Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Learning online - 'playing to strengths'

I came across this blog post from the Smart Work Company which provided a useful list of benefits that derive from participating in open online conversations.  In fact, the blog makes an interesting point about reflective conversations, developed online, might be offering an alternative approach to business education.  
  • Extending the informal relationships that people have always needed for fun, social support and learning
  • Letting us discover who knows what
  • Enabling us to ask our network for recommendations
  • Providing opportunities to find serendipitous and timely information
  • Helping us to make sense of and see patterns in flows of information
  • Helping us to practise disagreeing without being disagreeable
  • Helping us to practise asking questions, thinking critically and learning to challenge the status quo
  • Building our social capital — being known for our expertise, helpfulness and quality and influence of our network connection
  • Enabling us to self-organise
  • Letting us experiment
  • Letting us bounce ideas off each other
  • Giving us the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by others
  • Having playful conversations
  • Giving us courage and emotional support when we are fearful or overwhelmed by doing something new
It's a good list and it reflects my own experience of using social media, websites, blogs and so on as the means of facilitating my learning. But like any list there are some things that I would give more priority to than others which, I guess, reflects a lot about what I find useful, who I am and how I interact with others, regardless of the medium of communication.

My sense is that what learning online in doing is nurturing the strengths that each of us already has.  For example, if we find it useful to make notes about what we are learning - I do - then writing a blog plays well to this. Or if you are already strong at bouncing ideas off others - I'm not - then forums and chat rooms work in the same way just at greater scale and provide access a wider net of people. 

So my point is this: working and learning online amplifies what it is we are already doing and have always been doing be that writing or asking questions or providing feedback or observing or sense-making or thinking critically, etc.  What we should be doing is noticing and taking seriously what it is that we are good at and then participating in the online environment in ways that play to these strengths.  In so doing, we will be honing our strengths and practising 21C ways of working.  

Here are my suggestions for getting started...

Online tool
critical thinking

Blogger, Wordpress

Bouncing ideas of each other
Join and participate in social or business forums
Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+
Building informal relationships
Join and participate in social or business forums
Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+
Helping others
Set up or participate in online forums
LinkedIn special interest groups
Share slide presentations
Making short ‘how to’ videos
Working collaboratively
Sharing and creating documents or presentations
Google Drive/Docs



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