Monday, November 29, 2010

In which ways do you use social media for your own learning?

I met Niel van Meeuwen some time ago when we talked about using social media in learning trajectories. He already mentioned his talk in Lissabon during the Eapril conference. His presentation was last Friday and he experimented with a Twitter backchannel. Unfortunately because people there might not have been on Twitter, it worked mainly to get input from outside the conference into the conference. Very curious to hear his reflection on how it went. I'm going to summarize the outsiders input.

Question Niel put on Twitter is: in which way do you use social media in your own learning or the learning of others?

Answers on twitter:

  • It mostly helps me to link to new, unexpected thoughts, people, websites.
  • Personally I use social media all the time for personal learning- blog, twitter, social bookmarking key
  • Learning takes place at the edges social media help me to stretch these
  • I'm using twitter to learn practical things for the company I started this yr (zzp). E.g. I ask: do I have to 1/2
  • Learning sometimes happens at moments I least expect it
  • Those unexpected learning moments appears to be the most valuable ones.
  • I use socialmedia to find relevant info and knowledge on my profession and to brand myself in my network
  • Insure my business. And if yes: how? Or: how do I do taxes? I have à lot of followers and I ask them to RT
  • Social media keep my son away from learning math and grammar. But he learns a lot there (although I'm not allowed to witness that!
  • I also use twitter and linkedin to collect and store insights and ideas I have. It is a way of collecting thoughts and ideas
  • Usually get good answers. The more practical the question is, the more answers you get frm people. Twitter=HandsOn
  • Social media is a way of sharing what my passion and interest is. I get invited for cool projects based on what I share on linkedin
  • I learn a lot in groups; not only real life groups but virtual groups as well
  • Wonderful things happen on #LinkedIn and #Twitter; people send me wonderful, interesting and valuable info, ideas and so on
  • SocialMedia make me learn about things I didn't even know I could learn about
  • Social media make learning really fast and individual
  • I share knowledge and get a lot of serieus response. Makes we wiser!
  • A tweet a day keeps the email away?
  • Use social media to find all kinds of blog posts, articles, video's to inspire my learning via friends and colleagues
  • We use social media to connect with and get inspired by people who are also into #Talent in #Education
When reading through the list it strikes me that people are very enthousiastic and recognise participation in social media as a learning path, not as a side-something. I also meet people who don't see it as learning but as distracting. This definitely informs whether you want to devote time to it. If you see it as something distracting you from your work, it is costing time. If you see it as part of your own learning trajectory and you value it, it comes naturally to invest time.

Another thing that strikes me is the unexpected learning, the inspiration, the learning about things I didn't know I could learn about. Serendipity?

Looking forward to reading Niel's blogpost about the discussion there!

Update: here's a blogpost about a session on exactly the same topic!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Some things never change

Old readers of this blog know that by the end of November/beginning of December I have to post something about Sinterklaas... since I'm a huge fan of Sinterklaas (see here, here and here for instance). Unfortunately both daughters are now too old to 'believe in Sinterklaas' (Dutch expression: 'in Sinterklaas geloven') and that changes the way we celebrate. They even don't allow me to watch the Sinterklaas news on television!

Watch these two movies. The first is Sinterklaas arriving in Amsterdam in 1952, the second one is Sinterklaas arriving in Harderwijk in 2010.

Search for the 10 differences. What struck me is that besides the fact that the first is black and white and the second colour film, the celebration is still so much alike! After 58 YEARs. In the meantime church visits have completely deflated and St Maarten has been replaced by Halloween. It reminds me of when I visited my old organisation and despite all the new staff, the issues and ways of working were still so similar.

What makes Sinterklaas survive?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Make your own slidecast; it is easy enough

I've made my own slidecast (my third actually!). What is a slidecast? It is a powerpoint presentation with a voice explaining the slides. On the one hand it may take more take to listen to it, on the other hand, it gives so much more context to the slides. It is really not difficult to make one but it may look difficult for outsiders. That's why I thought of blogging the process. But first of all: here's my second slidecast baby with Herman Brouwer of CDI talking about the facilitation of multi-stakeholder processes which he presented during a teleconference of the Forest Landscape Restoration network. The questions by the participants of the teleconference were also very interesting but I decided to leave them out because it make the slidecast really long. It is a little embarrassing that you hear me type very loudly towards the end. Next time I'll mute myself too!
How to do it?

  1. First of all you have to make sure you record the presentation. We used the hidefconferencing. phonebridge which allows you to record. If you use Skype, I'm not sure you can record directly with skype, but you may use a recorder like hotrecorder. It will produce an mp3 file.
  2. Use an audio editing program to edit. Or even better, make sure you have a good beginning and ending so that you don't have to edit. I edited the end, by cutting out the questions and answers. I used Audacity, a free program that works great and is user-friendly.
  3. Upload your presentation to slideshare. When you are done, in audacity you have to export rather than save your project because exporting allows you to choose the mp3 format which is required for slidecasts.
  4. Click on 'edit presentation and 'create slidecast. Then on 'upload mp3'.
  5. You will then get to the tool that allows your to synchronize the slides with the talking, very appropriately called the 'synchronization workspace'. You may choose for an equal slicing of the voice over the slides, but then you are freakingly structured. Most of the time some slides will have a long explanation, others a short one. This is how you can use the synchronization workspace (see picture)
    There are 3 parts; from top to bottom, the slides, the audio divider and the overview part. So what you do is simply play the whole audio thing. Listen to it carefully and drag the appropriate slide changes using the middle part. When you hear that the presentor is moving to the next slide, you position your ending of the first slide. You will find your way after a bit of testing. Some tips from mistakes I made in the beginning: You can only move the beginning and end of the selected slide (which is grey-ish). So you have to select a next slide by clicking on it if you want to change the beginning or ending of another slide. And you have to move the venster at the bottom in the overview space when you continue further. The line is long, therefore the audio divider shows only part of the audio. Which part is shown can be seen by looking at the venster in the overview. You can drag it to change it. So it helps not to get lost.
Ofcourse there is also the slidecasting demo from slideshare if you get stuck with my explanations.... And don't forget the frequently asked questions.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book review: Social media for trainers

