What exactly is digital literacy, anyway?

Doris and I have been blogging about the new economy of contingent workers the past few weeks, and the skills, behaviors, knowledge and abilities needed in order to navigate the new terrain. Since we are steeped in the ideas, theory, and language of working online, we are finding that our definitions of terms may be different than what others use and know.

We had the opportunity last week to present at the Maine Adult Education Association conference, and aside from the pleasure of meeting old friends (for me) and making new MAEA logoones (for both Doris and I), we also had an opportunity to spend Monday to Friday together f2f. A rare treat for us! The topic of one of our learning opportunities was Digital Literacy. We prepared a poster that stressed the changing workplace, what we consider digital literacy skills, and how necessary they are in today’s and tomorrow’s world. If you read our blog you have heard this several times before.

As we talked with both vendors and participants throughout the conference, Doris and I realized that many attendees thought that digital literacy was simply computer literacy, and our definition of digital literacy was not at all what others were using, understanding, or envisioning.  Read more

Learning from Our Parents, Millennials, and ECO

Lisa’s Memorial Day post on her father’s self-effacing leadership and that of General Eisenhower, later to become President Eisenhower, moved and informed me. Father’s Day is Sunday. As this annual honoring of fathers approaches, I’m reminded of how my Dad helped shaped me and my learning values.

My Dad was naturally curious throughout his life. Even yard sales where he would buy well-worn medical and nursing texts for fifty cents each became a source of knowledge. In his later years, he would have a stack of open textbooks next to his favorite TV-viewing recliner. He would play diagnostician and ask me questions about the results from my last blood panel. Because I was healthy, I seldom retained my normal-range numbers. But he would ask for printouts of his results and study them to identify trends. My father was an electrician yet was always learning something new about vascular, digestive, and cardio-systems.

After my Dad died in 2014, his geriatrician told me that my father had developed good insight into the human body’s functions.  She said one of his gifts to her that she passes onto her medical students in geriatric rotations is taking the time to really listen to and learn from patients about their physical and emotional health.

While I might overlook normal test results for myself, I try to be open to learning in other contexts. Work projects, blog posts, novels, Google searches, and opposing opinions are all opportunities to learn. Read more

The New Economy of Contingent Workers: Will it Work for You?

Last week Doris wrote about the Hollywood Project Model of work and how the economy is changing from workers who are “permanently” employed to those who are brought in to add experience, expertise, and intellectual power to specific projects. A new genre of “temporary” employment agencies for C suite types are popping up everywhere. These agencies point to the advantages of project-based work, and there are many, but of course they are vested in this new system.

Doris and I have been independent contractors for a long time now. There are many advantages to this: flexible schedule, work at home, no commute, interesting and varied work. There are also disadvantages, of course: no base salary, health care plans, matched retirement accounts. Our reputations are the work we have done with clients, and their recommendations about our work. No formal performance reviews, ladders to climb up the organizational structure, or title and salary steps. Read more

Hollywood Project Model: New Work Norm?

We like projects at the Women’s Learning Studio.

We have written in this blog before about their learning value for us to acquire new skills and opportunity to do important work and make a positive difference in people’s quality of life. But we could never have predicted the huge adoption of the short-term, project model of work for employers to recruit, hire, pay, and release highly skilled workers on the scale that is happening now. Project work is clearly in vogue and growing in popularity among companies of all sizes. We just learned about the Hollywood Project Model; are you familiar with it? Read more

On Memorial Day, Remembering Leaders of Yesterday and Today

My father was a decorated World War II veteran, and Memorial Day is certainly about remembering all of our fallen veterans, but for me, especially my father. He was in Africa, England, all over the European theater during the war – one of the first to ship out, one of the last to return. We have a big scrapbook he kept during the war about where he went and what he did as a quartermaster in the Big Red One. He did not talk about his experiences with us until the end of his life, and even then, not that much. When my sister and I took him to the newly opened World War II memorial in Washington, DC he viewed the friezes along the walls and started to cry. “The war was really like that”, he told me, overcome with emotion. My father was a veteran for peace, and believed in equal rights for all. He lived his beliefs.

As I remember my father, I also remember his quiet brand of leadership. He and my mother were mentors for many people, were active in our community, and were consulted often for their opinion and good sense. Both of my parents were modest people, and helped others see what would work for them, doing so with compassion, good listening skills, and strong advice when needed. They were just my parents, so I did not really realize their leadership qualities or positions when I was growing up. Now I do. Read more

Meetings to Learn and Achieve Results

Eliminate recurring meetings?

