Thursday, October 16, 2014

Working with visuals as powerful learning activity

Schermafbeelding 2014-10-16 om 11.29.27Talking about practice what you preach! -  This is really what we did during the webinar about using visuals with Nancy White. We were choosing images, discussing images, drawing pictures alone and drawing pictures together. It was an eye-opener that working with visuals is much more than selecting a nice image to illustrate your text: drawing can be a powerful learning intervention.

The power of visuals is that it involves another part of the brain, which influences the directions of discussions. Visuals are engaging, by engaging both emotions and invoking sense-making. Some visuals are culturally sensitive but there are also symbols which work across all culture, for instance the spiral as a symbol of change. Some people may feel resistance to drawing because it missing the structure they are craving for. One of the lessons we learned is that images without text will have a more open interpretation, an image with text is already interpreted by the owner. Hence you have to think carefully how and if you want to combine text with images. Visuals can be used a variety of function - to illustrate an idea, - to clarify (like a model), - to stimulate curiosity, - to negotiate meaning making. We have to be conscious about how we use visuals - is it simply about making the online page look more attractive, is it to contextualize, or to stimulate curiosity? For learning purposes as a facilitator you can use visuals as well for meaning making. Videos are also powerful. Having the voice of a certain perspective on video can lead to people taking in the information differently then when presented in text.

  Some interesting online exercises for trainers and facilitators - for inspiration
  • Ask people to share an image online on a topic before an online meeting (for instance in a padlet or boardthing). During the meeting you can invite people to group the images and invite a conversation about it. Especially inviting people to interpret images and to ask questions.
  • Ask people to brainstorm during an online meeting on a topic through text. Then regroup or ask people to pick an interesting aspect. Here you don't use images. However, you visualize the conversation because it is visible for everybody.
  • Do a visual summary of an online discussion for instance in a wordcloud, mindmap or with images
  • Ask people to draw individually on a part of an online whiteboard
  • Ask the group to draw collectively on a whiteboard
  • Use videos - a creative use of videos was shared where each stakeholder had a video.
A list of resources if you want to do more with visuals

Monday, September 22, 2014

Data is beautiful (but not many learning professionals believe this)

I read the book 'Big learning data'. I do like playing with data and always liked mathematics.  waarzegster

Learning data is a new topic - quite big and still evolving. In the book a referal is made to 1000 self-assessments by learning professionals rating their skill set. Data interpretation was one of the lowest scoring skills of learning professionals!. Much higher scored presenting, facilitating skills etc. In other words, learning professionals are usually not the first to dive into numbers. Most betas are not learning professionals.

What is learning analytics? Learning analytics is about the use of data for learning and improving learning processes. In the cartoon above, for example, you see that the fortune teller used Facebook as a source of information to predict the the future. Smart of her ofcourse :). As a professional learning you can now do like the fortune teller using data (information) online. The book focuses on the use of big data in organizations to support, especially large-scale data learning. What I miss in the book is where you may practically start within an organization, even though they explain you can start with a training dashboard where you systematically collect data.

In this blog post I will try to propagate more use of data by learning professionals by making it small and practical and looking at three levels:

  1. the level of your own online learning network (also called personal learning network PLN) 
  2. the level of an online course or course 
  3. the level of an organization

I think that sometimes you have data available at hand that you are not  (yet) using as a professional but could improve your work. And on the other hand, there are new tools like Google Analytics or Twitter Analytics that you can use to start collecting data.

Level 1: the level of your Personal Learning Network (PLN) 
At the level of your own online network you can measure a lot, depending on what your goals are. Think of it as a form of feedback to collect and analyze feedback. For example: you can measure the number of retweets on Twitter. We have an en_nu_online account on twitter where we share a tip everyday. I follow the number of retweets with the aim to see which tips are populair. I do this mainly to with the "my tweets, retweeting." column in Hootsuite. Every month I try to gather the totals and assemble those in an excel sheet. I have noticed that a lot of very practical tweets are retweeted  - this helps me to focus the upcoming tips focus. See also my blog post "Do not follow your number of followers, but you mentions and retweets. New to Twitter is that you can also turn on your analytics. I did this yesterday and you get a lot of information about your tweets.

Level 2: the level of an online cursus or learning trajectory 
For the course 'learning and changing with new media, we use an online platform, a Ning platform. Within this platform, you can also make use of data. For example you can see which topics were given a lot of responses. We use this type of information as we go through redesigns. But apart from the number of responses you can see the number of views. I use this information when I receive few reactions. Sometimes people read it but it is still a heavy topic to respond to. Most platforms do have data, and you want more than you could make use of Google Analytics. Qualitatively you might analyse the content of a course for instance with a wordcloud (eg. wordle or tagxedo). In Moodle I often monitor the participants who have not logged on for 5 days.

Level 3: the level of an organization or network 
At the level of an organization or school learning analytics is a bit more complex. Within an organization or school is it really a major project since you also have to look at the performance data and dashboards which already exist. It is best when you can make a link between performance and assessment and training / informal learning. Who can play what role in such a project? Think of the Research and Development, Learning and Training (HRD), Data scientists and management departments. Perhaps a good start within an organization or school to see what data you actually use . Sometimes gathering data in an excel sheet can be a big step. Additionally, you can think about an organizational challenge to solve. How can you start collecting to progress in this issue? So start with a question. I actually think the book 'measuring the networked non-profit' van Beth Kanter en Katie Delahaye Paine  might be a more practical book than 'big learning data'. A quote from that book is 'deciding what to measure is 90% of the process'.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Changing with technology: the example of collaborating with slack

I find it fascinating to see how our habits change (or don't change at all!) driven by new technologies.



In the Dutch cartoon Fokke and Sukke are making bookcovers for their ipads on the Steve Jobs school

Yesterday Patricia called and because she is in my phone contacts I took the phone with a "Hi Patricia, this is Joitske, how are you?" the answer was "Hi this is Patricia" What a weird start of the conversation... Apparently you can not easily change your default phrase which which you start a phone conversation. The starting phrase "hi, this is Patricia" comes from the time when there was no contact name on the screen of your phone. A phrase or habit which is apparently quite deeply ingrained in our minds. I think it's a funny example of the influence of technology on our communication and how our habits are sometimes matching older technologies ..

