Almost immediately after it was suggested that during this pandemic those who can should work from home, people were talking about the benefits. All those lovely things that make working in an agile manner the best thing in the world: less commuting, flexible working hours, less synchronous conversations, etc. A recent Donald Clark Plan B blog covers several of the potential benefits that this new world may hold. And in general, I agree.
Some organisations across the world are talking about closing office-blocks, moving everyone to remote working on a permanent basis. From the perspective of the employer this makes great sense. Why have an entire building open with all the associated costs, when you can still deliver the same service by leveraging technology.
Discussions about post-pandemic return obviously recognise the need for staff wellbeing and focus on implementing social distancing thereby only allowing space for reduced staffing numbers or operating shift patterns to allow rush hour avoidance and over population of locations. With some employers considering whether all this disruption is adding to employee stress thus having an effect on their output.
If we are entering a brave new world where home-based working is becoming the norm this in itself raises wellbeing concerns. However, many of the conversations revolve around the easily known: working environment being ergonomic, climate controlled and safe; still feeling part of a team; maintaining separation between work and home life; setting availability expectations.
As known things, an employer can see them and considers identifying solutions as achievable. Therefore, they struggle to recognise that there would be other reasons for a person wanting to attend a physical office:
a break from the solitude – a few short video/phone conversations does not replace that feeling of being surrounded by other people and knowing you can stop at any moment and just have a chat
a break from the fear – sometimes the hours at work are a daily refuge for those trapped in a destructive or abusive relationship/family dynamic
a break from the pressure – for some having a relationship and/or family, whilst fulfilling, can sometimes feel ‘too much’ and they need the opportunity to surround themselves with others, whilst focusing on non-personal objectives
a break from the chaos – not everyone lives in a property with multiple rooms, lots of storage space or private (uninterrupted) workspace
a break for the health – some live in poorly maintained buildings that whilst structurally safe still affect their health both physically and psychologically
I am sure there are more reasons given that these are based purely on my own experience and an admittedly small sample of friends and colleagues. Yes these may be the extreme and not apply to the majority, but they are a reality for some and I would be surprised if that did not include at least one person you work with.
Is there a danger of sacrificing social health for economic performance? Is there a workable solution? Should it be the employer’s concern anyway?
As I continue through Harold Jarche’s (@hjarche) Personal Knowledge Mastery learning programme, I am being driven to think more about the Seek>Sense>Share model; where I am Seeking and what tools I use for my Sensemaking.
Each year Jane Hart (@C4LPT) compiles a top 200 Tools for Learning and our challenge was to search through for a (free) app/tool we haven’t used before and give it a go. Easy!
Actually, no. As I scrolled down the list and started to hit triple digits I realised that this was going to prove more difficult than I expected. It was a strange feeling to find I had used (or at the very least tested) the majority of the tools.
My initial reaction was “Wow Dave! You’re really on the ball and willing to try out new tech/software.” My reflective thought however, was “Ok Dave! Maybe you need to think more about whether you are just chasing the ‘New Shiny’. And perhaps you would better served by waiting until others have experimented, before considering if the tool will bring anything useful to your repertoire(?)”
This revelation coincided with my tablet issuing the immortal “…I’m too full for anymore updates…”, or something along those lines. And on looking at the screen it was clear that the number of apps was becoming a major problem.
Harold encouraged me to revisit the list, review those I have tried, rate them for usefulness and consider thinning the herd. So here we are.
I don’t have the patience to review every tool and always try to avoid arbitrary numbers, so have decided that because I have a 2 hour gap between meetings tomorrow this is how long I will give myself to work down Jane’s list and review as many as possible. (Yeah, I know that’s still kind of arbitrary, but needs must).
Results: (29 items)
Usefulness Rating */10
I use YouTube every day! Whether that is for general entertainment (We all need kittens) or for learning.
web search engine
If I cannot find a video, I will search on here to find information on what I need to learn.
Hmm, I don’t learn very well from presentations however, because I have to deliver in that medium the act of building them helps to embed my learning around a subject.
