DIY Learning

dogI’m writing a book on learning for oneself, without training. It’s for knowledge workers and bosses who have been told “You’re responsible for your own learning.” I imagine they feel like the dog who got on the bus. “What do I do now?”

Aha! is a book for people and small groups of colleagues who are taking their professional development into their own hands. No instructors, no classrooms. It’s DIY learning coupled with Modern Workplace Learning.

The first deliverable will be an inexpensive book, probably both an ebook (cheap and easy to distribute) and a paperback (works better for checklists and highlighting). Later, the text and patterns from the book may become a playlist of exercises and/or a deck of cards. If we achieve liftoff, I expect to continually improve the book with additional examples.

Currently, the book focuses on these patterns:

patterns

Are you interested in helping me change the world?

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.” (Women okay, too). I need co-conspirators, advisors, editors, a coach, and other true believers. I could really use an intern with editing skills. And several hundred people who want to improve the way they learn.

The payoff will come from being in on the ground floor of something big: PULL learning on a scale rarely imagined, helping people leverage learning to work smarter. And, you get to work with (ahem!) the thought leader I’m reputed to be. Talk about Action Learning!

Please volunteer. Sign in at http://internettimealliance.net. (Note: .net, not .com). Or call me at 510 323 7380.

 

Cheap books on learning worth the price

kindleunltdToday I paid my $9.99 and started devouring free books on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. I spend on average of $40 a month on hardcopy books, so this seems like a steal. Since I’m in the midst of writing a book on solo/DIY learning, I thought I might learn something from these freebies:

45 Elearning Tips and Tricks, by John Araiza. This is an instructional designer’s record of twelve years’ experience. Advice is for building courses. “Don’t buy photos until you get final approval.” “Use animation to spice up a course.” “remember that you are training adults.” “Become familiar with AICC and SCORM.” Not useful for solo learners.

Accelerated Learning. A How-To Guide on Becoming an Excellent Learner and Fast Reader. By Don Long. Brain training, speed reading, self hypnosis, mental clarity, the power of mind. Bummer. The book tells about speed reading, but doesn’t explain how to do it. (It ain’t that tough but usually wears off.) You might get his hypnosis directions to work; I have. At twenty pages, this is more a pamphlet than a book.

Effective Learning. Discover Accelerated Learning Strategies. Learn more, study less. Another pamphlet. 24 pages. Slight academic slant. Flimsy.

Think Smarter. Bulletproof tips to improve your thinking skills, make better choices and increase your overall intelligence. William Wyatt. Mainly aartn essay about thinking logically. About a hundred pages. Short on learning.

The Art of Learning: A Simple Handbook to Improve your Learning Techniques. By Laeticia L. How to study for school. English, Math, Science… Nothing about work.

Become a Super Learner. Learn Speed Reading and Advanced Memorization. By Levi, Goldentouch, and Goldentouch. Yawn. Those two techniques is all you get and the description of memorization is a little fuzzy. Otherwise, I guess super-learners don’t learn from people and events. The authors are quite taken with themselves.

Learning 300% Faster: 25 Learning Techniques. By Sebastian Archer. Not bad but focused 100% on learning explicit knowledge. Build good learning habits — he offers plenty.

All of these authors are stuck in the schooling paradigm: Improve your study skills, use memory tricks to pass tests, speed up your reading, take better notes. You’d think that all there is to learning is studying for the test.

They miss the most important learning: tacit knowledge. This is the savoir faire, know-how, life skills, and professionalism that can’t be told because it’s coded into your unconscious mind and shows itself only after battling with the conscious mind.

Explicit knowledge? That’s what an algorithm can figure out. Don’t make this your main job! Dealing with facts, figures, and logic will be delegated to robots. Soon. Slave wages ahead. That’s not what you’re after.

Tacit knowledge? That’s the intuition, judgments, and behavior that define who you are. It’s learning to become your true self and fulfill your destiny. This is the home of value creation and personal fulfillment.

Alas the largely self-published pamphlets on DIY learning tell you a little bit of how to prosper in school and next to nothing about how to get ahead in business and in life.

