Jane Bozarth
Why do people quiot hetting better at something? by Betterat Blog
Ken Blanchard – It’s Always the Leader (animated video)
ASTD Conference App Featured in the NY Times
Using Twitter for Reflection Questions by Jane Bozarth
Learning 2.0 is Dumb: Use ‘Connected Learning’ Instead by Dan Pontefract
Your Brain at Work YouTube video from David Rock
Are You Following Me? by Michael Palko
Better, Smarter, Faster: How Web 3.0-Executive Summary
Social Learning Lessons: Tales from 7th Grade Biology by Andrea May
What Can Angry Birds Teach Us About Employee Learning? by David Kelly
Who Owns Behavior Change In The Sales Force? - A Key Question For SE Pros From ASTD's 2011 International Conference by Brian Lambert
Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh) YouTube video shared by Brittany Barhite
The State of Workplace Learning Today by Jane Hart
A Leader’s Biggest Credibility Killer (And Hardest Lesson) by Terry Starbucker
The Mixed Messages of Social Media by David Kelly
3 Things You Can Do To Harness The Learning Explosion by Treion Muller and Matt Murdoch
Crush Stupid Policies by Chris Edmonds
5 training activities to energize participants by Sharlyn Lauby
Chris Anderson shares his vision with TED (TED video)
Top 50 Mobile Learning Resources by Abhijit Kadle
Training Plan For iPhone Application Development by Amar Jadhav
Reflections on #lrnchat: The Archive by David Kelly
Where is the Puck Going? by Treion Muller and Matt Murdoch
How to Sweeten the Pot to Retain Your Most Critical Employees by Joanne Sammer
Eight Tips for LMS Implementation by Amit Gautman
50 Quotes About Teaching by Dennis Callahan
Free Guide: Brand-led learning by Kineo
Developing Mobile Learning: Which Device Are You Targeting? by Amit Garg
Employee Work Passion–connecting the dots between perceptions and intentions by David Witt
Top 13 LMS (and Learning Technology) Blogs by Amit Gautam
2011 Top Small Company Workplaces by Inc Magazine shared by Blanchard Leaderchat
What can you Learn from Gardening? by Kimberly Seeger
It's YOUR Privacy: Own It by Jane Bozarth
Six Social Media Trends for 2011 by Jeffrey Roth
Go Ask Your Father Became Go Ask Google, and Now, Go Ask Twitter by Gina Schreck
Authoring Tool Comparison by Diane Elkins
E-Learning Trade Shows by Craig Weiss
To Improve Learner Retention, Focus on the Dynamics of Forgetting by Jon Matejcek
Boosting Talent Development with Best Practices: finding inspiration in the Dutch Approach by Evert Pruis
The Future of Learning: An Interview with Alfred Bork published by EduComm Review July/August 1999, shared by Allison Rossett (Added 5/31)
The anatomy of a viral tweet and its implications for educators by Sherry Nussbaum-Beach, shared by Allison Rossett (Added 5/31)
Telling [Still] Ain’t Training: Interview With Harold Stolovich and Erica Keeps by Ann Pace (Added 6/3)
Can Bill Gates Lead the Informal Learning Revolution? shared by Andrea May (Added 6/3)
OpenSesame iPad Winners at ASTD ICE 2011 shared by OpenSesameVideo (Added 6/3)
Digital Ed's 'Pied Piper' by Liana Heitin shared by Allison Rossett (Added 6/3)
Tired of Being an Order Taker? The Reframing Meeting by Dick Handshaw (Added 6/3)
Sparking Innovation through Learning by Sam Herring (Added 6/3)
ASTD 2011 Interview With The Change Book Authors by jlorens (Added 6/3)
ASTD ICE Orlando - Album #1 Photo Album from Everest CS (Added 6/9)
Jessica J winning an iPad2 from Zenler YouTube video from ZenlerOnline (Added 6/9)
Reflections on #lrnchat: Training Project Management by David Kelly (Added 6/9)
Your Smartphone Is a Conference Game Changer – #ASTD2011 by Sharlyn Lauby (Added 6/9)
The Importance of a Cr8ive Twitter Handle by Diane Smith (Added 6/9)
When IT Pulls the Security Card, Pull Your Obscurity Card by Anders Gronstedt (Added 6/9)

