Saturday, April 30, 2011

Still Learning ... through #lrnchat

Where do I spend my Thursday nights?  Well, between 8:30 and 10:00 PM eastern time, I'm usually online participating in a twitter-based #lrnchat discussion.  For those of you who are not familiar with #lrnchat, it is a weekly gathering of workplace learning professionals, hobbyists, academic enthusiasts, and education junkies who get together to discuss learning topics.  A very geeky thing to do I'll admit, but it is a lot of fun.  It has also been an important part of my professional growth and development since I began participating in - and learning from - these chats in October 2009.  I wrote this blog post: I Have Learned ... Socially!!! at the time to share the excitement I had in that experience. I have been returning ever since.

I have to admit, not every topic, every week is a home run, but the batting average is pretty impressive.  And even in those weeks when to topic isn't the greatest, it is still fun to talk and share laughs with the other community members.  But every once in a while, a thought provoking question, a comment, or a discussion thread whacks me on the side of the head and a good idea penetrates my thick skull.  That happened again this week.   The topic was "Using Social Media in Projects."   The first question of the night was, "What projects are you working on that use social media?"   Happily, I was able to contribute a few responses here.  I and my team have been incorporating social media tools into our learning design for quite some time now.  But it was the second question that hit me upside the head:  "How are you using social media to gather formative data about your projects?"   This was a simple, straightforward question.  It absolutely made sense.  But the truth of the matter is I haven't been using social media to gather formative data.  I don't really know why.  I'm usually very diligent about analysis and data gathering in the early stages of a learning project.  In fact, I'm sometimes criticized for spending too much time doing it.  It never occurred to me that I could be using social media as part of my data collecting.  But as soon as I thought about it, it made absolute sense to do so.  I can cast a wider net and likely get a faster response than I can with traditional data collection methods.

The good news is that I can learn.  My company has recently re-outfitted our sales and service employees with an upgraded mobile device.  The time is right for us to begin deploying mobile learning.  We are in the early stages of developing our strategy.  So on Friday, I logged onto my company's yammer network and posted a few questions about mobile learning.  I asked people to share experiences they may have already had with mobile learning, and to share expectations about topics, tools and support they would like to see through mobile learning.   Responses were starting to trickle in by the end of the day.   I will continue the dialog next week.

Thanks again to my #lrnchat buddies for the whack in the head.  See you next Thursday.

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