Monday, December 11, 2017

There's a bot for that! Chatbots to stimulate learning and reflection

I try to explain to Erik, a colleague what a chatbot is: "with a chatbot you can have a conversation in a messenger program, like Facebook messenger" Answer: "OKeee, so it is the virtual employee on a website who answers your questions?" "Mmm, ha, yes, these are also chatbots, but there are many more types of chatbots, think of CNN's chatbot on Facebook who will tell you about the latest newsitems via chat". "Ah, so it's another way to get news? I'm not on Facebook messenger myself so I do not know what a chat is."
the Dutch Eva Jinek Chatbot with background news
Actually it is not so easy to explain what a chatbot is to someone who has no experience with it. Perhaps the best way to start understanding this phenomenon is to follow a number of them, and get a feeling for it. Choose from my list below with nice chatbots or choose yourself from the long list of bots on the website There’s a bot for that.
  1. Use the Duolingo bot to learn a language. For Spanish, French, German. Via the Apple appstore
  2. Poncho de Weather cat will tell you the weather and crack a joke via Facebook messenger
  3. Work on your health with the Healthybot. Works through Slack
  4. You can get relevant HBR articles via Slack 
  5. The Heston bot voor Skype will bring your cooking skills to Michelin stardom.  
Why are chatbots hot? Messenging programs are are chat programs such as Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, Skype chat or Slack chat in which you chat one-to-one with someone. Communication in sessenging programmes are surpassing the number of communications in social media. About 1.4 billion people used Messaging Apps in 2016. This means that they are already chatting a lot and are for instance every day on Facebook's messenger with friends. It is a good strategy to go to people where they already are, so they do not have to develop new habits or get to know new platforms.

Chatbots to support learning & development You can be very creative thinking about possible solutions with chatbots! Personally I am thinking there is huge potential for the following categories:
  • Reflective or coach bots. Bots can support reflection very well. I work with colleagues on a 'confessional' bot based on the principles of 'the confessional box'. The interesting thing is that sometimes reflection works better with a bot who doesn't judge you. This is also used in therapies. Read for instance about Eliza the therapeutic chatbot.
  • Educational bots. There are bots who can show you new things and teach you something like about art. In the Netherlands for instance there is the KBlab chatbot who will send you a piece of art from the Dutch Cultural Heritage collection every day with some explanation. 
  • Language bots. To learn a language you can converse with bots in your preferred language. See duolingo bots.
  • Helpdesk bots. Of course, you can also use a chatbot similar to a customer bot on a website but now helping your employees. For instance let a bot explain how to use a platform. 
  • Teacher or facilitator bots. These facilitate online courses. A chatbot can help you with the online sessions and guide you through the program. Read the interesting experience of Helen Blunden.
  • Quantified self bots. There are bots who ask you for information and return it to you at certain time. This can be very insightful for self reflection. An example of this is pepper.ai. He will asks you at the end of every day how your day was. After a week or month you can see the overview and reflect on it. On which days did you feel the best and why?
The bot or not test by the VPRO
Are all chatbots clumsy? A nice test by the Dutch VPRO is bot or not. On the site you could chat and were brought into contact with a person or a chatbot. You wouldn't know. You'd have to guess which one you had in front of you. I got it wrong! 18% of the bots are convincing enough. Bots are getting smarter in conversation. For this you need artificial intelligence, so that the bot can learn from the answers and become smarter. However, not all chatbots are driven by artificial intelligence. Here's an article explaining 4 different type of bots.You can create an simple programmed chatbot with programs such as Flow.xo, Dialogflow or Chatfuel. In 2 times 4 hours we were able to built a simple version of the confession bot.

Want to know more? Are you curious? In November, Ennuonline collected a video, article or blog every day about chatbots for learning. You can find this list embedded below or via listly.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

10 community principles to make your MOOC stronger




In January we had a lot of fun facilitating our knowmad MOOC. 600 people participated and we had quite intense exchanges. We received many compliments for the way we facilitated it: personal and quick responses. A social MOOC requires a good design of the learning activities, design of the platform and spacing of activities. I think there were many details in our MOOC that made it a success. If you want to read something about the content, check out my some of my blogposts about the knowmad.

An example is our online network café and the wrap up with a meetup. It is nice to see that the network café idea and the 'space for informal conversation' have been copied in many other MOOCs. Do you recognize this: sometimes you can not even properly say why you are doing something, at time it is so instinctively or a gut feeling.

Hence it was a good idea of Jos Maassen from MOOCfactory to invite Peter Staal from Bind and myself to exchange about the design of a social MOOC and what you can learn from the way you facilitate a community. There are definitely parallel processes. This conversation has produced an article called: 10 community principes to make your MOOC stronger.

The 10 tips are:

1. Size matters. Keep the MOOC small (couple of 100rds) or work with subgroups in which people with a specific interest can meet each other.

2. Build trust. Under the guidance of a reliable and present moderator, participants are more inclined to share information, to express their doubts, to stimulate discussion, or to ask questions.

3. Develop Tacit knowledge. People in a community share knowledge with each other by entering into conversation, the so-called tacit knowledge. Facilitate a process in which people with similar interests find each other in forums to engage in discussion.

4. Find a balance between 'Connecting and collecting'. In the case of a social MOOC, participants want to gain knowledge (collecting) and get to know new people (connecting).

5. Use Peer pressure. Group pressure is a well-known phenomenon that can also strengthen the learning process. For example, state how many people have already responded or are 'through the gate' to stimulate engagement.

6. Involve experts and key persons in the domain. A cMOOC is not about transferring knowledge from you to novices. You do need experienced people and thought leaders. To make the discussions interesting, it is important to involve the experts and key figures (influencers) in the MOOC besides novices.

7. Allow for reputation building. Once people are together in a group, they build up a reputation. A social MOOC must facilitate that people can also build up online reputation by recognizing contributions or eg through leadership boards.

8. Connect online and offline. In this digital era, the online section is the most important in a cMOOC. But the offline aspect also remains utterly important, arrange for meetups or facilitate that people who live together can look for each other. Incidentally, this can also be looked up online via skype or zoom.

9. Provide public but also private spaces. Many people find it difficult to share their thoughts with a community of roughly a thousand people and prefer to do this in a smaller group or one on one. In this way trust and social capital are built up.

10. A warm but obligatory welcome Important in a new community: the feeling of coming home. A personal welcome and a good follow-up are therefore crucial.


You can read the whole article on the site of HT2: 10 community principes to make your MOOC stronger.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Why you should be interested in artificial intelligence as L&D professional

In our book Leren in tijden van tweets, apps en likes there is a clear call for people working with learning, change and innovation processes to dive into technology. Everyone sees that technology is increasingly taking an important place in our lives- even people who are not into technology. I did intakes with vocational teachers this week and I heard that they experienced daily competition with mobile phones. The attention span of students got shorter. If you compete with technology you might make technology work for you and help you? My advice is be curious about technology and get started. But how deep do you dive into different technologies and tools? and why? There are so many developments, think of blockchain, of which I do not know what it actually is. Sometimes it feels like you are in a tsunami of new developments and you let it flow by. For learning professional e-learning seems a clearer need than knowing about artificial intelligence and blockchain.

the allerhande recipes
Artificial Intelligence- What the heck?