The most important learning is learning to be. That’s where I’m focusing my attention this year.

 

Informal Learning in Belarus

Belarus has gotten the word about informal learning. If they can do it, you can do it!

cover

jaypic

bokПо мнению Джея Кросса, только 10–15 % приобретаемых знаний получены из формальных источников, а остальные 85 % — из неформальных. Однако до сих пор неформальному обучению в компаниях уделяется очень мало внимания. В своей книге он подробно рассказывает, как составить программу неформального обучения. Квинтэссенцией звучат его слова о том, что в обществе знаний обу- чение — это работа, а работа — это обучение

More

Ukelele break

Sorry, off the point, but I just love this. 

Where I’m coming from

recykceThese are my core beliefs about how to get along in the world.

I wrote this post fourteen years ago and rediscovered it this morning. I’m amazed at the consistency of what I believe. I still hold to these, although now they’d be supplemented with newfound knowledge about complexity, mindfulness, informal learning, community, social media, and other topics. Here’s how I saw it in 2001:

2001PEOPLE

Perception is reality. (See The User Illusion)

  • Placebos work.
  • Hawthorne effect.
  • Halo effect.
  • There need be no commodities.
  • Reality is relative: we each have our own.

Mental expectations set real limits.virgil

  • Learned helplessness.
  • “They are able because they think they are able.” Virgil
  • Optimism works better than pessimism.
  • Logic = blinders to intuitive exploration.

Modern people have cro magnon brains.

  • The human brain is the product of 10 million years of evolution, 99.8% of it in caves, on the savennah, hunting and gathering.
  • Our relatively modern “thinking” brains are in perpetual contact and conflict with our ancient “feeling” brains.
  • Pre-agricultural troglodytes lived entirely in the now. Our brains didn’t need to plan very far ahead, so looking longterm is not in our natural repertoire.
  • Our brains seek patterns, often finding one when it’s not intentionally there. As we retell a dream, our brains invent the context to make sense of nonsense. We do this in waking life as well, but are not conscious of it.

cromagPeople are warm-blooded, omnivorous, sight-mammals.

  • We are creatures.
  • Circadian rhythms control our thinking.
  • If it full empty it; if it’s empty, fill it.
  • Fight or flight response is the root of stress in the office as well as the jungle.

People like what they know; they don’t know what they like.

  • In marketing, position services for maximum halo effect.
  • First we make our habits, then our habits make us.
  • Personal comfort zone = blinders, rut.
  • Change threatens stability.

beherenowBe alert. Keep an open mind. Follow your heart.

  • Mindfulness matters.
  • Be here now.
  • Walk in other people’s shoes.
  • Get out of your comfort zone.
  • Learning is an active process.

To every thing there is a cycle.

  • You’re born, you live, you die.
  • You live on through your children, your start-ups.
  • Epigensis = born at the right time.

THINGS

betaEverything flows.

  • Time flies.
  • Nothing alive is ever finished.
  • Worthwhile documents, policies, reports, and relationships live.

All things are connected.

  • Connections often as important as the things they connect.
  • Value of a network increases exponentially to the number of nodes.

Less is more.

  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
  • When confronted with two explanations, choose the simplest.

Everything exists on numerous levels.

  • Level of abstraction/detail. Meta-.
  • balconyNo matter what’s happening in the plaza, you can always go up to the balcony for a look at the bigger picture.
  • Laterality, everything/idea has neighbors, related by concept, co-location, timing, etc.
  • Everything is rooted in a life cycle. It’s young or old, evolving or dying.

Process is power.

  • Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.  –Chinese Proverb
  • One person’s process is another person’s content.

Virtually everything is on a continuum. It’s shades of gray rather than black or white.

  • There is no absolute truth. There is no meaning without context.

Most things in life are beyond our control. (See Serendipity)

  • Better to think things through than to thrash and force-fit.
  • yinyangThe mind and body are one.
  • Diversification decreases risk.
  • We are smarter than any one of us.

Shit happens.

  • Entropy.
  • Moorphy’s Law (On Internet time, shit happens exponentially.)
  • Chaos.

