Sharing

Nearly all of us share something online, be it twitter LinkedIn Facebook WhatsApp etc. Whether it’s your coffee, dinner, family party, links to a blog post, news article, environmental or political commentry, etc. We share, and that’s fine.

Continuing from my last post about how I and you use those platforms, this is a post how we are seen to be using them.

When I share a link or article I’ll usually try and change the default tweet/share title to something that is more like my style. That will also give me the opportunity to explain why this is important enough to shared, and for you to understand why I shared it too. What part of the content am I interested in, should you be interested, do I agree with the sentiment in the article or am I being critical. Heck, am I being sarcastic and mocking it? I can answer ‘yes’ to all of the above, probably on a daily basis!

Here’s the thing. If you follow me online you will see a notification in your feed when I ‘like’ something. Even if you see the ‘like’ you won’t know what that is supposed to mean. Do I actually ‘like’ it or saving for later or something else? What it might actually mean is ‘I’m saving this for later to read properly’. The ‘like’ also gives the author/originator a false economy on the ‘success’ of their post. The ‘like’ is also a mechanism for seeing (this is what the algorithms are interested in) my history, what I read and what, again, is important to me and building a picture of me and then serving content based on this. Even if it’s not.

Example – what do I read into a situation, or am supposed to read into a situation, when a friend ‘like’s an article about toxic workplace culture, immature leadership, ineffective management, good practice at interviews, CV writing, etc? Does it mean they relate to this because they’re suffering here? Is the content important to them because they even believe they work in or actually the leaders in this environment? Should I ask if everything’s alright? See, the simple share is a world of hurt being opened up.

What if my work colleagues ‘like’ the same kind of content? Does this mean they think of their environment, and by association my working environment, as being toxic, immature, ineffective, bullying, abusive, etc? Have I missed something, are the undertones and whispered conversations hiding something from me … heck, is it me? Should I confront it, should I pass it to others and gauge their response … ??

Context. The simple ‘like’ has no context, not is it an accurate reflection of how people use it. It can be misunderstood, exaggerated, abused, and at worse. This is why I really lamented the loss of the Twitter ‘favourite’ (even though many didn’t use it as a ‘favourite’ either, but that’s another story). But at least that title wasn’t quite so open to confusion as ‘like’.

What we should have is a ‘sentiment’ option. A series of options beyond the superficial ‘like’ would be more useful, something that actually reflect the sentiment I’m feeling to the shared content. You could argue that Facebook did it with the ‘like, ‘love’, ‘haha’, ‘wow’, ‘sad’, ‘angry’, but that doesn’t really work for me either. It does, however, work on a social, informal platform like Facebook. Kinda, but still not to my liking.

What about LinkedIn? I see they’ve recently added a kind of ‘sentiment’ analysis of ‘like’, ‘celebrate’, ‘love’, ‘insightful’, and ‘curious’. This isn’t the kind of feedback I want to give on something I consider important, something that may reflect my professional online persona. I want to know more about your sentiment on the content I share in the same way I want to give more relevant feedback to those who author the content I share. I would rather have something along the lines of:

  • ‘ I value this’
  • ‘I agree with this’
  • ‘I don’t agree with this’
  • ‘I question this’ – and a mechanism for a follow-up explanation on why I don’t understand this?
  • ‘I dont’ understand this’ – and a mechanism for a follow-up explanation on why I don’t understand this?

This would make the ‘like’ and ‘curious’ flags far more interesting and relevant to me, and how I view your activity online.

Image source: davide ragusa on Unsplash

Comments

In days gone by comments on blog posts used to be the only way to really get feedback on my blog posts, and a way to continue the conversation with my readership.

It’s a bit different these days, as highlighted in one way in my previous post: Blog vs Twitter vs LinkedIn. Developments in the platforms and channels have made them more sociable, with things like LinkedIn ‘sentiment’ tools and comments/posts, etc. and Twitter lengthening a tweet from 140 to 280 characters.

I’m also seeing a marked degradation and slowing of blogs and websites loading as the number of tracking/ad cookies and complexity of publishing platforms and the plugins that help make them personal grows. This is one reason I recently turned the comment feature on this blog off. About 8 years ago I switched from standard WordPress comments to the Disqus system, to manage and remove much of the spam comments my blog received. But recently the bloating of cookies and loading times here and other blogs have just annoyed me so much … and the fact I rarely get any original/genuine comments any more.

So, no more comments on my blog. Sorry. I’ve noticed an increase, although only marginal at the moment, in my blog loading time since I removed the Disqus system, and I’ll continue to monitor it and mybe remove some more plugins (social sharing, theme, etc.) in an effort to get this loading quicker.

I’m still happy to continue the conversation elsewhere, while I’m there ;-)

Blog vs. Twitter vs. LinkedIn

Just a small observation on my use of the above ‘channels’, and how I perceive other people’s use of the channels.

