The Man Who Wrote the Book on Informal Learning

Scrolling through our Twitter feed on Monday, I saw several references to Jay Cross.  Jay wrote the book Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance in 2006. Jay credited Peter Henschel, director of the Institute for Research on Learning (IRL) with the term informal learning but Jay’s book became the popular go-to reference on the topic.

Jay died last Friday.  Jay did not know Lisa and me but we knew who he was. Jay was an elearning visionary and used the internet to broadcast, test, and refine his ideas, make friends, and engage with colleagues around the world. Many loved and respected him. Harold Jarche writes about Jay here, Jane Hart gathered Twitter tributes to Jay, and Clark Quinn linked in this blog post to many people who cared about Jay, and were changed by him.

Anyway, I re-opened Informal Learning and tried to capture–graphically–a few key points that resonate with me. I hope they enrich your understanding of informal learning aka free-range, self-directed, and DIY learning and some of the changes prompted by the worldwide connectivity of the internet. Read more

21st Century Mindsets for Learning, Working, and Leading

Somehow Tom Barrett from Australia and I ran into each other on Twitter two months ago.  I clicked through to his blog, The Curious Creative, read and bookmarked several of his posts in our Diigo library, and follow him on Twitter to stay aware of what he is working on because of its value for me. Among the many issues he has raised is the importance of mindsets, toolsets, and skillsets for learning design. Here is Barrett’s definition of mindset which I really like.

Mindset (How you See, Perceive, View) – Means a set of beliefs, a way of thinking, a habitual mental attitude that determines somebody’s behaviour and outlook and how s/he will interpret and respond to situations. Without a change in mindset, the world cannot be viewed differently.

The definition shows how our set outlooks can box us into more of the same. But it doesn’t have to be so. Read more

Your Future – Working Online is a Must

Your Future: Working Online is a Must

A couple of weeks ago I went to the movies to see The Intern, starring Robert DeNiro and Ann Hathaway. Ben, DeNiro’s character, is 70 and gets an intern position at Ann Hathaway’s fashion start up. It was an enjoyable movie, although predictable. But the scene where Ben comes to work the first day really encapsulated the digital and cultural divide between post-boomers, boomers, millennials, and Gen Xers.The intern

Ben comes in a suit and tie, carrying a briefcase, pencils and pens at the ready. Everyone else is in jeans and T-shirts, buried in digital devices, with no writing implements in sight. Ben talks to everyone, everyone else texts or tweets or instagrams, uses IM, face time or Skype to communicate with each other. Different generations, different ways of working and living. Read more

The Power of Lectures and Learning Designs

Lisa and I were born curious and remain curious.  The internet helps satisfy our inquisitiveness through RSS feeds to blogs; podcasts; videos on TED Talks, YouTube, and Vimeo; MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and group discussions and research projects with colleagues online.  And as learning concierges at the Studio, we are doing work not even imagined as a career a decade ago.  So we must be self-directed, DIY (Do-It-Yourself) learners to keep growing our knowledge and skills to provide value to groups and individuals.

We are continually refining our digital literacy skills and teaching/learning designs to foster adult learning.  That’s why headings such as “Lecture Me. Really.” that appeared on October 18 in the New York Times grab our attention.

University lecture hall from nikolayhg at Pixabay,

University lecture hall from nikolayhg at Pixabay,

I admit to knee-jerk stereotypes about classroom lectures when asked what I think about them. To me, they are largely compulsory, passive, time-in-seat ventures Read more

Stereotypes: Holding us back and holding on

Doris and I have hosted a virtual Lean In group since 2013, 2 years now. We have blogged about what we discuss, read, or watch (in Lean In, Lean Out, or Lie Down for example) in the resources our group shares and discusses each month. was created by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, to provide information, resources, and support for working women and men to look at gender inequality issues at work as outlined in her book, Lean In. Sandberg encouraged the formation of Lean In Circles – groups of women coming together to support each other, review Lean In videos and use the discussion guides, and to act to create a more level playing field for women in the workplace.

Although there are now Lean In Circles around the world sponsored by business, organizations, governments, and people like Doris and I, the new study by and McKinsey, a reputable research company, was not encouraging. Women in the Workplace 2015 is the compilation of survey data from 118 companies and 30,000 employees. As the report states in a sure to be oft repeated statistic:

Female leadership is an imperative for organizations that want to perform at the highest levels. Yet based on the slow rate of progress over the last three years, it will take twenty-five years to reach gender parity at the senior-VP level and more than one hundred years in the C-suite.