A great example of such a what-the-heck development is artificial intelligence (AI). Artificial intelligence is a collective name for software that manages creative thinking by the computer: the learning computer. I've heard about AI regularly, but a lot of it is at the level of 'HEEE, it's coming'. What can you really do? What's going to change? It doesn't click for me unless I get to work with it and start to apply it. A clear application of AI are chat bots. I have written about chatbots before. Those crazy puppets are everywhere if you have an eye for! Especially in Facebook messenger there are many chat bots to follow. I follow Poncho for the weather and a joke, and the allerhande chatbot with a daily recipe. For Slack users: the Slackbot helps you with all your questions about Slack. By the way, there are also chatbots which are not driven by AI, but those will be less smart in their conversations.

What is the influence of AI on the L&D profession? 

During the L&D unconference in Rotterdam I hence threw the  above question to the group: I thought I would be alone in my group, but there were 8 people with interest in the topic. Additionally, those who did not attend seemed to regret it :). The nice thing was that there were concrete experiences in the group with AI applications. The first was the experience of a bank to have Watson analyze credit applications. You will have to teach Watson how to do this, but then you can save a lot of time. Another application shared: At a factory in Japan, a robot runs around (powered by AI) that connects with employees and coaches workers, for example, to take a break. It's not a big brother, but a very helpful robot. The time saved by the use of AI can be put into more creative tasks. A third example was an application that receives information from the internet to make predictions about the market.

The Calimero effect

The AI group acknowledged that you as L&D-er might be afraid of this type of development or may think it's got nothing to do with your business. The famous Calimero effect: What can we do as advisers / trainers / facilitators? This too big for us and something for the ICTs and decision makers and visionaries in the organization. It's not for us but for others. Perhaps AI will take over L & D's work by doing performance support tasks, for example. There is already one AI online teacher doing a great job. Or people are scared of the smart youth who understand it all. Look at the example of  Tanmay Bakshi a 12-year old programmer of IBM.

You will only see it when you get it

This famous quote by Cruijf applies to AI.  You can only imagine or dream up an application if you have seen enough examples and those examples inspired you. Because I opened my eyes (with a group of colleagues), we see different applications. For example, we will experiment with an online confession box for reflection. We could not have thought of this AI application if we had not followed the developments and many examples. In addition, many applications already use AI, think of your news feed on Facebook (does it?) Or your results in Google search. The danger here is that we are increasingly dealing with filter bubbles, you are getting more and more closed in the same line of thought.  Think of the Netflix bubbles. It might be another role for L&D? Ger Driesen calls this the bubble bursting role.

So what to do as learning and development professional?
  • Read, watch, follow. Read an article, attend a summit or start to follow some chatbots. This is a dutch article by Ger Driesen over de invloed op HRD van AI.
  • Investigate whether there are AI projects in the core business and try and learn from those. 
  • Help people in the organization to prepare for robotization.
  • Brainstorm applications of AI to support your work and make it easier. Think of the selections of CVs, relevant chatbots or analysis of online learning data. You might be able to start an innovative project together with others. 
  • Take up a role in the consciousness about algorithms. Burst the bubbles.
Are you working with AI? I'd be happy to know about it in a reaction. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

To conference or to unconference?

I was hesitating for a long time whether I would attend the L&D unconference, organized by Ger Driesen in collaboration with the L&D connect community. The unconference costs you a whole day of your time and follows the open space method. There was a theme: the future of L&D. With open space it is very unclear what you will get in return for your time investment. But ..... I have been going to the learning technologies conference in London for 3 years, and people (including me) always complain that the program is organized around the sage on stage. At such a conference, you do not get to talk to your fellow practitioners in the same way. What a dilemma to go or not to go. Eventually, I decided to go based the fact that it was in Rotterdam (which is really close to my home). By subway through the rain to the office of Anewspring. I soon met someone from the UK whom I knew of the Londen conference but we had not changed more than 20 words. Already a nice start to hear what he does.
And yes, the rest of the day was delicious (google translates lekker with delicious :) as well. It felt like a long break during the entire day, where you can talk to interesting people endlessly about interesting subjects. It started with a brainstorm in small groups about the subjects you would like to discuss. I put up: the influence of artificial intelligence on L & D and new forms to stimulate self-directed learning. Already during this exchange I learned about a nice example (from Philips) where people were tested on a particular subject. On the basis of the answers they were directed to certain new sources or courses. A form to stimulate self-directed learning for people who do not know what they do not know. I was familiar with open space in organizations, but not with open space with a group of unknown people. In open space, the 'law of the two feet' means that you have to make sure that you have interesting conversations, so you can also change groups. The first time I walked away from a group, however, it felt like a rejection of the group, but I was glad I did. So I really had good conversations all day long by taking care of myself.

Changing relationships
Two conversations that had a lot of impact on my thinking were about relationships: depth in relationships, networks and how that changes over time over the internet. For example, there are elderly who have a strong network of 10-12 friends who support each other through thick and thin. The disadvantage is that this can be a really closed network. When you are a member of a closed network, you start to put everything which is said and done under a magnifying glass. Your world is small. I myself have a large network through my work abroad. Whoever I'm following online is by chance, one invites me to Facebook, the other on Instagram, the third I have on Whatsapp, I don't have a conscious strategy. You have to make choices with who you really want to make contact. Many of my online networks I follow from afar, but sometimes there is an invitation to go for lunch, meet again or work together. It has become much more fluid. The disadvantage of a fluid network may be that it becomes superficial. Do you care when someone in your larger network falls ill or looses a job? See also this documentary by Gino Bronkhorst. Gino is going to send all his facebook friends a message to inquire how they are really doing. Some answer: "Why do you want to know?"


The assumption is that you are a Facebook contact, which is not the same as a close friend really caring about you and showing interest. But there are also real friends on Facebook, and half friends, and former friends. My conclusion is that there are many shades of friendship, more than before. Friend networks have become much bigger. We don't get rid of people, they will still be there on some social network. Changing the categories of friendship is also faster. Even a best friend can move to the outside of your network.

We also talked about the future: imagine that all you do is supported by augmented reality as in video below. You can read emotion analysis during your date. You get the suggestion to smile or change topic. Who are you in this future world, what happens to your identity?

 

This reflection on changing relationships can also be transferred to describe changes in professional networking. These networks have also become larger than before the internet because we connect with more people online as simple contacts: I currently passed the 1000 line at Linkedin. Your network is more in motion than before, more fluid. And the day still has only 24 hours. So we need to learn to develop the art of networking when networks are fluid: what contacts do we want to invest in and which contacts remains at the edges?. What levels of colleagues do you distinguish? Is your network sufficiently diverse? Do you invest in the right contacts? I think almost nobody really does this consciously and well. Or?

The subject of Artificial Intelligence was also very interesting - I will write a separate blog about it. So I got home with lots of food for thought, renewed enthusiasm for open space and also a number of tool sites to look out like Degreed. The next time I hear someone complain at a conference I will ask why they do not go to an unconference ...