How I use:

  • Blog (this is me, here) – OK, this is a bad example. I’ve not written much (anything) that was publishable in the last 2 months; a couple of posts that rambled nowhere fast, but nothing I was happy to publish. What I do want to do is get back to writing and publishing and using this space to share and reflect on practices, readings, and general ‘stuff’ related to my work.
  • Twitter (this is me) – Now then, this is difficult. What used to be purely work-related has grown and morphed into a hybrid between work, work-related, learning related, and general chat with those of you who have been Twitter-followers-become-friends. However, how we individually use this kind of channel has changed, and I don’t really like it. Twitter, like other online spaces, is a mirror to our general daily life, feelings, and the world around us, therefore that is a lot of chatter around local and/or global events, politics, environmental issues. Twitter sucks you in to all of this and, if left unchecked in my own timeline, can take me down a rabbit hole I don’t want to go down. This is my own perspective, and we all have our own attitude and use.
    I’m still not sure on Twitter, whether I want to continue using it. The platform has changed and how we use it has changed, and I’m not sure it’s the right channel for me anymore. My relationship status with Twitter is ‘it’s difficult’, and only I can make the decision to go or stay.
  • LinkedIn (this is me) – Like Twitter, what was once a purely professional space has changed and grown into something more life-like, with people sharing more than just work and job stuff. Is this partly down to LinkedIn looking to gain more traction and users in the social space?

How I see others using:

  • Blogs – I am in awe of the level of attention and quality of content my friends and peers have in their blogging activity. I used to be more active (have more to say?) and want to get back to blogging again, but need to change my perspective and writing to mirror/reflect my current role and work. Blogs are great for sharing thoughts and work and research, but are again becoming more personal as authors reflect on their personal lives and the (positive as well as negative) impact work has on it.
    If you blog, thank you and please continue. I may read but not engage or share, but that does not mean it has not reached me on some level. Sometimes it inspires me and sometimes it does not. But this is me and that is you. Don’t stop on my account.
  • Twitter – As above, each of us has our use and boundaries on what we do or do not share. I used to keep my love of Lego and Lego kits, well, personal. But that I found that lots of people I interact with regularly on Twitter also love Lego, now we all share this passion. Not to mention Lego for serious play. It’s not work related (normally) but still fun. I tend not to get involved in global events or politics or the like on Twitter (or LinkedIn or my blog), but this doesn’t mean it concerns me (hell, it depresses the hell out of me) about what we’re doing to each other and our fragile planet, but that is not why I use or want to use this channel. Some do, some don’t.
    I keep a more rigid boundary on how I use Twitter, and social channels in general, but I see more and more people relaxing the boundary. Are we becoming more relaxed or ‘happy’ with sharing more personal information? The stories we tell our children or students about being safe or sensible online are still true, despite our evolving relationship with the online world and the select organisations who control our data?
  • LinkedIn – Again, the platform and how we use it is changing. It’s followed the trend for adding social interaction with ‘like’ and ‘clap/applaud’ icons for posts and status updates. It has taken a professional space and made it more informal. Some like it, some don’t. Fair enough. I don’t, but I do understand that in order to maintain my presence online and develop my professional ‘persona’ I have to (?) stick with it.

Social media has been a massively beneficial tool for me in developing and learning my craft, but it becoming increasingly difficult to navigate around these channels to find the content and stuff I used to find quite easily. I use Feed.ly more now to try and curate my sources and regular reading zones (blogs, journals, etc.) but that only finds what I know I’m looking for. Twitter and LinkedIn used to be places to find new and exciting work and the people doing it (often from their blogs). Not so now, or rather it’s more difficult to find nowadays.

One obvious elephant has not been mentioned here – Facebook. Facebook is, for me, for family and friends. Some friends I have made on Twitter and through ALT are also on Facebook. Some aren’t. Don’t be worried if you’re not, or indeed if I unfriend you on Facebook, it’s just that I’m looking at my online usage and thinking long and hard about what I use, why I use it, and will I still be using it next month/year.

As always, your thoughts and feedback is important and welcome, please contact me on any of the above channels or as a comment below.

Image source: larkey (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Project-based Learning and Captivate

Intro

In this series I try to report some of my experiences with Adobe Captivate while searching for better learning results and experiences both in live training and online training. The guidelines which I always keep in mind are described in this post. View on Training.

In Flipped Classes with  Captivate I described how I used the application for students in software training.  This typical method was used not only for live classes, but also to provide better learning assets to students combining working with self-study.  That already lead to some positive results regarding my guidelines: more engagement, students has to take responsibility for his/her learning, time in class was dedicated to problem-solving and working on individual projects… However I was not completely satisfies because real peer learning didn’t succeed well, collaboration was not encouraged and is very important in their future jobs (either in real estate or in construction companies).  I tried out a new method, project-based learning in group?. Lot of responsibility was given to the student groups.  You will read about the setup in this article. It wouldn’t have been possible without my favorite tool, Adobe Captivate and the LMS to post the eLearning courses and be able to follow up. Although… Twitter became a very important tool as well.

