Category Archives: Informal Learning

Reflections on making a video interview

Accidental Learning

I’ve always advocated that the best way to learn to do something is to do it. Sometimes, we just need to jump in at the deep end and try it out. I also have to admit that I’ve never been the ‘follow the instructions’ type of person but would rather get stuck in. However, that doesn’t mean that instruction guides are not necessary as I’ve often found that after ignoring them initially, I eventually have to give in and read something.

Of course sometimes we just learn by accident. When something happens unexpectedly but we learn from our experiences. Other times, we decide to do learn something which is often borne out of necessity and sometimes it’s a deliberate choice out of interest i.e. just because…. We are all learning machines and much of the time it just happens.

My journey into video interviewing was a dileberate choice – out of interest initially. I wanted to try it. However, it was also becoming relevant from a personal development point of view. I thought I’d reflect and share my own learning experiences from the interviewing process with you.

But before I do, considering a great deal of accidental learning occurred before I got there, I thought I’d share that first.

My adventure (yes it turned out to be a very eventful adventure) started with a long drive to Brighton from Shrewsbury on a warm and sunny day. It was my first trip to Brighton and so my first new experience of the journey. The trip, according to TomTom would take about 4 hours and I factored in a short half-way stop. It was at this comfort break that my best laid plans went out the window.

After stopping at the services en-route, I returned to my car to find a big dent in the side of it. Someone had taken the turning into the adjacent parking space next to mine a little too wide and a little too fast. Fortunately, they had waited for me to return to my car and we exchanged details.

 

Learning point 1: Have faith in others – there are still honest people around.
Learning point 2: Try and park the furthest distance away where less people will park
Learning point 3: Always keep insurance details with you so you don’t have to get husband to search files
Learning point 4: Remaining calm helps you think more clearly and diffuses tension
Learning point 5: Take lots of photos at the scene – your mobile phone is a useful tool

After at least an hour and half delay I was back on the road towards the goal of my journey. Only 2 more hours or so to go!

Nearly there and dutifully following TomTom’s instructions I was looking forward to enjoying a couple of deserving glasses of wine to relax and and reflect on my notes before the interview the next day. My TomTom, however, had other ideas and after being directed to take a turn signposted Eastbourn rather than Brighton and Hove, I began to wonder whether I should continue trusting my co-pilot. I stopped to double check the route….

Learning point 6: When programming your SatNav, make sure you know the difference between co-ordinates for East/West. A rogue minus can make a lot of difference to your journey.
Learning point 7: Always check your route properly with a map rather than rely wholly on SatNav
Learning point 8: Concentrate on your route despite following SatNav

What would I learn the next day? I’ll cover that in my next post.

Opening up the walled garden

If you have a little over 1hour and 17 minutes to spare, here is a very interesting debate from late 2009 (but still topical nonetheless) on the whether the VLE (virtual learning environment) is dead and that the PLE (personal learning environment) is the way to go for learning.

Image for YouTube Video The VLE is Dead

Click the link to view: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6KnJPeAWog

I’m going to sit firmly on the fence here. It might get a little uncomfortable at times and I can waver a little but for me certain things come to mind before we force a decision.  Perhaps we’ll be throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

Do we really know what our VLE can do?
Have we taken enough time to investigate the functionality?
Have we exercised enough creativity in what we could do with it and in it?
Did we forget to ‘be there’ providing that human touch or have we just left our students to their own devices with merely a map to guide them through the maze of content.
Are we going to going to remain within our secret walled garden of the VLE or could we, as Dicken and Mary did in the novel ‘The Secret Garden’, unlock the door enjoy the best of both worlds?

Remember that we can easily create doorways out into the social world and PLEs with the use of links. For instance, one activity within the VLE could be to take a conversation beyond the walled garden and out into a social network where students could share resources more easily, upload photos and videos for comment and discussion and return to the VLE to post a conclusion or analysis of their ‘field trip’. Maybe you’d create a Facebook account for the course or a Twitter account using hashtags for grouping the assignment conversations (after establishing whether your audience can access these of course), the limitations are really only your imagination.

