Monday, January 15, 2018

Three different views on social learning

I am not the first to note that social learning is a confusion concept. Every Friday there is an interesting #ldinsight Twitter chat. I joined one Friday when the topic was about social learning. I struggled going from my tweetchat back to twitter and hootsuite trying to keep up with replies :). Any Twitterchat is hard work but it was worst to make sense here because I noticed that we all talked with a different view on social learning. For instance, people talked about groupwork and having time to read quietly. I often see social learning is seen any learning activity which involves more than one person. That's one of the views but not mine.

I will write down the three main different views I hear when people talk about social learning. I see the social constructivist, the new social learner and the collaborative learners.










Definition

Learning is situated and knowledge is constructed through interaction with others. Knowledge is not constructed indivually but is influenced by others.

Social learning combines social media tools with a shift in culture encouraging connections
Social learning is learning with and from others
Typical remark
“You can not turn off learning” “Even reading a book is social”
“I connect and learn through my online network” “just the technology is not enough”
“We should add some social elements”  “It is all about sharing knowledge and experience”
Online or offline?
Both
Online
Both
Typical interventions
Scaffolding
Communities of practice
Social network inventory – looking for existing communities

Introduce an Enterprise social network
Stimulate use of social media
Working Outloud

Groupwork
Peerreview
Adding interaction to e-learning
Result
Collective learning

Online networks
Learning from peers

Images through Robin Higgins on Pixabay

Not any of these views are wrong. Someone said this distinction is putting ideas in boxes. Personally I think surfacing your underlying ideas about social learning can be helpful in a conversation. Otherwise you might not understand each other. I am a typical social constructivist because I look at learning as meaning making. However, I often adopt the new social learning definition because it is a much clearer definition. The collaborative learning approach is not wrong, but it does not focus on collective learning which is often very important in organizations. Mmm in networks as well in fact.

Do you relate to any of the three views? Which one?

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Bookreviews Kevin Kelly: mind artificial intelligence, attention and quantified self


 I read two books by Kevin Kelly about technology, one on my kindle and one on paper (not the same book by the way :). The first was What technology wants; the second the Inevitable. I found both through Twitter. Now that I think about it: I get most of the book tips via my Twitter network.

I have read these two books because I want to know how technology is going to influence my field of work: learning and knowledge. I was also curious about what lens he uses to looks at technology. In my study Irrigation Engineering we learnt about various lenses. For example, you had the techno-optimists who thought that technological developments would solve all problems of developing countries, for example agricultural production would go up by invention of artificial fertilizer and pesticides. On the other hand, there are the skeptics. I was more skeptic because I saw how great the influence of culture and the way people react to technology is. At times people do reject technologies. Farmers in Africa did not make massive use of fertilizers and pesticides at all. Are there differences in visions on (learning) technologies? What lens can I use?

Kevin Kelly ends his book The inevitable with a clear position: he sees that we are at the beginning of a new phase, the last chapter is hence called 'the beginning' since he sees that we are at the start of a new phase. In this phase we move towards a collective consciousness that he calls the holos. We can not imagine the holos because it is something unseen yet. Another phase change from the past was the invention of the language. The people before the invention of language could not imagine the world with language either. Through language cooperation and coordination got a boost, but also idea development and fantasy. Ideas and knowledge travels with generations through language. The holos is a connection of all people and machines via artificial intelligence. The holos arises because we increasingly share, track, mix, filter, etc. via the internet. He also mentions two different visions on artificial intelligence: hard and soft singularity. The hard singularity theory is that we make a superintelligence that becomes increasingly smart, solves all problems and bypasses us. The soft singularity's theory is based upon a complex interface between people and artificial intelligence.

Some ideas I take from his books are: 

  • Technology takes an increasingly more central place in our lives. We sleep with the smartphone. My daughter sometimes sits with a laptop on her lap, ipad next to it and a smartphone in her hand. 10,000 years ago, a farmer only ran a few hours a day with a tool in his hand. The rest of the day was technology free. 
  • Apart from an addiction to a smartphone, for example, we may be addicted to what Kelly calls the 'technium', the technological innovation itself. This explains the interest in gadgets. The guild of French scholars has been able to delay the introduction of the printing press in Paris but could not stop it. Hence the general technology advancement seems inevitable?
  • Social changes in history are almost always driven by technology. He clearly recognizes that not all changes due to technology are positive. For instance the large-scale slave trade has become possible because of the sailing ships that could sail across the oceans. A quote from Karl Marx: the hand-mill gives you a society with the feudal lords, the steam-mill society with industrial capitalists.
  • The society and what we are working on is much more about intangibles (services, not tangible things) than about goods. 40% of US exports are intangible.

the picturephone






  • According to Kelly, new technologies are sometimes inevitable, but every technology needs a momentum. He gives the example of the videophone. Already in 1938 there were prototypes at the German post office. Picturephones were installed on the streets in New York in 1964, but were discontinued because there were only 500 subscribers. Now we use Skype, Zoom, Facetime or use video to call Whatsapp. Often similar technologies are invented or tried out simultaneously in different places. Only if the supporting technology is right and matches the social dynamics is it widely accepted. There is often a point where technology seems to be an option to individuals but in fact society has already changed so that people feel compelled to use it, in fact it is no longer an option. I recognize this with Whatsapp and the chip card for public transport. My mother could still buy tickets, but that is becoming increasingly difficult. Also think about how difficult it is if you do not want to use Whatsapp?
  • He summarizes the major changes of our time in the inevitable: Our time is knowledge / information-oriented, flows of information such as in your timeline are increasing. Sharing, linking, tagging are all on the rise. 40% of the web is commercial information, however 60% is voluntarily shared, from a passion. Artificial intelligence is going to have a big impact. The time of huge influence of Artificial intelligence has arrived because we have cheap computing power, big data and better algorithms. These three are the optimal conditions for artificial intelligence.
  • Can you redesign the economy based upon attention rather than material goods? If information is no longer scarce, then attention is. What if I was paid to look at an advertisement? If information is not scarce, and we can work more efficiently through artificial intelligence, people will focus on actual experiences. They will become very expensive and a new industry. 
  • There is a whole movement of quantified self. There is so much data that you can collect and analyze about yourself. Does this really make us a better person?
The books offer a lot of ideas about the influence of technology. It is quite overwhelming to me. On a philosophical level, I recognize the inevitably of technological advancements as in society. Being addicted to technology development in general by humanity would explain the focus on new technology and the 'shiny tool syndrome' that I often encounter. The intrusion of technology also gives me an uneasy feeling, as if you lose control. I am not happy about the inevitability. My own feeling says that we do not always need to get better from all new technology and that we still have to stay connected to nature because we depend on it (just look at black mirror). Nor do I believe that technology can solve all our problems, think of climate change, which is quite scary. 

