Saturday, 26 November 2011

Accessing learning in different languages. Am I /Are we missing out?

This morning one of my fellow Scoopers Michel Verstrepen rescooped on of my articles to his scoop gpmt  Naturally curious I visited Michel's scoop to find that he curates a mix of English and French articles. 

I clicked on a couple of the French scoops - one being a slideshare presentation about job search tools  and found that as it was mainly visual I was able to follow the presentation and gain the gist of the message. 

Another was a blog posting about using technology to "increase attendance of students in engineering and their ability to retain information, the provision of a technologically rich learning environment can be beneficial." (I do not speak French and so took advantage of Google translate to be able to read the article.)

This led me to ponder and question how many original ideas circulate the internet in different languages & how many different versions of the same idea and supporting examples circulate in much the same way. I would never have considered reading French & other language postings or linking to them on twitter or scooping them for example without visiting Michel's gpmt scoop.

How much further could original ideas travel without language barriers? 

How much supporting information and research is circulating in different languages?

Having made this connection I can now begin to further develop my PLN by incorporating individuals such as Michel that share in English and other languages and use tools such as Google translate to review and share relevant content on my own scoopit topics.

Is this an original idea in itself? I doubt it however I was prompted to share having viewed the following youtube video Obvious to you, amazing to others although this in fact may be obvious to others and amazing to me.

I wonder how many others already benefit from an extended PLN such as this?


Sunday, 7 August 2011

Exiled from Tweetsville!

For the past 2 weeks I have been working for an organisation where SoMe is not permitted in company time or on company equipment and so I have been very much out of the loop. This is very frustrating and if it were not for a few snatched minutes reviewing tweets via my phone in coffee & lunch breaks I would have been completely cut off. 

The fact that I do feel cut off is quite revealing in that I only joined the world of SoMe a couple of months ago and it demonstrates the added value this has had for me particularly in terms of communicating, sharing and learning with my PLN.

I have not been able to comment, tweet or re-tweet apart from evenings and weekends which makes the relatively poor weather today something of a mixed blessing in that I have been able to complete one blog post and am now able to complete this one as well and have had the time to join in a little.  

My curation tools described in today’s other blog posting keep me up to date in terms of information but do not make up for the lost opportunities to communicate and discuss issues. 

Bearing in mind my situation it is interesting to note the appearance of commercial SoMe tools that are being developed to enable internal communication within companies – I read just this morning that LinkedIn are looking to develop a Yammer type tool for internal organisational use.

For organisations such as the one I am currently working for this may help them develop some trust in such tools and to derive some benefit but as pointed out in There are no successful social media implementations inside firewalls by Esko Kilpi via Riitta Raesmaa  may not actually be much help in making the most of  the opportunities provided by using SoMe tools with an external audience.

As I have found to my own benefit it is the opportunity to connect with a wide range of people and with their connections that brings the richness to SoMe and so keeping it inhouse may not prove to be as useful as some would suggest.

My Curation tools - incoming and outgoing.

I have been using curation tools for a few weeks now to keep up with the flow of links & information from within my PLN and thought it may be helpful to share how I use these tools.

I use Siftlinks  to gather links from those I follow on Twitter these are collated into an RSS feed in Google reader which I can then review at a convenient time.

Summify identifies the top five stories from my Twitter network & Google reader feeds via tweets and shares and in my case sends me a daily email (it can also add this to your Twitter feed or send  you a Twitter DM) thereby providing a daily snapshot of what’s most popular from an individuals PLN. 

Paper.Li  gathers links from my Twitter stream (this function is similar to Siftlinks) however it also includes Keyword & hashtag searches. Paper.Li then produces a daily online paper with all the articles (links) it has found from within my Twitter stream and those that match the keywords & #tags from all the conversations on Twitter. The keyword & #tag aspects I find very useful for keeping up with developments in ‘Moodle’ & ‘elearning’. 

Although these tools provide me with a much wider range of information than I could manage by manually searching they do not have the capacity to identify what might actually be of specific interest and benefit to me. 

I review the items on a daily basis to decide what is relevant for me and use to collate these into my own curated topics namely SteveB’s Social Learning Scoop  & SteveB’s Economy Scoops    which I then share via Twitter, Google + & LinkedIn. Some of the links that are not relevant for my own Scoops I pass on as suggestions to other curators.

One of my favourite features of is that it provides a visual representation of the link along with a written description - the visual representation enables me to quickly look through my growing Scoops to identify a particular article that I want to revisit.

An added benefit of my curation tools is that they identify new people to follow therefore expanding my PLN on a regular basis.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Confessions of a semi-retired lurker

Okay I confess - I used to be a lurker - there thats it I've admitted it to the world.

I used to read blogs etc and take a lot of information, knowledge and learning from many of the people I followed and never participated, made a comment or added my own thoughts to the stream in any way other than beyond sharing what I had learnt through my work - verbally recommending sites and articles to others.

Then I decided to take part in Share& Learn and that for me was a breakthrough experience I joined in I shared and I learned, I became active on Twitter singed up for FB, started a blog, began tentatively commenting on a few other blogs, followed and joined a backchannel or two and more recently joined Google+ where I am again beginning to join in some of the conversations. I've conversed with people I don't know & will probably never meet and whom I would never have imagined actually communicating with and have found the whole experience to be beneficial, positive and empowering.

Why did I lurk for so long - I don't really know beyond not knowing if what I had to say would be well received and not understanding the massive added benefit of joining in in terms of shaping thoughts and idea's and contributing in some way to the vast flow of ideas.