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Learning poses or learning to model?

Every Monday evening at 20.30 I install myself in front of the television with my daughter for a program called Hollands Next Topmodel, to continue with Models in Paris: The real life. My husband doesn't like it at all, but I really enjoy a view into a completely different world. A world where looks and poses count. This is the first year men have also joint the candidates for Topmodel.



The first episode something funny happened with Chris. During the Go See - a session with potential clients the Dutch often pronounce this as Gooshie - he had to walk on the catwalk. Since he had been in an official model course he knew all kinds of poses like looking at your watch at the end of the catwalk. However, this did impress the clients who detested the poses as unnatural. Chris had to leave the program, despite or even due to his model course.

A beautiful example in my opinion of the difference between what learning tips and tricks in a course or short training compared with learning in practice and learning in networks and communities. In a (bad?) course which focusses on tips you are not provided the room to develop your own style and practice. In a community you can get the space to develop your own identity as a professional and your own style. Therefore, in the Ennuonline curricula, over time we provide more and more space to participants to choose form and content. In the third block, the participants define the important issues and using the online block to deepen their understanding jointly.

Now, of course, I wonder whether I sometimes fall into this trap of teaching tips and tricks when I facilitate a workshop. I notice people quickly ask for the tips when the session is short and the field wide. They like to get away with shortcuts. With the workshop includes online tools, I try to avoid this by providing a whole range of tools, rather than one tool you should work with. For participants this is sometimes difficult and they have the idea that they are thrown into the deep. They really like me to show them the 'poses'. I think that it is very important that you go through your struggles yourself and seek tools that support your practice. A longer road that leads to more profound learning as professional. So that you avoid exiting like Chris.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Knowmads: the battle of generations

Generational differences in the workplace are debated. On the one hand you have the people who believe there are differences and that every organization should be responsive to those differences. Especially the millennials are seen as a different breed, for instance I read the book by Jamie Notter: When millennials take over. On the other hand there are those who think it is a myth that generations would adhere to other values, see eg. Cut the crap: the make up nonsense about generations at work.  Stassen, Anseel en Levecque have analyzed several studies. They state that the research structure of most studies is not capable of making a valid verdict. An important methodological problem is the distinction between the effects of three different factors: age, period and generation. Either way: it's hard to proof. 

The battle of the knowmads

I attended a festival in the north of the Netherlands called Beleef de zandbak. It offered me the opportunity to do an experiment: the battle of generations. My own curiosity is with different uses of technology in the workplace: I see that there are differences, but somehow people are sensitive to generalizations. What differences? I'm pretty fast online, but I see that youngsters are much faster. On the other hand I did sessions for students, but very few students knew what social bookmarking was. That's why I was eager to organize an experiment with practical knowledge assignments to see whether different generations would tackle the assignments differently. The assignments were arranged in such a way that there was a winner for each question. I had about 18 people in my workshop and used the following generations to group them:
  • Babyboomers: born between 1940-1955
  • Generation X: 1956 en 1970
  • Generation Y: 1971 en 1990
  • Millennials born after 1990
Because not all generations were represented I ended up with three groups. In each group one person was appointed as observer. 
  • Generatie X  - old (1956-1963)
  • Generatie X -  young (1964-1970)
  • Generatie Y and one millennial (after 1971)
Generation Y and millennial
Generation X 1956-1963
The winner(s)

The winner was ... generation Y (with one millennial). Generation X-old was occupying the second place. I must say: observing from a distance I saw little differences between the three groups. . However, the observations of the researchers and the teams showed quite some differences; with very interesting conclusions!

Striking observations

  • The two 'older' groups were smarter in using online media. All groups used online media to find answers to a network assignment (collect responses to a statement). However, the younger generation used only Twitter and then especially to search. The other groups also used Facebook and Whatsapp. My personal observation is that nobody thought of starting a poll, which would be my way to collect responses online. In the exchange everyone agreed that if Y's uses their online networks they will probably get faster responses. 
  • All groups also used offline networks in the same way by sending group members out to collect answers face-to-face. No difference.
  • Generation X had more ready knowledge within the group. Generation X-old won at the first question because they simply know all the answers by heart. Googling could not beat that. Furthermore, the observers of X knew the answers but were not allowed to participate in responding. 
  • Generation Y was faster. This lead them to the victory at the third question. According to the observer, "they were enormously fast in shifting from team communication to individual google searches and back to team collaboration". However, in two cases, the speed lead them to the wrong answer. In one case, they searched for NPO2 instead of NVO2. In another question they had an answer which was not logical at all. Critical thinking would have helped to know this.
  • Both generation X groups were very critical of questions and answers, really thought about it, and sometimes criticized the questions. Generation Y was fast and less thought-full. A trade-off between speed and critical thinking?
  • Generation Y collaborated very smoothly, much better than generation X-young. The discussion revealed that not everyone in the room had learned to work together during their education, and this translates into current practices. Generation X-young seemed to have a more solistic approach. But this depends on your type of education, for instance I have worked half of my university time in Wageningen in groups. 

Conclusions 

This is not a groundbreaking research, but a nice experiment. I draw three key conclusions.


  1. A first conclusion is that both generations show their own strengths in this experiment. Generation X has logically more knowledge of the top of their heads, which can be very useful. In addition, they think critically about questions and answers. Generation Y googlet faster and can switch quickly, but sometimes this is at the expense of critical reflection and may therefore put them on the wrong track. Ultimately, it is good to work together among generations to take advantage of everybody's qualities. Don't be shy to discuss them. 
  2. A second conclusion is that Generation Y is by definition not that good in leveraging online networks and using online tools. That could be a pitfall if you think they are good because of their presence on social media. Basic collaborative skills are taught during your education, and most millennials were not taught to leverage online networks.
  3. A third conclusion is that there are equally differences within generations (contribution Mirjam Neelen: as a result so you can never generalize the conclusions and apply them to individuals. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My first Squigl



I have made my first Squigl, a whiteboard animatie (these videos with drawings). You probably know them from RSA animate. Whiteboard animations are quite popular, but if you want a professional one, you will probably need over 1000 euros. This took me 3 hours of time to develop. In this blog I will explain how you can make a Squigl yourself (in Dutch or other languages!).

Scribology I had bookmarked Squigl by Truscribe as whiteboard animation after I had seen the link on a LinkedIn group. Truscribe uses the scientific methodology of scribology.  The drawings help to retain attention and increase the retention rate of information. Personally I would like to stimulate people to think rather than memorize the main points of the video, but I do think that watching a drawing has a different effect on your brain than watching a so-called talking head. My personal experience is that when I watch talking heads I often start multi-tasking, even when the topic is interesting. Often I notice the video has ended and I realized I missed the second half.

Reinventing HRD I am preparing a session about reinventing HRD on the basis of part 4 of our book. I thought it would be a nice idea to introduce the 3 major changes in HRD by means of a whiteboard animation. In the session, more practical examples will be shared and discussed. In addition, I can easily reuse this video. Here is my Squigl, or animation. Feedback is welcome because it is a first attempt.


