The Big Question for December: What did I learn about learning in 2008?

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Attributed to Tony Karrer: Big Question Logo

This is my first time answering Tony Karrer’s Big Question. The question for December 2008 is: What did I learn about learning in 2008?

Wow! What a question. I have definitely learned a lot this year, both obvious and not so obvious. Here are some of my highlights:

1. Learning to Blog: I started this blog in August. I am still VERY new to blogging, but my posts are starting to become more frequent. I definitely fell into the new blogger’s trap of posting my initial post or two and then simply falling off the map for several months. I am getting better now at blogging as a way to clarify my own thoughts and to initiate conversations. Tony Karrer has some great advice for new bloggers; namely to write for your own learning – a sort of conversation in your head. I have taken Tony’s advice to heart and it has made all the difference.

2. Expanding Twitter Use: As with many other learning professionals, I jumped on the Twitter bandwagon this year and really tried to grow my network. Jane Hart’s Directory of Learning Professionals on Twitter was very helpful in this respect. Only by building up my network of those that I follow was I able to tap into their conversations. …And what conversations these often turned out to be! I enjoyed “attending” conferences and talks on Twitter through the help of tweets from DevLearn and other events that I was not able to attend in person. I cannot tell you the number of ideas that I have been able to use in my daily work as an elearning specialist. Links and TinyURLs fly around the Twitterverse with abandon. Interestingly enough – a very large number of them are useful or lead to useful ideas. It is one of the biggest conversations I have ever been involved in! I remember the BEST times in grad school were conversations over a beer or sitting on a wall on a spring day with all my colleagues tossing around ideas. Twitter puts me in a perpetual “grad school” mode of learning and sharing.

3. Creating a PLN: As part of my work this year, I presented a number of Lunch & Learn topics to our employees. These talks introduced our employees to the ideas of a Personal Learning Network as well as social bookmarking, Twitter, Delicious, RSS feeds and many other social tools. In order to teach these topics, I had to be using them. I learned a GREAT deal the past 12 months by creating and refining my PLN. My expanded use of social bookmarking has led to a number of great finds that I have used to learn new skills and to improve how I do my job each and every week. My RSS feeds are indispensable (more on that below). My Twitter conversations engaging and enlivening. Without my PLN, I would simply be lost.

4. RSS – My lifeblood: The only more important tool in my PLN than Twitter are my RSS feeds. I absolutely love my igoogle page and the embedded Google Reader. My RSS feeds of blogposts, news stories and even Twitter feeds are my lifeblood. I cannot survive without my RSS feeds. I have learned so much from the blogs that I read on a daily basis. I am constantly picking up new tips and tricks from experts in elearning as well as social media and even the presentation masters. What has been most satisfying is how important nuggets often come from the most unexpected places. My new mission for 2009 is to get EVERYONE in the company using igoogle with the embedded Google Reader widget!

In summary, I feel that I have learned a LOT about learning this year. Our world is definitely changing with respect to how information, ideas and learning are now shared in the social space. I am convinced that these tools can help unleash the creative power of our entire company. My own personal experiences and revelations this year are evidence enough for me to keep pushing to create a culture of curiosity in my organization that is enabled and enhanced by social tools that connect people and open the doors to easy and widespread sharing and collaboration.

The fun thing is that I am looking forward to an even bigger 2009!

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