My question was: what will be the influence of technology on learning and sharing knowledge?. What I will take away from these two books is the increasing importance of information, we have to relate to information in a different way. We drown in information but does it help us further? Dealing with big data and information is becoming increasingly important. Attention is becoming scarce. Artificial intelligence will play a major role in this. The quantified self also comes back. 

A conclusion is to pay attention to: (1) artificial intelligence (2) attention scarcity and focus and (3) learning through feedback about ourselves (quantified self). As far as the hard and soft singularity is concerned, I certainly believe in the soft singularity that we determine how artificial intelligence will support us. 

What kind of feeling do you get from all these developments?

Monday, December 11, 2017

There's a bot for that! Chatbots to stimulate learning and reflection

I try to explain to Erik, a colleague what a chatbot is: "with a chatbot you can have a conversation in a messenger program, like Facebook messenger" Answer: "OKeee, so it is the virtual employee on a website who answers your questions?" "Mmm, ha, yes, these are also chatbots, but there are many more types of chatbots, think of CNN's chatbot on Facebook who will tell you about the latest newsitems via chat". "Ah, so it's another way to get news? I'm not on Facebook messenger myself so I do not know what a chat is."
the Dutch Eva Jinek Chatbot with background news
Actually it is not so easy to explain what a chatbot is to someone who has no experience with it. Perhaps the best way to start understanding this phenomenon is to follow a number of them, and get a feeling for it. Choose from my list below with nice chatbots or choose yourself from the long list of bots on the website There’s a bot for that.
  1. Use the Duolingo bot to learn a language. For Spanish, French, German. Via the Apple appstore
  2. Poncho de Weather cat will tell you the weather and crack a joke via Facebook messenger
  3. Work on your health with the Healthybot. Works through Slack
  4. You can get relevant HBR articles via Slack 
  5. The Heston bot voor Skype will bring your cooking skills to Michelin stardom.  
Why are chatbots hot? Messenging programs are are chat programs such as Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, Skype chat or Slack chat in which you chat one-to-one with someone. Communication in sessenging programmes are surpassing the number of communications in social media. About 1.4 billion people used Messaging Apps in 2016. This means that they are already chatting a lot and are for instance every day on Facebook's messenger with friends. It is a good strategy to go to people where they already are, so they do not have to develop new habits or get to know new platforms.

Chatbots to support learning & development You can be very creative thinking about possible solutions with chatbots! Personally I am thinking there is huge potential for the following categories:
  • Reflective or coach bots. Bots can support reflection very well. I work with colleagues on a 'confessional' bot based on the principles of 'the confessional box'. The interesting thing is that sometimes reflection works better with a bot who doesn't judge you. This is also used in therapies. Read for instance about Eliza the therapeutic chatbot.
  • Educational bots. There are bots who can show you new things and teach you something like about art. In the Netherlands for instance there is the KBlab chatbot who will send you a piece of art from the Dutch Cultural Heritage collection every day with some explanation. 
  • Language bots. To learn a language you can converse with bots in your preferred language. See duolingo bots.
  • Helpdesk bots. Of course, you can also use a chatbot similar to a customer bot on a website but now helping your employees. For instance let a bot explain how to use a platform. 
  • Teacher or facilitator bots. These facilitate online courses. A chatbot can help you with the online sessions and guide you through the program. Read the interesting experience of Helen Blunden.
  • Quantified self bots. There are bots who ask you for information and return it to you at certain time. This can be very insightful for self reflection. An example of this is pepper.ai. He will asks you at the end of every day how your day was. After a week or month you can see the overview and reflect on it. On which days did you feel the best and why?
The bot or not test by the VPRO
Are all chatbots clumsy? A nice test by the Dutch VPRO is bot or not. On the site you could chat and were brought into contact with a person or a chatbot. You wouldn't know. You'd have to guess which one you had in front of you. I got it wrong! 18% of the bots are convincing enough. Bots are getting smarter in conversation. For this you need artificial intelligence, so that the bot can learn from the answers and become smarter. However, not all chatbots are driven by artificial intelligence. Here's an article explaining 4 different type of bots.You can create an simple programmed chatbot with programs such as Flow.xo, Dialogflow or Chatfuel. In 2 times 4 hours we were able to built a simple version of the confession bot.

Want to know more? Are you curious? In November, Ennuonline collected a video, article or blog every day about chatbots for learning. You can find this list embedded below or via listly.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

10 community principles to make your MOOC stronger




In January we had a lot of fun facilitating our knowmad MOOC. 600 people participated and we had quite intense exchanges. We received many compliments for the way we facilitated it: personal and quick responses. A social MOOC requires a good design of the learning activities, design of the platform and spacing of activities. I think there were many details in our MOOC that made it a success. If you want to read something about the content, check out my some of my blogposts about the knowmad.

An example is our online network café and the wrap up with a meetup. It is nice to see that the network café idea and the 'space for informal conversation' have been copied in many other MOOCs. Do you recognize this: sometimes you can not even properly say why you are doing something, at time it is so instinctively or a gut feeling.