 

A short introduction into Squigl 

You create your account on Truscribe.com to create a Squigl. After that, it is all very easy. There is a short video explanation, then you simply click + to get started. I liked the way you could get started right away. It is basically a 3 step process.
  1. Type or paste your text on the left hand of the webpage. 
  2. On the right hand side your can record the text by voice, using the microphone of your laptop or ipad. 
  3. Click Finish to prepare your video. Or in Squigl language: "this is where the magic happens!".
To produce the video Squigl analyzes the written text on the left hand and picks its own words to highlight in images. Unfortunalely Squigl doesn't speak Dutch so you will get this type of pictures when you have the word VAN. (meaning from in Dutch)


Squigl for the Dutch

Still, it is possible to make a Dutch video. A few tricks:

  • Make sure you have a few words in English in the text. Then Squigl is more likely to pick up on these words. The written text is only to help Squigl and people will not see this text. I just think that you may also be able to charge the entire text in English and speak in Dutch.
  • Change images when editing. The biggest job producing a Squigl animation is during the editing. After watching your video, you can write down which images you may want to delete or change. Suppose you want to see a professional instead of the bus, then you can change this image and search for the word professionals. You will see all the pictures that other users have made and can choose from these images.
  • Or create your own pictures. When editing, you also have the option to click on 'draw your own gliph'. I quickly drew 2 pictures with my laptop's touchpad, this is not perfect. I would like to see if you can improve this if you use an ipad and pen or stylus.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Holidays in Canada

Canadian taking our picture
I just returned from a vacation in West Canada. It was not my own idea to go there, my husband and daughter really wanted to go. I did not really know Canada except maybe the remote farm of Riks from Farmers wants a wife. It is a very special country! I found the scenery and the colors very beautiful and also so much space compared to the Netherlands. Occasionally we drove 2 hours by car without encountering a real village. People are very nice, too, quick to chat with you. For example, I wanted to make a picture of my daughter when a passerby thought we had to be in the picture together and the camera was already out of my hands. I enjoy the cultural differences on holidays, even though Canada is also a 'Western' country and traveling is different from living/working in a country.

With my friend Kidist
It was also a reunion with three Ethiopian friends (two living in Canada and one in the USA). It turns out that the relationship does not change at all, even though many years pass: it was as much fun to see them as in Ethiopia. This way you can see Canada again through Ethiopian eyes. For example, what was funny was that the ladies' toilet was occupied and so I just went to the man's toilet. But my Ethiopian friend was totally shocked: that is highly offensive! She therefore preferred to wait another 10 minutes rather than to follow my bolt step. Their children had become truely Canadians, and knew much more in many ways than the parents, were fluent in English. That seems to me weird as a parent. Nice was the response of our friend who was rather enthousiastic about it: "I learn a lot from my son and daughter".

 And life with bears ... Bears are in Canada just like the weather in the Netherlands I imagine. People often know where bears or other wildlife are signaled and pass this information. It is normal that when there is a bunch of cars along the way, you know there is something to see, a bear or a moose. They also know how to deal with bears, eg do not leave any trash left. A lot of ads on television could not be transported to the Netherlands because there are jokes with a bear, wolf or cougar.

Bear along the roadside
When using the internet, I noticed that we depend every year more heavily on internet also for planning the vacation. For instance we used Google maps for the directions and you can search for petrol along the chosen route. And we have waived visiting the Columbia Icefield gletscher for instance, because you can read from the reviews it is highly touristic and almost a tourist trap. It also made me wonder what business I would have on a gletscher. Actually I have read a lot less in the Lonely Planet and more on the internet. On the other hand, I noticed that I assume there is phone and internet coverage everywhere, but that is certainly not the case in Canada! We had bought a Canadian sim card, but you could not call in many places because there was no coverage Then you see how lucky and spoilt we are in the Netherlands. By the way, there was also a funny ad on the radio about dating stating: "if you tired of internet dating, join the BC dating club (British Columbia) with our organized events for singles, so that you can actually see and meet your dates and get to know them face-to-face".

I also liked to occasionally share pictures or updates via Facebook and Whatsapp and see what others are doing on vacation. Thus I discovered that 3 acquaintances had also been on Vancouver Island and were equally enthusiastic. You hear more often that people try to stay offline during the holidays, but I also found the internet super handy during the holidays, so no #offline for me! 

Thursday, June 01, 2017

I'm sliding and morphing

You possibly know the book by Lynda Gratton called the Shift? It is about the future of work and she predicts that we will become increasingly serial masters instead of 'shallow generalist'. A master is someone with deep knowledge in a number of domains. The adjective serial points to the fact that you will no longer be active in the same domains throughout your life, but will continue to slide into new domains through personal or technological developments in new areas, building on your older domains and competences. This discovery of new domains is done by sliding and morphing. What is Sliding and Morphing? If you google on image you will see a lot of tinkering. Lynda Gratton says:
"Sliding and morphing happen when you develop deep knowledge, insights and skills in one specialism and then convert this to an adjacent specialism or rediscover a lost competence."
Lynda recommends looking at which subjects and competencies are important and in demand but combine this with your own passions and interests. Often the combination of domains is of great value. In one of the examples, morphing takes place by looking for a new network and new roles. Morphing by doing instead of thinking. When I read the book, I immediately recognized myself in the serial mastership (well, master? but serial sure!). After studying irrigation and soil and water conservation, I started working in the development cooperation sector, in different countries, Kenya, Mali, Ethiopia and Ghana. I only had three years contracts. So half a year before the end of the contract, you thought about what you would like to do in your next job and in which country that could be. And then apply. The good thing of the terminate contracts is that you always think about a next step. I saw that people in the Netherlands stayed longer in the same job because you do not have terminate contracts. From irrigation to consultant learning & Social technology is quite some sliding, isn't it?

Currently I am also sliding and morphing. It feels a bit uncomfortable. I've been working with Sibrenne for many years now in Ennuonline and our slogan is "All About Learning with Social Technology". The slogan still provides direction, however the field of learning and technology develops and expands very quickly. The question is where are you going to focus on within this field? In addition, we each have their own interests and professional identity. A major 3-year assignment aimed at designing and facilitating online courses has ended. That seems a bit like the feeling I had at the end of my contracts. You end something and that gives space to take up new things again. Though, of course, some work continues of course, like our Ennuonline learning activities and some assignments. What I'm struggling with is what direction I want and what I want to specialize in within the learning and technologies field. Blended learning and social learning is already a specialization, I never focused on classical e-learning. I'm very excited to advise on online and blended learning. What I regret in this field is that you are not supporting informal or invisible learning and learning in communities.

I am taking the current space to explore new directions. A number of new lines are:
  • I collaborate with two colleagues to set up a social network analysis (SNA) hub for the Netherlands. I regularly receive emails in response to my blog post about SNA. A concrete question whether we can organize training on SNA led to this brainstorm. Hopefully we can offer advice and training / tailor made support. SNA is one of my loves because it makes the invisible social capital visible. Which helps to develop connections.
  • I teamed up with somebody from our knowmad MOOC to dive into artificial intelligence. We want to do an experiment with eg Watson. There is so much written about artificial intelligence but especially from the point of view of: robots take over our jobs. We want to do a pilot to summarize and improve online exchange using Watson or a similar service. 