Maybe we need to invest a little more time into these creative ideas and encourage the meeting of these worlds rather than an exclusion of one or the other. It’s not always necessary to make a decision between one or another.

Another case for blending methinks.

The New Learning Architect – A review

On 7th January, Clive Shepherd announced the advent of his new book The New Learning Architect. I waited impatiently for it’s arrival later that month and promised a review. I wasn’t disappointed – not that I thought I would be – and dipped in and out of it when time allowed. This didn’t do it justice and before writing the review, needed to give myself dedicated time to read it all through in a shorter time. Even now, I know I’ll enjoy reading it all over again and still take more away.

Clive Shepherd, author of The Blended Learning Cookbook, is a consultant in learning technologies and their application in the workplace.

I reviewed his Blended Learning Cookbook 2nd edition where I predicted that his new work would likely take blended learning to a new dimension. Boy did it ever!

Clive starts explaining why a ‘learning architect’. “An architect is someone who creates the plans from which others build” and likens a learning architect to that of a building architect. Building Architects designs “environments for living” whereas the learning architect designs “environments for learning”. Although they wouldn’t necessarily become involved in building the environment they would have to have detailed knowledge of current research to design suitable and safe environments. Not only will they have to meet the brief but consider the needs of the inhabitants. Clive affirms what it really means to be a learning architect. We hear of the responsibility they have to advise and consult with the client on what would be most appropriate, drawing on their expertise in adult learning theories, brain science and learning technologies. Learning architects, he says, are not order takers – order takers are builders not architects.

The New Learning Architect reflects on how there has been a battle between delivery options in the past where you either had to choose between one or the other e.g. classroom v eLearning; formal v informal and people were firmly footed in one or other of those camps. What this book clarifies is that there is no need to choose sides. Each would work with not against the other where appropriate and towards one goal. It is the learning architect’s role to establish, based on the situation, how these options would work together.

Clive investigates when formal learning interventions are more or less appropriate and under what circumstances the learners can take more responsibility for their own continued professional development. We also see how we can provide opportunities for them to become more self-directed and independent. He goes on to explore the various contexts in which learning will occur:

experiential
on demand
non-formal
formal

The book also explores why it’s important to look at these contexts from two perspectives – top down (directed from the organisation) and bottom up (directed from the individuals) and why there is a place for both perspectives in learning at work. This book will guide you to establish what types of learning contexts will be suitable for your particular requirements, what types of top down or bottom up approaches to consider.

Whole chapters are dedicated to each of the four learning contexts in which Clive provides examples of various learning activities and media tools, when they are best used and when to avoid them. He also explores them from each perspective.

Clive discusses how important it is for people to be motivated to learn and that when breaking down the barriers to access resources, people will learn when the need arises. We also hear that it’s down to the good design of the instructional methods rather than the delivery medium that will ensure success.

In a recent article in the eLearning Age about the 70,20,10 rule, John Helmer calls for a template or a model to help L&D professional implement informal learning and until there is one, informal learning will be more style than substance. Well, The New Learning Architect does just that. Here L&D professionals can take Clive’s four contexts for learning together with his explanation of top down and bottom up approaches as that model.

So who is this book for? Well, I would recommend this book to anyone who is remotely interested in improving results and investing in the development of a workforce whether a large multi-national or small business.

I recommend this book to all those senior managers and CEOs who call for courses (eLearning or otherwise) as panaceas. This book will help you establish whether there really is a formal training need and help you seek advice from your learning and development professionals so that the most effective and efficient solution to a business need is put in place.

If you are a more experienced learning and development professional; if you have benefited from the Blended Learning Cookbook and already implemented some successful blended courses, this book will guide you beyond training and help you take learning into the workplace. It will help you explore and employ informal and social learning methods. It might also encourage you become more architect than builder by advising rather than taking orders from those who don’t know any better.

And if you are new to learning and development then this book will be a welcome guide taking you through the different learning contexts and providing your with lots of examples and case studies.

The New Learning Architect is available on Kindle and from Lulu. Oh and Onlignment will be reviewing individual chapters inviting open discussion too. It’s probably the cost of a couple of drinks or a cinema ticket but could be worth £1000s in improved results.