Hence it was a good idea of Jos Maassen from MOOCfactory to invite Peter Staal from Bind and myself to exchange about the design of a social MOOC and what you can learn from the way you facilitate a community. There are definitely parallel processes. This conversation has produced an article called: 10 community principes to make your MOOC stronger.

The 10 tips are:

1. Size matters. Keep the MOOC small (couple of 100rds) or work with subgroups in which people with a specific interest can meet each other.

2. Build trust. Under the guidance of a reliable and present moderator, participants are more inclined to share information, to express their doubts, to stimulate discussion, or to ask questions.

3. Develop Tacit knowledge. People in a community share knowledge with each other by entering into conversation, the so-called tacit knowledge. Facilitate a process in which people with similar interests find each other in forums to engage in discussion.

4. Find a balance between 'Connecting and collecting'. In the case of a social MOOC, participants want to gain knowledge (collecting) and get to know new people (connecting).

5. Use Peer pressure. Group pressure is a well-known phenomenon that can also strengthen the learning process. For example, state how many people have already responded or are 'through the gate' to stimulate engagement.

6. Involve experts and key persons in the domain. A cMOOC is not about transferring knowledge from you to novices. You do need experienced people and thought leaders. To make the discussions interesting, it is important to involve the experts and key figures (influencers) in the MOOC besides novices.

7. Allow for reputation building. Once people are together in a group, they build up a reputation. A social MOOC must facilitate that people can also build up online reputation by recognizing contributions or eg through leadership boards.

8. Connect online and offline. In this digital era, the online section is the most important in a cMOOC. But the offline aspect also remains utterly important, arrange for meetups or facilitate that people who live together can look for each other. Incidentally, this can also be looked up online via skype or zoom.

9. Provide public but also private spaces. Many people find it difficult to share their thoughts with a community of roughly a thousand people and prefer to do this in a smaller group or one on one. In this way trust and social capital are built up.

10. A warm but obligatory welcome Important in a new community: the feeling of coming home. A personal welcome and a good follow-up are therefore crucial.


You can read the whole article on the site of HT2: 10 community principes to make your MOOC stronger.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Why you should be interested in artificial intelligence as L&D professional

In our book Leren in tijden van tweets, apps en likes there is a clear call for people working with learning, change and innovation processes to dive into technology. Everyone sees that technology is increasingly taking an important place in our lives- even people who are not into technology. I did intakes with vocational teachers this week and I heard that they experienced daily competition with mobile phones. The attention span of students got shorter. If you compete with technology you might make technology work for you and help you? My advice is be curious about technology and get started. But how deep do you dive into different technologies and tools? and why? There are so many developments, think of blockchain, of which I do not know what it actually is. Sometimes it feels like you are in a tsunami of new developments and you let it flow by. For learning professional e-learning seems a clearer need than knowing about artificial intelligence and blockchain.

the allerhande recipes
Artificial Intelligence- What the heck?

A great example of such a what-the-heck development is artificial intelligence (AI). Artificial intelligence is a collective name for software that manages creative thinking by the computer: the learning computer. I've heard about AI regularly, but a lot of it is at the level of 'HEEE, it's coming'. What can you really do? What's going to change? It doesn't click for me unless I get to work with it and start to apply it. A clear application of AI are chat bots. I have written about chatbots before. Those crazy puppets are everywhere if you have an eye for! Especially in Facebook messenger there are many chat bots to follow. I follow Poncho for the weather and a joke, and the allerhande chatbot with a daily recipe. For Slack users: the Slackbot helps you with all your questions about Slack. By the way, there are also chatbots which are not driven by AI, but those will be less smart in their conversations.

What is the influence of AI on the L&D profession? 

During the L&D unconference in Rotterdam I hence threw the  above question to the group: I thought I would be alone in my group, but there were 8 people with interest in the topic. Additionally, those who did not attend seemed to regret it :). The nice thing was that there were concrete experiences in the group with AI applications. The first was the experience of a bank to have Watson analyze credit applications. You will have to teach Watson how to do this, but then you can save a lot of time. Another application shared: At a factory in Japan, a robot runs around (powered by AI) that connects with employees and coaches workers, for example, to take a break. It's not a big brother, but a very helpful robot. The time saved by the use of AI can be put into more creative tasks. A third example was an application that receives information from the internet to make predictions about the market.

The Calimero effect

The AI group acknowledged that you as L&D-er might be afraid of this type of development or may think it's got nothing to do with your business. The famous Calimero effect: What can we do as advisers / trainers / facilitators? This too big for us and something for the ICTs and decision makers and visionaries in the organization. It's not for us but for others. Perhaps AI will take over L & D's work by doing performance support tasks, for example. There is already one AI online teacher doing a great job. Or people are scared of the smart youth who understand it all. Look at the example of  Tanmay Bakshi a 12-year old programmer of IBM.

You will only see it when you get it

This famous quote by Cruijf applies to AI.  You can only imagine or dream up an application if you have seen enough examples and those examples inspired you. Because I opened my eyes (with a group of colleagues), we see different applications. For example, we will experiment with an online confession box for reflection. We could not have thought of this AI application if we had not followed the developments and many examples. In addition, many applications already use AI, think of your news feed on Facebook (does it?) Or your results in Google search. The danger here is that we are increasingly dealing with filter bubbles, you are getting more and more closed in the same line of thought.  Think of the Netflix bubbles. It might be another role for L&D? Ger Driesen calls this the bubble bursting role.

So what to do as learning and development professional?
  • Read, watch, follow. Read an article, attend a summit or start to follow some chatbots. This is a dutch article by Ger Driesen over de invloed op HRD van AI.
  • Investigate whether there are AI projects in the core business and try and learn from those. 
  • Help people in the organization to prepare for robotization.
  • Brainstorm applications of AI to support your work and make it easier. Think of the selections of CVs, relevant chatbots or analysis of online learning data. You might be able to start an innovative project together with others. 
  • Take up a role in the consciousness about algorithms. Burst the bubbles.
Are you working with AI? I'd be happy to know about it in a reaction. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

To conference or to unconference?