  • I visited a VR cinema. Something to explore with the LOSmakers, our network here.  
  • With two new assignments, I helped to find the right platform for learning or a community. I thought it was a good way of diving into tools and I enjoyed that too. 
  • Learning analytics. Two years ago, I was throttled in London because I heard the word XAPI. I then read and learn more about it. I have written a blog and an article about it. But how deep do I want to go in here? Is this not more for data analysts? 
It may seem to divert too much in different directions? A red line in all these subjects may be the use of data and technology (visualization?): for learning in networks and communities. Our knowmad MOOC focussing on the knowmad as professional with strong identity is also an interesting strand, because of the focus on self-directed learning. How wide or how narrow should you be as a serial master? Any thoughts?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The influence of technology on professional identity

In january I facilitated a MOOC about knowmads
A knowmad is what I term a nomadic knowledge and innovation worker – that is, a creative, imaginative, and innovative person who can work with almost anybody, anytime, and anywhere. (John Moravec)
The most intriguing element of this concept in my opinion is that professionals need a personal fascination with a subject. There is emotion involved. You can link your work to an experience or strong conviction. For instance I was so pissed in Ghana because I felt I never got any appreciation for my work within the organization. The start of a community or practice was a great relief. Professionals who appreciate each other, give feedback, listen to each other and therefore learn a lot from each other. Finally appreciation! I was so impressed that I decided to do an online course about communities of practice with amongst others Etienne Wenger, became a member of CPsquare and I am still working with the concept of community learning.

 

Shortly after the MOOC I bought the book 'Je Binnenste Buiten' by Manon Ruijters and colleagues. I think it's a great subject they explore with the book: professional identity. It is also a central concept in the theory of communities of practice. The book is recommended if you are also interested in developing professionals and knowmads. They argue that more attention is needed for professional identity in case of changes in a domain, career- and cooperation issues. Professional identity is not something that is fixed, but your identity is continuously developing, and therefore requires maintenance and attention. Unfortunately, the book is 'technology blind'. Surprisingly, I often read books & articles which are completely focussed on technology, or they are about other topics, and do not really address technology influences. The interface is still not fully explored. Or do I have a professional deformation?

The knowmad's identity is strong
The definition of professional in the boek is:
A professional is a person who chooses and seeks to be able to serve customers in a competent and comprehensive way, with the help of specialist knowledge and experience. In addition, he uses, and actively contributes to, a community of fellow professionals who continuously develop the subject.
I love this definition, because it clearly describes that a professional wants to develop his or her knowledge and compentencies like the knowmad, and also contributes to a community of peers. The knowmad is by definition someone with a strong identity and self-knowledge. These people prove to be more stress-resistant, to be more successful and to have more self-esteem. A strong lesson I take away from this book is that stimulating knowmads and knowmadic work in organizations means paying attention to professional identity. We do a regular exercise by making an I-cloud with topics of interest to you, but there could be more questions.

Serial masters
Lynda Gratton describes the new professionals as serial masters. A serial master has deep knowledge and competences in a number of domains. So, you need to specialize yourself, and you will be in a new domain for a year, but building on your past experiences and interests. A strong and rapid development in identity. I think the identity of a knowmad meanders more and changes more rapidly than the average professional by curiosity and changing assignments. Identity questions and self-knowledge are therefore more important to stay grounded.

Technology's influence on professional identity: online identity 
An important influence of technology on contributing to professional development is that professionals are increasingly online in (informal) networks: sharing about their work and thoughts in Tweets or other micro-messages. This is a new level of contribution to professional development that previously did not exist. Identity has to do with what makes you unique? In the book, working on your identity is linked to self-knowledge and influence by how others think about us. Social media forces you to work continuously on your professional identity. If you are very active online, this forces you to make choices and think.

Boundary crossing
A second change is that it is becoming easier to look around you and cross borders with other professions, become members of communities you would not normally become members of (eg, like in my case marketing communities). A knowmad not only contribute to developing his profession with fellow professionals, but also innovates by looking across the boundaries of his own domain into other communities- boundary crossing. Online it is incredibly easy to take initiatives with others with different expertise to contribute to new areas. An example? I got to know Jos Maasen and Peter Staal online and we are now writing a blog together about using community principles to design social MOOCs. In other words, there are numerous new ways to work on professional development.

Personal branding
I once wrote a blogpost about personal branding. As a consequence of the need for personal branding, the process of professional identity formation will develop in a substantially different way, and way less linear. You can already build a reputation as a young, starting professional. I think that Erikson's identity creation phases (trust, autonomy, initiative, fidelity, identity, intimacy, care, integrity) do not apply anymore. To give a practical example. The book shows the example of co-assistents who struggle with who they are. Solid feedback during their internships influences their identity. However, the online world offers a whole new space, contacting other co-assistants in an online community, possibly online valuation from unexpected angles. The new space that the online world offers is huge.

Conclusion: A great book that puts the theme of professional identity on the map, but with very little attention for the influence of technology. Huge need for a new chapter about online identity!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Working as knowmads: How to stimulate knowmadic working in organisations?

Imagine, you work in an organization and you are convinced of the importance of knowmads. You know this is the future, and knowmads are needed as crucial to drive innovation in a learning organization. You also know what skills are necessary as a knowmad. You already working as a knowmad yourself. But organizations need more employees who work knowmadic to be innovative. How do you stimulate a movement ... how do you create a collective of knowmads?

Typology of professionals in use of technology in relation to work

The participants of our Dutch MOOC 'Help there's a knowmad in my organization thought about this challenge with the starting question "How do you stimulate a move toward knowmadic work?" The above model from our book Learning in Times of Tweets, Apps and Like was provided as thought provoker. In this model we describe four types of professionals. They differ in the way in which they employ social technology in their work, depending on the motivation to develop the subject and affinity with social technology. The typology of professionals was recognizable to the participants. The online exchange led to the following strategies to initiate a move towards a more knowadic work and learning climate in organizations:

Start with the knowmads The most logical choice seemed to be focus on knowmads. "Knowmads make your adrenaline flow" is the experience. Finding and combining knowmads can trigger an oil leakage action, with more and more people joining and working on new ways of working. This group can also develop further.You may use the Seek-Sense-Share model to work on sharpening individual practices. You may also pay attention to professional identity. If you show yourself online - what's your identity? These are, for example, questions you can discuss in a knowmad café (see the interventions at the end).

Connect knowmads and googlers  Another strategy is to link knowmads to googlers. Form duo's where the knowmad shows the googler new ways of working. Working with googlers keeps the knowmads realistic and prevents them from getting too far ahead from the troops in the organization. It may earn them some recognition too (and avoids frustration).