I'm developing a 3 months course for trainers and coaches to become bilangual in the sense that they may facilitate online and face-to-face; we call it 'E-vaardig trainen and coachen'. Hence I was thrilled to find Jane Bozarth's book: Social media for Trainers. I'm following a lot of social media buzz, a lot is by marketeers. And I can't really find my way in some of the e-learning content, when it is discussing LMS/CMS issues for instance. Hence I'm really happy that there is a book specifically written for trainers- and about use of social media, a very clear focus (our upcoming Dutch book about social media for professionals, organisations and facilitators might have benefitted from a clearer focus in hindsight?).

Anyhow, the book is very practical and has lots of good tips. It explains the tools like Facebook and Twitter to the level where trainers with little social media experience may be able to apply the suggestions and may start experimenting. Unfortunately, Jane Bozarth has chosen to discuss the options tool by tool (Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Wikis and other tools) which leads to some repetition in how it can be used in an online course or in addition to a traditional face-to-face course (hate the word traditional because it makes you feel like it is something outdated!). The techniques are very inspiring like setting up a twitter debate or role play, or assigning each learner a different model to research, discuss and share via twitter. I learned picked up some new interesting tools like SocialOomph, Twaitter and Brizzly that allow you to create tweets ahead of time. This may be counter to the idea of real time conversation but may come in handy for the context of a more structured course.

The most interesting chapter for me was chapter 7 on 'the bigger picture'. Here, she defines learning and social learning and links social learning to personal learning networks and communities of practice. The opportunities to expand community conversations and personal learning networks are huge with social media.

So it is definitely a great book for trainers new to using social media!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Mix and Match: integration of social media

When you use social media, it may seem very chaotic and dispersed. You have a blog and a website. But you also have a twitter account and you have set up a facebook page. Maybe you have thematic wikis too. How do all these different media link together and complement each other? How do you prevent that it becomes chaotic for your partners, stakeholders and network members? And that you post the same information on various media? Social media may seem chaotic, but the advantage of this chaos is that it allows people to have their own personalized experiences. A person may read all your tweets, another person may add your website to their RSS reader. Using various media makes it easier for people to connect in their preferred ways. Therefore you cannot do away with email and personal, face-to-face contacts.

1. Choose a starting page

Make sure that you have a clear starting page, where you may guide new people to, who are interested to know more about the work of your organisation. This may be your website, but it may also be your weblog. If you have made this choice, you can make sure all the other spaces are clearly linked to this starting page. .

2. Show people on your starting page the other media where you have a presence

You may use the icons as shown above. This means there is an RSS feed, Creative Commons license, and you can be found on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Youtube. In this way people can choose to follow you on the media of their preference. You can find the icons by searching on Google for “free social media icon set”.

3. Learn what to communicate where

Try to keep in mind and find out the strengths and weaknesses of various channels. Facebook may be better for playful content and quizzes, Twitter for short messages and pulling people to your blog, your weblog may be best to post a long interview. Make sure you don’t copy paste the same information in all places. People may follow you through various media and don’t want to receive the same information 5 times. Try to find out what works. If you announce new blogposts via Twitter but never get any click throughs (this is visible in most used site statistics) you may stop posting your blog links. Tip: If you shorten your links with you can analyse the number of clicks through their website.

4. Display information from one media in the other through feeds

You can use RSS feeds to display information from one medium directly in another. For instance, you can show your tweets in the sidebar of your blog (like I'm doing at this page). Or you can show your blog on your Facebook page. You can integrate your Wikipage as a page in your social network (this is possible in the example of Ning). A Youtube video can be shown directly in a blogpost. The way to do it is different in various media. In most cases, you will copy a certain code and paste in the ‘html’ section of your weblog or website.

Three examples:
  • To display your tweets on your Wordpress blog go to Appearance and choose Widgets. You can then add RSS to your Sidebar (click and drag). Then copy the RSS feed on the lower end of your right Sidebar on your own Twitter page and Save.
  • To display Twitter on your website you can grab the code here after making some choices on what to display.
  • To display a Youtube video on your blog or website you click on Embed under the video you want to display. You copy the code and paste it in the HTML section of your weblog. (the code looks like this:

5. Help users to find their way

When a lot of partners may not know what an RSS feed is, you may offer an explanation of what it is. Here you will find an example of the BBC. They offer RSS feeds, but also explain what a news feed is and how people may use it.

Want to read more?
Check out:
Knitting together your Website, Email and Social Media Content. (by Beth Kanter)
Social media integration: examples and tips.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Mister Strubbe and his ipad

Here's a Dutch movie about Mister Strubbe. He is an elder person and is still using his computer with wordperfect 5.1. He is very happy with it, and says 'this computer probably leaves this house after my death'. At the same time he is very happy with his ipad, to read the news. Whenever there is a 'www' on the news he can check is out with his ipad.

There is an on-going discussion about digital natives, do they exist and will digital immigrants always stay behind? Mister Strubbe is a nice illustration of the fact that people look carefully at what there is to win. He is not interested in all the new Word versions- why change all the time? But an ipad is a great new tool for him.