Dedicated Backchannel Queries [Tool and search terms shown in brackets]
Access the up-to-date #ASTD2011 backchannel [Twitter: #ASTD2011]
Marcus Buckingham Keynote [Twitter: Buckingham, #astd2011]
Doug Conant and Mette Norgaard Keynote [Twitter: #ASTD2011, plus Conant OR Norgaard]
John Foley Keynote [Twitter: #ASTD2011, Foley]
Photos from the Backchannel [Twipho: astd2011]

I will be adding to this list as I continue to review the backchannel transcripts and find resources.  I will tweet updates occasionally as additional links are added.  If you know of a valued resource I should add to the list - or if something is inaccurate - please add it to the comments or tweet me a link to @LnDDave.

If you find these collections of value, I have posts that consolidate the backchannel resources from other conferences.  An archive of all of these posts can be accessed by clicking the link below:

Click here to access the archive of backchannel resource posts.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reflections on #lrnchat: Content Curation

Image use courtesy of lrnchat and Kevin Thorn (@LearnNuggets)

Each week that I am able to participate in #lrnchat discussion I post a summary of the discussion to my blog. I do this both for my personal development as well as sharing with the Learning and Development Profession at large. This summary is based on my own interpretations of the chat; others who participated may have differing opinions or interpretations of the discussion. I welcome those that do to add your ideas to the comments.

The topic of this week's #lrnchat session was Content Curation". 

I always find looking at the questions that are used to loosely guide the chat as a nice way to see the overall theme of the chat. Here are the discussion questions that were presented to the group:

Q1) What makes someone a successful Content Curator? How is this measured?
Q2) How is content curation similar and/or different than content creation?
Q3) How has this age of information changed the scope of curating content for learning?
Q4) What stage in the design process does curation happen? Why there?
Q5) What is the difference between content curation and content scraping? (ethics?)
Q6) What tips can you share for effective curation?

There is a growing shift in the learning profession. Historically, content has been pushed to learners from the designers and training managers.  The training department decided how, when, and what content learners had access to.

More and more, learners today are taking control of their own learning.  Not only are they taking a more active role in what they learn about, they are also increasing deciding how they want to access it.  This is a fundamental shift in focus for the learning professional.

In an environment in which the learners are developing or compiling content on their own, where does the learning professional fit in?  That’s where Curation comes in.

There seemed to be some confusion during the chat as to what exactly ‘curation’ is.  That makes sense, curating skills is a somewhat new and growing competency in the learning profession.

I think understanding what curation itself is can be easier if we understand it in a more traditional environment: a museum.  The museum curator is usually not a painter or  sculptor.  They take the various works of other artists and decide how best to position them within the framework of a museum.  The curator takes into consideration common themes, popularity, and creating a flow to the exhibits, as well as other things.  The curator may not be the artist of the exhibit, but he or she provides an incredibly important role: structuring the art in a way that museum visitors can easily access what they want, when they want, as well as building relationships between different pieces of art that may be related in some way.  These efforts help to create and enhance the visitor’s experience.

A learning curator is very similar.  In a world of user-generated content, the learning curator brings the content together, ensuring that it is easily accessible.  They also build links between individual pieces of content that can be leveraged into context-sensitive relationships that enhance overall learning.

This week’s #lrnchat discussion explored the idea of Content Curation, and how it will be an increasingly important skill for today’s learning professionals.  The chat started with a discussion about what makes someone a successful Content Curator, and how this success could be measured.

A content curator needs to create some semblance of order to the chaos that can exist from ever-growing sources of content creation.  The curator needs to organize the content in a way that can be easily located and consumed by those searching for it.  The curator must also keep a finger on the pulse of the organization, and on the individuals that make it up.  Discovering what resonates with the group is important, as it helps to position it correctly.

The curator also needs to be able to recognize and build connections between two seemingly unrelated topics.  Doing so provides learners with an opportunity to extend their knowledge beyond the expected.