Focus on googlers and hobbyists  A large number of MOOC participants intend to focus rather on googlers and hobbyists. You can appeal to Googlers by talking about their field of work. They are likely to be interested in additional possibilities of working knowmadically to keep up with their field of expertise and networking. When you show this, you awaken their curiosity. Hobbyists are already handy online but do not put it at work within the context of their function yet. There may be several reasons for this. Knowing the reason is key to change. Perhaps they have learned to participate in and adjust to the way of working within the organization? For example, let hobbyists help short-term projects to help others get the right supportive media.

Koppel googlers en hobbyisten A number of MOOC participants would specifically choose to link the googlers and hobbyists - a strong combination because they can learn a lot from each other - on an equal footing. The hobbyist learns about the subject and the googler about smart online networks and tools. Think reverse mentoring.

And how about the followers? Few MOOC participants choose to focus on followers, although it is important to continue to encourage and guide this group. They may need, for example, a low-threshold helpdesk.

About the model
The 'Typology Professionals in the Use of Technology in Relationship to Work" model is intended to look at professional behavior. A bad use of the model would be to put people in the boxes. It should lead to a discussion about behaviours. Emphasize that people can change or at some level show google behavior and on another level knowmad behavior. It is important to emphasize that there is not one correct blueprint way of working, but that everyone has to develop his own unique way that suits him or her. Maybe there are offline knowmads who read paper magazines and share knowledge at meetings. "It's not all internet that is blinking". Ultimately, it is about finding an effective way of working, learning and contributing to professional development, not about online or offline. The model is especially helpful in reflecting on the right interventions to stimulate collective know-how work and to differentiate it into types of professional behavior. With a googler, you may not have to talk about blogging right away, with a hobbyist that's not a problem.

Mariëlle van Rijn wrote a nice blog geschreven using more detailled profiles and designing interventions. The Networker for instance is given the task of adding two new people to their network every month who can contribute to the organization and present this on the intranet.

Walk the talk, organize a knowmad café and share success stories
Apart from thinking about who you are going to focus on within the organization, it's equally important to think about your intervention strategy. Many MOOC participants intend to work on a shift in organizational culture. Hereby, the management style (space) and digital skills are important elements to work on. The following strategies emerged:
  • 'Practice what you preach'. Make sure that you work as a knowmad yourself, but also show that you can deal creatively with technology: put up Padlet during a meeting or brainstorm ideas via Socrative. This will help people get used to technology as aid. 
  • Do not focus on individuals but on groups /creating a movement. It's unpleasant if you're alone as a knowmad in an organization. A dynamic movement can attract new people and grow slowly.
  • Organize a workgroup around this theme. Ensure to have  mix of all types of professionals represented in the working group. Or work with ambassadors. Of course, you can find plenty of ambassadors among the knowmads.
  • Start experimenting with this working group. Get started. Don't remaining in policy making or talking modus but ensuring good implementation. For example, a practical experience of a participant is that the toolset in his organization changed too much and technical support was scarce, which made all initiatives fail. 
  • Harvest and share success stories. For example, organize a knowmad café to share these stories. Success stories can trigger googlers in particular. They are already interested in the subject matter and if they see successful new ways to learn and connect, they become enthusiastic. 
  • Engage executives. If knowmadic work is part of the official strategy, this gives you space to experiment and invest.
  • Look closely at the context within the organization to define your strategy. Sometimes a community at the interface of various organizations is easier because it offers more space to innovate. Find a burning issue within the organization and link to it to make it important. 
  • And last but not least - look also at knowmad behavior during the selecting process for new employees. The more knowmads, the more they can invoke a turning point. 
 

Do you read Dutch? This blog is one of six blogposts about 'Werken als knowmad':

  1. De expertise van dokters vs internet. Over de invloed van online op de rol die kennis en expertise speelt in ons werk.
  2. Hoe werkt het in de praktijk? Een verkenning van knowmadisch werken, toegepast in de praktijk van organisaties en netwerken.
  3. Zonder gist geen pizza, zonder technologie geen knowmad. Over vaardigheden die je nodig hebt om knowmadisch te werken.
  4. Een wereld vol knowmads in 2020. The future is here!
  5. Hoe vervlecht je oud en nieuw?  Met mogelijkheidszin en progressiecirkels

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Lessons learnt from the design of a blended learning trajectory


Over the past year I have worked with Proteion, a health organization in the south of the Netherlands. They have 3500 employees and a large part of their work is care for people with dementia. What made it so much fun to work with Proteion is that people occasionally started talking in the Limburg dialect. I could understand it reasonably it and always gave me a feeling of being abroad, maybe even the feeling of my work in Latin America and Africa :). Moreover, there was a strong vision to learn through a potent mix of learning methods to facilitate workplace. Learning with direct influence on practice. It was really about something important that we wanted to influence: better care for people with dementia. My first question was whether the people working there didn't already know and learn enough about the best care, but the thing is that when they were students, dementia wasn't as important as it is today. The second thing is that when they work in shifts, there is little opportunity to learn from each other.

Last year we had a number of working sessions, including a design workshop with all key stakeholders. After this the team continued using Scrum method to work on developing materials and assignments. The blended course is for (new) employees and consists of online modules, working together with a buddy/buddies using whatsapp, and optional face-to-face workshops based on their own learning needs. It concludes by discussing the analyse of a client case with the team leader. The course is ready and I am struck by how much work it has been to develop, and how bumpy the ride within the organization. Because it takes so much time, to develop I ask wonder sometimes if it is worth it, and whether it had not been faster to organize a face-to-face training ...

In February, just before the carnival erupted in Limburg, I was at Proteion to discuss the final design and point to put the dots on the i. I asked the location manager what he thought about the design and he said wholeheartely: "I wish we had this 10 years ago!" He was really very happy. This reassured me that it is worthwhile. The advantage is that even though the pilot start at two kocations, eventually there 2000 to 2500 people can participate. A first blended design is really a steep learning curve whereby it takes a disproportionately long time. I am curious about the results of the first pilot. A concrete result should be that the care improves and thus the number of incidents with clients and complaints from carers goes down. One challenge is the fact that employees are not paid for extra hours they invest in learning.

Lessons in developing a first blended course
I made a spark video for the start of the trajectory, however it is in Dutch.


