Musings and Cloudprints
It’s late September and looking at the calendar, it’s been several months since I’ve spent the time to reflect and blog. I don’t have any great excuses. I wasn’t busier than usual, or otherwise engaged in some reflective practice elsewhere. I didn’t stop learning with or from my PLN, my colleagues, books, conferences or other resources. What I did do, however, is neglect to prioritize reflecting and documenting my practice, which is critical as a learning professional because it provides us with the white space to evaluate what we are creating and what they are consuming.
When time is not committed to reflective practice, I find that my own practice suffers because there is too much noise or worse, I find myself getting into zone where I can’t see the forest for the trees.
When I get into these zones I find that the best remedy is either reading something thoughtful and thought provoking or having the luxury of the same kind of conversation with colleagues in my PLN. Additionally, if I can take a few moments to distill everything and then write a few lines, my end result is better rounded learning practice.
How do you keep up with your reflection? What tips can you share?
I recently finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s new book. Before you stop reading, let me start by saying that this post is not about contributing to either side of the spectrum of reviews of Sheryl Sandberg’s (Facebook COO) Lean In: Women, Work and the Desire To Lead. What I did want to share, however, is my respect for Sandberg’s storytelling skills in supporting her larger message/teaching point (what is holding women back from getting into the C-suite).
The sign of any good autobiographical style book, is the author’s skill to use meaningful anecdotes, personal stories, and life experiences that hook the reader, connect with them on some level, and keep them reading. It doesn’t really matter what the topic is – if the storytelling is there, even what we might consider the most dull of topics, can be brought to life.
When I started reading Sandberg’s book, it was her anecdotes and personal experiences in the C-suite at companies like Google and Facebook that hooked me in. I mean, who wouldn’t be interested to know what feedback Mark Zuckerberg gave Sandberg at her first performance review? ( ok, I’ll admit, maybe not everyone finds that as intriguing as I do). I’m not saying that I agreed with everything Sandberg put out there in terms of her theories of why women aren’t in the C-suite, and her supporting research, but she was successful in capturing my attention with her storytelling, which kept me motivated to keep listening.
Storytelling is not a ‘buzzword’. Think about a conversation you had at work recently where a story (experience) was being shared and where you were drawn to listen. Maybe that story motivated you to ask questions (and even to want to learn more). This is the power of a good story. Weaving storytelling into learning doesn’t have to be complicated or intense, but it does require us to reflect and to do our homework so that we really understand how to connect and what is meaningful to those we want to reach.
Once we’ve crafted our stories, we as learning professionals really have an unlimited number of creative and collaborative ways to share those stories. It’s precisely in this area, where K-12 teachers are leading the charge and where L&D folks could find some inspiration in how to make storytelling simple yet engaging. Some of the tools I’ve used include Bitstrips, Voicethread, GoAnimate, but the options don’t stop there. I’ve included a few sites below that provide great options to get started with storytelling (digital) in learning.
The research on the importance and significance of storytelling in business, leadership, learning, health, and parenting is immense. I’ve shared some resources below (some are blogs, some are articles that require access to the publisher databases) that I’ve found useful.
If you have a few minutes, please leave me a comment letting me know how storytelling has impacted your learning and/or your learning design.
Kean Univesity has a great page of resources here: http://www.kean.edu/~cnelson/elearning/storytelling.html
Edtechteacher – Storytelling Tools - http://edtechteacher.org/index.php/teaching-technology/presentation-multimedia/digital-storytelling
Research & Reading
Barker, R., & Gower, K. (2010). STRATEGIC APPLICATION OF STORYTELLING IN ORGANIZATIONS: Toward Effective Communication in a Diverse World. Journal Of Business Communication, 47(3), 295-312. doi:10.1177/0021943610369782
Fawcett, S. E., & Fawcett, A. M. (2011). The ‘Living’ Case: Structuring Storytelling to Increase Student Interest, Interaction, and Learning. Decision Sciences Journal Of Innovative Education, 9(2), 287-298. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4609.2011.00307.x
Malamed, Connie (2011) Why you need to use storytelling for learning. http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning2-0/why-you-need-to-use-storytelling-for-learning/
Sharda, Nalin (2010). Using Digital Storytelling for Creative and Innovative e-Learning http://elearnmag.acm.org/featured.cfm?aid=1773975
Taylor, S. S., Fisher, D., & Dufresne, R. L. (2002). The Aesthetics of Management Storytelling: A Key to Organizational Learning.Management Learning, 33(3), 313.
During my graduate work in Education at UOIT, my colleague Nancy Zomer (@kindergirl73) and I collaborated on designing a framework for a Digital Learning Ecosytem while in a grad class with Dr. Francois Desjardins (@FJDesjardins). I will admit, it was a painful process designing and then trying to articulate our framework, but it also an invaluable learning experience. I’ve never looked at a framework the same way again . The exercise gave me a renewed appreciation and respect for the thought leaders and their ever evolving frameworks on which this effort was built. It also made me really appreciate having such a great colleague to collaborate and construct with.
I’m dictating this blog post using the Evernote dictate option. I’m using the Evernote app on the Google Nexus 7. (Note: this dictate functionality is included in the free Android version of the app, I’m not sure why I can’t get it on my iPad 2).