Project Setup

Goal of the Project

Without going into technical details, it was a project linked to management of construction sites. In the ‘virtual’ building company they were pretending to work for, a good preparation workflow has been established for:

  1. Budgets for all costs: using a dedicated cost price calculation application
  2. Time management: using MS Project, and based on price data from the first application

That workflow had been mastered by the students in a previous semester, both theoretically and with the applications. Students were linked each to a building company in a sort of internship (one day a week and some full weeks) where they had access to a mentor and some data.

The ‘virtual’ building company wanted to proceed to the setup of the Follow up workflows, both for budgets and time management, using the same software. Students would prepare those new workflows. To have concrete data to work on, students were provided with a real project, its plans, budgets and time management results.

Groups – Schedule

The group of 9-12 students had 3 weeks for this project. They were allocated a group room with equipment on the campus, which was open from 7am till 10pm.  They had to schedule their tasks, starting with the creation of three subgroups, for each of the three main topics:

  1. Acquiring data from the construction site, structuring those data for use by the other subgroups:
  2. Follow up of budgets, based on data from the first subgroup and proposing ‘cures’ when necessary
  3. Follow up of time management, based on data from the first subgroup and proposing ‘cures’ when necessary

Full group was required to spend a minimum of 20 hours/week on the campus. They had to create an enter a weekly schedule on Friday. Subgroups had to explore provided assets (most of them Captivate courses), and find supplementary information. In the week meeting on Friday each subgroup presented the results of their work to the other students. It was their job to define part of the final (individual) assessment, which had to be known by all students in the group. That meant peer teaching as well, which is the most efficient way of learning for the teaching students.

Collaboration was not only needed within the subgroups, but also between the groups since their tasks depended on the way the other subgroups were realizing their tasks. Just one example: first group had to know exactly which data were used for group 2 and 3, and what the best way was to offer them those data.

Assets and Support

Except for an introductory presentation, followed by questions and discussion, and available as Captivate course, all assets were provided on the LMS: lot of software training and assessment simulations for the applications, eLearning courses for the theoretical backgrounds, some pdf’s and several links to interesting websites, etc.

Discussion groups were created on the LMS. However I also created one specific hashtag to be used on Twitter (and a Captivate courses explaining how to use Twitter and Tweetdeck). I guaranteed them an answer on the discussion forums within 12 hours, but on Twitter within one hour (during daylight) if it were urgent questions.  Trying to get answers by personal email was discouraged. Twitter had most success, as you can suspect.Good for me, easier to check shorter question where they had to reflect on making it concise.

I was present on the campus for some hours a day. They could invite me for a meeting, but didn’t have to do so. Normally they were totally responsible and independent (age 21-24).

Assessment

Group projects like this often have one big problem: lazy participants who will leave work to the rest of the group. Group needed to keep track of the presence of the members, up to them if they wanted to contact me in case of problems.

However the final assessment would be based only for a small part on the result of the group work. Final assessment consisted of:

  • Individual logbook (based on an Excel template) where they tracked their activities daily, and reflected on ‘what did I learn’? Checked each logbook individually with each student.
  • Participation on Twitter or on the discussion forums
  • Formal individual assessment about the content to be known by students. Part of this content (background, theory) was defined by me), part by the different subgroups about their topic.
  • Individual assessment for each subgroup about their more specialized extra content.

Coach conclusion

What was my experience?  After some hesitation, the big majority of the students got addicted to their work! Instead of spending the minimum of 20 hours per week, most of them spent 40-60 hours in group.  You should have ‘heard’ and seen their discussions, the way they managed the ‘lazy’ students. I only very rarely had to pop in to help them out with conflicts.

Being able to define part of the content to be subject to assessment was totally new. Some more ‘traditional minded’ students were bit concerned because not every students would know everything. I explained that that is simply impossible, and also unnecessary with companies needing more good functional team work. Understanding the basics when other team members explain their needs is a lot more important.

In my mind this project was more meant to uplevel the learning skills of all students, more than having remember them tons of information for a limited time.  They could be in a subgroup of their choice and focus on the main topics of that subgroup. Learning in-depth is too much neglected, and have to teach their peers about their specialty pushes them at practicing their communication skills as well.

Thanks to Captivate this has been made possible, one of the most rewarding experiments I introduced in college. By coincidence we got a press team visiting the department when these project weeks were going on. I remember the question of one of the journalist, looking at a group room. Students were presenting their results to the other subgroups and they were discussing.  “Where is the professor? Cannot see him’ (I was only head of department, and had to accompany the press)).  Imagine my answer… he was impressed.

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