As I look through my feed several times a day, this is where I am most likely to come across new learning. Also, I am now just as likely to search on here as Google, to track down information.
Other than to connect and search for jobs, I very rarely use LinkedIn.
Google Docs & Drive
file sharing and collaboration
When not in work I use a Chromebook, so use these a lot; for writing and therefore, embedding new learning.
Most documents are in this format, so yes, by default I learn from Word.
Do not make as much use of this as I should. Tend to only view if Google points me that way and am not adept at filtering information whilst in there.
When I see something highlighted on Twitter or Google, or am pointed via an RSS I will read people’s blogs. But I do not actively search for items on there.
video conferencing platform
Very rarely use Zoom (our organisation uses MSTeams) and have only attended a few Webinars using it (they weren’t great, but that was the fault of the provider not the tool).
team collaboration platform
Use this a lot! For meetings, collaborative working, messaging, delivering/attending webinars and generally for producing/consuming documents/files.
team collaboration platform
Used it twice: a) to take part in a D&D campaign; b) take part in a Working Out Loud circle. Haven’t had much opportunity to use since.
LinkedIn Learning [Lynda]
Other than as a tester when our organisation was exploring whether to buy a license, have not used it. The items I did test, whilst interesting, were not great.
Use for family and friends messaging/video chats, but for very little else.
Have this all set-up with several sources selected for content……have only accessed it on several occasions. However, that is about to change!
As with Word, most data tables are presented in this format so obviously use to create/consume.
file sharing platform
At one time I did use this a lot however, have moved mainly to Google Drive, SharePoint and OneDrive
I am ashamed to say (given the algorithms echo-chamber nature) I do access a lot of news content via FB. It is a vital forum for less tech-savvy members of mine and my partners family/friend groups. The only saving grace may be that I do tend to gather from all areas (e.g. political left and right) and then trace sources/biases.
It has been many months since I last used Skype and even then I only used it for InstantMessenger in work and the very occasional videocall.
course authoring tools
For a long time this was the tool I had to use for building my e-Learning provision. It, along with other authoring tools helped me approach learning differently.
classroom engagement tool
Have only used this from the participant viewpoint when supporting a student programme in the University. Not my favourite audience participation tool, and the sessions I attended didn’t use it to great effect.
Use this regularly for notetaking in work and collaborative content building.
Have used this to build video and audio content and always found it useful. It has helped me recognise my vocal and visual ticks and have a greater appreciation for talking speed and leaving thinking space between sentences.
Never bothered installing the App as I tend to access via YouTube or Google search. Very useful provision for sparking new or challenging long held ideas – however, I do find I spend a lot of time investigating validity due to the ‘car salesperson’ style of message delivery.
At one time I did use this a lot however, I now seem to make better use of Chrome bookmarking, OneNote, Google Keep and Trello
Have used in the past, but never to any great extent as have access to bespoke survey tool and now use MSForms for simple needs.
screen capture tool
Used for a short period to try it out, but have access to several other tools already installed on managed equipment.
project management app
Use Trello a lot for many different purposes: General ToDo lists; Projects; Useful links; and, planning of long holiday (living itinerary for others to see where we are, with contact details, etc)
So that was fun, but what did I discover?
1 – I am quite good (Bad?) about abandoning tools if there is something easier/better out there.
2 – I am the person who highlights to others that a new tool might be useful for their need.
3 – I do try and find ways of using tools for things they were not originally designed for.
4- I need to be clearer with myself about what I learn when using a tool.
5 – I am very bad about deleting apps for tools I no longer use (Within 5 mins of looking at this list I had uninstalled the LinkedIn, Skype, DropBox and Evernote apps from all my devices.)
6 – I am frustrated at having to use less-effective tools at work, because the better ones are not part of our managed applications bundle.
6.1 – I need to be more forgiving of the tools in work and find ways to use them more effectively.
6.2 – I also need to continue pushing for the more-effective tools to be added to our bundle.
7 – I am unlikely to stop chasing the new shiny……and I’m ok with that.
