Learning Journeys to Build Web Literacy

Comic strips quickly engage, inform, and inspire us to start learning journeys. They’re also funny!

Last June, I blogged about how the partnership between two comic strip artists—Pearls before Swine cartoonist Stephen Pastis and Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson—had role modeled collaborating effectively online. Critical success factors included their opening up to each other, trying new ways of working, and selecting the right communications tools.



Walt, Curtis' Dad

Walt, Curtis’ Dad

Last week, Curtis, an 11-year-old African-American boy featured in the comic strip Curtis by Ray Billingsley, assessed why his hair-pulling-out-in-frustration father could not connect to a network from his laptop. Curtis—the typical flippant adolescent—said that it was “Simple” and then rattled off six may-be reasons for his Dad’s inability to access the network. His Dad, a hard-working man with much to learn about computer technology, replied, “Thank you for simplifying that.”

We’ve all been there. Wanting help but dreading criticism Read more

Content Curation: It Takes A Network

We are all bombarded by content these days from email, texts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, WordPress, and other social media we engage with. If you are like me, all this content can be overwhelming. Sifting through it all takes so much time and can be daunting (in her blog last week Doris describes how she is taming her email, for example). Yet, sift through it I do as contained in all the flotsam and jetsam are gold nuggets that contribute to my learning/working/thinking out loud (see my previous blog about learning/working online).

Can we become content curators so we can find, use, and share these gold nuggets easily?

There is a lot of information on content curation and management – just use a search engine and you’ll see. Many search results yield content management systems (CMS).  Although CMS are helpful, more and more bloggers that I follow are emphasizing the importance of seeking out quality information using reliable sources, and sharing that information with networks. CMS are tools to use, but don’t sort through what is quality from what is popular or trending.
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I Resolve–Five Steps to Email Sanity

We are two weeks into the New Year. Have you already transformed and reformed everything in your life?

Come on … you know the things I’m talking about: exercising regularly; eating right; dealing with frustrations at work and not taking them home with you? Or maybe you have found the key to establish and maintain your focus at work? Or reduce your email overload to gain time and productivity?

No? Not yet? Whew! Me either. Read more

The Gift of Reflecting and Learning: More Not All Gifts Come Wrapped

This time of year is ripe with reflections about the past year and resolutions for the new one. I am no different, and it is once again time for me to review my Personal Learning Plan (PLP) for what I did learn over the past year, as well as set new learning goals for 2015.

Doris, Lyn, and I, and now Doris and I, use this blog to “learn out loud” with all of you and with each other. Doris’s post All Gifts Do Not Come Wrapped inspired me to also review our blogs this past year, and reflect on those that pushed my learning and inspired me, and also helped me update my PLP. Read more

All Gifts Do Not Come Wrapped

The end of the calendar year makes many people, including me, look back and reflect on the previous 12 months. Having done a little of  that,  I’m happy to report that my optimism–some might say delusional optimism–is intact as I end 2014 with a lot to celebrate.

My joy flows in part from friends and colleagues who scaffold me in life and work. Sometimes they are one and the same–friends and colleagues, that is.  While there are many who guide and support me, and I love them all, today I wish to recognize two women who have helped me AND the Women’s Learning Studio grow and refine our focus. They are Lyn Boyer and Lisa Levinson. Read more

5 More Insights from the IFWE – International Forum on Women in E-Learning – Conference

Doris did a masterful job of writing about her insights from the IFWE conference. I too have been reflecting on my conference learning; here are some additional insights I have. Some are definitely BFO’s (Brilliant Flashes of the Obvious – courtesy of Katie Blott – see Doris’s blog)!

Attending a Woman’s Conference is a Great Experience

IFWE photo

IFWE theme photo for the 2014 conference

I was a little unsure of what an all women’s conference on e-learning would be like, and discovered that at least at IFWE, it was a freeing and wonderful opportunity. The conference theme was: IFWE Walk in Her Shoes. The conference brochure states: “….share best practices, establish valuable relationships, and explore ways to be effective leaders. This year’s theme takes us a little deeper into what it means to work as a team in a diverse world. Sessions and speakers will push participants to consider how others tackle life’s problems both personally and professionally, understand what it means to be a strong but empathetic leader, and move forward in their own E-learning career path……IFWE is about sharing and learning information, but it’s also about rejuvenating the spirit.

