Musings on the intersection of training and technology

Monday, June 26, 2006

Theoretically Speaking

Perhaps I have just been dipped so long into the pool of learning theory that my skin is all wrinkly and my patience has run dry.

Growing up, I went to a unique "alternative" high school where we as students influenced our learning experience as much as the teachers. We talked a lot about what is important to make learning successful and what we most needed to walk away with to be successful in life. In high school we called it "learning how to learn." I then attended a unique, "alternative" school for undergrad where this time, we designed our own curricula, talked about "metacognitive awareness," and focused on learning the "methods of inquiry" for various broad schools of thought. (Same thing, more pretentious terms). In grad school, and throughout my career in the learning world, the conversations have continued along the same lines.

Though I would not trade-in any of my educational experiences, formal or otherwise, lately discussions of learning theory strike me as almost self-indulgent. It is lovely to dwell in the realm of possibilities, but I need to focus my energies into attempting to turn those possibilities into reality. Perhaps my impatience is a by-product of a demanding work schedule. Perhaps it is a result of my refusal to compromise time with my family for extending the work day. Perhaps is an indicator that there is just so much to know and follow these days, that there's little time for anything that falls outside the lines of "mission-critical."

Likely this is one of the reasons I spend so little time on class blog. I already get blogs. Would rather be working on when and where and how to incorprate blogs into a client's workflow. Or on resolving some of the questions I'm grappling with for applying these technologies to the work world, like:
  • Do blogs make sense as a dynamic communication tool for a company with a large network of channel partners?
  • How can you best maintain the quality and usability of a wiki?
  • What's the simplest and most effective way to incorporate tagging into an extranet?
  • Could you create a legitimate community of practice with companies who are all in the same field, but who likely view themselves as competitors?
These are the kinds of questions I need to be able to answer, or at least be able to address, before proposing informal tools to my clients. Talking about how to leverage all these tools for my own personal knowledge management isn't quite enough.

I am enjoying the unworkshop but I wish it was a bit more plug and play. I guess this is just a reflection of the maturity of the technologies.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Personal Learning Landscape?

When I was in second grade my teacher held my piucture in front of the class and said, "this is how not to do it". I think that was the last thing I ever drew. So completing the assignment to draw my "personal learning landscape," even if I'd made the time for it, not very likely.

Here are some components of that landscape:
Books, internet, my little cube at the office, nestled in with my colleagues who exchanging tips and troubleshooting issues in between the the jokes and gossip over the cube walls. The world through Anahi's eyes. Dinner time talks with my husband and mother. Lying awake at night downloading my day. Grabbing a coffe with a mentor. IMing with clients and friends. Working with Mark, the Information Architect I rope into all my projects because I couldn't survive without him. Attending workshops, with or without the un. Making things up on the job as I go and discovering what works where.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Aggregator Issues

The unworkshop group set up an aggregator for all of our blogs. My entries show up as titles only, along with a "linkies" pointing back to the blog. I suspect that is because I had changed my site feed settings to provide "short" descriptions rather than full. I've changed it back. Let me click publish and see if that makes a difference.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Awkward Beginnings

Met with the my "unworkshop" group to talk about blogs. Spent most of the time troubleshooting technology: how to use Skype to conference in a regular phone; how to edit your profile; how to manage privacy on a blog (or at least how to create a false sense of security through attempting to manage privacy - whatever info you're trying to protect is likely already out on the ether somewhere).

Also, not surprisingly, mainstream corporate America is not an early adapter of Web 2.0. More than one of us in the group are having issues with IT departments blocking Skype, or not giving us admin access to our computers. We're supposed to be downloading the beta for Skype 2.5 before next online class, but unfortuately, not so easy to do when you can't insall anything on your workstation...

First entry...

So it seems that the hardest part about creating a blog is trying to think of a pithy title. (This will have to do for now.) I'd like to say that "Just in Time" represents the type of learning the training industry is striving for, but in reality it's the way I tend to get things done. Harkens back to doing homework on the bus in high school. The pace of life these days doesn't seem to allow for much more than focusing on priorities and pulling things together just before they're due. Either I am very bad at time management, or very good.