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.


  • 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

  • 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

    Want some more tips to make a high quality infographic? Have a look at the 18 infographic design tips

    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)?
    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.