I know that text-to-speech has come along way since the days of having to spend hours (days) trying to configure an application to recognize your voice and that applications like Dragon Naturally Speaking provide extensive and robust text-to-speech functionality, but I hadn’t really been motivated to try it on a mobile device to write.
My experience dictating this blog post on Evernote has been pretty fair, I’d even venture to say good. It hasn’t caught every word, and I’ve had to go back and make corrections, but I do think it is just as fast or maybe even quicker write simple blog posts this way on a mobile device where the keyboard doesn’t lend itself to speedy data entry.
Once I’ve written my blog post in Evernote, I email it the custom email address I set up just for WordPress content. I’ve provided some links on how to do this below that I’ve found helpful. You can share Evernote content to WordPress directly from an Android if you have the WordPress app installed, but at this point in time, it seems to only post content as a hyperlink, not the full post.
Maybe my process seems cumbersome, but I like having the content in Evernote so I can search for it and reuse it and I like being able to send it directly to WordPress without having to rely too much on my keyboard. I don’t anticipate I will be doing all of my blogging dictating through Evernote on my Android device , especially because it offers scaled down functionality relative to images, multimedia and links, but it does provide me with an alternative way to keep up my writing and to share some of my Evernote content.
Getting Started Emailing Blog Posts to WordPress
Want to try emailing your Evernote content directly to your WordPress blog? Here are some helpful links to
get you started:
get you started:
Tip: I strongly recommend installing the Postie WP plugin to make the process easier.
WordPress on emailing blog posts (see Discussion board below for gmail settings)
Postie WordPress Plugin – let’s you configure WordPress to receive emailed blog posts
Discussion Board providing support using a Gmail account (slightly different settings then other accounts)
By the way, I am taking part in the 10 Tools challenge. Do you think Jane would consider this as 3 tools? < If you want to take the Ten Tools Challenge – visit : http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/blog/2013/01/08/take-the-10-tools-challenge/
Leave it to Jane Hart to find an innovative way of motivating us L&D types to revisiting our practice for 2013 (and to get us blogging again).
I welcome the 10 Tools challenge to come out of semi-winter hibernation and to get back at it again.
My first tool will be Google+ as a way to kick start my 2013 learning professional development. I’ve had a Google+ account now for quite some time but because of my undying love for Twitter, never really gave it a fair shake. So, moving forward from today for the next month I will make it key tool in my professional development and a way to further connect with my PLN.
Please look for me on Google+ (Nancy Slawski) and if you are an avid Google+’er (what are you called?) please reach out. I look forward to connecting and learning from and with you.
If you want to take the Ten Tools Challenge – visit : http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/blog/2013/01/08/take-the-10-tools-challenge/
I’m so happy that Go!Animate asked me if I was interested in creating videos when I was standing in front of their booth at the 2012 CSTD Conference. As they started to describe it and show me the functionality, I quickly started to realize that Go!Animate was similar to BitStrips, which I love (and so do my kids), except that instead of static cartoons, it creates animated ones. I created a quick basic one in less than 15 minutes (see my post).
Go!Animate provides characters, speech to text (you can record your own audio as well) and scenes that you can easily configure. With the free version you are limited to the characters and scenes, but even the free version lets you create something fun.
The quick tutorial was just what I needed to get started playing. My 9 year old daughter sat here and watched me test it out (read: play) and was quite jealous that I wouldn’t let her play (work) with it (although I’ve promised to let her go to it tomorrow).
What’s even cooler is that once you create your videos, Go!Animate hosts them and lets you embed the link in an email, your blog, or, yes, wait for it, even your LMS (yes they host it). And, for all of this, you pay one monthly fee regardless of whether 10 people or 10,000 access it. You don’t have to sign a binding long term contract and can go month to month. Can you tell I’m excited? This is a tool anyone can use and with more templates and characters coming (they told me if I needed some industry specific characters in white coats I could put in a request because they are adding new ones all the time).
I love that I can also easily tweet my video, or upload it to Facebook or YouTube. Given how much my kids love Bitstrips, I think I’ll be needing a work and play account.
Give it a try. Let me know what you think.
Some of the names and voices have been changed to protect identity.
The 2012 CSTD Conference kicked of today in Toronto. Today’s focus was on Research to Practice and it was interesting hearing what is new and even not so new in learning. One of the more dominant themes today, at least in the sessions I attended, was informal learning.
From the comments and feedback I heard both in and outside of the sessions , it appears that there was a desire for clarity on two fronts: a definition (maybe even a taxonomy) for informal learning and then some concrete examples that one could relate their practice to in their own domain or context whether it be banking, military, retail or government or any other environment.
Despite my tangent, however, the intent of this post was not to explore informal learning but the topic did generate a lot of discussion both inside and outside of the sessions which brings me to my point …..today’s focus on research to practice succeeded in it’s intent to get us thinking, and challenging ideas and reflecting. Today reminded me why I make the conference every year a personal priority. While the value of the sessions are great, the opportunity to connect and share experiences and to engage and re-engage with new and not so new colleagues and ideas is just as great.
Looking forward to tomorrow.