I was hesitating for a long time whether I would attend the L&D unconference, organized by Ger Driesen in collaboration with the L&D connect community. The unconference costs you a whole day of your time and follows the open space method. There was a theme: the future of L&D. With open space it is very unclear what you will get in return for your time investment. But ..... I have been going to the learning technologies conference in London for 3 years, and people (including me) always complain that the program is organized around the sage on stage. At such a conference, you do not get to talk to your fellow practitioners in the same way. What a dilemma to go or not to go. Eventually, I decided to go based the fact that it was in Rotterdam (which is really close to my home). By subway through the rain to the office of Anewspring. I soon met someone from the UK whom I knew of the Londen conference but we had not changed more than 20 words. Already a nice start to hear what he does.
And yes, the rest of the day was delicious (google translates lekker with delicious :) as well. It felt like a long break during the entire day, where you can talk to interesting people endlessly about interesting subjects. It started with a brainstorm in small groups about the subjects you would like to discuss. I put up: the influence of artificial intelligence on L & D and new forms to stimulate self-directed learning. Already during this exchange I learned about a nice example (from Philips) where people were tested on a particular subject. On the basis of the answers they were directed to certain new sources or courses. A form to stimulate self-directed learning for people who do not know what they do not know. I was familiar with open space in organizations, but not with open space with a group of unknown people. In open space, the 'law of the two feet' means that you have to make sure that you have interesting conversations, so you can also change groups. The first time I walked away from a group, however, it felt like a rejection of the group, but I was glad I did. So I really had good conversations all day long by taking care of myself.

Changing relationships
Two conversations that had a lot of impact on my thinking were about relationships: depth in relationships, networks and how that changes over time over the internet. For example, there are elderly who have a strong network of 10-12 friends who support each other through thick and thin. The disadvantage is that this can be a really closed network. When you are a member of a closed network, you start to put everything which is said and done under a magnifying glass. Your world is small. I myself have a large network through my work abroad. Whoever I'm following online is by chance, one invites me to Facebook, the other on Instagram, the third I have on Whatsapp, I don't have a conscious strategy. You have to make choices with who you really want to make contact. Many of my online networks I follow from afar, but sometimes there is an invitation to go for lunch, meet again or work together. It has become much more fluid. The disadvantage of a fluid network may be that it becomes superficial. Do you care when someone in your larger network falls ill or looses a job? See also this documentary by Gino Bronkhorst. Gino is going to send all his facebook friends a message to inquire how they are really doing. Some answer: "Why do you want to know?"


The assumption is that you are a Facebook contact, which is not the same as a close friend really caring about you and showing interest. But there are also real friends on Facebook, and half friends, and former friends. My conclusion is that there are many shades of friendship, more than before. Friend networks have become much bigger. We don't get rid of people, they will still be there on some social network. Changing the categories of friendship is also faster. Even a best friend can move to the outside of your network.

We also talked about the future: imagine that all you do is supported by augmented reality as in video below. You can read emotion analysis during your date. You get the suggestion to smile or change topic. Who are you in this future world, what happens to your identity?

 

This reflection on changing relationships can also be transferred to describe changes in professional networking. These networks have also become larger than before the internet because we connect with more people online as simple contacts: I currently passed the 1000 line at Linkedin. Your network is more in motion than before, more fluid. And the day still has only 24 hours. So we need to learn to develop the art of networking when networks are fluid: what contacts do we want to invest in and which contacts remains at the edges?. What levels of colleagues do you distinguish? Is your network sufficiently diverse? Do you invest in the right contacts? I think almost nobody really does this consciously and well. Or?

The subject of Artificial Intelligence was also very interesting - I will write a separate blog about it. So I got home with lots of food for thought, renewed enthusiasm for open space and also a number of tool sites to look out like Degreed. The next time I hear someone complain at a conference I will ask why they do not go to an unconference ...

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Learning poses or learning to model?

Every Monday evening at 20.30 I install myself in front of the television with my daughter for a program called Hollands Next Topmodel, to continue with Models in Paris: The real life. My husband doesn't like it at all, but I really enjoy a view into a completely different world. A world where looks and poses count. This is the first year men have also joint the candidates for Topmodel.



The first episode something funny happened with Chris. During the Go See - a session with potential clients the Dutch often pronounce this as Gooshie - he had to walk on the catwalk. Since he had been in an official model course he knew all kinds of poses like looking at your watch at the end of the catwalk. However, this did impress the clients who detested the poses as unnatural. Chris had to leave the program, despite or even due to his model course.

A beautiful example in my opinion of the difference between what learning tips and tricks in a course or short training compared with learning in practice and learning in networks and communities. In a (bad?) course which focusses on tips you are not provided the room to develop your own style and practice. In a community you can get the space to develop your own identity as a professional and your own style. Therefore, in the Ennuonline curricula, over time we provide more and more space to participants to choose form and content. In the third block, the participants define the important issues and using the online block to deepen their understanding jointly.

Now, of course, I wonder whether I sometimes fall into this trap of teaching tips and tricks when I facilitate a workshop. I notice people quickly ask for the tips when the session is short and the field wide. They like to get away with shortcuts. With the workshop includes online tools, I try to avoid this by providing a whole range of tools, rather than one tool you should work with. For participants this is sometimes difficult and they have the idea that they are thrown into the deep. They really like me to show them the 'poses'. I think that it is very important that you go through your struggles yourself and seek tools that support your practice. A longer road that leads to more profound learning as professional. So that you avoid exiting like Chris.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Knowmads: the battle of generations

Generational differences in the workplace are debated. On the one hand you have the people who believe there are differences and that every organization should be responsive to those differences. Especially the millennials are seen as a different breed, for instance I read the book by Jamie Notter: When millennials take over. On the other hand there are those who think it is a myth that generations would adhere to other values, see eg. Cut the crap: the make up nonsense about generations at work.  Stassen, Anseel en Levecque have analyzed several studies. They state that the research structure of most studies is not capable of making a valid verdict. An important methodological problem is the distinction between the effects of three different factors: age, period and generation. Either way: it's hard to proof. 