ECONOMICS

tradeoffDecisions are a tradeoff of risk & reward.

  • Leverage = How much risk or reward.
  • R & R are not logical.
  • …rather, a mix of logic, emotion, biological drives, habit, associations, current state of mind, etc.
  • Information is valuable only to the extent that it will change decisions.

wattsDoes it matter?

  • What’s in it for me?
  • What business are we in?
  • Principle of materiality.
  • Don’t fret over the inconsequential.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • The past is a sunk cost.

Invest time and resources wisely.

  • Time is the scarce resource.
  • Optimize mix of up-front preparation and auctual doing and folllow-up.
  • Do not confuse thought with action.
  • waqatchThere is no such thing as a free lunch.
  • Beware of armchair data.
  • Diversify
  • Leverage

When management treats time, space and no-matter as resources rather than as roadblocks, our methods of organization will no longer be lagging behind, at the end.  —Future Perfect.

TECHNIQUE

welchIn business, take Jack Welch’s advice…

  • focus on customers
  • resist bureaucracy
  • think imaginatively
  • invigorate others.

How to behave

  • Live as if this is all there is.
  • Look for the best in others. Other esteem.
  • Share my thoughts and feelings. Be authentic.
  • feedbackOpen the door to feedback.
  • Smile. Learn. Laugh. Pay attention.
  • Practice optimism. Be here now.
  • Live with intention.
  • Think out of the box.
  • Do what I love. Do it with gusto.
  • Maintain balance.
  • Don’t obsess.

Seek patterns

  • Homeostasis — central tendency, self-correction, standard deviation.
  • Pareto’s law: 20% of the resources yield 80% of the results.
  • Self-organizationpareto
  • Organize by product or area or function

I don’t ask him ”What’s the problem?” I say, “Tell me the story.” That way, I find out what the problem really is. –Avram Goldberg

Structure follows strategy.  (Strategy = plans and policies by which a company aims to gain advantages over its competitors.)

Drivel, BS, and caution signs

Time problems.

  • knightAnachronism. Fighting the last war.
  • “And so he continues to plan his future with the rules of the present in mind — heedless of the possibility that the future will have rules of its own.  Change in inherent in civilization.” –Harry Brown
  • Finding comfort in obsolete, vestigial rules and concepts. Accounting is BS.
  • Short-term fix for long-term problem
  • Too busy chopping down trees to sharpen his ax

Accepting the wrong answer to the right problem.

  • madnessIllogical expediency
  • Group think
  • The madness of crowds

Evaluating with what’s easy to measure rather than what’s appropriate.

  • examples: $/hour, academic grades, IQ
  • need to measure what counts
  • Nasrudin story
  • confusion of means & ends

Information is not instruction.

  • teachTelling is not teaching.

Using my context to understand your situation.

  • Jimmy Swaggart syndrome
  • Jungian projections

noiseConfusing meaningless social noise with a message.

  • “It’s a communicating problem.”
  • “We don’t have time.”
  • “How ’bout them Niners?”
  • “Thanks a lot.”

A word is not the thing itself.

 


Fourteen years ago, my post didn’t have illustrations. I didn’t appreciate how much they reinforce what you’re saying back then. Furthermore, in the days of 300 baud modems, images took forever to download. Crafty designers put them way down in posts so you could read the start of a post while the images were gradually appearing on screen.

 

Summarizing Learn for Yourself

readmore

 

I just copied a rough draft of my new book, Learn For Yourself, into a free summarizer. In a few seconds, it reduced my 116-page manuscript to 10 items


lfy

It’s all a matter of learning, but it’s not the sort of learning that is the province of training departments, workshops, and classrooms.

You are learning to learn how to become the person you wrote the obit for.

It’s learning to know versus learning to be.

Most of what we learn, we learn by interacting with others.

Sharing is an act of learning and can be considered your responsibility for the greater social learning contract.

Know-who (social networking skills, locating the key people and communities where competencies, knowledge, and practice reside and who can add the greatest value to one’s learning and work) Two students working on one computer learn more than both would learn if working individually.

Learners can give more than they take by sharing what they learned and how they learned it with others.