There are many more on Jane’s list that I want to revisit and some new ones I want to explore. Hopefully I will find some more apps in my current list that can be removed. Let the Purge commence.
Do you have tools (Apps) that are now just filling space? Are there tools you can make more useful by thoroughly exploring their functionality? Are there more New Shiny’s I should go and play with?
I recently started on @hjarche‘s Personal Knowledge Mastery learning programme and, as hoped, it has re-energised my desire to share. One of the tasks this week, was to focus on Sensemaking which, although I may do it internally, is something I quite often fail to show when sharing to a wider audience.
As I scroll through my Twitter feed, something that does sometimes annoy me is the repetition of postings; that one thing that everybody has read, found ‘worthy’ and decides to highlight to their followers without explaining why they are sharing it. Yet I am as guilty as everyone else on this. When I find something interesting, important or just a view-point I agree with I hit the retweet button and that’s ‘job done’.
N.B. For those of you in the far-flung future: I am doing this at a time when the world is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic whilst also raising our voices to challenge racism and abuse of power through the #BlackLivesMatter movement, so a large majority of my activity is an attempt to amplify the message.
Retweets linked to Covid-19 (without adding a comment):
@txkate__ – talks about her soon to be ex-husband’s reaction to finding out she had been sexually assaulted @D0NALDGL0VERR – shares pictures of the singer/actor Donald Glover (In each picture of the thread his smile gets gradually gets wider) – just a nice escape from the soul-crushing elements that were appearing in my feed
Retweets (with comment):
1:07 PM · Jun 2, 2020 – @perkin_amalaraj shared a link to a Google Doc giving details on how we can support black lives in the UK My comment: Don’t just watch and feel impotent anger; do something.
11:16 PM · Jun 3, 2020 – video by @DrJessTaylor in which she decries the pretension and elitism of people accusing her of ‘dumbing down’ language for her recent book My comment: If we want people to learn, we must ensure they can ALL understand the message!
6:23 AM · Jun 4, 2020 – video of cat, that starts out cute and moves to very creepy. As I said in the tweet “watch before bed for best results” [insert evil laugh] My comment: Love this. Please watch just before bed for the best results
7:35 AM · Jun 5, 2020 – comment from @jennylandreth about the ridiculous idea that a new royal yacht would boost the country’s morale. My comment: Think would have to……….agree with this!
8:26 AM · Jun 5, 2020 – @neilmosley5 shares an article by Sarah Bergsen, Erik Meester, Paul Kirschner and Anna Bosman challenging the move to a Constructivism approach in education. This article started to raise questions for me about the approach we take in #LearningAndDevelopment when considering #Andragogy and #AdultLearning in general. My comment: Do we in #LnD approach andragogy with this in mind? Do we follow the scaffolding approach? Are we just delegating the learning responsibility to ‘novice’ level individuals by taking a ‘self-directed learning’ approach? Does this even have any baring on adult learning? *Thoughts*
9:01 AM · Jun 6, 2020 – a thread from @TatianaTMac detailing some of the ways white people can “focus on current & systemic change” in the fight against racism My comment: This is not a sprint; it’s a life-long commitment to think against social conditioning.
When I started this exercise I was not expecting the volume of retweets I found, but the more I reflect the more I realise that given my feelings about the #BLM movement it is actually a very small number.
To comment or not to comment, that is a really pertinent question at the moment. I decided early on that any retweets linked to #BLM require no comment from me for 2 reasons:
1 – it is about the message they provide, not my view on them
2 – the message is clear in these tweets and do not require me to clarify anything
Also, anything I add makes the tweet about me, rather than the subject – he says, whilst writing a self-centred blog!
Looking at the tweets where I did add comments, only two of them truly demonstrated I had made a deeper exploration of the content and attempted some Sensemaking before sharing. Also, only one of those included a comment that added something to the conversation rather than just echoing the content.
From a professional standpoint this may not have been the best week to snapshot, given that only one of my retweets was about Learning and Development, but it has made me stop and think about whether I am just adding to the noise, or am I bringing value?
