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How to keep up? Follow what sparks your interest…

April 5, 2010

This month’s Big Question is simple: How do we keep up?

My approach to keeping up is not particularly systematic, more making time and space for serendipity.  I take time to scan and/or read various blog posts on the e-learning learning community, follow a select few power-tweeters on twitter, who are updating things much more frequently than I ever could.  When something sparks my interest, I always build time into my week to play in the sandbox just a little.  I don’t want to be able to keep up on everything, as that would just take all my time, but I also know my clients expect me to be ahead of the pack, so it’s a balancing act.

I do, however, have one way of sifting/filtering/sense-making.  I use a model that I’ve built over the years, and it helps me to categorize some of the new fangled tools and yet not throw away the old fangled ones.  It also helps me quickly identify new (to me) tools that I should investigate a little further.

The gist, is that I focus on what people need…

  • help – methods and tools to show me how/tell me how/let me try – these tend to be performance support types of things (wikis, screencasts,etc)
  • learn – methods and tools for learning on my own/in a group/with an instructor – these tend to be more traditional course based – synchronous and asynchronous
  • know/connect – methods and tools to do my job/to exchange ideas/to feel connected -these tend to be more of the social/collaborative and pseudo-communications things. 

While many new tools don’t fit neatly into one category, I think of it as a venn diagram, where things overlap and intersect:

I think for a lot of people, they feel as though all the new tech is just noise, so I find that a model or construct to be helpful.  It is “technology” neutral, as the model can be applied to a completely face-to-face world, as well.  For many in the learning field, it is good to know that things which are familiar don’t need to be turfed.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2010 6:19 am

    I’m not sure I get how this helps – maybe a couple of examples and how that allows you to act differently?

  2. hollymacdonald permalink*
    April 6, 2010 7:28 am

    Hi Tony – the way it helps me is that I look for things that fit my model – an example – the post I did recently on skype, zorap and stixy – I hadn’t heard of zorap before, which I found thanks to Jay Cross. I immediately thought “that would be an interesting synchronous tool to help people learn and/or connect”, then I googled “tools like zorap”, which led me to a blog post that described a bunch more. I had a little time, so I played around a bit, with the 25+ tools on that blog post. And, I liked the sound of stixy, as it sounded to me like it had potential for exchanging ideas within a project team.

    I guess my approach is that I don’t categorize tools based on what they do, but how they might be used. My feeling is that there are lots of tools, but if I can’t quickly identify how it will provide value to an end-user, then I don’t bother playing with it. Does that give more context?

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