Category Archives: reflection

Video Contribution to #WOLweek

Here is my first iMovie effort and it’s talking about my current work project and some of the challenges we face down the road. Yes, there are some flaws in the video but I had a lot of fun learning the tool and the processes.

I am definitely interested in speaking with Moodle experts about the long-term use/re-use of our learning assets and how we manage resource/assignment updates over their lifecycle. I’d also be interested in speaking with folks who have migrated from Moodle to TotaraLMS.

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EduTECH Conference Reflection

I recently had the chance to attend EduTECH in Brisbane as a panelist and speaker on their Workplace Learning track. For those not familiar with this event, it is the largest learning congress in Australia and draws 5000-8000 delegates annually. While most of the participants are in the K-12 and Higher Ed sectors, there is a modest-but-dedicated segment from Workplace Learning and Vocational Training providers and practitioners.

From a professional point of view it was a wonderful experience to be part of, and I was truly humbled to have been invited to share some stories with the delegates and to make connections with genuinely inspired practitioners in another part of the world.

After 2 days of talks and workshops and conversations I have reached a few conclusions about the state of the discipline of L&D, as well as the nature of conferences.

Shared Misery

Most notably, the problems we talk about in the North American sphere are present here in Australasia and also in some parts of Europe. These problems include getting support from orgs, trying new ideas, and strategic engagement. I find the implications of these common problems a little alarming. In that respect, at least, I suppose we are in good company. There is a part of me that wonders whether the global reach of some organizations or their management cultures are the root cause of these shared challenges.

Recurring Messages

Even more alarming is the fact that these problems (breaking down/working across silos, sharing, collaboration, L&D’s role in the business, subvert hierarchies) are ones we see frequently in conferences and even across our social/learning networks. We have also been seeing these problems and the proposed solutions for years. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this conclusion. On one hand, shared problems should lead to shared solutions. On the other hand, the fact that so many of us continue to experience these issues is rather unsettling.

For example, the conversation about ensuring L&D is aligned with the business isn’t a new one. Not by any stretch. Misalignment is arguably the most worrisome of the problems/challenges listed above and likely contributes to business’ perceptions of the relative value of L&D to the organization. Also consider that we still have to make the argument to support and sustain social learning practices within organizations. Sure, there’s agreement among our peers acknowledging the need, but what are we actually doing about it?

Harold Jarche – in his keynote – continues to share the message about the changing nature of work, how automation of tasks will eliminate roles familiar to us today, and he warns of the increasingly complex environments in which we will find ourselves.  I remain unconvinced that we have collectively prepared ourselves for this “brave new world” when we are continually trying to satisfy performance needs with knowledge-based solutions.  (Okay, I know, that’s a bit of a blanket indictment but until we can get past living in an IMI 1/IMI 2 world and get past a love of tools that lock us into these kinds of solutions we are going to have a hell of a time moving forward).

Conference meets TEDx

I appreciate the nature of this event for the way in which they approached the sessions.  Unlike most conferences I have attended, there were very few workshops or concurrent sessions. Our stream, at least, was in the same room for the duration of the conference (with the exception of the final plenary keynote). They assign a “chair” to each stream ours was Simon Terry) who handles speaker introductions. More than that, they take the time to weave together some of the stories and themes emerging from the talks. That stands in contrast to the usual scene at conferences with attendees scurrying from room to room where there is little time to weave things together. I like to think that the shared space for the duration of the conference helped to create some connections among the delegates because the attendance was less transient.

The speakers abided by the widely-circulated TED principles for their talks. This approach pushes speakers into relating their experience in a story fashion and to think differently than the usual canned presentation. It was also nice that the vendor influence on the talks was very, very minimal.  There is nothing more frustrating than to give up your time at a PD event only to have concurrent sessions filled with vendor case studies and talks that are little removed from sales pitches. For me, that kind of thing should reside on the expo floor. There were only 2 sponsor/vendor talks that happened in our stream, but they were mercifully confined to 5 minutes. For what it’s worth, the first of the two was so skilfully done that it did not come across as a vendor talk.

While the format may be somewhat passive consumption, I think the format change for the talks and the approach to the event itself more than compensate for any lack of activity. Personally, I would like to see conference organizers take a very hard look at breaking with the status quo.

Familiar friends in Strange Lands

The best part of any conference is the people. I always appreciate the opportunity to meet new colleagues and other people in my Personal Learning Network (PLN).  I got to reconnect with Harold as well as with Shannon Tipton in her new guise as a Learning Rebel. The global nature of networks also means that you will wind up meeting local people in far-off places, like fellow Canadians George & Alec Couros. At long last, I met Steve Wheeler from the UK and the influential K-12 blogger and tweeter, Shelly Sanchez Tyrell. Also great to meet Amy Rouse from AT&T U, who isn’t terribly active on Twitter but does some amazing stuff with in-house MOOCs. Of course our hosts were a fantastic crew of Australians. I appreciated the opportunity to meet Ryan Tracey, Joyce Seitzinger, Michelle Ockers, Con Ongarezos, and many, many others.  

EduTECH Workplace Learning Track Speakers

EduTECH 2015 Workplace Learning Speakers L-R: Simon G. Terry (moderator), Amy Rouse (AT&T U), Harold Jarche (ITA), Me, Joyce Seitzinger (adademictribe), Shannon Tipton (Learning Rebels), Ryan Tracey (AMP), Michelle Ockers (Coca-Cola Amatil). Not pictured: Alec Couros, David Price, Peter Baines, Con Ongarezos. (photo credit Mairi Thomson @OpenAccessLearn)

Final Thoughts

There is a lot of talk about breaking with the status quo and working to improve our influence and reaching within our organizations. The best way those things will happen is from within. Organizations like mine are rare where empowerment and autonomy are core principles. Not everyone is lucky enough to work for a Zappos, or a Virgin Group, or a Northern Lights where these principles are on display. To that end, our own professional development and critical thinking should take on greater importance. It doesn’t matter if it’s a chat, or a MOOC or forming an alliance with trusted practitioners. If you’re talking, you’re sharing. If your listening, you’re learning.