That being said, I still stand by my decision to not comment (unless absolutely necessary for clarification) on #BLM retweets – I see my voice as adding no real value to those, but the messages still need to be shared.
Do you add value with comments on your retweets? Does it really matter? How do you filter through the noise?
Following more and more calls to provide them to the wider workforce, my employer asked me to attend training on three separate Psychometric tools, the last of which I finished a couple of weeks ago. Due to scheduling and the academic financial year-end, I had to complete all three courses in the space of one month. Apart from my dreams now being dominated by distribution curves and large segmented circles this condensed timeframe also provided me with a unique opportunity (for me anyway) to seek targeted 360 feedback from a much wider source group than I would usually attempt – manager, strategic officers, colleagues, indirect-reports, clients, family, friends, coachees.
At the moment I seem to have at least one conversation per week about the benefits of individuals seeking 360 feedback on their performance and development needs, but often fail to abide by my own advice. This glut of tools afforded me the opportunity to think about the future and how my current collection of skills/knowledge/strengths will be able to contribute to that easily or require further development, also which others i need to seek out and add.
Previously I have found the hardest part of any 360 feedback to be the comments that highlight areas I should be looking to develop because, like many others, my initial reaction was to see them as a personal attack. As I have matured emotionally my view has changed and i try (some words still sting) to take the view others have provided me as a map for my development plan and, if not anonymous, thanking them individually for the feedback asking for clarification of what they think I could do to improve.
Whilst most of my strengths were no great surprise to anyone that knows me, there were a couple that seemed to have deepened over the last twelve months bringing home to me how my focus in the workplace has moved towards a much more strategic place. However, my main strengths have always been more people focussed, with me getting the most enthused by that feeling of enabling someone to achieve or develop, which in the Learning and Development field is an obvious bonus and what also helps me to be a good Coach.
The feedback from those closest to me has highlighted that my desire to always be supportive of others can result in a bit of overstretching which if not checked could lead to the danger area of ‘letting others down’ – an event which would have not only negative impact on others opinion of me but also my own opinion of me (always my own harshest critic).
So here’s the crunch, to realise my development desires there is an expectation that I should reduce the amount of direct support I provide and focus more on the organisational (strategic) view, whilst maintaining the drive that I get from providing that direct support. Not always an easy balancing act.
Next steps: After much reflection and discussion I realise that one of the best ways for me to address this is to seek guidance from someone who has already been there. Therefore, as a starting point my next step is to seek out an appropriate mentor and this is where my Personal Learning Network comes into its own, a community full of experienced professionals much further down this road than myself who are hopefully willing and able to offer their mentorship.
Once again I ask you to wish me luck and would welcome any insights you may have to help me in my development journey.
I have been away from the wider social media environment for quite a while. Oh, I may have sent the occaisional random tweet, liked a few things and responded when needed but mainly staying connected with my family/close friends via the book of many faces has been the limit of my digital engagement (and not a great deal of that).
Back in April I realised how much of an impact this absence was having. Yes I was still reading some blogs, tweets and watching the odd vlog but that was all. Following a bout of illness I ended up being home during one of the many power cuts we seemed to suffer in the old house, with no TV/WiFi to distract me and no desire to start a new book. Eventually growing bored of counting wood chips in the very old wallpaper I turned to my phone which thankfully was able to achieve a fairly steady 4G and delved into the twitterverse looking for political satire and “10 things you didn’t know…” lists.
Ten minutes into my browsing I saw a conversation on Change Managment and in a fit of enthusiasim made a comment, resulting in several hours of direct messaging and e-mail sharing, creating a whole new focus for a session I was due to facilitate on my return to work.
This brought home to me the benefits of engaging as opposed to merely lurking and a clear view of how far I had pulled back from my personal learning network. Therefore, since then I have slowly started to return to ‘the conversation’; liking, sharing and commenting at any opportunity, making better use of the other social media tools and increasing not only my pressence but also my enthusiasim. Hence this post and those that follow…..hopefully!
N.B. It is a sign of the awesomeness (yes I did just use that word) of my Personal Learning Network, that they instantly started interacting with me and it was as if I hadn’t been gone.
