Tag Archives: working smarter

What’s in a name? Let’s Huddle!

It’s more than just a social gathering


On my travels through the blogesphere (looking for something else as it happens), I came across Huddle. Now the name intrigued me because of what it brought to mind.

One definition for huddle is “to gather together privately to talk about or plan something”. I often use it when facilitating in a classroom asking the group to ‘huddle’ around the flip chart to discuss a topic.

The people at Huddle describes it as follows: “With Huddle, you can manage projects, share files and collaborate with people inside and outside of your company, securely. It’s available online, on mobile devices, on the desktop, via Microsoft Office applications, major business social networks and in multiple languages. Simply: if SharePoint was built today, the would have built Huddle.”

Taking a further look around the website, it seems it has a lot going for it to encourage people to work together and learn together more easily and, they stress, securely. I haven’t taken a really close look or opted for the free trial but here’s a low-down on what Huddle offers:

    File sharing and management
    Collaboration
    Real-time collaboration with web conferencing and phone conferencing
    Project management features that sound similar to Outlook
    Security features which allow you restrict or open up elements
    Customisable for a corporate look and feel
    Tracking activity of members and assign individual priviledges and permissions
    Individuals have their own profile area
    Mobile connectivity across various smart-phones with the ability to access Huddle via other social networks such as LinkedIn
    Huddle is cloud-based which means less strain on internal IT infrastructure

With the increase in emphasis on working and learning smarter by enabling channels for collaboration, sharing ideas and best practice, experiential and on-demand learning for improved performance from a bottom-up approach, Huddle may be one solution for organisations out there who see the need for such working and learning practises but are sceptical about using the open social tools.

I’m not so sure they’d be convinced by the name of the product alone. It does seem some social tools out there have been given some strange nom-de-plumes that do little to help sell their benefits to the more serious minded potential user. But that’s a whole different story. If we want to get past the quirky handle, we’re going to have to sell the benefits ourselves.

Huddle, themselves, have given us a good head start.

I was impressed by the list of testimonials and case studies on their site which include organisations who, from my own experience, are very strict about accessibility and security. I’ve taken the list from Huddle’s testimonial page.

    Kia Motors
    Akqa
    NHS East of England
    Dept for Business Innovation& Skills
    Kerry
    Liberal Democrats
    Belgian FPS Social Security
    Aggie-Lance
    Berkshire Community Foundation
    Boots
    Rufus Leonard
    Bright One
    Care for the Family
    British Institute for Facilities Management
    Cheltenham Brough Council
    East of England IDB Ltd
    Distinct
    Fulham Football Club Foundation
    Inform
    Government Skills
    Plymouth Mind
    Post Office
    Traffic Management Solutions
    University of London Computer Centre

So if you want to get past the sales pitch, how about checking out some of the case studies or even contacting their customers and find out what it’s done for them.

I’ll be very interested in hearing from anyone out there who has implemented Huddle, either tried it out on the free trial or is already up and running with it. How have you found it useful and any tips you might have to help others who are thinking of using this or any similar application.

After I’ve taken a look at the free trial, I’ll share more thoughts here.

The future of learning is SatNav!

I don’t always agree with everything Donald Clark has to say but then without debate we wouldn’t question our actions and it would be a boring world indeed. In his recent post (7 tactics for training in a recession) I found myself agreeing more than disagreeing with his thoughts. Of course I wouldn’t dream of paraphrasing so will leave you to read the post yourself.

Donald’s 7 tactics are:
1. Dump daft duplication
2. Last century courses
3. Courses too long
4. Tyranny of time & location
5. Crap evaluation
6. Non-scalable
7. It’s the technology stupid

What really struck a chord for me was his idea of Satnav help for learning.
He says:

“Achieve more with less to optimise limited budgets and time. The world has changed and we can be reactive and get dumped upon, or take it upon ourselves to reshape our own learning landscape. Fast access to learning needs to be available 24×7 at point of need. This is the norm in the real word and it should be the norm in learning. We need to provide Satnav help for learning journeys, not big, thick, fixed atlases. Flexible responses to your organisation’s needs, not fixed, repeated, timetabled courses. Focus on productivity and promise impact, not happy sheets and course passes. Reduce carbon footprint, reduce travel & meeting costs and above all scale – EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY.”