The battle of the knowmads

I attended a festival in the north of the Netherlands called Beleef de zandbak. It offered me the opportunity to do an experiment: the battle of generations. My own curiosity is with different uses of technology in the workplace: I see that there are differences, but somehow people are sensitive to generalizations. What differences? I'm pretty fast online, but I see that youngsters are much faster. On the other hand I did sessions for students, but very few students knew what social bookmarking was. That's why I was eager to organize an experiment with practical knowledge assignments to see whether different generations would tackle the assignments differently. The assignments were arranged in such a way that there was a winner for each question. I had about 18 people in my workshop and used the following generations to group them:
  • Babyboomers: born between 1940-1955
  • Generation X: 1956 en 1970
  • Generation Y: 1971 en 1990
  • Millennials born after 1990
Because not all generations were represented I ended up with three groups. In each group one person was appointed as observer. 
  • Generatie X  - old (1956-1963)
  • Generatie X -  young (1964-1970)
  • Generatie Y and one millennial (after 1971)
Generation Y and millennial
Generation X 1956-1963
The winner(s)

The winner was ... generation Y (with one millennial). Generation X-old was occupying the second place. I must say: observing from a distance I saw little differences between the three groups. . However, the observations of the researchers and the teams showed quite some differences; with very interesting conclusions!

Striking observations

  • The two 'older' groups were smarter in using online media. All groups used online media to find answers to a network assignment (collect responses to a statement). However, the younger generation used only Twitter and then especially to search. The other groups also used Facebook and Whatsapp. My personal observation is that nobody thought of starting a poll, which would be my way to collect responses online. In the exchange everyone agreed that if Y's uses their online networks they will probably get faster responses. 
  • All groups also used offline networks in the same way by sending group members out to collect answers face-to-face. No difference.
  • Generation X had more ready knowledge within the group. Generation X-old won at the first question because they simply know all the answers by heart. Googling could not beat that. Furthermore, the observers of X knew the answers but were not allowed to participate in responding. 
  • Generation Y was faster. This lead them to the victory at the third question. According to the observer, "they were enormously fast in shifting from team communication to individual google searches and back to team collaboration". However, in two cases, the speed lead them to the wrong answer. In one case, they searched for NPO2 instead of NVO2. In another question they had an answer which was not logical at all. Critical thinking would have helped to know this.
  • Both generation X groups were very critical of questions and answers, really thought about it, and sometimes criticized the questions. Generation Y was fast and less thought-full. A trade-off between speed and critical thinking?
  • Generation Y collaborated very smoothly, much better than generation X-young. The discussion revealed that not everyone in the room had learned to work together during their education, and this translates into current practices. Generation X-young seemed to have a more solistic approach. But this depends on your type of education, for instance I have worked half of my university time in Wageningen in groups. 

Conclusions 

This is not a groundbreaking research, but a nice experiment. I draw three key conclusions.


  1. A first conclusion is that both generations show their own strengths in this experiment. Generation X has logically more knowledge of the top of their heads, which can be very useful. In addition, they think critically about questions and answers. Generation Y googlet faster and can switch quickly, but sometimes this is at the expense of critical reflection and may therefore put them on the wrong track. Ultimately, it is good to work together among generations to take advantage of everybody's qualities. Don't be shy to discuss them. 
  2. A second conclusion is that Generation Y is by definition not that good in leveraging online networks and using online tools. That could be a pitfall if you think they are good because of their presence on social media. Basic collaborative skills are taught during your education, and most millennials were not taught to leverage online networks.
  3. A third conclusion is that there are equally differences within generations (contribution Mirjam Neelen: as a result so you can never generalize the conclusions and apply them to individuals. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My first Squigl



I have made my first Squigl, a whiteboard animatie (these videos with drawings). You probably know them from RSA animate. Whiteboard animations are quite popular, but if you want a professional one, you will probably need over 1000 euros. This took me 3 hours of time to develop. In this blog I will explain how you can make a Squigl yourself (in Dutch or other languages!).

Scribology I had bookmarked Squigl by Truscribe as whiteboard animation after I had seen the link on a LinkedIn group. Truscribe uses the scientific methodology of scribology.  The drawings help to retain attention and increase the retention rate of information. Personally I would like to stimulate people to think rather than memorize the main points of the video, but I do think that watching a drawing has a different effect on your brain than watching a so-called talking head. My personal experience is that when I watch talking heads I often start multi-tasking, even when the topic is interesting. Often I notice the video has ended and I realized I missed the second half.

Reinventing HRD I am preparing a session about reinventing HRD on the basis of part 4 of our book. I thought it would be a nice idea to introduce the 3 major changes in HRD by means of a whiteboard animation. In the session, more practical examples will be shared and discussed. In addition, I can easily reuse this video. Here is my Squigl, or animation. Feedback is welcome because it is a first attempt.