  • Blended learning aimed at enhancing workplace learning really requires different roles than face-to-face workshops. We were luckily to have someone in L&D with heart for the technique who has done quite a job in understanding the potential of the learning platform and talking to and negotiating with the vendor. I am not sure any L&D could have done this. The psychologists who normally give an expert lecture also have a different role: in the search of materials, thinking about assignments and recording a short video. Furthermore, we really need the team leaders for this project, they will evaluate the final project and issue the certificates.
  • You can't simply designing a blended course, you also have to deal with organizational policies and politics. A blended course within an organization aiming to change practice is never standing on itself, especially if the subject is important (and it should be!). In this case there was overlap of the original topics of two separate initiatives which had to be worked out. There was a collaboration with another institution with apprenticeships in the same field. It takes time to properly position a blended course as one of the instruments among all other (change?) activities within the organization. In this case that was the cause that it took a year to develop the blended trajectory.
  • The most difficult to organize collaborative learning online. Everyone can imagine or has seen individual e-learning modules. However, how do you organize interactive learning and how do you facilitate it? It is difficult to anticipate and imagine if you have little experience with it. Where to use collaborative learning? Which social tools to use or leave it open? How do you make a good connection between the various components? Are we going or not facilitate over time the online modules or put everything open and people to work in their own time?
  • Sometimes you have to work with what you have. In this case the platform (PulseWeb). Although this platform does not offer all interaction opportunities that we would like it offers a lot of advantages. The organization has already purchased this platform, the employees are already used to log in, and you can get started right away without any additional search or costs. Disadvantages of an existing platform is often a lack of interaction and tight structure. This experience learn that it is worthwhile talking to the vendor to searching for ways to make it more interactive and personal.
Lessons from the professionals within Proteion are:

  • Blended learning is really another way of designing. We have underestimated this. Following the Ennuonline course alongside the support helped us get a broader look into blended learning approaches and various tools.
  • Make sure you're running fast; learning by doing, which can be supported by an expert on how to go about it, what are good examples. We have learned the most from the meetings with you there; working together on your own design; someone who asks the right questions, thinks about what steps you must take, for example, during the search for a platform, concerning attractiveness of the online course with photos, quotes, inspiring assignments.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A world full of knowmads in 2020?

John Moravec was the first to coin the term knowmad in the book Knowmad society. In this Tedtalk John poses an interesting statement about the 'rise of the knowmad'.  "In 2020 45% of the workforce will be knowmads". Eh 2020? That's already in 3 years time! Hurry up?



On what basis is this 45% calculated? Who are these other 55%? And what type of organization is attractive for knowmads? It was great that John Moravec himself participated in the MOOC from Minneapolis and we could just ask any questions and the next morning we read his answers.

Towards meaningful work
Previously you did your whole life the same work and preferably for the same boss. My father worked his whole life to repair and maintain army tanks and did this till he retired. Developing yourself was less important. The transformation from industrial society to the society knowmad brings along a new mindset towards work. In today's knowledge society personal knowledge is becoming more important. A knowmad not slavishly performing a job for a boss, but is looking for work that is meaningful to him / herself. Work in which you can find a personal connection. An example illustrating that the core of the knowmad lies in the connection to your own passion: "I was a knowmad a decade ago but adjusted me to what was expected of me, family, employer, society Hopefully there will be more. space for knowmads! " 

The famous 45% in 2020
John explains that we are talking about an estimate, not a measurement. 45% knowmads 2020 is a best guess, based on trends such as the growing number of independent workers, flexible work, intrapreneurship, etc. In the US, the estimated numer is 35-40% at present. The challenge with this figure is that it is difficult to measure, and that an OECD project would be necessary to collect all the data and compare. Some in the MOOC think that 45% is on the high side, but recognize the trends we are talking about. "I see the changes in the direction of the knowmad society: as more hybrid structures, professionals working independently and combining this with their work as part-time employee for example." The changing context of work driven by technological changes, think about robotics, drives us to work more knowmadic, we have to adapt and learn.

An important critical note: 'knowing how to find your way with knowledge' seems to become more important, but it can also create a gap between those who succeed and the rest. A new elite of knowmads? The have and havenot? Racquel Roca has written a Spanish book about knowmads which I am currently reading. She sees the middle class disappearing, A trend which Lynda Gratton also describes. The increasing possibility of working virtually makes it possible for any citizen to become a knowmad working globally. This means that the past advantageous position of Europe and North America will be lost. A positive vision for the future is "major jobs will be taken over by robots and machine learning, let's organize a basic income for all and learn will become a hobby!" ;)

By the way, the knowmad is an archetype. There is a continuum between the old and the ideal worker knowmad. Knowmads come in all shapes and sizes, but few will correspond 100% to the above-described ideal image.

Is the plumber a knowmad?
Of course, the conversation was also about 55%. Are these the less educated, the butcher, the attendant at the nursing home, the cleaner? Not necessarily, the majority opinion was: blue collar work can be very knowmadic. For example, an electrician could not find the problem, made a quick photo and shared it with its online network. Within 10 minutes he received answer from a colleague and he can solve the problem. This is also knowmadic problem-solving.

Online and offline knowmads
Can you be knowmad without online skills? Tiffany Motton think about 25 to 45% of the professionals might be seen as knowmadic, but lack digital skills: they could be seen as offline Knowmads. However, it would be a paradox that people with a knowmadic mindset, open and curious would  overlook the wonderful online opportunities.  Online information overload is a challenge for the knowmad. "At times I feel completely overwhelmed by all the sources. Am I therefore less of a knowmad?" Another challenge is the need for deep thinking and get out your information bubble. Is a knowmad in a bubble a real knowmad or it is crucial that he/she fosters diversity in his network?

Which organization welcomes the knowmad?  
Perhaps we will welcome 45% knowmads in 2020 ... but I wonder how many organizations in 2020 are capable to welcome knowmads. Which organization are best knowmads? Knowmads are not all the same: some seek more authoritarian structure than others. Many are seeking space for development and self determination. A system as Holacracy works in some cases but not everywhere. Startups and smaller organizations can work knowmadic, but what about the larger, more bureaucratic organizations ?. "I work for a large company. I see that we are becoming more hybrid. The work and the process is standardized in a part of the organization and will be done by robots within a few years. Innovation is located in another part where people work in several teams with methods such as agile and scrum. That's the part which will speak to knowmads" Larger organizations (both government and businesses) want to be agile and experiment with spin-offs, working with a network ring. As one participant said: "I think that the organizations is no longer the unit we need to focus on: focus on networks" Slowly, more and more knowmads will enter 1.0 organizations. What influence will they have on these organizations? Will they affect the structure and culture? Or will knowmads leave and start to look for an organization that suits them better? The leadership in the organization must also overhauled: Knowmads want inspiring, authentic leaders, work in co-creation with them and leaders with an eye for their development. A pitfall thereby may be that as organization you may have embraced an agile way of working, but it does not mean yet that the leadership has really changed.

The future is here
We conclude this topic two quotes. First a quote from Lincoln via a participant: "The best way to predict your future is to create it". We can work together on these changes. And John emphasize that it is not an abrupt revolution which will take place in three years. Waking up in 2020 as knowmads. This change is already underway. Or as William Gibson says, "the future is here, it's just unevenly distributed."


 

If you can read Dutch or use Google translate there are more blogs about 'Werken als knowmad' in Dutch:

Friday, February 17, 2017

Doctors versus internet: who is better at diagnosing?

I have dreamed for a long time of organizing our own MOOC. I was waiting to somebody to pay me for it, but nobody did. The challenge for in a MOOC is to facilitate a large group process online. We have just completed our knowmad MOOC with 637 people. This topic was knowmadic working and learning. At a peaktime, there were 203 people online simultaneously. It felt like a continuous party. It has yielded many new insights and resources. We ended the MOOC with a live meetup (see pictures). In some blogs I will share the harvest. To start with...