At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you had (until about 6 months ago) to pass a scanner as a visitor, so you had to walk counterclockwise. Three months after the scanner was removed I kept the same route walking to the escalator. Until I noticed that everyone in front of me walked to the right to go straight to the escalator which is faster! I felt pretty stupid that I had not noticed this before.

I have blogged earlier about my grandma from the North speaking dialect but who couldn't speak dialect on the phone. On the phone she would speak official Dutch which sounds very formal. One older manager I met did not want to read from the screen and had everything printed. He said he simply couldn't read from screens. It is like some of our habits are one step behind the new technology and can not catch up.

Sometimes it works the other way, and you can also use technology to stimulate a change in habits. In team of five people, we noticed that we mainly seek advice from those you work closely together with on a project and that the threshold for quickly asking advice from the others is quite high. My answer was actually consciously assigning a new role of  'advisor'. However, a colleague suggested to use slack as a teamtool. With slack you can create channels, ask questions and call somebody into a conversation by tagging his name.  We've been slacking a month now and it works! Interestingly, another team had a look at slack and thought it was too chaotic. The reason why it works so well for us is that this colleague already uses it in another project and helped us to get into the tool. Which is not too hard, but there are many small things you need to explore.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

5 Reasons not to work online as facilitator or trainer

doe het niet
We are working and living our lives more and more online, but within your work as organizational advisor, facilitator or teacher you can still focus on face-to-face activities. There are 5 good reasons to NOT go online:

1. The people you work with prefer face-to-face contact

Many people say they prefer to come together. Ultimately, it is the most enjoyable way of working together isn't it? Who knows you might be forced to really take an interest in a topic through an online process and have to focus on what you want to learn. It is much easier to schedule plain old meetings where you can go lean back and see what will happen. With a bit of luck you don't have to think to much.

2. You like to have your schedule full of meetings, which gives you an idea of control 

Imagine that you need to organize online activities, then you should spend more time at your computer. Face-to-face events are preferable because you can schedule them till you know your weekly agenda is fully booked. Online asks more of your abilities to organize your work. You would then have to schedule your work flexibly. That would give you the freedom to integrate your private activities easier into your schedule.

3. Face-to-face is needed to build trust to have real conversations

Real good conversations occur only face-to-face. Online is just a substitute for face-to-face contact, of much less value. The fact that more people are online dating and stay informed via Facebook and Whatsapp groups is crazy. That is only superficial contact, and may not have much impact. Real important conversations and new ideas happen face-to-face and not via chat. Online you would get nothing done and have no effect. Weird that politicians invest so much in their online presence on Twitter!

4. You are not working with youth

If you would work with youngsters, you'd definitely work online. You work a lot with 40 + ers and those people are not online. E-mail is just about it. "Do not teach old dogs new tricks." Fortunately that you work with a relatively older group then you do not have to go online and cope with all interesting developments for new ways of learning.

5. You are not good with technology

If you participate in a webinar is there is always something not working well. All those viruses on your computer. It's a good reason to stay far away from facilitating online. Before you know it you will be responsible for ensuring that the technology is working well. What if something goes wrong then you might be required to help people and to improvise. That's not part of your job, right?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Screenagers, generation X and technology

foto I went to an evening about generational learning and it was full of these kind of dialogues between different generations:
"How would it be to work in an organisation without the younger generations?"
 Older person: "It would be very boring!"
Older person: "how would it be to work in an organisation without the older generations?"
Young person: "I would miss the complaining..." :)

Edna Walhain and Emiel Nijenhuis from Koffie en bubbels provided some background information about 4 generations. The characteristics of a generation can be explained by looking at the formative period, the period when people are between 15 and 25 years of age. This is when their ideas and values are formed. Screenagers (born between 1985 and 2000, grew up with internet and lots of individual attention and self-esteem),  the Pragmatic generation born between 1970-1985, generation X (born 1955- 1970 - grown with fear of the bomb, cold war and oil crises) and babyboomers (born 1940-55, the protestgeneration, formative period the 60s).
 foto5

STATEMENT "Without youth, organizations do not keep up with technological developments" Technology was a recurrent theme in a lot of discussions. Young people are skilled in dealing with new technologies and flexible in searching good applications for their work. They don't follow and accept the organisational technologies, they go in search of the best programs, which clashes with a lot of organisational policies. Older generations have grown up with the idea that technology and software is expensive and scarce, while screenagers see technology everywhere, inexpensive and for anyone to use. An example was shared of an older employee who did a table in word instead of excel because the teamleader told him so. Younger people would question this and find an alternative solution. An important explanation that youth are embracing social media and collaboration technologies is deeper, however, it is the drive behind it. Social media fits with the way young people want to work collaboratively and fast. They want to seek knowledge and share within networks. They don't want to accept and work through the hierarchy but like to move fast through -constantly changing- networks.

An interesting discussion was also the observation that having youth around does not automatically lead to innovation within the organisation. It depends on the number of young people (1 trainee will not make a difference ) and the space the organisation provided to young people to influence the culture, the way of working. It is not clear that is going to be the case. Listened to junior in a hierarchical organization is not so natural because of the ideas and convictions about where knowledge is vested - in people with experience. This leads to the situation where you need experience in order to be heard and have influence in an organisation.

I certainly believe in the generational differences although I often encounter people who question it. I'm a living example of course, of the fact that the differences don't mean that older people are not clever using online technologies and are not in favour of online sharing.  However, I see the differences as well. I'm for instance much slower than the young. I'm at 4 hops with flappybird while my daughter is already at 150. I also recognize a number of beliefs like the importance of experience, and networking is not always my first nature. It was an evening with lots of insights and I will definitely try to work more consciously with different generations in some upcoming assignments.

More information about generational differences

Monday, March 24, 2014

The power of infographics for learning

I made my first infographic! It took my about 3 hours, including reading - and I'm very enthousiastic about the power of making an infographic for learning.