 

A short introduction into Squigl 

You create your account on Truscribe.com to create a Squigl. After that, it is all very easy. There is a short video explanation, then you simply click + to get started. I liked the way you could get started right away. It is basically a 3 step process.
  1. Type or paste your text on the left hand of the webpage. 
  2. On the right hand side your can record the text by voice, using the microphone of your laptop or ipad. 
  3. Click Finish to prepare your video. Or in Squigl language: "this is where the magic happens!".
To produce the video Squigl analyzes the written text on the left hand and picks its own words to highlight in images. Unfortunalely Squigl doesn't speak Dutch so you will get this type of pictures when you have the word VAN. (meaning from in Dutch)


Squigl for the Dutch

Still, it is possible to make a Dutch video. A few tricks:

  • Make sure you have a few words in English in the text. Then Squigl is more likely to pick up on these words. The written text is only to help Squigl and people will not see this text. I just think that you may also be able to charge the entire text in English and speak in Dutch.
  • Change images when editing. The biggest job producing a Squigl animation is during the editing. After watching your video, you can write down which images you may want to delete or change. Suppose you want to see a professional instead of the bus, then you can change this image and search for the word professionals. You will see all the pictures that other users have made and can choose from these images.
  • Or create your own pictures. When editing, you also have the option to click on 'draw your own gliph'. I quickly drew 2 pictures with my laptop's touchpad, this is not perfect. I would like to see if you can improve this if you use an ipad and pen or stylus.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Holidays in Canada

Canadian taking our picture
I just returned from a vacation in West Canada. It was not my own idea to go there, my husband and daughter really wanted to go. I did not really know Canada except maybe the remote farm of Riks from Farmers wants a wife. It is a very special country! I found the scenery and the colors very beautiful and also so much space compared to the Netherlands. Occasionally we drove 2 hours by car without encountering a real village. People are very nice, too, quick to chat with you. For example, I wanted to make a picture of my daughter when a passerby thought we had to be in the picture together and the camera was already out of my hands. I enjoy the cultural differences on holidays, even though Canada is also a 'Western' country and traveling is different from living/working in a country.

With my friend Kidist
It was also a reunion with three Ethiopian friends (two living in Canada and one in the USA). It turns out that the relationship does not change at all, even though many years pass: it was as much fun to see them as in Ethiopia. This way you can see Canada again through Ethiopian eyes. For example, what was funny was that the ladies' toilet was occupied and so I just went to the man's toilet. But my Ethiopian friend was totally shocked: that is highly offensive! She therefore preferred to wait another 10 minutes rather than to follow my bolt step. Their children had become truely Canadians, and knew much more in many ways than the parents, were fluent in English. That seems to me weird as a parent. Nice was the response of our friend who was rather enthousiastic about it: "I learn a lot from my son and daughter".

 And life with bears ... Bears are in Canada just like the weather in the Netherlands I imagine. People often know where bears or other wildlife are signaled and pass this information. It is normal that when there is a bunch of cars along the way, you know there is something to see, a bear or a moose. They also know how to deal with bears, eg do not leave any trash left. A lot of ads on television could not be transported to the Netherlands because there are jokes with a bear, wolf or cougar.

Bear along the roadside
When using the internet, I noticed that we depend every year more heavily on internet also for planning the vacation. For instance we used Google maps for the directions and you can search for petrol along the chosen route. And we have waived visiting the Columbia Icefield gletscher for instance, because you can read from the reviews it is highly touristic and almost a tourist trap. It also made me wonder what business I would have on a gletscher. Actually I have read a lot less in the Lonely Planet and more on the internet. On the other hand, I noticed that I assume there is phone and internet coverage everywhere, but that is certainly not the case in Canada! We had bought a Canadian sim card, but you could not call in many places because there was no coverage Then you see how lucky and spoilt we are in the Netherlands. By the way, there was also a funny ad on the radio about dating stating: "if you tired of internet dating, join the BC dating club (British Columbia) with our organized events for singles, so that you can actually see and meet your dates and get to know them face-to-face".

I also liked to occasionally share pictures or updates via Facebook and Whatsapp and see what others are doing on vacation. Thus I discovered that 3 acquaintances had also been on Vancouver Island and were equally enthusiastic. You hear more often that people try to stay offline during the holidays, but I also found the internet super handy during the holidays, so no #offline for me! 

Thursday, June 01, 2017

I'm sliding and morphing

You possibly know the book by Lynda Gratton called the Shift? It is about the future of work and she predicts that we will become increasingly serial masters instead of 'shallow generalist'. A master is someone with deep knowledge in a number of domains. The adjective serial points to the fact that you will no longer be active in the same domains throughout your life, but will continue to slide into new domains through personal or technological developments in new areas, building on your older domains and competences. This discovery of new domains is done by sliding and morphing. What is Sliding and Morphing? If you google on image you will see a lot of tinkering. Lynda Gratton says:
"Sliding and morphing happen when you develop deep knowledge, insights and skills in one specialism and then convert this to an adjacent specialism or rediscover a lost competence."
Lynda recommends looking at which subjects and competencies are important and in demand but combine this with your own passions and interests. Often the combination of domains is of great value. In one of the examples, morphing takes place by looking for a new network and new roles. Morphing by doing instead of thinking. When I read the book, I immediately recognized myself in the serial mastership (well, master? but serial sure!). After studying irrigation and soil and water conservation, I started working in the development cooperation sector, in different countries, Kenya, Mali, Ethiopia and Ghana. I only had three years contracts. So half a year before the end of the contract, you thought about what you would like to do in your next job and in which country that could be. And then apply. The good thing of the terminate contracts is that you always think about a next step. I saw that people in the Netherlands stayed longer in the same job because you do not have terminate contracts. From irrigation to consultant learning & Social technology is quite some sliding, isn't it?

Currently I am also sliding and morphing. It feels a bit uncomfortable. I've been working with Sibrenne for many years now in Ennuonline and our slogan is "All About Learning with Social Technology". The slogan still provides direction, however the field of learning and technology develops and expands very quickly. The question is where are you going to focus on within this field? In addition, we each have their own interests and professional identity. A major 3-year assignment aimed at designing and facilitating online courses has ended. That seems a bit like the feeling I had at the end of my contracts. You end something and that gives space to take up new things again. Though, of course, some work continues of course, like our Ennuonline learning activities and some assignments. What I'm struggling with is what direction I want and what I want to specialize in within the learning and technologies field. Blended learning and social learning is already a specialization, I never focused on classical e-learning. I'm very excited to advise on online and blended learning. What I regret in this field is that you are not supporting informal or invisible learning and learning in communities.