We call this phenomenon the new culture of learning, and it is grounded in a very simple question: What happens to learning when we move from the stable infrastructure of the twentieth century to the fluid infrastructure of the twenty-first century, where technology is constantly creating and responding to change?”

While the summary skips over the primary content, fifty ways to learn better and work smarter, it catches the spirit of the book rather well.

When I’m deciding whether reading a lengthy article is worth my time, I’ll sometimes dump it in a summarizer to figure out if it’s worthwhile to read further.

trees

 

 

Here’s a summary of the Working Smarter Fieldbook:

 

 

While learning is ascendant, training is in decline, for workers are embracing self-service learning; they learn in the context of work, not at some training class divorced from work.

Not only does it confirm the significant frequency of informal learning, it demonstrates that informal learning shows up in many ways: e-Learning, traditional book study, social learning, and experience.” The use of social media in learning is is often referred to as “social learning”, but as has been demonstrated this has a much wider meaning than simply using social media for training – “social training” – but also for social (workflow/informal) learning where workers can share information and knowledge with others in networks and communities as well as adopting a new collaborative approach to working.

Note, this does not mean building lots more learning content nor implementing a traditional “command and control” (social) learning (management) system where everyone’s learning is tracked, monitored and managed, but rather providing an open,and enabling environment for individuals and groups to support their own learning and performance needs.

Any system that claims to “manage informal learning” is a learning management system, since once you start to “manage informal learning” it becomes “formal learning” as in a LMS the learning of the learners is still under the control of the organization.

In order to reinvent formal learning ALSO requires a re-thinking of the existing provision of formal learning, but to go further and to transform learning requires a complete NEW mindset in understanding the role of “learning” in an organization, – and to appreciate that, as my colleague, Harold Jarche in the Internet Time Alliance says “learning=working; working=learning”.

The shift from training (we tell you what to learn) to learning (you decide what to learn) increases the scope of the director’s job from classes, workshops, and tests to the broad array of networks, communities, meta-learning, and learning culture.

However, if the mindset has stretched beyond event-based learning to where most learning occurs for workers, which is in the workplace at the point-of-need, where process-based learning serves best and where learning through doing and learning as part of the work process happens, then ID takes on a whole new dimension.

We’ve looked at blogs, wikis, FAQs, instant messaging, crowdsourcing, sharing ideas, discussion among colleagues, discussion with experts, discussion with customers, learning on demand, chat, prediction markets, outsourcing innovation, communities of practice, subject matter networks, collaboration, expertise location, video learning, podcasts, coaching, use-generated content, experiential learning, mentoring, and peer-to-peer learning.

[Traditional] To gain knowledge or information of; to ascertain by inquiry, study, or investigation; to acquire understanding of, or skill; as, to learn the way; to learn a lesson; to learn dancing; to learn to skate; to learn the violin; to learn the truth about something.

ilearning

Finally, here’s a summary of Informal Learning. When a book is loaded with content, it’s impossible for the Summarizer to boil it down to 10 items.

CONCEPTS examines the incredible acceleration of time, a working definition of informal learning, how informal learning benefits organizations, and why learning ecosystems will crowd out training programs.

Back in California, Peter and I met at the Institute for Research on Learning to talk further about informal learning, communities of practice, anthropological research, and learning as engagement.

CONCEPTS examines the incredible acceleration of time, a working definition of informal learning, how informal learning benefits organizations, and why learning ecosystems will crowd out training programs.

…..The emergent way of learning is more likely to involve community, storytelling, simulation, dynamic learning portals, social network analysis, expertise location, presence awareness, workflow integration, search technology, help desks, spontaneity, personal knowledge management, mobile learning, and co-creation.

We aim to create a learnscape where workers can easily find the people and information they need, learning is fluid and new ideas flow freely, corporate citizens live and work by the organization’s values, people know the best way to get things done, workers spend more time creating value than handling exceptions, and everyone finds their work challenging and fulfilling.

“One way to utilize spacing is to change the definition of a learning event to include the connotation that learning takes place over time real learning doesn’t unusually occur in one-time events.” …..In the chapter on Informal Learning, I likened formal learning with riding on a bus and informal learning with driving a car or riding a bicycle.

