2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 6,800 times in 2010. That’s about 16 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 13 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 56 posts. There were 4 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 437kb.

The busiest day of the year was April 6th with 164 views. The most popular post that day was Key Social Learning Roles.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were elearninglearning.com, twitter.com, downes.ca, Google Reader, and elearningtech.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for social learning, what is social learning, bt dare2share, training approaches, and daretoshare.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Key Social Learning Roles April 2010
6 comments

2

BT Dares to Share – Social Learning Case Study March 2009

3

Measuring Networked (or Social) Learning April 2009
3 comments

4

5 Steps to Enterprise Social Learning October 2010
1 comment

5

Eric Davidove December 2008

Social Sensitivity Leads to High Performing Groups

Here is a transcript from a recent 60 second science report from the Scientific American:

Groups with Good Social Skills Outperform the Merely Smart

Groups of two to five members who interacted with each other best outperformed groups whose individual members had higher intelligence scores.

Karen Hopkin reports:

If Alice is smart, and Bob’s even smarter, working together they would A) be twice as smart, B) be half as smart or C) form a task force and get nothing done. According to new research, the answer is none of the above. It would actually depend on how well they get along.

What makes a group good at what it does? A team of scientists put their collective heads together and divided volunteers into groups of two to five. And they asked these groups to perform a variety of tasks, from brainstorming answers to questions like “What can you do with a brick?” to team typing blocks of complicated text.

What the researchers found is that the intelligence of individual group members was not a good predictor of how well the group as a whole performed. The teams that did best rated high in social sensitivity: their members interacted well, took turns speaking and included more females than groups that did poorly. The study is in the journal Science. [Anita Woolley et al., citation to come.]

So if you’re looking for a recipe for group smart, don’t automatically reach for the biggest brains. Try adding some heart. And at least one person who knows what to do with a brick.

Thank you Frédéric Domo for sharing this via Linked In.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a SuperLearner!

Over the past decade the story of enterprise learning has increasingly been dominated by the rise of the “learning” part and a de-emphasis of the “enterprise” part.   It’s kind of an adaptation of a famous line from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address:  Ask not what training experiences your organization can give to you, but what learning and knowledge you can give to your organization.

But the move to bottom-up learning is no easy evolution.  It’s not an either/or question.  Increasingly, conversations among learning executives are dominated by the discussion of balance: when does a company need to tell and when does it need to listen?

Fortunately, there is a certain type of learner that eases these challenges, emerging spontaneously within the workforces of many companies: they’re what we call “superlearners.”  Unusually self-reliant and media savvy, superlearners are leading the way for their companies by exemplifying the attributes, learning behaviors and collaboration-based activities needed to win in this current era of never-ending change.

But superlearners present some challenges of their own companies.  They’re more apt to become frustrated and leave the organization.  They challenge accepted ways of doing things; they have no great love for authority and may flout the rules.  Yet harnessing their energy and the manner in which they multiply the availability and value of knowledge across the enterprise will increasingly become a task of learning and HR executives.

Read more: CLO Magazine Article about SuperLearners

5 Steps to Enterprise Social Learning

Step 1 – Strategize: There is no one “right” Social Learning strategy, and there is no one right way to develop one.  The approach to strategy development depends on several factors such as your organizational structure, existing learning programs, organizational learning culture, and the value executives place on informal learning.  The most powerful approach to strategy development, from my experience, is to develop one that is business-driven – aligned to larger company goals like increased innovation, increased collaboration across traditional organizational silos, reducing reliance on the aging workforce, compressing time to performance, etc.  The strategy should paint a compelling picture of the future state of Social  Learning, clearly articulate the business case for change, and outline the roadmap for how you will get from “here” to “there” (including what must change, stop, and continue).

Deliverables:

  • A Social Learning strategy and approach document.
  • User Stories for selected networking, collaboration, knowledge management, and learning technologies to help stakeholders imagine and see “how it looks in action.”
  • A list of expected challenges, uncertainties and risks with a supporting mitigation plan.
  • Defined methods and tools to monitor and evaluate Social Learning behaviors and benefits realised.
  • An end-to-end High Level Approach and Process Definition for “Implementation and Support.”
  • Benchmarking data (in order to validate the overall strategy and approach).
  • A list of critical success factors and key planning assumptions.