…and if you’re learning, you’re on your way to keeping us all relevant and cementing your own role in a new world for L&D.

My Guest Blog for Learning Rebels on ATD ICE and the Backchannel

From Shannon Tipton, the Learning Rebel

Not Attending ATD ICE? The Backchannel Saves the Day

I’ll be there! Oh, shucks – you won’t be? I’m truly sorry to have missed you. (Cue sad face)

A close network friend of mine won’t be there either. (Cue another sad face)

But won’t he? He will be there in spirit. In the Backchannel. That’s the beauty of technology these days, we can be anywhere and pretty much have a front row seat. I asked Mark to give me his insights as to how he will be participating from afar and his advice on making use of the backchannel.

via Guest Blogger, Mark Sheppard: Not Attending ATD ICE? The Backchannel Saves the Day – Learning Rebels.

I’ve been depressed. You? | Internet Time Blog

I’ve been depressed.

Telling you this will blow my chances of running for president, but what the hell: I have been clinically depressed for the last two years. It’s a form of going crazy. I lost interest in my work, stopped blogging and taking photos. I became a near-hermit.

I want to share my experiences with you so that if the black dog visits you or one of your friends, you’ll recognize it for what it is and take appropriate action.

via I’ve been depressed. You? | Internet Time Blog.

My take: As a depression sufferer, I urge you to speak out. If you need an ear, you call me…message me…Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, Skype, whatever.. I promise that I’ll listen. 

Depression took a crippling toll on my life until I finally acknowledged it and sought treatment. Since then, I have slowly regained control of my life.

It’s an empowering thing when one of the most respected people in your network comes forth with something like this.  Jay Cross just took another step up the ladder of esteem in my book.

Talk Prep – Out Loud

I promised that I would share part of the journey to my talk in Australia in June.  I do this because it will help me make more sense of what I am trying to accomplish and it will also let me share the prep that goes into making a TED-style talk; something totally new for me.

As a side note, I was very happy to learn that Harold Jarche will also be speaking on the Workplace Learning track, as will Joyce Seitzinger. It will be nice to see Harold again, and I look forward to meeting Joyce.

There’s a pretty good raft of resources available to tell you how to prep for a TED-style talk, to say nothing of having a lot of TED talks to watch and follow. The thing is, you need to dig deeper into the structure of the talk to get a better sense of how they work.  I’m here to tell ya: its more complicated than it looks. Read the rest of this entry

Mark Bennett – obituary of an education entrepreneur – THE PRACTITIONER HUB

A little under two years ago, Mark Bennett was forced to mark his sixtieth birthday by gathering his employees together and telling them that the company was on the verge of running out of money. He was, as usual, working every hour he could to ensure its survival. For six weeks he had met with three or four potential partners a day, and impressed upon them how iSchool could transform education, and perhaps healthcare and agriculture too, across vast swathes of the world.

via Mark Bennett – obituary of an education entrepreneur – THE PRACTITIONER HUB.

 

My take:  I knew of Mark Bennett’s work by reputation and I was in awe of his efforts to improve education in Africa.  We complain a lot about our networks and our tools, but his challenge make our concerns look petty by comparison.  The world of education has lost a pioneer and a visionary.

Little ol’ me on a big, big stage Down Under

I am thrilled and humbled to share the news that I have accepted an invitation to speak at the 2015 EduTECH congress in Brisbane, AU, in June.

To say that I am floored and in a little bit of shock would be like describing Arthur C. Clarke as a guy who “wrote a little”.

This event is different from most L&D gatherings in that the speakers all use a TED-style format for their talks, and this is definitely terra incognita for me. So, I’m going to engage in a little ‘working out loud’ as I share some of my preparations and thoughts as I get ready for this “talk of a lifetime”.  That said, I am especially looking forward to meeting Ryan Tracey at this event, and hopefully Helen Blunden as well.

This kind of reward is not a singular one. I thank my friends, colleagues, my PLN, and my wife, for their support, encouragement, and inspiration. I will be standing on the shoulders of giants as I take that stage.

A borrowed rant, but one I can relate to

A good friend and former co-worker recently posted an open rant on FB after receiving a take-home package following the first day of school. While the spin is Canadian, I think lots of us can relate, particularly those with school-age kids.

<open rant> My school board has been taken over by lawyers! First day of school package includes: new policy on locked schools, warning that kids can strangle themselves in playground, numerous release forms for everything you can imagine (same info 8 times). My favourite form informs me that “participation [in recess] involves risk of injury, minor or serious, including permanent disability.” Here is my favourite part: “For specific examples of injuries related to the activity, contact the school.” Really?
Dear School Board Administrators: stop watching CNN and Fox. Please focus on providing an engaging educational environment. Stop teaching my kids that the world is hostile. We live in Canada!
Thank you.
</end rant>

So, where exactly do we start with this?

When did the start of school trigger a flurry of this kind of liability paperwork? Where have we, as a societly, allowed the public education system to degenerate into this politicized, litiginous, bureaucratic juggernaut? I dunno about you, but I’m starting to look for the remaining three horsemen.

From the Daily Prompt: Back to School

If I could go back to school? I’d do carpentry. Fine carpentry. I have always enjoyed working with wood and building things. Sadly, there just doesn’t seem to be as much time to do it as I’d like to and the skills tend to erode.

If I couldn’t do that, I’d do automotive stuff, particularly body work and refinishing.