When you’ve finished, you not only learn your top five signature strengths, but also how you compare to everyone who has taken the survey, people of your gender, people your age, people in your line of work, people with your level of education, and people who reside in your and neighboring zip codes.

Not only does it confirm the significant frequency of informal learning, it demonstrates that informal learning shows up in many ways: e-Learning, traditional book study, social learning, and experience.” [Traditional] To gain knowledge or information of; to ascertain by inquiry, study, or investigation; to acquire understanding of, or skill; as, to learn the way; to learn a lesson; to learn dancing; to learn to skate; to learn the violin; to learn the truth about something.

Do you use a summarizer to condense text?

My life as a sysop

internetI love the internet.

 

I detest the amount of maintenance that’s required just to keep things running.

I didn’t sign up for wasting several hours a week dealing with nuisance requests. It’s beginning to feel like the old days, when you had to kow-tow to IT to get anything done.

Over cautious?

Take this morning. eBay emailed that my account had been compromised. Change your password! So far so good. Next instruction: change the password for your primary email account. Great. Now my passwords are so obscure than if I don’t have my online password manager at work, I’ll be locked out of those accounts in the future.

Then I log into my bank. As a routine security measure, I must change my password and username to access my account. What? Change my username? Now I’m jaycross everywhere except my bank. My username’s never been secret. Why mess with it now?

Changes like these cascade to other linked accounts. No doubt I’ll be dealing with vestiges of these account changes for weeks.

Google and others keep bugging me to set up two-stage identification where I’ll have to enter a code they email or message me in order to get into my accounts. No thanks. I’d be checking messages 20 times a day. Some companies don’t give you the choice; they implemented this clumsiness without asking permission.

“Security”

Yesterday we got a letter (paper, stamped, brought by the letter carrier) from Anthem Healthcare. They reported that our account security may have been breeched. Yeah, we read about that three months ago, when it happened to 80 million current and past customers. It may have started almost a year ago, in April ’14.

It appears the breech was caused by phishing access credentials from five different Anthem employees. It was simple old social engineering, not sophisticated software, that opened the door to expose your and my name, social security number, email addresses, physical address, employment history and income. Anthem hadn’t bothered to encrypt any of this information.

Anthem wrote, “There are steps you may take to guard yourself against identity theft or fraud. We urge likely impacted members to stay alert for incidents of fraud and identity theft.” What a load of crap. There was nothing I could do to protect the information in the hands of Anthem or Chase or Target or the others who are sharing my personal data with Russian hackers. My crap detectors are always out for criminal hackers and their scams.

Aa far as I’m concerned, if a company requires me to submit personal information, they have responsibility for keeping it private. That’s part of the deal. Break that promise, and I’ll no longer be your customer. In fact, I’ll spread the word in order to scare off other potential customers.

Phishing

Today’s mail brought this gem:

I Am Mr. Phillips A. Oduoza, Chief Finance Officer & Executive Director of United Bank for Africa (UBA). We wish to bring to your notice that you have an Accrued Interest worth of $775,500.00 usd (Seven Hundred and Seventy Five Thousand Five Hundred United State Dollars), in our Bank to claim.

Worse still is the free program I downloaded from the net. The software used to work just fine. This time, hackers inserted malware that took residence on my computer. It took a couple of hours to remedy the damage.

I could go on but we’d both be bored to tears. Experience has already taught you this stuff.

 

Flip your meetings


American business people attend 11,000,000 business meetings every day and half of it’s a waste of time.

Knowledge workers spend three hours a day in meetings. Senior executives spend more. Four out of five of us have brought other work to do during a meeting. One in ten of us admits to daydreaming. Four in ten have fallen asleep. What a waste.

Bringing people together face-to-face is a catalyst for innovation, collegiality, and rewarding conversations. Collaboration has its intrinsic rewards. It is sinful to waste this time together aimlessly or passively listening to presentations.

Over the course of a career, you will attend tens of thousands of meetings. It adds up to years of meetings. They could be great or they could be horrible. The choice is yours.