I am taking the current space to explore new directions. A number of new lines are:
  • I collaborate with two colleagues to set up a social network analysis (SNA) hub for the Netherlands. I regularly receive emails in response to my blog post about SNA. A concrete question whether we can organize training on SNA led to this brainstorm. Hopefully we can offer advice and training / tailor made support. SNA is one of my loves because it makes the invisible social capital visible. Which helps to develop connections.
  • I teamed up with somebody from our knowmad MOOC to dive into artificial intelligence. We want to do an experiment with eg Watson. There is so much written about artificial intelligence but especially from the point of view of: robots take over our jobs. We want to do a pilot to summarize and improve online exchange using Watson or a similar service. 

  • I visited a VR cinema. Something to explore with the LOSmakers, our network here.  
  • With two new assignments, I helped to find the right platform for learning or a community. I thought it was a good way of diving into tools and I enjoyed that too. 
  • Learning analytics. Two years ago, I was throttled in London because I heard the word XAPI. I then read and learn more about it. I have written a blog and an article about it. But how deep do I want to go in here? Is this not more for data analysts? 
It may seem to divert too much in different directions? A red line in all these subjects may be the use of data and technology (visualization?): for learning in networks and communities. Our knowmad MOOC focussing on the knowmad as professional with strong identity is also an interesting strand, because of the focus on self-directed learning. How wide or how narrow should you be as a serial master? Any thoughts?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The influence of technology on professional identity

In january I facilitated a MOOC about knowmads
A knowmad is what I term a nomadic knowledge and innovation worker – that is, a creative, imaginative, and innovative person who can work with almost anybody, anytime, and anywhere. (John Moravec)
The most intriguing element of this concept in my opinion is that professionals need a personal fascination with a subject. There is emotion involved. You can link your work to an experience or strong conviction. For instance I was so pissed in Ghana because I felt I never got any appreciation for my work within the organization. The start of a community or practice was a great relief. Professionals who appreciate each other, give feedback, listen to each other and therefore learn a lot from each other. Finally appreciation! I was so impressed that I decided to do an online course about communities of practice with amongst others Etienne Wenger, became a member of CPsquare and I am still working with the concept of community learning.

 

Shortly after the MOOC I bought the book 'Je Binnenste Buiten' by Manon Ruijters and colleagues. I think it's a great subject they explore with the book: professional identity. It is also a central concept in the theory of communities of practice. The book is recommended if you are also interested in developing professionals and knowmads. They argue that more attention is needed for professional identity in case of changes in a domain, career- and cooperation issues. Professional identity is not something that is fixed, but your identity is continuously developing, and therefore requires maintenance and attention. Unfortunately, the book is 'technology blind'. Surprisingly, I often read books & articles which are completely focussed on technology, or they are about other topics, and do not really address technology influences. The interface is still not fully explored. Or do I have a professional deformation?

The knowmad's identity is strong
The definition of professional in the boek is:
A professional is a person who chooses and seeks to be able to serve customers in a competent and comprehensive way, with the help of specialist knowledge and experience. In addition, he uses, and actively contributes to, a community of fellow professionals who continuously develop the subject.
I love this definition, because it clearly describes that a professional wants to develop his or her knowledge and compentencies like the knowmad, and also contributes to a community of peers. The knowmad is by definition someone with a strong identity and self-knowledge. These people prove to be more stress-resistant, to be more successful and to have more self-esteem. A strong lesson I take away from this book is that stimulating knowmads and knowmadic work in organizations means paying attention to professional identity. We do a regular exercise by making an I-cloud with topics of interest to you, but there could be more questions.

Serial masters
Lynda Gratton describes the new professionals as serial masters. A serial master has deep knowledge and competences in a number of domains. So, you need to specialize yourself, and you will be in a new domain for a year, but building on your past experiences and interests. A strong and rapid development in identity. I think the identity of a knowmad meanders more and changes more rapidly than the average professional by curiosity and changing assignments. Identity questions and self-knowledge are therefore more important to stay grounded.

Technology's influence on professional identity: online identity 
An important influence of technology on contributing to professional development is that professionals are increasingly online in (informal) networks: sharing about their work and thoughts in Tweets or other micro-messages. This is a new level of contribution to professional development that previously did not exist. Identity has to do with what makes you unique? In the book, working on your identity is linked to self-knowledge and influence by how others think about us. Social media forces you to work continuously on your professional identity. If you are very active online, this forces you to make choices and think.

Boundary crossing
A second change is that it is becoming easier to look around you and cross borders with other professions, become members of communities you would not normally become members of (eg, like in my case marketing communities). A knowmad not only contribute to developing his profession with fellow professionals, but also innovates by looking across the boundaries of his own domain into other communities- boundary crossing. Online it is incredibly easy to take initiatives with others with different expertise to contribute to new areas. An example? I got to know Jos Maasen and Peter Staal online and we are now writing a blog together about using community principles to design social MOOCs. In other words, there are numerous new ways to work on professional development.

Personal branding
I once wrote a blogpost about personal branding. As a consequence of the need for personal branding, the process of professional identity formation will develop in a substantially different way, and way less linear. You can already build a reputation as a young, starting professional. I think that Erikson's identity creation phases (trust, autonomy, initiative, fidelity, identity, intimacy, care, integrity) do not apply anymore. To give a practical example. The book shows the example of co-assistents who struggle with who they are. Solid feedback during their internships influences their identity. However, the online world offers a whole new space, contacting other co-assistants in an online community, possibly online valuation from unexpected angles. The new space that the online world offers is huge.

Conclusion: A great book that puts the theme of professional identity on the map, but with very little attention for the influence of technology. Huge need for a new chapter about online identity!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Working as knowmads: How to stimulate knowmadic working in organisations?