Knowledge sharing/ social learning within organization in the Netherlands


Let me first talk about the content and then explain how I did it. I was curious to see how organisations are using online social interactions, particularly for learning and collaborating within the organisation. I see a discrepancy between how people use social media at home and within the company. Here's the infographic (in Dutch) and it basically confirmed my gut feelings. 70% of people use social media in the Netherlands (source: CBS central bureau of statistics), almost regardless of educational levels. However, within organisations the marketing department is leading in innovating with social media. In 68% of the companies marketing is using social media. Only in 34% of the companies it is used for internal knowledge sharing. If organizations are investing in internal knowledge sharing tools, it is shocking to see that only 1 in 3 invests in community management and facilitation. It is as if social exchange should be spontaneous and would not need any attention. 36% of the organizations have nobody for community management and 24% rely on volunteers. This was quite a shock, but also not a shock because it actually confirms what I observe around me.

Sources

  • Het aantal bedrijven dat gebruik maakt van sociale media van het CBS komt dit rapport van het CBS, Sociale media en bedrijven, 2013
  • Interne sociale media in Nederland, de stand van zaken. Evolve, februari 2014


  • sociaal leren in organisatie



    How I made the infographic


    I used piktochart to make the infographic and was pleasantly surprised how easy it was. It had been on my wishlist for long to make an infographic but I have been postponing it for long. What I did is think of a topic of interest to me and write it down on paper (social learning/ internal knowledge sharing in organizations in the Netherlands). I then searched for reports using google and my bookmarks. I always bookmark figures with the keyword statistics, which was now very useful. I found two reports and decided that would be enough as a basis. I read the report and jotted down the interesting statistics (about 6-7 graphs). Then I started playing around with piktochart and chose a theme. The theme I chose had 3 subsections and that helped me to focus. I looked at my figures and chose the 3 most compelling ones telling a story. For me the story was that people use social media at home, few organizations invest in social media for internal knowledge sharing and if they do, they ignore the important role of community management. I also noticed that both reports had different figures but decided to rely on the central bureau of statistics more. Piktochart allows you to start with a theme and adapt it easily, for instance change the background colour. After finishing you can copy the html code to embed it and download the graph.

    Ideas to use infographics for learning in (online) courses and learning trajectories


    Why I learned a lot is because I had to read both reports and be selective in what figures to use and make a story out of it. Condensing the story and summarizing it made me memorize it and draw my firm conclusions. If you'd wake me up at night I could tell you the exact figures of investment in internal knowledge sharing :). Normally when I read blogs and papers online I have a hard time remembering what it was that I read exactly. So how to use infographics? (some ideas but please add your ideas in the comments!)


    • Divide participants in a learning course in small groups per topic and ask each group to develop an infographic and present it in a blog or meeting
    • You might ask participants for an infographic as assignment for their portfolio
    • You could also ask one group to come up with good literature and another group to make the infographic based upon the literature
    • Ask each participant to make an infographic on the same topic and compare within the group

    Friday, March 14, 2014

    Don't organise a workshop- go cycling...

    Last week I participated in a webinar by ASTD and got spontaneous feedback about Europeans. The webinar title was 'what makes multi-cultural training different?' and the topic was how to facilitate international groups online. One participant shared her observation that European 'are not used to 
    technologie'. If she spots Europeans in her classes all bells start ringing that they should give more support...  I recognize the difference as well. I see how most Americans and Canadians easily host a webinar or share all their life and stories online. In the Netherlands, I still see this happening only piecemeal.

      Amsterdam beweegtCreative Commons License FaceMePLS via Compfight

    It's a bit of a pet peeve of mine "if you don't know how to ride a bike it is always faster to walk" - Suppose as a trainer / consultant you are invited to help a team to improve time management. What do you do? You organize a workshop because you are so used to doing this (= walk). But you could do something different, for example by starting online, organize a game, or smart use of social media during the workshop to invite others (= cycle). Because you don't know how to ride the online bike as a trainer you are going to do so... Although you might if you don't live in Europe :).

    A good example from my own practice: I am asked to advise a team with teammembers partly based in Canada and partly in the Netherlands. The question was to organize an afternoon workshop in the Netherlands and then later the workshop could be replicated in Canada under the guidance of one of the participants here. After some period of thinking how I'd prefer to work, I decided that it was important to work with the whole team in order to make a joint learning process and to understand each other better. So I designed two weeks online with a videoconference session with the entire team of 3 hours at the end. I believe that many other consultants would have designed the afternoon workshop the client was asking for...  I am convinced this is a much better intervention, with more impact on the team and cooperation.

    I wrote earlier the five beliefs of the old trainer and the trainer of the 21st century. I have worked at least 8 years online now.. I guess you must have quite some experience (though not 8 years!) before you can really cycle as a trainer/advisor.

    Are you Dutch and would like to learn more? Join the LOSmakers (a Dutch group) on LinkedIn or participate in one of our activities organised by Ennuonline.

    Monday, March 03, 2014

    Solving collaboration issues with technology is a myth

    Yvonne van der PolThis interview is also posted on our Dutch blog Ennuonline. Yvonne van der Pol has her own company called Luz azul trainingen, advies & coaching and works within the domain of intercultural 'craftsmanship' (not sure how it translates in English but the Dutch term vakmanschap is wonderful). She did our learning trajectory on learning with new media Leren en veranderen met sociale media where she designed a blended trajectory about intercultural effectivity, in-company as well as a course for open inscription. The core of her work is to improve working relationships from people with different cultural backgrounds. We live in a ‘global village’ because of internet - every country is one click away. I interviewed her because I am interested in learning more about working interculturally online... which I do a lot by the way.

    Where is the source of your interest in intercultural 'craftsmanship'?
    I've studied Sociology of non-Western societies and worked in international cooperation for 10 years. When I was 18 years old I went to the United States, I experienced that you enter into a different culture and you have to adapt. On the surface there appear many similarities, but beneath the surface there are major differences. When I was in Costa Rica for research later, I encountered other intercultural challenges. For example, I gave a presentation which contained criticism.. The next day the director refused to greet me. That made me think about the importance of communication and intercultural skills. In another culture there are very different assumptions and methods to decipher and interpret the world.