Make meetings optional?

Convene leaner and faster meetings?

Convert from face-to-face to virtual meetings?

I discovered recently from bloggers in my PLN (Personal Learning Network) that large companies such as Dropbox, Hewlett-Packard, and Intel are taking the above steps to limit meetings that steal their employees’ time and erode their productivity. Maybe their experience offers lessons for leaders of nonprofits and small businesses to consider and implement, too.

For instance, Rebecca Hinds and Bob Sutton at Inc. magazine reported that Dropbox declared an “Armeetingeddon” two-week moratorium on recurring meetings in 2013. The company-wide email “informed employees that all recurring meetings had been deleted from their calendars. … “Ahhh, doesn’t it feel fantastic?” Managers followed up with guidance to employees to: Read more

How can you avoid the viral vortex of social media?

Have you Googled, Binged, or used another search engine to find out about yourself? It can be an amazing experience! Most people forget that virtually everything you post online is there permanently. You may think you are deleting things, but your digital life does not go away. You might find your search uncovers posts you thought were trashed or private.

Today, anyone’s posts can become viral in a nanosecond, especially on twitter or snapchat. Yes, twitter goes by so fast, and snapchat disappears quickly, but tweets get retweeted increasing their lifespan, and there are now apps that capture snapchats and store them forever.

Most of us have posted a message on email or social media that we regretted after hitting send. They may have been insensitive, derisive, angry, or if taken out of context, offensive. It is hard to tell tone and demeanor in the digital world, so even what you consider a harmless post can be misinterpreted. I certainly have experienced this, both as the sender and the receiver.

You can take preventive measures to ward off these consequences (see my blog on email communication, for example), but doing so takes focus, presence, and persistence. Is it worth the effort?
Read more

Encore Tampa Bay and WLS Launch ECO–Encore Connect Online

Those of us at midlife and beyond are far from the scrap heap.   We are poised to invent an entirely new stage of life—the encore years—between the end of midlife and anything resembling old-fashioned retirement. … and in the process to revamp the nature of all preceding life stages, opening options for younger people who can make life decisions with the expectation of more than one bite of the apple.

Marc Freedman, Founder & CEO of Encore.org

Marc Freedman, Founder & CEO of Encore.org

– Marc Freedman, Founder and CEO, Encore.org, in the Forward to the Encore Career Handbook by Marci Alboher

 The national Encore organization “is spearheading efforts to engage millions of people in later life as a vital source of talent to benefit society. … with the ultimate goal of  creating a better future for young people and future generations.” Encore.org now has over 35 member organizations in its network, including Encore Tampa Bay. Read more

Re:Purposed Art: A Parallel to Online Learning?

Lisa invited me to the Re:Purposed Exhibit at the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota last week. I was delighted to have the chance to go.

The exhibit features ten artists who take discarded refuse from bottle caps to plastic bottles to faded pink flamingos to crocheted tams and audio cassette tapes to make art. According to the exhibition book, the artists’ first motivation is not to recycle or make a political statement about waste in society but to offer perspectives on issues of identity, record “time and changing circumstances”, and build spaces that co-locate “dance, performance art, community organization, and environmental activism.”[1] Little of this was immediately apparent to me! But the exhibition guide had interviews with the artists that helped me appreciate each composition more than I could have on my own. Read more

We are all philanthropists in this digital age

Most of us want to give back, help out, make a difference in the world on a local, regional, national, international, or individual basis. In my blog from February 10, 2015, My 5 Tech Trends for 2015: How will they impact you and your organization I looked at how the digital age was changing fund development for organizations. It is also changing the landscape for those who give, and this blog outlines how.

Like most people at tax time, I reviewed my charitable contributions to declare on my taxes. It prompted me to review the other contributions I had made that are not able to be declared because the dollars, time, goods, etc. I gave did not go to a 501(C)3 charitable organization. I either gave directly to a needy family, person, or cause, not thinking of a tax benefit, and know that those contributions did a lot of good. Donating money at a fundraiser for a family in my town devastated by cancer; donating cans of food to the USPS food drive; buying presents for the giving tree at Christmas time; paying for a hungry young person’s sandwich when they didn’t have enough change, etc. You also have this kind of list, I am sure.

This kind of giving, to me, is part of our humanness. Although easier to do on a local level, the digital age has ushered in a new age of philanthropy where this personal kind of giving can be done for larger causes while still going directly to the source of need.  Read more