Measuring content curation is a little more difficult.  One possible metric could be the usage of the chosen repository for content.  For example, if your content is on a corporate intranet, how often are the pages accessed?  If infrequently, it's a sign that the pages are not of value in some way, be it in context or accessibility.

Another related metric for web-based curation could be the amount of time users spend on a page. If a user visits 13 pages, but spends less than 8 seconds on each, theres a good chance that the user is having difficulty finding the information he or she is looking for.

From there the discussion moved on to what the similarities and differences are between content curation and content creation.  The lines between creation and curation are somewhat blurred.  After all, if the whole built through curation is greater than the sum of the individual pieces of created content, would not that be the creation of something new?

Ultimately though, both content creation and curation require an understanding of what the learners desire and need, so the writer or curator can deliver to that.  One of the main differences is that curation uses filtering to enhance relevance of content.

Sometimes there are tweets that stick out for me and very much 'hit the sweet spot' as a response to the question.  In the case of this question, there were two:

"Content is created to be Curated" (via @ZaraLynnKing)
"Creators are all the authors writing all the books in the world. Curator is bookstore owner who presents careful selection." (via @OpenSesameNow)

From there the discussion moved towards how the age of information has changed the scope of curating for learning.  This is an interesting question, simply because the advancement of curating tools will likely never keep up with he speed at which information grows.  It becomes increasingly important that curators be able to filter the seemingly limitless amount of content, so that what learners have immediately accessible is the most relevant and impactful content.

Another skill curators will need is the ability to utilize search engine technology and learner generated tagging.  Giving learners the ability to assign their own tags to content that is searchable by all users will be huge.

The chat then asked the question: At what stage of the design process does curation happen?

Because of the overlap that exists between creation and curation, where curation starts starts can vary.  As a general rule, I think once someone starts considering where new content fits in with the overall knowledgebase, curation has begun.

Of course, every situation is unique, and the path from creation to curation is rarely a straight line.  More often, the relationship between creation and curation is more of a cycle.

Looking back at the museum example, curation generally begins when the museum administrator receives a painting and decides where to display it in the museum.  But curation does not end there.  Curation continues as new content is added.  Sometimes, curation also brings to light areas and topics that need additional resources and content allocated, which needs to be created, and then curated into the whole.

The discussion then explored  what the differences are between content curation and content scraping.  This seemed to cause some confusion as many participants were not exactly sure what 'content scraping' actually was.  I see content scraping as two specific issues: Copyright and Relevance.

Copyright is difficult in the details, but easy in concept: Give credit where credit is due.  Curating often involves using external resources.  When that happens, curators must ensure that the content is properly referenced and attributed to the author of the content.  Not doing so is an ethical violation.

The relevance issue is sometimes less obvious, yet critical for effective curation.  Curating adds the value of additional context to content. Scraping from this perspective is just copy and paste, without adding additional context or value. 

The discussion concluded by asking what tips participants could share for effective curation.    First and foremost I would recommend that we not make the same mistake we made with learning, and look at curation as a continuous process, not an event.  If creation of content never ends, then neither does curation.

Also, visit libraries and museums often.  When you do, look at it through the  eyes of the curator, asking yourself questions about why the curator made the choices that were made.  There will be applications for learning curation that you can leverage.

Lastly, continue to work within your organization to break down, or at least permeate, the IT firewall.  After all, you cannot curate something that you cannot access.

In an environment where learners are creating their own content at an ever-increasing pace, the skill set for learning professionals is evolving. A big part of this evolution will require learning professionals to attain and utilize curation skills more and more. 

Will you be ready?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's 'New' About Social Media and Social Learning?

Over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to speak at ASTD chapter events in New York City, Long Island, and just outside Boston.  While each of the discussions had a dedicated topic, the central theme of all three was social media and it's usages in employee learning.

What surprised me during these sessions was the discussion that took place in all three presentations related to the new social media technologies and the new concept of social learning.  I found this thought process somewhat confusing, because as much as these terms are 'hot' right now, neither concept is new. This blog post summarizes the themes of the discussions.

Social Media is not new. 

Wikipedia defines Social Media as “media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques. Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.”