    Is collaborating interculturally a skill which is more strongly developed because of all the developments triggered by internet (eg. large gaming communities)?
    DeepCultureModel
    Indeed, it seems that we now live in a global village, the Internet connects the entire planet. However, that is only on the surface. There is a difference between surface and deep culture (see Deep culture model of intercultural adjustment of Joseph Shaules). Regarding surface culture: we are indeed coming closer. An online gamer may experience for example an American or Chinese situation in the game. Young people experience more different things and different cultures than before. However, the deeper understanding and skills you develop to work interculturally are not developed. It is an illusion to think that with globalization, intercultural skills come naturally. I'd say on the contrary, sometimes prejudices only increase. At the same time it is true that the development of intercultural skills is increasingly important as more work is international, from horticulture to retail, from science to education everything is becoming more internationally oriented. The question is: "how are you going to understand each other better?" Take for instance the cooperation to build wikipedia. That communication is very multilingual - but native speakers have an advantage over non- native speakers.  Native speakers may sometimes empathize less with people who can not express themselves with nuances. Another example is: the open data movement. There is much to do about improving transparency and making data accessible. This conviction also stems from a cultural belief. If you are born in a country where you're not safe, there can be a lot of anxiety around online sharing of information and experiences. If you do not take this undercurrent in your approach to open data serious, then the project is perhaps less effective than hoped ... If you want to read more, go to Yvonne’s blog.

    Do you think new technologies make collaboration internationally easier or harder? Why? 
    The new technologies make communication easier and cheaper for sure, you can work with Skype, webinars, email, Yammer, and other tools. This makes collaboration internationally more practical than 20 years ago. But you have organize this collaboration specifically. It is a myth that technology will resolve collaboration across borders and across cultures. Technology can also obscure the difficulties: everyone continues to work from personal and cultural assumptions. Importantly, it is always about creating confidence to effectively work together. The new technology is fantastic but you have to learn to use it effectively to work together. That's the same as always: you have to stay alert to human interaction, pay attention to non-verbal communication in virtual teams. Is there no answer because the technology does not work or because someone is disengaged for other reasons? And then how do you solve this?


    Can we learn something from the field of intercultural effectivity for learning to work with new media? Is there a parallel between learning to work in a new culture and learning to work with new technology? 
    There are definitely parallels that can be drawn between the use of new media and moving into a new culture. In both cases you enter a new situation where you do not know the codes- how to behave. You crave for knowledge about how it works. Knowing yourself and how you react in situations like this is important – how open-minded, curious, flexible, persistent, tolerant are you? Schermafbeelding 2014-02-24 om 21.26.23

    I work with an online assessment tool, the Intercultural Readiness Check, which is based on three areas: Connect, Perform and Enjoy. In the intercultural competencies (see diagram) you can see the parallels with dealing with new media such as how to deal with uncertainty? Some people enjoy jumping into something new, others much less so. How do you connect with each other online, and how to effectively work together?  So you could easily say that Connect, Perform and Enjoy are true both for personal intercultural skills as for dealing with new media.

    Thursday, January 16, 2014

    Finding the 'elephant paths' of a community of practice

    I've been facilitating a community of practice about sustainable energy in the Netherlands over the past 3 months. I had a meeting with the convener of the community before we started. When we tried to 'design' for a community we stumbled upon a lot of questions like: who are we going to invite, what roles can we distinguish, should we use online media or not? It is not easy to make all these decisions upfront. We differed on who to invite: I wanted to invite a wider group of professionals and the convener wanted to start with an old working group. The convener wanted an advice from the group in 3 months and my worry was that it would not leave enough room to discuss their own practice questions. I worried a lot when we started and finally decided to give this a try and use the 3 months to see and observe the dynamics and what emerges.

    The community dynamics
    What happened during the 3 months was this:

    • A few people never showed up.
    • The convener got ill and hence could not participate in the meetings. Two other persons with a high stake in the topic took over.
    • A tied group formed of professionals who really connected based upon similar practice questions
    • One person realized after the second meeting that his work practice didn't fit it with the group and sent his colleague. 
    • The group was divided about the usefulness of exchanging online, so online was limited to email, but at some point one member took the initiative to create a LinkedIn group.
    • It was possible to balance individual interest with the request for advice. We made an inventory during the first meeting of practice issues and used online voting to set priorities. Hence we formed 3 groups based upon their major interest in a topic. I think it was actually appreciated that there was a question from a higher level for advice. This made it possible to merge individual learning with collective learning. 
    • 3 months was very short to come up with the advice but we were given the flexibility to take a little longer. 
    The elephant paths
    I already blogged before about the balance between design and emergence in communities. I didn't know the term elephant paths then, but I learned this term during a MOOC on change management organised by SIOO. Elephant paths are the shortcuts people take to safe time walking or cycling from A to B. Here's an interesting 14 minutes video in Dutch, showing that people are very persistent in following their own route. The 3 months has permitted me to see what the elephant paths are for the people in this community: for instance the key persons and core issues but also preferential ways to learn. 

    Design upfront versus self-organization
    I shifted a bit in my thinking about design of communities - I was always convinced that you should over-facilitate and allow for sufficient space for self organization. Now I believe that you can start with a clear design as long as you have eye for the 'elephant paths'.

    PS: just realized this is my 600th blogpost!

    Friday, December 13, 2013

    The shoemaker and his (own) mould

    leest
    For years I have been wearing orthopedic shoes. The fun thing is that you may design your own shoes. The first pairs of shoe pairs it was quite frustrating that they do not look out exactly as you designed them... Since years I know that the final shoe will not look exactly like my design and I think it's fine. I'm going to switch from one shoemaker to another shoemaker. So I asked the shoemaker if he could send the mould (do you call it like this?) to the new shoemakers, which seemed logical and efficient. Something about not reinventing the wheel or doing double work ...

    The shoemaker did not want to send his mould to his colleague He explained that every shoemaker has his own way of working, there are subtle differences in how you approach it. He would never want to work with a mould made by his colleague, but rather create a new one. His mould of the same foot will be quite different. This surprised me, it seemed so logical to share the mould as an outsider. It got me thinking again about how hard it is to share materials between professionals, and learn from each other's unique way of working. I once taught a course with the curriculum of another teacher, but found myself adjusting many things and almost wished I started from scratch. Although the practice of trainers, for example, looks alike for outsiders, there are many subtle differences that make the work of a professional unique. With a colleague we like to make prezis together and I notice that it is still hard to explain a hard made by a colleague you know really well.

