Thursday, June 01, 2017

I'm sliding and morphing

You possibly know the book by Lynda Gratton called the Shift? It is about the future of work and she predicts that we will become increasingly serial masters instead of 'shallow generalist'. A master is someone with deep knowledge in a number of domains. The adjective serial points to the fact that you will no longer be active in the same domains throughout your life, but will continue to slide into new domains through personal or technological developments in new areas, building on your older domains and competences. This discovery of new domains is done by sliding and morphing. What is Sliding and Morphing? If you google on image you will see a lot of tinkering. Lynda Gratton says:
"Sliding and morphing happen when you develop deep knowledge, insights and skills in one specialism and then convert this to an adjacent specialism or rediscover a lost competence."
Lynda recommends looking at which subjects and competencies are important and in demand but combine this with your own passions and interests. Often the combination of domains is of great value. In one of the examples, morphing takes place by looking for a new network and new roles. Morphing by doing instead of thinking. When I read the book, I immediately recognized myself in the serial mastership (well, master? but serial sure!). After studying irrigation and soil and water conservation, I started working in the development cooperation sector, in different countries, Kenya, Mali, Ethiopia and Ghana. I only had three years contracts. So half a year before the end of the contract, you thought about what you would like to do in your next job and in which country that could be. And then apply. The good thing of the terminate contracts is that you always think about a next step. I saw that people in the Netherlands stayed longer in the same job because you do not have terminate contracts. From irrigation to consultant learning & Social technology is quite some sliding, isn't it?

Currently I am also sliding and morphing. It feels a bit uncomfortable. I've been working with Sibrenne for many years now in Ennuonline and our slogan is "All About Learning with Social Technology". The slogan still provides direction, however the field of learning and technology develops and expands very quickly. The question is where are you going to focus on within this field? In addition, we each have their own interests and professional identity. A major 3-year assignment aimed at designing and facilitating online courses has ended. That seems a bit like the feeling I had at the end of my contracts. You end something and that gives space to take up new things again. Though, of course, some work continues of course, like our Ennuonline learning activities and some assignments. What I'm struggling with is what direction I want and what I want to specialize in within the learning and technologies field. Blended learning and social learning is already a specialization, I never focused on classical e-learning. I'm very excited to advise on online and blended learning. What I regret in this field is that you are not supporting informal or invisible learning and learning in communities.

I am taking the current space to explore new directions. A number of new lines are:
  • I collaborate with two colleagues to set up a social network analysis (SNA) hub for the Netherlands. I regularly receive emails in response to my blog post about SNA. A concrete question whether we can organize training on SNA led to this brainstorm. Hopefully we can offer advice and training / tailor made support. SNA is one of my loves because it makes the invisible social capital visible. Which helps to develop connections.
  • I teamed up with somebody from our knowmad MOOC to dive into artificial intelligence. We want to do an experiment with eg Watson. There is so much written about artificial intelligence but especially from the point of view of: robots take over our jobs. We want to do a pilot to summarize and improve online exchange using Watson or a similar service. 

  • I visited a VR cinema. Something to explore with the LOSmakers, our network here.  
  • With two new assignments, I helped to find the right platform for learning or a community. I thought it was a good way of diving into tools and I enjoyed that too. 
  • Learning analytics. Two years ago, I was throttled in London because I heard the word XAPI. I then read and learn more about it. I have written a blog and an article about it. But how deep do I want to go in here? Is this not more for data analysts? 
It may seem to divert too much in different directions? A red line in all these subjects may be the use of data and technology (visualization?): for learning in networks and communities. Our knowmad MOOC focussing on the knowmad as professional with strong identity is also an interesting strand, because of the focus on self-directed learning. How wide or how narrow should you be as a serial master? Any thoughts?