Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Discussing Podcasts and Social Networking with the Learning Consortium

Today I participated in one of Elliott Masie’s monthly Learning Consortium calls. For those of you who have not had the pleasure, this is a valuable way to spend an hour each month. Mr. Masie hosts the calls which address topics of interest to the consortium membership. Members submit questions ahead of time and he provides a brief response from his point of view (usually citing research he has done or read) and then opens the line for other consortium members to share their opinions. Two topics of interest to me came up on today’s call: podcasting and social networking tools.

We have tried to do a few things with podcasting as a learning tool in my company, but in truth all we have done is create audio learning programs. The distinction being that audio learning programs are posted on a website and made available for download, whereas podcasts are delivered to a device such as a cell phone or a laptop through a subscription feed. In any event, the process for creating them is the same. One of my team members is currently working on an audio learning series for managers. It will cover ideas for increasing employee engagement. So, when podcasting came up on the call, it caught my interest immediately. Here are a few of the key points that were shared about creating successful podcasts:
  1. Keep them focused - the most effective podcasts cover only a single topic
  2. Keep them short – don’t overproduce them with long introductions or irrelevant segments
  3. Use two or three voices to create interest – like successful radio shows, podcasts work better when there is a dialog between two or three people rather than just a single voice talking to the listener. If possible, use a mix of male and a female voices.

 If you read my earlier blogs on wikis or microblogging, you know web 2.0 tools are of interest to me. I have been experimenting with several tools to try to determine their practical uses for learning. This is one of the reasons I started blogging. The question that was addressed in today’s call was about which tools are making an impact on workplace learning. Mr. Masie described wikis as belonging to the category of “collective intelligence” tools. He stated that these tools have caught on and are making a strong impact. He noted that because these tools are mainly for sharing “user created content” that rating pages or entries has become important. Ratings help sort out the good from the bad content to bring key learning points to the forefront. I have included a “rate my blog” gadget and a “Digg It “ button on this blog so I can get feedback on what people find most valuable when reading Many Ways To Learn.

The discussion about microblogging was right on the money. Mr. Masie described us as being in the “hype and experimentation cycle” with tools such as Twitter. This is absolutely true for me. I have no idea what people expect me to write on Twitter and, quite frankly, I haven’t found many people who are compelling enough to “follow.” Our in-house tool (Yammer) is showing some promise. I have witnessed a few key connections take place through discussions on Yammer. Also, I received a reply to one of my posts from  a VP with whom I wanted to make a connection. A lot of my work aligns with what she is doing in her department. It was nice to see she recognized that as well.

For what it’s worth you can follow me on Twitter if you want to: Better still, you can follow Elliott Masie:


  1. Hello Mike,

    I think you have an interesting blog. I certainly love social networking and think it is only going to expand in the world of learning/training as well as in organizational development. An interesting way to use twitter, in my opinion, is through tweetdeck. On tweetdeck you can create search columns. I have one dedicated to organizational development. That way if someone says something of interest, I can respond or follow that person.

    Perhaps learning can be reinforced through post-training discussions that can take place on twitter, or even creating training goals that may involve conducting twitter searches. The amount of information that can be found on twitter is vast, especially when professionals within a field are connected. I currently tend to advertise my blog entries to my network, but I also like to retweet entries that I find interesting. There are many other applications that I think are worth exploring. Feel free to email me if you would like to continue this discussion.

  2. John,

    Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you have been able to make good use of Twitter. I'm interested to learn more about it. I will look you up and follow you on Twitter.