    This week I facilitated the third session of a community of practice. One participant told me that he had really connected with two other participants. They share a lot with each other and talk about all their projects. I strongly believe it take a sustained interaction over a longer time frame in order to be able to really learn from each other. This is the only one way to learn how another professional tackles the same challenges. Though I had the impression this shoemaker did not really want to learn something from his colleagues - he knows just how how he wants to work.

    Wednesday, November 27, 2013

    Tools for social network analysis from beginners to advanced levels

    This year I've been drawn to the power of social network analysis. Monday I'll be taking my exam of the Coursera MOOC about SNA. Even though this is quite a scientific course, you learn new ways of looking at networks and for instance using Gephi with all its possibilities. Tomorrow I have a webinar with a group of people interested in social network analysis, interested in the tools. What I'm doing in this blogpost is classifying some tools for network from EASY through INTERMEDIATE to DIFFICULT.

    It's good to distinguish between EGOnetwork analysis and whole network analysis. An EGOnetwork analysis is mapping the network of relationships of one person (usually your own network!).  In Network analysis you identify a network, a friends network, a LinkedIn group or a community of practice, or in the course a dolphins network. There are some simple tools which can help you map your own social media network.
    niveau1
    LEVEL 1 EASY
    Tools in level 1 are the Egonetwork tools which are available on the web and which make it possible to analyse your network in one click. You may do this in 1-2 hours.
    • With one click you can map your LinkedIn network (except if your network is too small or too large. It automatically colours the subnetworks. It is a good exercise to name these subnetworks. What kind of people would you like to have in your network.
    facebook netwerk nov 2013facebook netwerk touchgraph nov 2013












    •   You can do an Egonetwork analysis of your  Facebook network met Touchgraph - see pictures above. Just like with LinkedIn maps you can see subcommunities with different colours. Mijn main networks are my old IICD network and KM4dev/CPsquare networks. My friends network is the tiny part in green. That explains why I'm not that active on Facebook. You can actually do a lot of things with touchgraph, more than with linkedIn maps, like you can zoom in on your most important network, choose to show picture or names etc. See the examples above.  

    niveau2LEVEL 2 INTERMEDIATE
    Level 2 are tools that take more time to understand and work with. You may need a day or so, even though it is possible to learn it with tutorials from the web, or ask someone who knows the tools. Niveau 2 zijn tools die je wel even onder de knie moet krijgen. Nevertheless the tools are free: Gephi and NodeXL are both free and open source.. NodeXL is for windows and works with Excel.


    • You can download your Facebook network with Getnet  http://snacourse.com/getnetand then import it in Gephi. The difference with touchgraph is that you can do more analysis for instance look at the most influential people in your network.  

    • twitter netwerk toekomstglban interesting way of doing Network analysis of social media is with NodeXL you can import for instance Twitter Hashtag tweets, or a network of a twitter account (@joitske). I haven't tried a lot yet with NodeXL, I have been struggling a bit with the labels. Importing at times takes long because Twitter only allow a certain amount of data to be downloaded, so be prepared to set it up and let it run for a couple of hours. 
    niveau3
    LEVEL 3 DIFFICULT
    The highest level of difficulty is doing a whole Network analysis with tools like Netdraw and Gephi. It is important to understand network measures like centrality measures and sub communities. It takes investment in knowing network theory and software.
    • Network analysis with Gephi. The SNA course used Gephi and I find it impression what you can calculate and analyse like average shortest path, modularities etc. I think it takes a good comparison with other networks to interprete these kind of overall network characteristics. See below a  Gephi example. Screen shot 2013-11-26 losmakers gephi
    • Similar to Gephi you can do Network analysis with Netdraw. So far I am very impressed with what you can do in Netdraw, especially the way you can visualize parts of the network and zoom in. For instance, if you have a network with agriculturalists, policy makers and advisors, you can plot the network of the advisors separately if you like. We did that for a large network zooming in on the provinces which was very useful to have a view of the network at provincial level. 

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    Design of blended learning: inspiration from a book about design thinking

    I read the Dutch boek De Ontwerpfactor, written by Marguerithe de Man. She did a sabatical studying urban planning and landscape architecture which inspired her to write this book about design of learning and change trajectories. Marguerithe is part of our trajectory leren en veranderen met sociale media which makes it extra nice to read.
    ...ontwerpfactor What I liked most about the book is that it provides the space to look at the design process in different ways. In our own book we have four design stages for designing a blended program. After reading this book, I think we could have make more room for the individuality and personal style of trainers and consultants in the design process. It also helps me understand that at the end of the day about blended learning design most participants were not yet ready to really put a design on paper (or ipad). The actual design process is quite messy and needs time to ponder and mull things over. A beautiful sentence from the book: "The challenge is to discover your own design issues and process. There is not a single design process.." I remember we did a design session with roughly 10 people before our learning trajectory in which we wrote down the main issues to deal with. At the end we hardly looked at this list when designing the trajectory....

    I read the book with the design of blended or online learning trajectories in mind. Some things I definitely take away from the book for the design of blended learning programs:
    • The metaphor of concrete and timber trees. What part of your design is crucial and need to be concrete and what aspects can you leave more open-ended? For a blended program: can the participants help shape and detail the goals of the trajectory? Is the platform a private online platform or is er openess to use online side-walks using other media? I think as a designer you have the choice to put everything in concrete but you can also design for flexibility. A nice example in our own district: people created all kinds of new paths because the route to the mall was not logical for walkers and cyclists. Are you going to build a fence (see picture) or customize your design? hek
    • The agent design (is this the right translation for middelontwerp?). For me this is a new concept, it prescribes how to manufacture the product. In a blended program you have no prescription but it may be necessary to clarify a number of assumptions - how independent you expect people to be... how much you're going to help if they get stuck. You can do this in an intake interview. For instance we are now more explicit during our intake that we are available for support when people are stuck in their cases but it is their own responsibility to call upon us. It can also include instructions for online platform construction if that is outsourced. It's new for me! Will need to think more. 
    • Working with personas. This is something I recognized from my own experience-it is very powerful to work with personas - when youare designing. I did this in a project with a design team. When working with personas you create an image of a user that you give a name. It is not a person but a number of people in the 'meat grinder' (as the book calls it). In our project it worked very well because every time we had new ideas we thought how Marjan and Kees would like it. When designing a blended program working with personas is a very strong approach because you can choose personas with different preferences and skills in working online. Why I have not used more often? - Perhaps because it is still a step that extra time seems to cost?
    • Design/ atmosphere. How important is the attractiveness/atmosphere? This is also something we can learn from designers - attraction is also important. I often tend to work with the tools out there, such as Sharepoint, or LinkedIn because I love working with the well-known tools, which is also an important consideration. However, I struggle with the attractiveness/atmosphere. After reading the book, I feel design considerations (attractiveness) is a little higher on my list of criteria in choosing tools for blended learning. 
    • Interface. Architects also work with the spaces between buildings - the interface. In blended trajectories you will have to switch between online and face-to-face. You will also have to space activities. Are you for instance planning weeks to rest with no activities? This is another example where I learned to be more explicit about our design. The first trajectory people complained that little was happening during the 'off-weeks'. 
    Sorry, the book in only available in Dutch!

