Last week I delivered a webinar for a public service organisation who requested a presentation to their Learning and Development teams on how to use social tools to create learning experiences. I think it went well. (At least, I hope it did! The organiser did say that the attendees were madly scribbling notes and I did get thank you tweets and requests to connect via LinkedIn – so I guess this is a positive sign!)
Before the presentation, I thought about how to plan this webinar and customise it to suit their needs. At the same time, I was progressing through Jane Hart’s current Guided Social Learning Experience Design workshop which had me reflecting on why I had immediately taken to social tools to connect, learn and work, while to many others, social tools are a shoulder shrugging “meh, whatever!”
As I prepared my webinar presentation, I noticed that the majority of my slides related to my personal story of my knitting community and the explosion of blogs, podcasts, photos, social media accouts and apps I use to hone the skills for my craft. I worried that my presentation was all about how knitters learn from each other with each other and not much on learning and development. Was I going to bore the audience? But then I realised that we all have passions, interests, hobbies that inspire and enthuse us.
Maybe the answer to encourage the use of social learning and using the tools to enable new and existing connections is to inspire people to connect with others around their passions first and then, about work. Have we got the formula the wrong way around?
The knitting community has always been “working out loud” – but there’s no name for it – we just do it. Without fuss. Without fanfare.
To knitters, it’s all about your craft. The tools such as your iPad, laptop, knitting stitch counter app, camera – are just enablers to show your knitting, promote your knitting, learn more about your knitting, talk about your knitting, sell your knitting.
As I’m passionate about the craft, I began to view my fellow knitters and the tools we used in a completely new light. They enabled me to perfect my knitting and connect with other knitters here and overseas to continually learn new knitting stitches and apply new techniques that I would never had the confidence to do. They provided a supportive environment of peers of varying experience and backgrounds who all equally shared in the responsibility of guidance, encouragement and nourishment (both in the physical kind with cakes and coffee or the mental kind with feeling good about producing something with your own hands).
They also gave me ideas to apply in my own work and in my own job role. Somehow they flicked a switch off in my head that had been ‘off’ for years.
So this got me thinking…
How do we flick that switch on for others when it comes to the seamless flow of work and learning; learning and work?
Would this be through engaging them through their own particular interests – whether it’s knitting, fishing, cooking, community service, fishing…whatever.
In my experience, the people who have “got” social are the ones who had some online community experience with tools that enabled them to learn about something else. It’s easier to explain social learning to them in the context of their own passion.
What happens if we allow people to explore their own passions and interests first through online communities and then ask them to bring back what they learned in these communities back in their own work?
This week is International Work Out Loud Week. It’s an opportunity to work out loud and show your work. What a better time to be able to jump in and participate in a global social learning initiative. If you’re not comfortable showing your work out loud then show what your passion is.
Trust me, the passion comes first, then once you apply it to your work, that’s when the magic will start to happen.
All the tools, techniques and practices in the world don’t compensate for people who just aren’t interested.
— Bob Marshall (@flowchainsensei) November 7, 2014
Help comes to the rescue from my Knitting buddies (aka personal learning network)….
And still, while participating in the social community, I’m APPLYING what they are suggesting and DOING the work and LEARNING new skills. I will then SHOW my work to them at a later date…
More suggestions from my personal learning network fellow knitters – with examples!
And all is well in the world….