Imagine, you work in an organization and you are convinced of the importance of knowmads. You know this is the future, and knowmads are needed as crucial to drive innovation in a learning organization. You also know what skills are necessary as a knowmad. You already working as a knowmad yourself. But organizations need more employees who work knowmadic to be innovative. How do you stimulate a movement ... how do you create a collective of knowmads?

Typology of professionals in use of technology in relation to work

The participants of our Dutch MOOC 'Help there's a knowmad in my organization thought about this challenge with the starting question "How do you stimulate a move toward knowmadic work?" The above model from our book Learning in Times of Tweets, Apps and Like was provided as thought provoker. In this model we describe four types of professionals. They differ in the way in which they employ social technology in their work, depending on the motivation to develop the subject and affinity with social technology. The typology of professionals was recognizable to the participants. The online exchange led to the following strategies to initiate a move towards a more knowadic work and learning climate in organizations:

Start with the knowmads The most logical choice seemed to be focus on knowmads. "Knowmads make your adrenaline flow" is the experience. Finding and combining knowmads can trigger an oil leakage action, with more and more people joining and working on new ways of working. This group can also develop further.You may use the Seek-Sense-Share model to work on sharpening individual practices. You may also pay attention to professional identity. If you show yourself online - what's your identity? These are, for example, questions you can discuss in a knowmad café (see the interventions at the end).

Connect knowmads and googlers  Another strategy is to link knowmads to googlers. Form duo's where the knowmad shows the googler new ways of working. Working with googlers keeps the knowmads realistic and prevents them from getting too far ahead from the troops in the organization. It may earn them some recognition too (and avoids frustration).

Focus on googlers and hobbyists  A large number of MOOC participants intend to focus rather on googlers and hobbyists. You can appeal to Googlers by talking about their field of work. They are likely to be interested in additional possibilities of working knowmadically to keep up with their field of expertise and networking. When you show this, you awaken their curiosity. Hobbyists are already handy online but do not put it at work within the context of their function yet. There may be several reasons for this. Knowing the reason is key to change. Perhaps they have learned to participate in and adjust to the way of working within the organization? For example, let hobbyists help short-term projects to help others get the right supportive media.

Koppel googlers en hobbyisten A number of MOOC participants would specifically choose to link the googlers and hobbyists - a strong combination because they can learn a lot from each other - on an equal footing. The hobbyist learns about the subject and the googler about smart online networks and tools. Think reverse mentoring.

And how about the followers? Few MOOC participants choose to focus on followers, although it is important to continue to encourage and guide this group. They may need, for example, a low-threshold helpdesk.

About the model
The 'Typology Professionals in the Use of Technology in Relationship to Work" model is intended to look at professional behavior. A bad use of the model would be to put people in the boxes. It should lead to a discussion about behaviours. Emphasize that people can change or at some level show google behavior and on another level knowmad behavior. It is important to emphasize that there is not one correct blueprint way of working, but that everyone has to develop his own unique way that suits him or her. Maybe there are offline knowmads who read paper magazines and share knowledge at meetings. "It's not all internet that is blinking". Ultimately, it is about finding an effective way of working, learning and contributing to professional development, not about online or offline. The model is especially helpful in reflecting on the right interventions to stimulate collective know-how work and to differentiate it into types of professional behavior. With a googler, you may not have to talk about blogging right away, with a hobbyist that's not a problem.

Mariëlle van Rijn wrote a nice blog geschreven using more detailled profiles and designing interventions. The Networker for instance is given the task of adding two new people to their network every month who can contribute to the organization and present this on the intranet.

Walk the talk, organize a knowmad café and share success stories
Apart from thinking about who you are going to focus on within the organization, it's equally important to think about your intervention strategy. Many MOOC participants intend to work on a shift in organizational culture. Hereby, the management style (space) and digital skills are important elements to work on. The following strategies emerged:
  • 'Practice what you preach'. Make sure that you work as a knowmad yourself, but also show that you can deal creatively with technology: put up Padlet during a meeting or brainstorm ideas via Socrative. This will help people get used to technology as aid. 
  • Do not focus on individuals but on groups /creating a movement. It's unpleasant if you're alone as a knowmad in an organization. A dynamic movement can attract new people and grow slowly.
  • Organize a workgroup around this theme. Ensure to have  mix of all types of professionals represented in the working group. Or work with ambassadors. Of course, you can find plenty of ambassadors among the knowmads.
  • Start experimenting with this working group. Get started. Don't remaining in policy making or talking modus but ensuring good implementation. For example, a practical experience of a participant is that the toolset in his organization changed too much and technical support was scarce, which made all initiatives fail. 
  • Harvest and share success stories. For example, organize a knowmad café to share these stories. Success stories can trigger googlers in particular. They are already interested in the subject matter and if they see successful new ways to learn and connect, they become enthusiastic. 
  • Engage executives. If knowmadic work is part of the official strategy, this gives you space to experiment and invest.
  • Look closely at the context within the organization to define your strategy. Sometimes a community at the interface of various organizations is easier because it offers more space to innovate. Find a burning issue within the organization and link to it to make it important. 
  • And last but not least - look also at knowmad behavior during the selecting process for new employees. The more knowmads, the more they can invoke a turning point. 
 

Do you read Dutch? This blog is one of six blogposts about 'Werken als knowmad':

  1. De expertise van dokters vs internet. Over de invloed van online op de rol die kennis en expertise speelt in ons werk.
  2. Hoe werkt het in de praktijk? Een verkenning van knowmadisch werken, toegepast in de praktijk van organisaties en netwerken.
  3. Zonder gist geen pizza, zonder technologie geen knowmad. Over vaardigheden die je nodig hebt om knowmadisch te werken.
  4. Een wereld vol knowmads in 2020. The future is here!
  5. Hoe vervlecht je oud en nieuw?  Met mogelijkheidszin en progressiecirkels