Step 2 – Implement: Select, procure, install, develop, prepare and test the ‘Social Learning’ eco-system’ (technology, sites, policies, procedures, governance, and team members).  I advise you to conduct a proof of concept and pilot test before committing to an enterprise wide implementation.

Deliverables:

  • Mobilize a Social Learning eco-system (technologies, governance, policies, procedures, services, and roles).  Initially you might consider focusing on the most important communities of practices or workforce roles – where the business has the greatest need.   

One type of community that merits organizational hosting and orchestration is referred to as “Horizontal.”  Such communities are comprised of people who work according to end-to-end methods, on methods that cut across regions, departments or business units, and methods that require a high degree of collaboration and consistency.  Examples are supply chain management and financial management.

Another type of community that merits organizational hosting and orchestration is referred to as “Vertical.”  Such communities are comprised of people who share a common job role focus and who tend to work within the same department or business unit.  Examples are front line managers or sales representatives.

  • Assign at least one community manager to each Horizontal or Vertical community of practice.  This role is critical to the success of the Social Learning system.  The people in this role will provide oversight on usage and policy compliance, manage content, manage community engagement, track and report trends-needs-benefits-impact, and help resolve issues.
  • Provide basic training for “users” on the administration and use of each selected platform or technology.
  • Implement a Change Management plan to increase awareness, understanding, commitment, and buy in.  See step 4.

Step 3 -  Source and Develop Content: Develop, source, and repurpose “content”, and place it on the Social Learning system prior to the go live date.

Deliverables:

  • Select and develop 5 and 10 subject matter experts (SME), from each of the targeted communities of practice, to create content, and to comment or rate content shared by other community members.
  • One of the first duties of the selected SMEs is to front load the Social Learning system with “content”.  The content will be presented in the form of blogs, wikis, discussion threads, podcasts, documents, etc.  The “targeted users” will need a reason to use the new Social Learning system on day one.  Front loading the system with “content” will help create some attraction and persuade many of the “targeted users” to log on – and then come back again and again. 
  • The SMEs will also need some training and orientation in order to perform other duties such as monitoring discussion forums, connecting people to people and people to content, and promoting “good” content via ratings, adding the content to their favourite’s page, and providing special mention of the content on their blogs.
  • Populate the home page with engaging information:

Latest news about the community and individual members.

What’s new?  Recent contributions made by community members.

What’s popular?  Show members what other members are viewing and doing.

Who’s new? Showcasing members who have recently joined.

Who’s popular? Featured members, member interviews, member rankings and other techniques that show members who are most popular and favored.

Notifications highlighted in the top bar to show users when community members have commented on their posts.

Step 4 – Engage the Business: Engage with the business to build stakeholder sponsorship, leadership support, and to understand the cultural challenges and work environment realities.  This will help you to drive the desired ‘Social Learning’ behaviors and outcomes.

Deliverables:

  • Stakeholder Map for each of the targeted communities of practice and workforce roles, as well as for IT, HR, Communications, and Knowledge Management teams.
  • Documented concerns, uncertainties and expectations of stakeholders and community members, and an associated communication plan and engagement approach.
  • Creation and delivery of communications and engagement deliverables and activities (including the change management plan from step 3).
  • Service description for supporting the targeted communities of practice or workforce roles, and a dedicated point-of-contact for each.

Step 5 – Monitor and Evaluate: Monitor use of technology, networking patterns, knowledge sharing and consumption, and discussion threads in order to evaluate the business case, identify best practices, unblock challenges, and improve the ‘Social Learning” approach and outcomes.