Doctors versus internet
In December I watched the television programme dokters versus internet. In this program laymen with a laptop have to diagnose in a competition against doctors without a laptop. It was exciting to see how laymen could still figure out occasionally through Googling what disease the patient was talking about. While the doctors were sometimes on the wrong track of questioning the patient. This obviously undermines one's belief in the knowledge of physicians. Here's a trailer for the Danish version:


I definitely work and learn very differently than before the Internet. If my printer jams, I Google to find the right answers on support forums and always succeed. The influence of the Internet is huge. But I think it's still impressive that laymen occasionally beat the doctors in diagnosing a patient. What about the long education and experiences of physicians? And how did we hence work 15 years ago without the Internet? Many participants in the MOOC remembered the CD-ROM with the Encarta encyclopedia, the documentation centres with microfiches, the subscription to a magazine, the Yellow Pages. Now you can find a lot of information online, and scientific studies are becoming easier to find. As someone illustrates: "I have a closet full of books and literature, but in practice I would rather use the Internet because you can get much faster to the core of what you are looking for." If we would interaction with somebody far away we sent faxmessages back-and forth.

The doctors trauma: experts are no longer automatically the authority
The internet changes the relationship between a patient and the physician to turn it upside down. Patients will self-Google and exchange within communities. Doctors are no longer automatically the authority which looks at the patient and his/her illness and takes decisions alone. In a positive sense, the doctor can connect to the knowledge of the patient and diagnose more in-depth. Recent research  in Belgium shows that 91 percent of Belgians look up information about their ailments and aches on the internet. Four out of five discusses the results with his doctor, and that is appreciated only moderately by the doctors. Many doctors feel it as a threat that patients have knowledge and an opinion. Someone in our MOOC calls this the doctors trauma.. People are no longer looked up at them. However, patients sometimes also come with information that is not true, think of the information that vaccinations can cause autism. This general 'doctors' trauma also applies to other professions, such as trainer, coach or HRD professional. There is so much information available on the Internet: you have to be sharper on your added value. That can be scary. You will no longer automatically seen as an expert / authority, and that can affects your identity. You should focus more on developing a unique vision as professional and invest effort to obtain status and to be seen as a trustworthy source.

Hairdressers versus internet 
What is the impact of the internet on practical and applied professions? A MOOC participant is curious to see what would happen in the programme hairdressers versus the internet. Particularly in practical professions it is of course easy to find instructional videos. However, it still requires practice to master those skills. I would really not like going to a hairdresser (or a surgeon) who only watched some youtube videos.

Data, information or knowledge?
There were clearly different views about whether you can find knowledge online, or only information. Some people think that you can find information online, but not knowledge. Knowledge resides mainly in our heads. This is the typical view of knowledge management specialists. On the other hand, you can argue that you can currently find knowledge online. George Siemens sees in his theory of connectivism learning as a process of network formation and connection of nodes, not so much as a process going on inside the brain. Knowing where you get knowledge rather than peruse is important. Learning can also occur in non-human nodes. Knowledge is changing so fast that you need a network and need to know who knows anything, even more than you can find it.
"Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed)" (Siemens)
Personally, I think the line between information and knowledge has become more fluid as a result of our interactions through social media. We may share personal stories online, follow people through their blogs for years, have deep conversations online, see videos how a customer call is being done. We cannot simply label this as 'information' in my opinion.

Filter and focus
There is a wealth of information and it is flowing ever-faster. According to Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, every two days in 2010 there was as much information created as between the origin of the earth and 2009. This will be even higher now seven years later. The MOOC discussion shows how much we use online search. This however also raises the question of how to distinguish between valuable and less valuable info. How do you do that? Crap detection is important. Or, as someone says, it makes a big difference whether you get your medical knowledge of a blog, through social media, the yoga forum or a plant guru. What is true and what is not? Not all professionals are good at crap detection. Few education institutions have made crap detection central to the program. Howard Rheingold says: “Every man should have a built-in automatic crap detector operating inside him.” In crap detection by Howard Rheingold you will find all kind of practical tools and tips like the site  whois.net with information about ownership of webdomains and factchecker about the American politics.

The influence of algorithms - You are looking and we will find
And watch out! We do not only have to deal with crap detection, but also with algorithms. Algorithms make sure what is on the top of your information flows, eg in search engines or on your timeline on Facebook. Check out this explanation of algorithms (in dutch). Especially in social networks, but also in search engines algorithms determine what  you finally get to see. But we know little about the algorithms that Google uses. How do we become smarter than the algorithms? Still, by building and relying on a network of fellow professionals. Twitter is for instance quite algorithm- proof because you determine who you follow and those tweets surface in chronological order.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

How to organize for deep (not superficial) learning online?

Last week I had a great time again during the Learning and Technologies Conference in London. My third time! Like every year, we started off in the pizzeria on Brompton Road. Great to network with people who are working in the same field. I was sitting next to someone I didn't know and within 10 minutes we were discussing the difference between performance support and social learning and the presentation style of Bob Mosher.

With Joke van Alten I decided to shoot another video. It is a form to support my own learning. I start with a question I would like to learn more about, interview people and in putting it together and blogging it, it forces me to really think about it. This year my question is:
How to organize for deep learning online? 
In my definition deep learning does not have to do with artificial intelligence (which is sometimes called deep learning as well), but has to do with transformative learning, or as Argyris calls it: double loop learning. Single loop learning is learning for action: learning within the same frame of mind. Double loop learning is about change of mental models, changing the goals. (see the explanation on wikipedia). When I talk about online learning, through networks like LinkedIn, Twitter or internal Enterprise Social Networks, people think this online is perfect for quick information, like finding a tool for brainstorming, knowing how to repare your printer. You can find a video online and start the action. But does online engagement also facilitate deep learning? For many people this is not obvious and they cling to the idea that you have to meet.

Joke and I interviewed Mark Britz, James Tyer, Laura Overton, Clive Shepherd and John Stepper. They all believe in deep learning online and each has a different angle in responding to our question.



Reflect and build a good network
Many answer from the point of view of the individual professional and underscore the importance of reflection and building a network of meaningful relations online. Mark Britz highlights the fact that typing responding online and blogging in itself creates room to reflect. James Tyer also stresses that you need to consume deeply. You may use your networks to cut out the noise, so that you can focus on what matters. John Stepper also stresses the importance of building meaningful relationships by working out loud. This is a set of learnable skills. I agree that often engaging with a network/ community over a longer period of time can be really transformative. You start to share the beliefs of that particular community.

Learning how to learn (and reflect)
Laura Overton sees that in their TowardsMaturity benchmark the successful, agile organizations are the ones that involve people in reflection and make sure what is learned is applied directly at work. Learning how to learn and close the loop is hence important for deep learning. Otherwise the pitfall is remaining superficially engaged.

Online doesn't control the pedagogy
Clive Shepherd takes the angle of designing blended learning. He highlights the fact that the pedagogy comes first and the medium (online or offline) second. He recognized our question in the sense that online is often used for lower level knowledge sharing or instruction. If you aim for transformative learning you need guided discovery and reflected experiential learning. You need to design for this.

ps last year's video centered around: what is really changing in the way we learn because of social technologies?