First, a bit of background.
Armed with an MA in Political Science (Org Culture and Leadership), I thought the world would be queueing up to hire me. I’d been told this in grad school and seriously believed it. And, as you are probably thinking, I was very wrong. Caught in the not-enough-experience to get a job Catch-22, I did eventually manage to convince a Big 4 accounting firm to hire me. But two years and a promotion later, it was definitely time to move on.
Workplace experience and my MA had given me great insights into how I thought organisations should NOT be run. Hierarchical, buck-passing, secretive/information hoarding, obsessed with a culture of busyness, and “on merit” meaning those best place politically. I honestly found all this baffeling.
An opportunity came my way and I moved to working in the L&D section of the HR department of a large university. I worked with coaches and other instructional designers to create programs to change a siloed, top-down culture using positive methods - such as Strengthsfinder and Appreciative Inquiry. However, my initial excitement slowly dissipated as we began developing huge programs in isolation from our actual participants, with two hour text-based online lessons complementing four or more hour workshops.
Using Ning and LinkedIn I worked around our LMS and program design to create social spaces. I knew my Vygotsky and Bandura - we learn socially and in community. These social spaces were popular and required facilitation - not “expert teaching”. It was the success of these small, simple things that started me searching for help and a change.
I found it in Vancouver at Habanero Consulting, who were forward thinking enough to see an opportunity when I suggested they hire a performance supporting portal/community manager and learning specialist. The ideas I presented of social and informal learning, smarter working and others were a conglomeration of my experience and reflecting on my research.
Over the past six months, my research has focussed on the following people, who have helped me - mainly indirectly and without knowing it. I wanted to use this opportunity to introduce and hugely thank the following - who comprise my Twitter Most Followed list. If you don’t follow one or more of the following on Twitter/RSS...I would encourage you to do so.
In alphabetical order (and not including anywhere near what I have learned from each of you). Please send me any corrections if I’ve made an error. Many thanks to you all:
Jane Bozarth - Her blog helps everyone understand that social media is an acceptable method of enabling learning. That learning in the workplace is social and unlearning is a necessary part of learning. Anything in her blog and Nuts and Bolts column is great and she wrote the fantastic Social Media for Trainers book.
Marcia Conner - Her book The New Social Learning was the first I read on the social/informal learning in the workplace.
Jay Cross - Jay's blog gave me many wew terms for me to put to things I instinctively knew. Informal learning (including a great book and wonderful poster), working smarter. And he was my introduction to the Internet Time Alliance.
Ignatia Inge deWaard - She is even running a MOOC on mobile learning. And posts great things on lifelong learning.
Dave Gray - Talks about the systemic structure and culture of ideal organisations we’d all like to work in. His latest book is a must-read on the progress towards the social, truly collaborative organisation.
Jane Hart - I wasn’t sure which of Jane’s websites to put in the link. All are great and her thinking and frameworks really helped me, especially Learning in the Social Workplace and the phenomenal Social Learning Centre. I encourage everyone to sign up for Gold Membership, because the more people who join, the richer the conversation.
Dion Hinchliffe - The first person I found when googling Social Business. Another great book and from what I can tell on Twitter, spends his time travelling the globe. Lots of interesting writing on big social data and analytics. I’m interested to see how this can help measure learning performance outcomes.
Harold Jarche - Writes the most deep thinking and thoughtful blog I have come across. An encyclopaedia of knowledge on complexity, organisations, learning, communities, and Personal Knowledge Management. This framework is the reason I’m finally moving from being a lurker to a contributor online. This post is my first attempt at sharing the knowledge I’ve sought and made sense of (and because of this helped me find a different career trajectory). Also runs the brilliant Social Learning Centre with Jane Hart.
Connie Malamed - Getting us away from dreary text-based two hour lessons and putting design into learning, while also understanding that workplace learning is collaborative and social. It took me a while to track down a copy of her book and I’m looking forward to it arriving.
Holly MacDonald - Hooray! Someone else in Vancouver wants to talk networked learning and communities.
Rich Millington - Rich’s Feverbee blog has invaluable advice on community building: planning, motivation, facilitation, curation. I can only imagine that with such excellent content, his online course for community managers will be very successful.
Dan Pontefract - Fellow BC-resident and busy/elusive Dan writes an exceptional blog and is also drafting what I assume will be an equally excellent book. Drawing on his experience at Telus I’ve enjoyed his calls for collaboration, flat structures and keeping things simple.
Social Media Today - While outside of the learning community, SMT offers great content and a really interesting series of webinars (that I listen to as podcasts). Invaluable if you want to keep up the the technology that can enable social learning.
Julian Stodd - Great blog posts on social and informal learning. And best of all, he’s curated them into a book...and offers a series of podcasts.
Luis Suarez - IBM’s Luis Suarez’s blog has provided me with some serious thinking material. Covering knowledge management, social media, collaboration and the benefits of blogging. With the added bonus of photos of his home in Gran Canaria.
Judy Unrein & Brian Dusablon Judy and Brian have great blogs. But when you’re tired of reading things all day, they also make the monthly Toolbar podcast. Perfect for listening to on the bus heading home, the podcast has introduced me to many other people I follow by RSS or Twitter. It has the added bonus that I’ve also learned a few great beers to try too.
Steve Wheeler - Only last alphabetically, Steve is an academic who makes a great effort make accessible his thoughts and research. I’ve particularly enjoyed his posts on Bloom (and here) and assertions that learning doesn’t involve a start or finish and is definitely not linear.
First, a bit of background.