    Thursday, October 31, 2013

    Making the invisible visible with social network analysis


    Together with Koen Faber, Josien Kapma and Niels Schuddeboom we have an informal dutch group who want to learn about social network analysis. Our learning curve is quite steep I would say! It helps me a lot to have likeminded people around me. For instance I signed up for the MOOC about social network analysis which started 4 weeks ago and which is interesting but also very scientific. I almost forgot about it during the first week but Koen telling me about the assignments (analyzing your own facebook network) stimulated me to dedicate more time and I even signed up for the signature track for the certificate.

    We first got together somewhere before the summer and all blogged about our questions:
    • Josien wondered about the focus on the images versus the conversations amongst network members. It is good to have conversations about a network. What is the role of  'a true picture' of the network? The interpretation is more important - hence is it necessary to do all this effort to depict the network or could it also be a simple drawing? (costs less effort!) Read her blogpost in Dutch here. 
    • Koen wondered how to use maps effectively as reflection tools? and also Can network mapping show which people influence the course of the network? Whose influence is tipping the opinions in a network setting?
    • I also blogged about my learning questions here and I had 3 questions: Is it possible to do network analysis without collecting data by using social media connections? How much is the time invested in doing the SNA and does it justify the results in terms of surprises and new insights that would not have been possible to gain in other ways? Would it be possible to make the process more participatory? 
    Since then, together we were engaged in 3 network analysis. Interesting was the diversity already in the 3 network analysis - the number of respondents ranged from 55 to almost 900, the purpose ranged from understanding and growing the network to evaluating the network. We used onasurveys to collect data and export and analyse it in Netdraw. I also used NodeXL to analyse a twitter hashtag and a twitter account. In the MOOC we are working a lot with Gephi to analyse data. Interestingly most tools are free or low cost (onasurveys is paid). 

    I learned a lot and it is very timely that next week Friday (the 8th of November) we'll share our experiences with a group of network professionals in Utrecht. If you happen to be in the Netherlands and are interested you are very welcome - more information on this page. The title is: 

    Social Network Analysis: just a bunch of nice images?  

    I am very positive about social network analysis and it potential to gain insights into a network

    * Social network analysis can give a different view into a network, which can be revealing and help to make strategic decisions on how to strengthen a network. First a short story to illustrate how social network analysis can give a different view with a more scientific basis. Koen came to my place by public transport and I told him that he could take the train and then take the tram, alternatively take the train to the central station and then the so-called randstadrail. When he arrived, he said he took the bus! I never thought about the bus because I dislike buses and they always tend to keep me waiting for long. So I discard this as an option. However, he used the public transport planner and the planner found the bus. This is an analogy to show what social network analysis can do for network members or facilitators. Though network members always have their own observations and may understand the network quite well - it helps to have an images constructed from the information given by the members which may reveal things otherwise unseen. Though this is also a case of rubish in rubish out, if people do not respond honestly or do it in a hurry, there may be biases in the data too. In one case, a sponsor to the network was invited. Though interesting for network members, they saw a lot of their impressions confirmed. However, they felt very proud that the sponsor could finally SEE the network...

    * The invested time is not too much, it may not always be justified but in many cases it may be. As a rule of thumb I am now calculating 5 days of work including designing the survey with the network coordinators, testing the survey, sending it out, analyzing data, preparing visuals and interpreting the visuals. I'm amazed by how much you can do with the free software programs, though the more you use it, the more you realize how much is possible and which you don't understand. I never used Ucinet for example and there are so many ways to calculate overall network statistics. That's a whole new world to me. Besides it is very easy to import a twitter network into NodeXL or a Facebook network into Gephi. This is far easier than I imagined. So in half a day you could already analyze some social media data. 

    * Working with the network members needs to be the core of the work. As we already thought, the interpretation and discussion with a representation of network members is very important. In all 3 cases we had a debriefing ranging from 1,5 to 3 hours, in which the images guide a discussion. I think it would be even better to have 2 sessions with the team. One session in which you show the images and what they represent - then sending out a short summary, followed by another session to talk about interventions. On the other hand, I realized that the work of the person designing and interpreting the survey is very important. He or she has an important part to play in choosing the right questions and filtering the images to show and interpret. 

    * It is an art rather than a science. It is very important what kind of questions you ask and wording matters. It also matters a lot what you analyze and how you represent it. You have to develop a sense for the right questions and the images that will help the understanding. 

    Wednesday, September 25, 2013

    Learning in times of Google: two personal experiences

    foto (6)See here in the picture Kiekeboe our new hamster (or do you say chipmunk as in Alvin and the chipmunks?). Our Kiekeboe escaped and my search in the house was in vain. I decided to Google and found some good tips:  (1) search in the evening/ at night because in daytime he is hiding and asleep. (2) put food in different rooms and watch where the food is gone - that's the room where he is hiding. So this is what we did and we discovered only the food in the living room was gone. Late in the evening we saw him running across and were able to catch him (though technically speaking it is a her).

    Another experience: I wanted to learn social network analyse (SNA). My first step was to follow an e-learning course. The course was very disappointing because they were four online lectures, no exercises and no possibility to ask questions. After that I went looking for like-minded people - by coincidence I found four professionals with a similar interest to learn SNA and to discuss and elearn together. This led to a lot of inspiration and support (and a few blogs), and the idea apply SNA and to start learning by doing .. Furthermore I am a member of an international facebook group titled "Network weaving' where I could pose some of my practice questions. One of the members offered to Skype and help with analysis in practice- which was awsome. Now I am read the bookAnalyzing Social Networks which was advised in this group. In october I am participating in a MOOC about SNA which I found by following the hashtag #sna on twitter. We'll reflect on our learning in practice by presenting our experiences in November with a Dutch network of networkprofessionals.

