Thursday, October 12, 2017

To conference or to unconference?

I was hesitating for a long time whether I would attend the L&D unconference, organized by Ger Driesen in collaboration with the L&D connect community. The unconference costs you a whole day of your time and follows the open space method. There was a theme: the future of L&D. With open space it is very unclear what you will get in return for your time investment. But ..... I have been going to the learning technologies conference in London for 3 years, and people (including me) always complain that the program is organized around the sage on stage. At such a conference, you do not get to talk to your fellow practitioners in the same way. What a dilemma to go or not to go. Eventually, I decided to go based the fact that it was in Rotterdam (which is really close to my home). By subway through the rain to the office of Anewspring. I soon met someone from the UK whom I knew of the Londen conference but we had not changed more than 20 words. Already a nice start to hear what he does.
And yes, the rest of the day was delicious (google translates lekker with delicious :) as well. It felt like a long break during the entire day, where you can talk to interesting people endlessly about interesting subjects. It started with a brainstorm in small groups about the subjects you would like to discuss. I put up: the influence of artificial intelligence on L & D and new forms to stimulate self-directed learning. Already during this exchange I learned about a nice example (from Philips) where people were tested on a particular subject. On the basis of the answers they were directed to certain new sources or courses. A form to stimulate self-directed learning for people who do not know what they do not know. I was familiar with open space in organizations, but not with open space with a group of unknown people. In open space, the 'law of the two feet' means that you have to make sure that you have interesting conversations, so you can also change groups. The first time I walked away from a group, however, it felt like a rejection of the group, but I was glad I did. So I really had good conversations all day long by taking care of myself.

Changing relationships
Two conversations that had a lot of impact on my thinking were about relationships: depth in relationships, networks and how that changes over time over the internet. For example, there are elderly who have a strong network of 10-12 friends who support each other through thick and thin. The disadvantage is that this can be a really closed network. When you are a member of a closed network, you start to put everything which is said and done under a magnifying glass. Your world is small. I myself have a large network through my work abroad. Whoever I'm following online is by chance, one invites me to Facebook, the other on Instagram, the third I have on Whatsapp, I don't have a conscious strategy. You have to make choices with who you really want to make contact. Many of my online networks I follow from afar, but sometimes there is an invitation to go for lunch, meet again or work together. It has become much more fluid. The disadvantage of a fluid network may be that it becomes superficial. Do you care when someone in your larger network falls ill or looses a job? See also this documentary by Gino Bronkhorst. Gino is going to send all his facebook friends a message to inquire how they are really doing. Some answer: "Why do you want to know?"

The assumption is that you are a Facebook contact, which is not the same as a close friend really caring about you and showing interest. But there are also real friends on Facebook, and half friends, and former friends. My conclusion is that there are many shades of friendship, more than before. Friend networks have become much bigger. We don't get rid of people, they will still be there on some social network. Changing the categories of friendship is also faster. Even a best friend can move to the outside of your network.

We also talked about the future: imagine that all you do is supported by augmented reality as in video below. You can read emotion analysis during your date. You get the suggestion to smile or change topic. Who are you in this future world, what happens to your identity?


This reflection on changing relationships can also be transferred to describe changes in professional networking. These networks have also become larger than before the internet because we connect with more people online as simple contacts: I currently passed the 1000 line at Linkedin. Your network is more in motion than before, more fluid. And the day still has only 24 hours. So we need to learn to develop the art of networking when networks are fluid: what contacts do we want to invest in and which contacts remains at the edges?. What levels of colleagues do you distinguish? Is your network sufficiently diverse? Do you invest in the right contacts? I think almost nobody really does this consciously and well. Or?

The subject of Artificial Intelligence was also very interesting - I will write a separate blog about it. So I got home with lots of food for thought, renewed enthusiasm for open space and also a number of tool sites to look out like Degreed. The next time I hear someone complain at a conference I will ask why they do not go to an unconference ...

No comments: