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Formal Learning at TechKnowledge March 1, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in Formal learning, Learning, Web 2.0.
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I’m just back from the ASTD TechKnowledge conference in San Antonio. I forgot how intense conferences can be, especially when you’re presenting. I had planned on blogging every night to share what I was learning. But most nights, by the time dinner was over, I was so exhausted, I just went to bed. And then there was the piano bar night, but that’s another story.

Anyway, since many presenters spoke about formal, non-formal, and informal learning, I thought that I would provide a quick summary of all the things I learned–both formally at the sessions and informally the rest of the time.

This post summarizes the formal sessions. Stay tuned for my informal learning anecdotes.

David Pogue’s opening session:
Despite a last-minute hard-drive crash, David gave an interesting and entertaining overview of four key technologies to watch, including:

  • Phone and internet devices, such as Voice over IP
  • Ala carte TV and movies
  • Wireless everywhere, beyond laptops
  • Web 2.o

He ended his session by putting his musical talents to work with some side-splitting renditions of popular songs, for example a song about long waits on help lines sung to The Sound of Silence.

Will Thalheimer’s Measuring Learning Results:
Several years ago, I happened upon Will’s Work-Learning Research site and have found it very helpful in finding ways to make learning as effective as possible. So, when I saw him on the schedule, I went to the session to see him in person as much as anything else. It was a great session in which he guided the group through some thinking about how to best measure learning results, including:

  • Conducting assessments at different intervals after a learning event
  • Conducting assessments in different contexts
  • Making tests as authentic as possible

Some of what he presented, I recognized from a wonderful tutorial called Don’t Forget Forgetting that he published on his blog about a year ago. Because of that tutorial, I have been focusing training designs more on transference to the job and on-the-job support. This session just reinforced that shift.

Lance Dublin’s Exploring Emergine Learning 2.0 Technologies:
In this session, I learned a new term: “nonformal learning,” which is a structured form of informal learning. Lance gave a whirlwind overview of the evolution of Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and predicted the future of the Semantic Web in which the computer can look at your patterns of online behavior and begin to suggest links to you. He also gave many good examples of how various Web 2.0 technologies have been applied for learning.

Joe Miller of Linden Lab’s overview of Second Life:
Joe provided a nice overview of Second Life. Much of it, I already knew, but I heard about some exciting new features, such as 3D voice, mobile clients for cell phones, and revamped search capabilities. He also talked about some sites I’m interested in checking out, such as Vassar’s Sistine Chapel inworld. And he also showed some examples of “Mixed Reality” situations where live events had Second Life components.

UBS’s case study on developing simulations using SimWriter:
It was interesting to see the thought processes behind the design of the simulation, and we got to try out the SimWriter software.

Kevin Jones’s Learning 2.0–The Learning Revolution:
This was a very valuable session for me because Kevin laid out 7 key things to consider when implementing Web 2.0 technologies in an organization, including:

  • The current learning environment
  • Which technical principles to capitalize on and when
  • The type of environment that will be best for the organization and when to introduce pieces of the solution
  • How to implement the human principles of social learning
  • How to anticipate and overcome objections
  • How to introduce and manage the implementation
  • Creating a plan to build momentum

Kevin had recently completed a Learning 2.0 project for a client/employer, so he had good stories to tell about what worked and what didn’t. The worksheet he provided for thinking through the implementation will be useful to me right away.

JIMPACT Closing Session:
Jim “Mr. Energy” Smith did a great job of bringing the session to a close and helping us to see how we could apply all that we had learned. He offered a wonderful 5-step process for anchoring your learning:

  1. Get on your manager’s calendar right away so you can tell him/her about what you’ve learned and how those learnings could help your organization. If you’re having trouble getting in touch with your manager, send e-mail teasers.
  2. Show your manager what you learned in an engaging way. Get him/her involved. Make your presentation a good experience for him/her.
  3. Show your manager your plan for implementing what you learned. Be sure to include how you’ll measure results.
  4. Put together an affinity group to help you achieve your goals; make sure you’re not the smartest person in the group.
  5. Believe in you!

I also loved some of Jim’s pithy quotes like: “You’ll always get what you’ve always gotten until you become the person you’ve never been.” and “You are the CEO of You.” and “Grow through the conference.” and “Does your difference make a difference?”
He also talked about creating a highlight reel every month of your accomplishments–great idea!

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