    I see around me that technology influences the ways we learn - it's quite normal to use youtube videos in training, teaching and so the world enters into the classroom. There are MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) where people are free to participate and learn new things (if you are disciplined enough). Professionals use handy apps, twitter, LinkedIn groups or social media to keep up with development. The new media offer new opportunities to learn. Jane Hart thinks we need learning 'concierge' within organisations to help professionals exploit all opportunities.

    Are you Dutch and would you like to learn more? Look at our website Ennuonline, we have a new upcoming learning trajectory leergang leren en veranderen met sociale media. CPsquare organises an online event about 'supporting the independent online learner' from 16-19 october. If you are interested send me a note and I can invite you.

    Monday, July 01, 2013

    4 ways to use Instagram in learning trajectories en training

    This is a guestblog by Lyset den Blijker.

    How to use Instagram for learning? 
    That was the central question for the group of LOSmakers, a group of learning professionals interested in social media. Instagram is a photo app for the smartphone. The LOSmakers had a skype to discuss Instagram and as experiment Joitske Hulsebosch asked everybody to install instagram on smartphone or tablet and to post one photo each day using the tag #losmakers. The photo should tell the other participants something about yourself. Via web.stagram you can watch the pictures via the web and you can also react online, as long as you sign in.

    In the Skype 3 questions were central:
    1. How were your first experiences with Instagram? 
    2. What are the pros and cons of the tool?
    3. How could Instagram be used in a learning trajectory or training?
     Instagram
    How were the experiences with Instagram?
    The experiences were very positive. What struck me was that pretty soon a group process developed, because people adding commentaries and also responded by their choice of pictures. Without typing long documents or introduction you still got a picture of the other participants. The images tickled the imagination. What happened was that a picture of one person led to the emergence of a series of photos on the same theme, we had the themes 'books' and 'fear of heights'. For instance, one of the participants placed a picture of her bookcase, which other participants followed.  It was concluded that we all are active online, but fortunately also cherish our books on paper. The participants quite regularly look at the pictures of the others, which was fueled by a kind of curiosity and being drawn into the exercise. The hashtag (#losmakers in this case) was important because it was the binding factor. It felt safe to share an image without (much) words to tell something about yourself. On the other hand it was partly perceived as unsafe, because everyone can see the pictures. One participant said, "I chose different images because I knew the pictures are in a public place". If your photos on Instagram is private they are unfortunately not visible when others searching on the hashtag.

    Pros and cons
    What are the pros and cons of the tool Instagram? The app is very easy to use without any instructions. Via 'discovery' you can easily check whether there are any new pictures with your hashtag. The power of instagram is that you only use images (with short commentaries). It is very easy to share the pictures on other platforms too, for instance to your facebook account. You can use web.stagram or wegram to watch the images online and add commentaries if you wish. Via de app Instacollage you have even more options to make photo collages.

    There does not seems to be a separate app for the iPad, but the iPhone version works well on the iPad. You just have to make a conscious choice whether you want an open or closed profile. If you have a closed profile, then your pictures (even though they have a hashtag) will not be visible to other participants, unless everyone accepts you as a follower. That's quite cumbersome process, to make sure everybody follows everybody, hence following a hashtag is much more convenient, but then you need to have your profile public.  

    A major drawback is that you cannot create a group.  Of course you can switch to other alternatives as a private Facebook group, or a private Yammer group. But, you'll benefit less from the power of only photo sharing, the instagram experience

    Most important is that you'll have to considering whether everybody can easily participate because you need a smartphone or tablet. Though you can view the photos and respond through websites like web.stagram the participation is different. Furthermore, if you have another platform for your group, how open will your participants be to create an instagram account? Hence you may check upfront how many have a smartphone/tablet and already have an instagram account. 

    How to use instagram in training and learning trajectories? The participants in the Skype brainstormed about 4 ways to use instagram.
    • as a getting to know eachother exercise
    • as a ramp up to a discussion about any topic (face-to-face or online in a webinar)
    • as entry to share your practice
    • as means to reflect / evaluate
    The getting to know eachother exercise was our own experience and worked really well. The use of images was very powerful. The great thing is that with a prompt to place your photos about yourself, the choice is yours to determine what you show and how personal you will get. The images stimulate imagination and questions. In our case it was a very creative process.

    Instagram can be used to start discussions.
    For example, to discuss the topic 'innovation', you might ask participants to share places that they associate with innovation. In a follow-up session you can then elaborate on the pictures and associations that are made. Again, the strength of Instagram make the use of the imagination and associations of people, then it operates in the same way as the working association with tickets. If you ask for a week every day to put a picture people properly dealing with the subject.

    If you want to bet for participants to give each other a look into their daily practice you can ask to photograph some parts of their worklife. This can be a picture of colleagues who give you energy or for mechanics special problems you bump into examining engines

    Finally Instagram can be used to reflect / evaluate. An example that was mentioned was asking service engineers a photo from their workplace locations which need improvement. That way they can exchange experiences with service engineers in other locations.  

    The conclusion of the discussion is that Instagram is a tool that can be a used very productively in learning and training, provided that the thresholds for the users are not too high.
     


    Do you have any questions after reading this blogpost ? Do you have additional ideas to use Instagram in learning situations? Leave a comment if you wish!