Wondering whether others have found themselves slipping away from ‘the conversation’ and what it was that brought you back?
I’m now coming to the end of a 4 month stretch of Twitter absence. The period was intended to be 2 months, but pressure to re-enter the local world of Facebook became too much and my tweets dried up (hope there’s a cream for that).
The absence was initially intended as an intervention due to what I saw as a growing addiction to the Twitterverse; spending more time reading tweets than speaking to others. I’m a child of the 70s and as such can do that old man thing of remembering “when I were a lad….” and can remember when tweeting was done on walls and kerbs, using chalk (to be honest most of them tended to be letting people know what date you’d been there – why?).
I initially joined twitter to learn (actually that’s a lie; I originally joined to follow Stephen Fry, but I’ll never admit to that) but found that I was reading the ‘tweets of randomness’ rather than the important learning-centric ones (I even found that I was reading those of one person, purely because I found them attractive when I met them in real life). “Enough” I cried to the world; the world just rolled over and mumbled something about “not tonight, headache”, and decided to take a break and come back with a more focused need.
So here we are, 4 months have passed and it’s time to re-enter the 140, with my new purpose and more focused attitude……..one problem, I find that I can’t leap back in. Where once I found it but a moments work to distill my thoughts into 140 characters, now I find myself going blank at the space. Have I been gone too long and now need to Tumble in order to meet my rambling prose need? Maybe I’m doomed to press my words on this grand scale and use my phones battery up every time I want to reveal my thoughts. Who knows, and let’s be honest I don’t imagine anyone else really cares.
“Wait” I hear you cry, “you don’t need to tweet, you can just lurk and learn”; true, but part of the original joy of using the Twitter medium, was getting the chance to share what you had just learnt with others. I will keep trying to re-enter the world of tweets and hopefully will rediscover my muse, until then I suppose I will have to remain in the micro-verse of The Book of Faces talking about the local bar and ignoring people.
Delegates could choose their ‘favourite’ topics and take part in that session (with enough flexibility, to allow delegates to change the session they attended).
Sessions on the day included subjects such as:
Rollout and Delivery
Engaging your Learners
Proving E-learning Payback
Training 3rd Sector Partners
E-learning for Councillors and Governors
Hero story happiness
The joy of these sessions was that several of them were billed as Hero Stories and delivered by community members who have negotiated many of the challenges faced by other members.
For example, the session on Engaging your Learners was co-presented by Sue Wright, from Wolverhampton City Council, who was able to give her experiences of engaging the Council’s employees to access their e-Learning provision.
These insights, from those in other public sector organisations, helped the delegates to see how they can achieve the same results (or even better).
An insightful lunchtime
To ensure the learning and networking continued throughout the day, hosted lunch tables were available, at lunchtime (strangely enough) covering topics such as:
Rollout and Delivery
Big Society Learning
Make Your DLE Friendly
E-learning for Leader
These lunchtime sessions, though short (10mins each) were extremely useful and encouraged many a long discussion afterwards.
The sessions on Make you DLE Friendly and E-learning for Leaders (presented by Ben Jones and Wendy Kay, respectively) were very useful; Ben’s session made delegates re-evaluate the style of their DLE, whilst Wendy provided food-for-thought on how you can use E-learning to influence the development of your senior officers/leaders.
Free one-to-one sessions
Delegates were also afforded the opportunity to have one-to-one sessions with Learning Pool’s experts, providing support clinics for any issues they may have with using the Authoring Tool and DLE, or with Learner Engagement.
I was lucky enough to work with Wendy Kay from Learning Pool on my particular concerns around Learner Engagement; the session left me with ideas tumbling over each other, begging to be used.
Wrexham CBC was fortunate enough to be nominated in one of the categories this year (Best Community Contributor 2011) and although we weren’t successful this year, the whole presentation process gave community members the drive to want to be on the stage next year.
Connected and enthused
In all, the event was one of the most useful ‘conferences’ I have ever attended; I made more connections from this one day than the last six official events I have attended and I have never come away from an event with as much enthusiasm as I did from this.