I’m not sure I completely agree with that definition.  It’s fine for a current definition, but implies that there was no social media before the internet.  I don’t think that is true.  Social Media isn't new, and I don't mean that in the context of 5-10 years ago with the launches of MySpace or Friendster. There was social media before that too. 

Think about the fax machine. It's an archaic piece of technology by today's standards.  Yet in it's time, it was amazing.  I could put in a piece of paper, have it scanned in just about two excruciatingly long minutes, and across the country another fax machine would ring.  After a minute or so of god-awful screeching, the machine would start printing. After another painful two minutes, you had a grainy copy of the paper scanned by the sender.

At the time this technology was introduced, this was amazing.  It enabled colleagues from across the globe to be on the phone, discussing the document you are both looking at. 

In this 1980s scenario, the phone and the fax machine were examples of social media in action.  You can of course go back further in time and find additional examples of ‘social media’. It’s not the concept of Social Media that’s new; it’s the technology.

Social Learning is not new

‘Social Learning’ is one of the hottest phrases in the learning profession today.  Social learning is not defined by the social media tools that it leverages.  In fact, social learning does not require social media tools at all.  Social learning implies, at its most basic level, ‘learning through social interaction’.

This type of learning happens all day, every day.  It may not be structured, designed, or even planned, but it happens.  If two people are interacting and exposing each other to new knowledge, ideas and skills, social learning is taking place.

Social learning has been around since the first two cavemen were grunting at each other as they tried to make a fire together.  In fact, social learning goes back even further, unless we look through the eyes of someone limiting social learning to a human concept, which it’s not.  On some level, all animals with cognizant thought  learn from each other, share knowledge, and enhance skills through their interaction.

Social Learning in employee learning is not a new concept either.  It's something that has been going on in training classrooms for decades.  Role plays, discussions, peer reviews, and other activities have always supported social learning, despite not leveraging what is commonly defined as social media tools today.  It’s still social learning.  In fact, everything we do is social learning.

Well... MOST everything we do is social learning.  There are a few examples of non-social learning I can think of, most of which fall under the general heading of 'bad training'.  Straight lecture, self-paced e-learning with no peer interactions, and reading without peer reflection are a couple of examples.  These are the exception to the rule though; social learning, in general, is the norm.  It’s just a question of how well we manage support it.

So what IS new?

What's new is the unique moment in time we are living in.  Social media technology has advanced to a point where it not only is no longer a barrier to social learning, it can be used as an enhancer.  Let's revisit the example of a fax machine.  That is a form of social media.  However, if learning professionals had to use that tool for learning programs, it would be a barrier to learning.  Simply put, fax machine technology did not move at the speed of social learning. 

That's not the case anymore.  New technologies have made it not only possible, but also easy, to enhance social learning. 

One of the current shifts in employee learning is moving away from event-based learning, and looking at learning and performance programs as part of a continuing process.  While the discussion around 'we need to move away from event-based training models' is frequent, what is rarely explored is the question "Why have we, as a profession, found ourselves defaulting to this model?"

Much has been written and discussed that places the blame on inertia and the 'that's how it is done here' mentality. But again, that begs the question of WHY would we just accept that, especially if we have grown to realize that it is not the most effective method.

I think part of the reason for allowing the event-based model to proliferate was that breaking through its walls was not easy.  There were options there, but they were either expensive, labor intensive, or a combination of the two. 

That has changed.  Social media tools are free, or low-cost if you need customization.  Better yet, they are highly intuitive, accessible, and learner-directed. Learning professionals can easily create the structure of a community that supports both pre-and-post event learning.  Once built, it becomes a matter of supporting and feeding the community, which is considerably less labor intensive then designing and delivering a follow-up in-person workshop or e-learning module.

It’s an exciting time to be working as a learning professional, as technology has finally caught up to how people learn: Through community, through interacting, through sharing, and through doing.

Learning Professionals have one additional need for their learning: Participate.  I don’t list that as part of the learner experience because I think different learners will define participation in different ways.  For the learning professional though, participation is a prerequisite.  If you are going to be responsible for supporting and possibly building social media communities for learning, you need to know what it is to exist in one of those communities yourself.