Tag Archives: research

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.


Finding In-House Experts Isn’t Easy

Why is it so difficult to quickly find someone in my organization to answer a pressing question, provide advice about a procedure, explain how to use some software, or tell me where to find an expert, course, or document?

I rely on my network to connect me to other people and information because I cannot know and will not try to know everything.  I use the internal “knowledge management” and “learning management” systems.  I am not completely helpless.  But sometimes I just don’t know what I don’t know and I need input from an expert.

I know there are in-house experts in my organization.  What can my organization do to help me connect to and leverage these experts more easily?  Experts with specialized knowledge and skills are an invaluable resource for me.

No t leveraging the in-house experts seems like such a waste.

How many problems go un-solved, how many new ideas never get imagined, how many experts feel underappreciated because people like me cannot easily tap into the in-house pool of experts?

My organization deployed a “expert locator” and “social networking” system in order to help employees quickly find and leverage in-house expertise but these systems provide a half baked solution.  I need to know more about the experts and not just their organizational affiliation, work experience, competencies, and certifications.  I also need to know some “softer” qualities such as their trustworthiness, communication style, personality traits, and willingness to help others in need.  I would also like to know how others feel about the experts when they tapped into them.

What do you look for in an expert and what “tools” are best suited for conveying the information you want to know about experts?

Dorit Nevo, Izak Benbasat and Yair Wand conducted a study to answer this question.

Dr. Nevo is a professor of management information­ systems at Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto. Dr. Benbasat is a Canada research chair in information­ technology management at Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Dr. Wand is a Canfor professor of management information­ systems at Sauder School of Business.

This following illustration (click on “key findings”) summarizes the key findings of the survey distributed to users of “expert locator” systems:

Key Findings

Some key conclusions from the research:

  • Activities and interactions that occur in blogs, wikis and social networks naturally provide the cues that are missing from current expert locator systems.
  • A search engine that mines internal blogs, for example, where workers post updates and field queries about their work, will help searchers judge for themselves who is an expert in a given field.
  • Wiki sites, because they involve collaborative work, will suggest not only how much each contributor knows, but also how eager they are to share that knowledge and how well they work with others.
  • Tags and keywords, which are posted by employees and serve as flags for search engines, can reveal qualities in an expert that are far from transparent in any database or directory.

I like this study because it demonstrates the hidden value of blogs and wikis.

This study also helps us further understand that the formal organizational chart and company designated experts are not necessarily the best “maps” for finding expertise or the most qualified experts in the company.

Social media such as blogs and wikis will help us to identify the established and emerging experts and to go beyond the “usual suspects.”

Here is a link to an online article with more details: Source for this post

Social Networking Attracts and Retains Best (New) Talent


Why are CIO’s and IT Leaders warming up to the idea of social networking?  Partly because they think offering social networks to their employees will help with recruitment.  Millennials tend to choose their place of employment based on how accommodating companies are to their social networking preferences.  Another reason is out of concern for security.  Research suggests that Millennials will use “unauthorized” social networking tools if such tools are not provided by the IT department.  The CIO’s and IT Leaders are also realizing the business benefits from enabling their employees to use “Facebook” like tools in order to collaborate, network, and share “information.”  Are there risks?  Yes.  But social networking tools are here to stay and companies need to start using them, learning about them, and finding a way to use them without causing harm to the business.

I am truly excited about helping my clients adopt and use social media for collaboration, knowledge management and learning.  The potential for improving performance and driving business benefits is huge.  Traditional models and structures are quickly becoming irrelevant.  The power base is shifting from people with titles to people with good networks.  We are able to learn continuously and at accelerated rates (on our terms and based on our desires).  We are more willing to share with others and we are less interested in “protecting” our ideas.  We are innovating and spreading new ideas faster and more effectively.

I am out of breathe, struggling to keep up, overwhelmed by so much content, meeting a bunch of great people, and loving every minute of it.

Social Networking Research Report

A quantitative and qualitative research report into attitudes, behaviours and use.