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for tha last two years, it has been abundantly clear that learning and development HAS to change. The way we work and live has changed. We are constantly having to do more with less; find different and creative ways of delivering (and I don’t mean training here). If we need to know something what do we do? We Google it – we ask a question from our wider networks via Twitter, we share our likes, our opinions, our expertise through blogs and harvest from RSS feed readers. When are we likely to do this? At home, on the train, the bus but rarely at work. Why? Because we’re not allowed to. Or, if we are allowed to – we haven’t got a clue how we could harness this collaborative technology. Perhaps it’s because we don’t really understand their value. It doesn’t help when the media, in order to sell stories, write misleading (and even fabricated) headlines.

After all, do we start banning cars because the idiots behind the wheel are irresponsible? No! We all have to learn to drive safely. We undertake tests to prove we are capable. We know rules and the consequences if we break them.

This analogy brings me nicely back to Donald Clark’s SatNav help for learning. Perhaps we should start thinking about how we can help learners learn and continue to learn and support them in their roles. But before we can do that, we need to learn how to drive this new technology properly ourselves. Until we know what they can do, we will never be able to understand how they can be used for learning and collaboration in the workplace. I think this is where L&D can really become indispensible.

Trainers need to be more than trainers concerned only about single events and tick-box exercises to appease the gods and become learning consultants helping others navigate their own learning journeys. Before they can help others they need to help themselves to reduce their own skills gap, open up their minds and try these tools out for themselves – take control of their own development and experiment. I realised very quickly, if I was to survive in the world of learning I would have to embrace new technology. Ok – I’ve always had more than a little interest in how technology could make my working life easier having moved from manual typewriters, to electronic then to the clunky early PCs (oops – giving my age away there!) but I would never describe myself as a techy geek. I guess this continued interest in technological progress helped and I acknowledge that there may be others who are totally disinterested. But just like it’s now almost essential to be able to drive to widen our employability, it will be essential to learn to use these tools to the same end.

There are plenty of resources available out there. Jane Bozarth’s book ‘Social Media for Trainers‘ is one great resource to start with. Keep visiting for a review as well as some extra tips for using new learning technologies. In the meantime – go on – dip your toe into that water – there are plenty of learning technology lifeguards out there to help you (me included).

Beyond training and into the workplace

How trainers can use social media

On my usual trawl through my Twitter stream, I came across a Tweet by Cammy Bean sharing a great interview she had with Jane Bozarth.
The interview lasts about an hour but it flew by. The interview is primarily to promote Jane’s new book “ Social Media for Trainers: techniques for enhancing and extending learning”. I was so impressed with how this could really help classroom trainers who are keen to start introducing social media into their programmes but are wondering exactly how to do it, that I went straight to Amazon to buy a copy. Unfortunately, it isn’t out yet here in the UK but I’ve put my order in so I can review it in a future post.

From the interview though, one key point was close to my heart:
Jane says that “it’s niaive and vain for us (trainers) to think that what really made a difference in an employee’s success or failure is the three weeks spent in a classroom with us…. What really makes or breaks an employee’s success in an organisation and up to whether they stay with you has a lot to do with what goes on in that workplace and we need to find a way to be more present there” She also mentioned that if trainers intend to be viable for another 20 years – we’d better.

I have often been disappointed in my past life as an IT trainer, that I couldn’t be there to support my learners after they left the 3 hours, sessions. They were mine for 3 hours (sometimes 6 if they decided to enrol on a doubler) and there was an awful lot crammed in to try and remember. I knew most of them wouldn’t even touch the applications for ages. Yes, we sent them away with user manuals and the number of the helpdesk, but I really wanted to do more. There was just no scope for that. The trainers had to be out there, delivering 4 out of 5 days.

Life is slightly different for me now. Delivering training for an external training provider, we rarely have the opportunity to be able to offer support to our learners in the work place. This time the learners are mine for days at a time with even more for them to try and remember. There isn’t any formal support offered when they’re back in the workplace but I just can’t stop there – I offer my Twitter address, Facebook page, e-mail and telephone and am always happy to answer any questions or talk round a problem. This is where social media is a valuable asset. And even better if we can get to talk to each other too and share ideas. If I can do this for people coming from all sorts of companies, just think how much more valuable social media can be within one organisation to provide workplace support.

We need to look beyond training and more to learning by providing more performance support to help people when they need us most.