The conference walked the walk (not just San Antonio’s River Walk) and not just talked the talk. The women I met were smart and accomplished, but also open, generous, and came to the conference in the spirit of sharing learning and experiences as opposed to being competitive. It was a spirit of sisterhood, and both Doris and I felt welcomed, valued, and included from the first encounter. From the keynote speakers to the workshops to the frequent and sustained laughter in the hallways, it modeled how the personal and professional can and should walk side by side in our lives. The conference did walk in all our different sized and styled shoes. Read more

Five Insights from IFWE–International Forum for Women in E-Learning

Although I am still in process,

I am absolutely enough.

–Catherine Brunell

Lisa and I had the good luck to participate in the sixth IFWE conference last week. The event attracted more than 100 women to meet-up in San Antonio from December 3-5.

In less than seven months, with Lisa’s initiation and leadership, I went from not knowing of IFWE’s existence to presenting at its conference. After four days of listening and talking with scores of learned colleagues, all of them women, and 12 hours of travel back to Maine for Lisa, and big exhales from both of us, we are each considering what the experience yielded for us. Five ideas come to mind for me. Read more

Seismic Shift in the Training and Development Landscape

Although I haven’t felt the earth move or experienced seismic tremors, there is a fairly big shift taking place in the training and development landscape for education, business, organizations, and individuals.

Last week Doris blogged about the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s approach to embracing working out loud by using technology and digital media to connect diverse groups, engage in dialogue and discussion, share information, and engender new ways of thinking and doing. This new model of leadership has a belief in the power of nonhierarchical online convening. Creating mechanisms including online spaces to allow for open exchanges of ideas, resources, information, and sharing is evidence not only of their smart technology use, but also of their commitment to diversity of people and ideas.

The Robert Wood Foundation’s approach of distributed leadership for sparking new and innovative ideas for learning and doing has been trickling down to the professional development field as well. Just recently, one of the largest international training organizations changed its name from the American Society for Training and Development, ASTD, to the Association of Talent Development, ATD. The name change announcement materials from May 6, 2014 make it clear that technology, the global economy, and adapting to rapid change on a continuous basis calls for talent development, not just content training. Content will become outdated quickly, talent development embraces opportunities for change and learning how to change, as well as becoming a lifelong learner to acquire new skills to meet new challenges.

Cartoon by Virpi Oinonen from http://Businessgoessocial.net

Cartoon by Virpi Oinonen from http://Businessgoessocial.net

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Sighting Leadership Networks in Action

At the Studio, we try to “work out loud” whenever possible.  We agree with Harold Jarche that “The most effective learning in the new world of work will be when engaged individuals regularly share their knowledge. Working out loud is the primary way people can share in their networks, communities, and workplaces.”  This blog is part of our workplace and where we share our insights most often. If you are reading this post, you may be part of our Studio network or a first-time visitor.  Welcome!

Doris_birding_300px_1991While working on an unrelated project, I became excited like a birder sighting a rare species in an urban parking lot, when I spotted the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation role modeling how to work out loud online. I saw a CEO who is quite transparent about redoing their leadership development work to foster a national “culture of health” in the United States. This huge organization exemplifies (IMO) how to encourage its thousands of associates, most of them not employees, to work out loud through its blogs AND Twitter, Google+, podcasts, and discussion groups online among other social media.

I’d like to share what I have learned so far. There are lessons here for big and small organizations as well as for DIY learners who are connecting online to ultimately make big differences offline. Read more

New technology and gaming for online learning and brain health

Doris alerted me to a touching New York Times article from 10/19/14 entitled, To Siri, With Love. The author, Judith Newman, wrote a love letter to Siri, the iPhone assistant, because of the positive “relationship” Siri has with her autistic, 13 year old son. Siri, far more patient than the author, provides him with endless facts to the subjects that he is passionate about and relentlessly interested in. But even more importantly, she helps him be more socially appropriate by modeling responses that are polite, kind, and socially acceptable. Judith reports that she can now have more extended conversations with her son, and that he actually compliments her and says please and thank you, things he did not do pre-Siri. For this autistic child, being an independent learner with Siri’s help has done more on a social as well as cognitive level to stretch his thinking and person-to-person interactions. The article goes on to report that children with emotional and cognitive challenges work well with these digital “sidekicks”, and that the tech industry is creating digital characters for this very purpose. The good side of technology! Read more