That is a long time, especially for those of us, like me, who attended “consciousness raising” groups in the early days of the feminist movement. Like the Lean In Circles of today, women came together to support each other, discuss gender inequality, and act to change that. It is depressing to me that although we have come a “long way baby”, we still have so far to go.

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Curiosity, creativity, & the internet

Lisa’s post last week on Meaningful work for you and the world compelled me to hit the pause button.

She touched me with her descriptions of Pope Francis’s passion for people, and organic farmers’ passion for healthy food and sustainable agriculture. She also made me think about how we find and act on our passion, and how creativity plays into it.

I went to the Live Your Legend website explored in her post to learn more about how this organization helps “people find work they love that makes a difference in the world by connecting like-minded people together both online and in person.” The inspiration and tools I found there impressed me, just as the work of Encore Tampa Bay helping people in the middle stage of life refocus on their passion and purpose after long careers that ended voluntarily or rudely, enthuses me, too. Read more

Meaningful work for you and the world

It has been an awe-inspiring week. The Pope visited the US and spread a message of humility, service, and human connectedness to each lunar-eclipse-767808_640other and the planet. The total eclipse of the moon was spectacular here in Maine, with a clear sky full of stars and the moon turing red as the eclipse progressed. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Common Ground Fair celebrated rural, organic farming practices and food over its 3 day celebration of healthy living. I felt privileged to participate in these  events – they seemed to change the fabric of our lives for the better, at least for a few days.

What struck me about this past week was that the events, activities, and messages were not only inspirational but delivered by people who were passionate about what they were doing. The Pope demonstrated his passion for people, especially marginalized people, by visiting a soup kitchen instead of schmoozing with politicians. Friends were abuzz for days about the eclipse, posting factoids and other details on social media. The farmers and gardeners at the Common Ground Fair gave lectures, demonstrations, and advice freely (and free) to attendees and peers. Read more

The New Making It with the Bicycle for Our Minds

It’s that time of year again. It is officially Fall for us in North America. But it’s still 90 degrees and green in Florida where I live. No trees cloaked in flamboyant colors or cooler temperatures for us but college football schedules guide the behaviors of many among us once again.

My lead-in refers to another annual ritual though.  Lisa blogged about it last week when she submitted her top ten learning tools in Jane Hart’s annual survey to identify the top 100 learning tools list for 2015.  More than 2,000 learning and development professionals around the world participated this year in the 9th iteration of the survey. Participants included educators, training specialists, instructional designers, learning consultants, and DIY Professional Development/online learning enthusiasts like Lisa and me.

Before you assume that the list of learning tools has nothing for you, please read and think about this Steve Jobs’ quote from the blog Treehugger Sustainability with Sass.

“I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. Humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list….That didn’t look so good, but then someone at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle and a man on a bicycle blew the condor away. That’s what a computer is to me: the computer is the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.”

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Jane Hart’s Top 100 Tool List

For the last 8 years, Jane Hart has conducted a poll to determine the top 100 tools e-learning professionals deem as most useful for them. We reported on the list last year, with both Doris and I generating our lists of tools we use to seek information, make sense of it, and share it out with others like you!

The poll closes on September 18, so you can still contribute. Hart will be announcing the 2015 list on September 22. The results from the 2014 list was a compilation of 1038 people from 61 countries. It will be interesting to see what the make-up is for this year.

I took the poll, and then compared what I chose this year and last year as my top 10 tools. I found that this comparison allowed me to reflect on my learning, see if I had expanded my personal learning network (PLP) and who I now include in my “tribe”, and identify any changes Doris and I have made in working together or in helping others learn, collaborate, cooperate, and work online. Read more

ECO 2.0–Online Learning Opp from Encore Tampa Bay & WLS

…it is vitally important that we are constantly sharpening our skill set in order to stay competitive and relevant in a volatile jobs market and rapidly changing world. Skills that were cutting edge five years ago are likely out of date now, and the jobs that we will perform in the next decade or two may not even exist yet. What are some of the ways to develop new skills?  –Ann Mehl, Executive and Business Coaching, September 1, 2015

ECO 2.0 is one VERY GOOD way to develop new toolsets, skillsets, and mindsets.

Lisa Levinson and I are proud partners with Bevan Rogel and her talented crew at Encore Tampa Bay to bring encore seekers together in Encore Connect Online 2.0.  ECO 2.0 supports encore seekers with:

  • 21st century digital skills that help you compete in today’s job market or land exciting community service opportunities
  • an online network to clarify personal direction and make new friends
  • freedom to explore key encore issues with peers
  • personal & group coaching from us WLS learning concierges–Lisa and Doris–to overcome barriers to using new technologies and online routines

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