Learning Networks Pop-up: Are You Connected to Learn?

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It takes just one person to connect you to valuable learning activities.

Example: Bronwyn Stuckey, my mentor and learning ally halfway around the world, recently posed a question on her Facebook timeline. She tagged a few Facebook friends to notify them about her post, then waited.   

Bronwyn's_query-04-19_1657

Popup Learning

Bron’s question prompted more than 25 thoughtful educators & talent development specialists from Australia, Spain, Finland, United States, and elsewhere to:

  • offer their reactions
  • reply to what others said
  • appreciate colleagues’ insights by “liking” specific comments
  • link to valuable resources, and
  • raise new issues

They did this because Bron, a respected and beloved educator who specializes in educational gaming research and design to accelerate learning for students of all ages, asked a question important to her and suggested that it might lead to future research.  People were intrigued and eager to help. There was no promise of financial reward or enlightenment, just space opened to explore a topic together.

The discussion enriched me. I gained valuable content on how mentors aid our learning and was reminded of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development and key learning community design principles.  My network grew to include new thinkers, some of whom WLS will follow on Twitter. I am waiting for Bron’s next installment on Facebook where she promised to summarize the ideas we generated. (I will compare my notes to hers because I have studied the posts to gather a few takeaways for myself.)

Staying Connected to Learn

The relationship that Bron and I have is becoming more typical as more and more people use the internet to connect with, and stay networked with potential learning partners around the world.

Bronwyn and I “met” 14 years ago in an online Community of Practice (CoP) workshop led by Bron, Etienne Wenger in CA, John Smith in OR, and Nancy White, Seattle, WA. Bron helped facilitate the CoP simulation and mentored me throughout, encouraging me to contribute my ideas, even when I felt that I could not offer much value.  Before the workshop finished, a small group of us including Bron agreed to research two topics stemming from the CoP simulation. We learned a lot over the next 18 months as we analyzed the discussions in a subsequent workshop.  We could only use text communications—email and a password-protected app with storage capability—to share and discuss our findings.  In retrospect, it’s hard to believe that we succeeded.

After all, none of us had ever worked for the same employer. In most cases, we had not even spoken to each other on the phone. Yet we had gotten to know each other in the first CoP workshop through our writings and presentations. And we were persistent and focused.  Our project resulted in Bron presenting our two papers at an international research in education conference where our work was well-received.

Our paths continued to cross in CPSquare, an online Community of Practice for CoP facilitators/practitioners in social learning.  The CPSquare membership spawned more discussions, research, and learning experiences for me as well as satisfying relationships.

CPSquare does not exist as a membership structure anymore but the individual relationships formed during those years are still part of my learning network of friends and colleagues around the world. We can always pop-up in Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Groups, or Twitter to talk and learn when we need and want to.

What about you? Are you connected?

Do you have key learning allies?  They might be from previous or current employment.  Maybe you took a class together or met in a community project.

How do you stay in touch?  Are you friends on Facebook, contacts on LinkedIn, or communicators of ideas and visuals on Twitter or Instagram?

Do you collaborate on joint learning/work projects? If “no,” when could you start?  

Your learning comes down to this question:  How is your capacity changing to allow you to engage more effectively in your work, community, and world? 

Resources used in this blog:

Bronwyn Stuckey’s Facebook Discussion

Wikipedia’s entry on Zone of Proximal Development

OpenClipartVectors at Pixabay

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