    Tuesday, June 25, 2013

    Flip your class or training with video

    DSC03663-HatCotWbanquet-hangop-culiblog.jpg(foto hangop door Debra Solomon) 
    What do you do if you want to prepare 'hangop' (see picture if you don't know what it is!)? Do you ask your neighbor, call your aunt or are you looking for information on the Internet? Friday's session about use of video for learning things showed that a mother look for it in a cookbook and her son  looked on the Internet for a movie. The clever use of video was central, to our session: how can you use video in learning and education? The afternoon began with a conversation about changing use of video which immediately yielded new insights about the power and the important place of this medium:
    • A student of high school fount a guy on youtube a guy who explains mathematics very well. This helps her understand it. 
    • How to tie your tie? : just search on Youtube for a convenient explanation.
    • A special knife bought but ultimately not know how it works? Instead of reading the manual a movie will help you out.
    anneliesHow can you use video in education or learning? From two case studies - one from higher educationcollege and another one from a government organization, we examined (and watched) how video is used in different ways. Annelies Ranzijn (see photo) shared the experiences of Inholland with weblectures and I shared the experience of En nu online with the use of video within an online learning program, together we covered a beautiful range from professional to amateuristic use of video and everything in between. Some examples of how you can use video:
    • Weblectures of 5-7 minutes on general topics such as language.
    • How to- instruction video, for example, how to change email subscription explained in 1 minute. 
    • Tedtalks     
    • Screencasts by experts or teachers using a powerpoint or prezi with explanations
    • Recording Skype interviews and webinars so that others can watch them later
    Professional videos or amateur? Although there is a difference in use of professional staff and equipment within the college and use of cheaper tools in the other case, one is not beter than the other. An investment in professional production lends itself more to larger numbers of students and in situations where content remains fairly constant, such as the comparative stages (vergelijkende trap) in the Dutch language. Amateur recording are perfect because they are low cost in situations with smaller numbers of participants and content changing rapidly, eg policy. Of course sometimes it is simply the available budget which determines whether you go for professional or amateur recordings!  
    A number of lessons and observations from the two cases ... The interesting thing is that there are some lessons that are similar for both cases.
    • For example, in both selected cases, a choice was made for videos of around 10 minutes or shorter. Inholland started by recording all lectures, but stopped this practices. In some cases, a choice is made for a slightly longer video like a TEDTalk of a maximum of 20 minutes.
    • In both cases, a choice was made to work with own staff / teachers in the lead for designing and featuring in the videos, instead of professional actors or external persons. This increases the ownership and you make use of the existing knowledge from within the organization, which matches the context of the learning trajectory or module best. Not every teacher or professional is immediately excited to feature in a video, sometimes people do not feel secure enough to act in front of a camera or webcam. What you can do is start by inviting the people who are immediately excited for the new media and opportunities, then show the results to others and try to interest them as well. Producing a short weblecture requires you to know the core of your content.
    • Video allows you to bring situations from outside the classroom inside (interviews from overseas via skype, filming on a building site), which make a good link to the practice possible.
    • The learning outcomes of the videos is good. In both cases, watching the movies is optional, not mandatory. For example,  in the language classes, students may also choose to join the class without viewing the videos. Participants indicate clearly that they learned from videos, albeit in combination with assignments and discussions (there is no final test). In higher education, the test results have gone up. 
    • Finally, the statistics of the number of times a video has been viewed have proven to be very useful to know what works.   
    Do you like to learn how to screencasten and live in the Netherlands? In September we offer a new screencast workshop by En nu online.

    Tuesday, June 18, 2013

    Help! - the professional2.0 is coming...

     professional20That professionals can be wilful and opiniated we already knew (only look at house!): several authors have written extensively about this phenomenon (such as the Caluw√©, Vermaak and Weggeman). With the recent technological developments such as social media and social intranets, professionals have even more spaces to profile themselves. Who are these new professionals living in our era of social media and what does this process of empowerment of professionals mean for organizations? During the learning trajectory 'learning and change with social media' we made a drawing of the new professional (see picture). She (in this case it was a woman) has at least one smartphone in her hand and apparently on the move (running). She is an independent thinker in her field, she takes initiative and is capable of finding the balance between different polarities, such as online and offline, private and professional, inside and outside the organization. In addition, the basis of her works and passion is from a connection with her own personal experiences, which gives her the drive to excel.

    Serial mastery

    Lynda Gratton, the well-known professor of management practice at the London Business School, has written a book with the title 'The Shift' about the global changes that are influence the workplace. She marks important changes for professionals: professionals will become what she calls a 'serial master' rather than a generalist. A master is a professional who possesses deep knowledge and skills in a variety of domains. The serial aspect of serial mastery consists in that the relevance of these domains will change and the professional during his / her career will have to venture into new domains, building on old topics, she calls this 'sliding and morphing'. It is therefore important that the professional can quickly learn and is a good networker.

    Self-organised learning

    Hans de Zwart (Senior Innovation Adviser for Global HR Technologies at Shell) is posing the following question online: can you design a curriculum for the professionals when their work is so dynamic and is changing all the time? Or should there be more focus on self-directed learning (do-it-yourself-learning, self-regulated learning)? There are currently more and more complex problems to be solved by professionals - and complex problems can not be solved with routine answers and best practices. In a complex situation you have an emergent practice, and you should work with trial and error, try things, reflect and adjust. So apart from the fact that professionals need to move into a new domain they must learn to solve complex problems. They do this in daily practice.

    Online branding

    Online communication is becoming increasingly important in finding the right professional for the job or project. If you a professional and you are not on Twitter and LinkedIn, you have been fairly invisible. Internally channels like Yammer or other social networks are becoming increasingly important to be visible within the organisation, especially in larger companies. Professionals should therefore clearly know what makes them distinctive and unique from other professionals. A professional2.0 will build an online reputation and that reputation is more durable than the job he / she has. The organisation only 'borrow' the reputation of the professional.

    Organisations and the professional 2.0

    What does this imply for organizations, strong, initiative-taking autonomous professionals? I have spoken several youngsters who are surprised about the slowness of communication in organizations and the lack of adequate resources and support. Professionals are 'serial masters', who design their own online brand, and be young and old. For me, these technological and social developments have the following implications for organizations: 
    • Look for new models of working in collaboration with professionals, not only in fixed employment, but also in networks
    • Develop new '21st century' skills such as dealing with social media, online networks etc.
    • Encourage and social learning within (online) communities instead of organizing training and education 
    • Provide a technological infrastructure within the organisation which works just as easy as social media
    • Support professionals by new and lighter forms of leadership: avoid too much hierarchy, give space and ensure that leaders themselves are professionals too, so avoid 100% managers
    Interested in gift, skills and attitudes of the new professional? Read the blogpost on the portrait of a modern knowledge worker by Ewen Le Borgne. 
    What impact of the various developments do you see for organizations? And to what extent is your organization already doing what I suggest above?