Yesterday I conducted a webinar on “Getting Started in Twitter” for the VET Development Centre. The centre provides and supports the professional and educational development of vocational trainers, managers and staff through access to events, seminars, conferences and webinars. You can see some of the offerings in their Events Calendar.
I was first introduced to the VET Development Centre by Denise Stevens who spoke on Social Media: Not For the Faint Hearted at the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) Conference in Sydney this year. She outlined how her centre supported their clients professional development in the use of social media so that they could build confidence to use these tools not only for themselves, but with their teaching and education programs.
At the time, I recall thinking to myself that organisations need something like this for their own teams. Many organisations could easily create their own internal development centre to skill up their people in various topics but here’s the rub…
Would it be up to the organisational Learning and Development team to run this?
Back in early 2013 when I worked for my previous organisation within their Digital Learning team, in my own time I had scribbled down the idea of a corporate mini-MOOC for internal staff which I later blogged about in “A Corporate Mini-MOOC on Digital Literacy Skills”. My idea was to provide an open course for all the organisation to participate, contribute and openly learn the future capability and skills that would enable them to work in a connected and networked workplace; but also encourage a shared community of people learning together with a bit of fun into the mix.
At the time, I was obsessed with inspiring others to see the value in social learning and to encourage people to be more confident in the use of social tools that would enable them to be more productive, creative and hopefully re-engage them with their work.
I saw it as an opportunity to mould the future skills capability of our organisation.
Of course, it didn’t help that all along I was inspired by people like Ross Dawson, Niels Pflaeging, Harold Jarche, Jane Hart and of course, Lynda Gratton who just fuelled more ideas to actually get this mini-MOOC off the ground.
I outlined weekly topics and thought about the people who could represent and run the webinars in these topics. The first person who jumped to mind on the “How to Blog” topic was Simon Terry (@simongterry) who readily agreed to be involved. However, outside of my own Digital Learning team, the people who were role modelling the social learning behaviours and who had a reputation for open collaboration and sharing their knowledge and work were outside learning and development. However, I didn’t see this as an issue because I saw L&D as participants who could bring another perspective and dimension to the content but not necessarily drive it – or heavens forbid, assess it.
I even had a few L&D colleagues actively volunteer to take part in the mini-MOOC.
In my head it was perfect! I saw an organisation where employees could seamlessly and effortlessly connect and learn with each other and identify projects to work on in the organisation that were suited to their key strengths, passions and interests and where conversations and ideas flowed. To add to it all, we had all the key tools and platforms at our disposal – so it was going to be at zero cost!
However, in real life, it was not so perfect.
It was difficult for me to explain and schedule some time with senior leaders within and external to L&D to demonstrate the concept and value of the mini MOOC, especially as they weren’t aware of the topics or even struggled to understand what I was proposing and how it would benefit the organisation. The thoughts running through my mind were…
Maybe it was the way I was explaining it? (Possibly true)
Maybe I should have just run some sessions myself? (Should have!)
Maybe I could have done some side wheeling and dealing and played internal politicking between the leaders? (Eek. Nup. Not me).
Maybe I come across like an excited yappy dog? (More than likely).
Of course, what I didn’t know at the time was that a major organisational restructure was in the wind and their focus was on more pressing matters than new initiatives so I took this as notice to quietly set aside my mini-MOOC idea and do what was required of me.
So what does all this have to do with the Twitter webinar I gave yesterday?
Too often I hear people lament that their organisations don’t provide the budget or funds for professional or personal development such as attending conferences, workshops and events. However, many organisations already have the platforms and the social networking tools to be able to create an environment where employees learn from each other, through each other.
For me, Twitter has been an amazing tool that has allowed me to broaden my networks and expose me to new ideas, new thinking and subject matter experts. It is a tool that creates immediate and instant connections around content and links me to people who blog about their ideas and how they’ve applied them to their work. It’s added another dimension to conferences, events and workshops I attend in person because it breaks down the initial awkward behaviours when you meet someone face-to-face for the first time.
In my session yesterday, I deliberately focussed on “why” we should be using tools like Twitter to build and create our own networks before actually demonstrating the tool. In an hour, there’s only so much you can demonstrate but too often, we simply don’t know the tool’s use for us in our own personal and work context. If we know the “why”, we can then become more confident and comfortable playing and experimenting with the tool so we could apply and use it for our own contexts – whether it’s for work; used in your training; or connecting with others who share your interests, hobbies or passions. But you know, it’s not just about using these social tools, it goes deeper than that. It goes into changing our mindset and our behaviours to be more collaborative, open and sharing. And that, requires a completely new skills or ‘literacies’ (call them what you like) that can be applied regardless of the tool that you are using.
If you would like to learn more about how your employees can use Twitter for their Learning and Networking, I’d be more than happy to chat to you about this.