This post was inspired by @Sahana2802 who has written a great post on lurkers here at Lurking is not a static state the post really made me think and it describes some of my own experiences in moving from lurker to being more active in what I do.

The post also makes it clear that lurking is not some form of nasty disease or a behaviour that should be frowned upon instead it is a legitimate form of participation.

Tthis is a very valuable lesson in that even with the relatively small number of people and the 70+ blogs I follow I could not participate or comment on each post or tweet or other form of communication.

This notion is supported by Nic Laycock's recent post on Communities of choice - dealing with overload & thats why I am a semi retired lurker theres too much going on to join in with everything and so I have to pick and mix what I will respond to based upon my own interests and preferences.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

It really is a small world!

Being something of an early bird I was scanning through the overnight Tweets the other day when I noticed that someone I had been following for a short while had started to follow me back. I decided to take advantage of this to send a message to @ozesteph1992 to thank him for some excellent Screenr tutorials  he has produced that gave me a whole new way of structuring content in Moodle and which in my opinion makes the whole Moodle experience more visually attractive for users.

I sent my thank you tweet and 2 minutes later – had a response from Stephan that led to a short chat in which Stephan generously gave me some additional pointers and offered me the opportunity to discuss the matter further on Skype.

I realise that experienced SoMe users will be used to this but for me it was an amazing example of the power of the Internet and in this particular case Twitter to shrink the world – not only in terms of distance (approximately 10000 miles apart) & time from a 21 hour flight to a couple of minutes but also the opportunity to connect with people anywhere in the world at any time in a very direct way.

Just think for a minute about what this means – everyday people around the world are connecting in this way for the first time & they are having that aha moment as like me they begin to realise the true potential that SoMe tools have to enable communication, empower individuals and enhance learning. 

The key learning point in this for me is that you have to be involved communicating and contributing as well as reading and taking knowledge – until recently I only used the internet to find information reading blogs etc. but that becomes insignificant once you join in, add your own voice to the stream and connect with others.

To be continued…..

Saturday, 9 July 2011

A 30 day journey of discovery, firsts & new connections.

“The Share&Learn platform was developed by Jane Hart of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, using open source technologies.  It is a fundamentally different platform in that allows formal learning to be embedded within an (informal) collaboration platform – not the other way round!   Nic Laycock called this approach: “The Tipping point in learning.”

I am a relative newbie to social media & signed up for Share&Learn a few short weeks ago to develop my knowledge and have just completed the 30 ways to use Social Media to work and learn smarter ‘course’ which forms part of a series of learning opportunities offered within the Share&Learn platform.

During 30 ways which ran over 6 weeks with daily new assignments (weekends off) I was introduced to a number of different tools to try out and comment on. I established contact with several people within the group whom I now follow on Twitter and am connected to on LinkedIn. I completed my first 2 blog posts and have gradually developed a Twitter following as well as following a growing number of people many of whom are in the L&D field. 

I have increased the range of blogs I follow, added Diigo & Delicious to my available tools, joined Facebook, followed and contributed to the Backchannel at #Elnil and have since followed a couple of other conferences via the backchannel. I have contributed to the Share&Learn Wiki’s, shortened and added links, exchanged comments with other members and learnt that there is a great deal of learning to be gained in the opportunity afforded by Share&Learn and other like-minded communities.

I am amazed at the openness and willingness to share resources and ideas that exists within this group, the wider L&D community and beyond. The opportunities for me to connect with people across the world from both similar and different backgrounds is only limited by my ability to manage and deal with a rapidly expanding range of contacts – in some ways this has the potential to become difficult to manage that is a skill I will have to develop. 

I am curious to see how this community will develop? There are over 600 members, many of whom belong to and are active in a number of different groups within Share&Learn as well as who knows how many other groups/communities and yet there does not seem to me to be a great deal of self-generated activity within those groups. At this stage I seem to be reliant upon the assignments in activities such as 30 ways to give me direction.

I think from what I have read and learnt so far that this has to develop of its own accord and cannot be pushed or imposed in effect I/we have to find our own way to develop this community and there is opportunity do so within the existing groups and also the opportunity to set up a course within the community.

If you are like me a relative newbie to social media then the Share&Learn community is a great place to start and 30 ways to use Social Media to work and learn smarter will help you develop a great deal of knowledge and take those first steps into the world of social learning.

If you are an experienced Social Media user then I’m confident that you will find some new tools to try and can contribute your experiences as well for the benefit of the rest of the community.

A fantastic way to start my online journey in learning.

To be continued……

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The backchannel - a whole new world of learning.

This was going to be the first post on my blog – but I got carried away when I set up the blog and Twitter Terrors became my first post.

This blog was born on Saturday the 18th of June 2011 the day after I attended #elnil a one day conference in Bristol (UK) from the relative comfort of my home office.

I did not know until that day that I could learn so much following and participating in the Twitter backchannel at a conference without leaving my desk.

I was following the #elnil backchannel where someone was discussing lurkers which of course at that point included me – I decided to make a comment – and that was it other participants @alc47, @niallgavinuk,  @happyhenry & @trainingzone between them asked me a couple of questions and shared that that’s how they started and I was in. 

I followed the back channel all day & made some comments during the twitter chat in the afternoon and thanks to @happyhenry found out about the five moments of learning –it was mentioned in a tweet – I googled it but did not find any relevant results so tweeted the backchannel asking for an explanation & @happyhenry replied with the necessary information for me to make another search resulting in several useful links.

In the space of a few short minutes I had shared my thoughts on lurking – been encouraged by others to contribute and found a whole new world of learning through the backchannel.

The key take away from this experience for me is that although the internet is full of information - it  is the people that you connect to that bring that information to life.