You can re-jigger your meetings to make them relevant, challenging, and fun by adopting an approach that is revolutionizing secondary school learning.

It’s called Flipping the Meeting. Flipped meetings focus people’s face-to-face time on working with one another to solve problems. You prepare in advance at your own pace with resources framing the business issue. When people convene, they spend their time collaborating to solve a problem. Conversations cross-fertilize ideas and fuel learning. In the flipped meeting, you focus on making the decision before the bell goes off.

Two teachers pioneered the philosophy of flip starting back in 2007. Students read their homework before class and use the classroom for discussion, not presentation. Grades go up, as does retention. Millions of students have signed up for flipped instruction through The Khan Academy. This is the same philosophy that underlies the Flipped Meeting. Be prepared to be inspired and listen to the founders of the flip:

How to Conduct a Flipped Meeting 

Provide the content and purpose beforehand, use face-to-face time for interactive problem-solving. It flippin’ works. Your flipped meetings will be characterized by::

  • Faster decisions
  • Better allocation of time
  • Action-oriented
  • More engagement
  • Innovative thinking
  • Shorter meetings

Tell your colleagues you want to experiment with a way to save time and improve performance in company meetings. Tell them about Flipped Meetings. Point them to this post. Get folks to agree to experiment for a few rounds. You can do it. It’s not rocket science.

Before the meeting

At least 24 hours in advance, tell participants what problem the meeting is expected to solve. Provide links to relevant documents and reference materials.

Make the problem a specific task, e.g. “create a plan to cut costs 20%” or “design new assessment strategy.” Here’s a sample invitation.

This simple step of sending background material in advance addresses the most frequent complaint lodged against traditional meetings: We don’t know the purpose of this meeting.

By the way, Amazon has banned PowerPoint as a way to explain the nature of the problem.

During the meeting

Facilitator encourages interaction and progression to solving the problem.

Don’t spend time talking about ideas or initiatives you know you won’t take action on.

Good practices:

  • Appoint a recorder.
  • Collaboration rules. Perhaps sit in a circle — or stand up!
  • Diversity is good. Encourage it.
  • Use Twitter as a backchannel for communications.
  • Solve the problem before departing.
  • Leave as soon as the problem is solved.
  • Final 30 seconds: How was this session? Would you recommend it to a colleague?

After the meeting

Share recorder’s notes and all notes, drawings, PostIt notes, and artifacts from the session.

Ask yourself, was this meeting worthwhile? Could we have accomplished our work in half the time? Overall, could we benefit from more 15-minute meetings? Half-hour sessions?

Why not experiment? Flip some meetings. It will improve your quality of life.


Research sponsored by Litmos.

Learning in Organizations Community

mastheadTwo years ago I set up a Google Group on Learning. Last night I wrote the members:

You’re one of 1,797 members of the Learning in Organizations Community on Google Plus.

Since its founding two years ago, our community has morphed into a place to post wisdom, schlock, and self-boosterism. Some days you get lucky and discover a gem in the flow; other days you don’t find anything worth your time.

We can make a lot more out of what we’ve started here if we like. (We’ve been around longer than most Silicon start-ups.)

For example, this is a spot where you can ask questions and seek advice. Why not? Our group’s intimate. We’ll always be a safe place to float new trial balloons out of the limelight

We can help one another find things. You might get the real skinny on a vendor, an event, or a service by talking with someone who knows them from experience. As we grow to trust one another, we will form deeper relationships. Maybe. At least it wouldn’t hurt to post a few questions and see what happens.

We need not continue to be just a place to read funky articles. The network will come to life when some of us use it as a springboard and become connected by phone and skype to start changing the world together. Google makes it easy to set up a Hangout from within the Community.

We would benefit from a larger, more diverse membership. Free thinkers. People on the thin end of the Long Tail. Please promote us on your streams.

Finally, please contribute to the community if you’re good at that type of thing. You got great ideas and stories? Post them. Please share your most exciting, zany projects. You show me yours; I’ll show you mine.

If you have suggestions, post them right here. We are an open community. I’m cutting the balloons loose.

jay

P.S.

Please join us. people