Deliverables:

  • A list of required ‘data’, proposed ‘data’ sources, developed tools, and a data collection plan with clear timeframes and responsibilities.
  • Report(s) of key findings, conclusions, results, and recommendations.
  •  Community participation profile optimization progress report.  Measure the percentage of community members that are acting as a Consumer, Creator, Connector, Carrier, or Caretaker and compare this result to the target profile.  In addition, assess how well community members are fulfilling each of the 5 aforementioned roles (they might need additional training, tools, guidance, or motivation).

Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits

I read an interesting article from the New York Times.  Below are some points that I thought were worth bringing to the surface.  Feel free to read the entire article:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/health/views/07mind.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

In recent years, cognitive scientists have shown that a few simple techniques can reliably improve how much we learn from studying.  But they directly contradict much of the common wisdom about good study habits, and they have not caught on.

For instance, instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where you study improves retention. So does studying distinct but related skills or concepts in one sitting, rather than focusing intensely on a single thing.

We walk around with all sorts of unexamined beliefs about what works in learning – most of which are flat wrong.

Take the notion that people have specific learning styles.  Some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas.

Cognitive scientists do not deny that honest-to-goodness cramming can lead to a better grade on a given exam. But hurriedly jam-packing a brain is akin to speed-packing a cheap suitcase, as most students quickly learn – it holds its new load for a while, then most everything falls out.

Forgetting is the friend of learning.  When you forget something, it allows you to relearn, and do so effectively, the next time you see it.

That’s one reason cognitive scientists see testing itself — or practice tests and quizzes — as a powerful tool of learning, rather than merely assessment.

So, alternating study environments, mixing content, spacing study sessions, self-testing or all the above — will turn a grade-A slacker into a grade-A student.

Online Communites are Changing my World

Should online communities have a better reputation?  Should you join and participate in one more online community?  Are online communities profoundly changing the world for the better?

Here are four examples of how online communities have changed my world:

  • I was organizing a conference in London UK for a client.  I researched the internet (blogs, discussion threads, social networks, etc.) and found 2 very interesting speakers to participate.  One was from Finland and one was from the USA.   The first time we met in person was at the conference.  We continue to network and collaborate to this day.  One of the speakers connected me to an incredible career opportunity.
  • I created a post on my blog and promoted it via Twitter and some of my Linked In groups.  I received an invitation on Linked In from someone who wanted to join my network.  I accepted the invitation after reviewing his profile, and confirming a mutual interest and benefit.  This contact invited me to help create a new social learning website for a professional community, introduced me to some other people who included me in a conference event, and provided a professional recommendation for me on my Linked In profile.  I recently arranged a 6 month contractor role in the home country of this contact and we are planning to meet in person for the first time.  He has a yacht and wants to take me sailing.
  • I targeted a few companies where I would like to work.  I used Linked In to identify people in leadership roles in these companies and introduced myself.  Two of the leaders willingly spoke with me to explore opportunities to work together.  I did not go through the traditional RFP process and spent very time and money on business development and marketing activities.  I am presently discussing a 6 to 12 month contractor role.
  • I participated heavily on the blog of a well known thought leaders in my field.  I contributed to discussion threads, commented and rated contributions made by others, and helped connect some of the other community members to each other and to “content.”  One of the leaders reached out to me.  This leader acted as a coach and mentor, and a reference.  Eventually this leader hired me for a contractor role.  The first time we met in person was just 30 minutes before meeting our client for the first time.  We are now talking about a longer term partnership.

How have online communities changed your world?

The authors of “the 2020 workplace” make the following predictions for online communities:

  • You will be hired and promoted based upon your reputational capital (for example – successfully turning professional communities into increased business value for the organization and creating a stronger personal brand).
  • Recruiting will start on social networking sites (at least 80 percent of recruiters will tap into online communities as the first stop to recruiting global talent).
  • Corporate social networks will flourish and grow inside companies (corporate participation in social networks may be as critical in the 2020 workplace as managing cash flow).

I was inspired to write this post after receiving a link from one of my network members (Kim Burt) to Richard Millington’s blog post where he shared examples of how online communities have changed his world.

How social media is shaping the workplace of the future

This podcast by Teemu Arina effectively illustrates the imperative for change and how social media are shaping our future workplace.