Friday, October 19, 2012

5 Essential online survival skills by Howard Rheingold

I bought the book by Howard Rheingold called Net Smart: how to thrive online. It is a guide to digital literacy. I haven't had time to read it yet though but next week is autumn holidays here in the Netherlands so I hope to have some time to read it then. Howard Rheingold is said to be one of the first community managers on the web and seems to be walking his talk, which is why I bought his book.

In the meantime I found a video with Howard Rheingold about the 21st century skills. It doesn't seem to embed so you have to link on the link if you want to see it. It is more than an hour long but very interesting with lots of examples.

Howard states that the online skills, the 21st century skills are no longer nice to have, but are essential survival skills. The 5 skills he mentions are:
  • Attention. With all available media and 'pling!' sounds everywhere it is much harder to focus your attention. I experienced it two days ago when I had to focus on finalizing a report, but kept on responding to mails, got a google chat and a skype call coming in. Later I closed everything. 1 in 6 Americans reports to have bumped into something because they were texting! The 'second screen' in the form of an ipad in front of you while watching television or being in a conference or training is already accepted. However, only 5% of people are really capable of multitasking - performing 2 tasks which require your attention. So the skill is how to divide your attention? How to focus?  We call this infotention, and you can learn how to do this.
  • Participation. If you know how to participate online, by smart blogging, tweeting, reacting, networking you can have more influence and even start movements. If you want to be a recognised expert is a certain field of expertise, you will have to learn how to curate content online. In the Netherlands we have seen the power of mobilising people online (in a negative sense) through the Project X in Haren. Wael Ghonim, is one of the activist of the revolution in Egypt who used social media very smartly. 
  • Collaboration. Gamers and patients with a specific disease already found out that you can easily collaborate online with people you have never met. For people in the Netherlands this is sometimes still a doubt, but in the US it seems much more accepted to collaborate with people who have never met in real life. For instance I am coaching a community manager in Washington whom I have never met. Wikipedia is ofcourse a nice example of online collaboration too.
  • Crap detection. Many websites are a hoax or nonsense. Rheingold provides the example of an online pregnancy test. With common sense you know it is impossible but there are still people who believe it. Teachers have been telling me that pupils may happily cite information from the website of McDonalds when asked about healthy food.The skill involved is how to know what is real and what is fake? What are trusted sources online?. 
  • Smart networking. It is important to build your personal learning network online with people who think differently. People who have a wider network make better decisions apparently. If you feel at some point that nobody is contradicting you, you may have a uniform network diminishing your own capacity to innovate.  
I have been wondering whether digital natives do already posses these skills? Come to think of it, I really doubt it. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Making social learning practical: the LOSmakers event

IMG_3467.JPG Past Friday we organised the presentation of a book called 'Because it works'. It is a collaborative effort by the LOSmakers, a group of 15 professionals passionate about the new potential offered by social media to stimulate social learning. The book is full of practice cases and can be downloaded here. It is in Dutch but we are thinking about the English translation and already working on translating two cases. We offered it online as a free download and it has already been downloaded more than 15.000 times!

It was not a traditional bookpresentation, but rather a workshop in which people worked on their own cases of situation in which they want to stimuate social learning through social media. In small groups they chose a case, formulated important questions and with those questions went shopping on the market with experiences. They could also call in the help of Twittercoaches. One group chose as a topic: what can you do as a learning professional with few means to support learning in small groups? In the video she talks about their insights (in Dutch). 

Let me help the non-Dutchies: She talks about 4 important insights they gained from the market and the twittercoaches:
  1. Make use of known tooling, for instance Twitter or Yammer in organization where there are experiences with Yammer. You avoid heavy investments in tools and for the participants there is also no learning curve for the use of the tool. 
  2. In case you have a group with little experience with social media: use social media in simple and accessible ways to share teasers. For instance by sending them an interesting video upfront. 
  3. Make clear agreements about the facilitation and your availability. Avoid that people expect an immediate response in the evening or weekends. .
  4. Make sure you know your participants. Find the right mix between participants, tooling and the dynamics you want to stimulate. Make sure this is the basis for your plan.
You can find the storify of the event here. With regards to our twitter backchannel we had a nice mix of planned and spontaneous interaction. We had asked 3 people who could not participate whether they would like to be twitter coaches so they were available (in the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal respectively!) and reacted to questions from the groups. One of the participants working in higher education tweeted about the idea of starting a facebook group for the first year student and one of the students following her tweeted back and it was a cool idea but would be best to have students as administrators.