Supporting Serendipity

“Be there when the spark happens and catch it before it burns out. Try to help with getting people the time and space they need to explore, connect, and reflect. Figure out ways to reward it: we don’t always show that we value the divergent. We can’t create or plan for serendipity. We can’t schedule accidents. But we can work to help create an environment in which opportunities can serendipitously occur.”                                                                                -Jane Bozarth

Have you ever embarked on one learning path just to end up somewhere entirely different?  Where formal learning is usually planned, informal learning depends on people sharing ideas and collaborating with each other, whether on or off the job and it is through these actions that the actual learning occurs.

The majority of how we do our jobs comes from informal learning.  Formal training only accounts for a small portion of how we learn our jobs.  Workshops and trainings can demonstrate the base knowledge needed to perform certain job tasks, but not until you are in the thick of things–making mistakes, observing others–can you figure out how things really work on the job.

Author, eLearning coordinator, and proponent of Social Media for learning, Jane Bozarth writes a monthly column, Nuts and Bolts for Learning Solutions Magazine and often talks about the unplanned, impromptu, and flat out serendipitous way we learn when we are not actually in a classroom.  In this monthly article, Causing Serendipity,  she discusses how many individuals struggle with this concept of serendipitous learning because our minds are programmed to think in terms of formal learning and acquiring knowledge through planned efforts in workshops or trainings, not the spontaneous discovery that can happen by simply observing or talking with a colleague.

While we cannot plan serendipitous learning, Jane maintains we can give people the “time and space they need to explore, reflect, and connect”.

Can you think of a time when you ended up discovering something important by accident? Can you give an example of serendipitous learning you may have experienced?

Have a good afternoon,

Diana Good


Hot Blog Topics/Blogs vs News

As we all searched for different blogs on social media iI wondered what the top social media blogs were in 2015. So of course I google search “Top 10 Social Media Blogs’” and BOOM the first link in the search had the golden listNone of which I found interesting.  The list gave short uninteresting blurbs about each social media blog and did its best to “promote” the blogger and its content. #Failed.

So this created a new interest for me…who are the top influencers in social media. I scrolled through a lengthy blog and then….the list.  I scanned the list of names hoping to find one familiar name, my first thought…”Who comes up with stuff?” 

glowing yellow light bulb as inspiration concept

Then it dawned on me. Nobody really cares who the blogger is or whose blog is the best. We search for what interest us the most. So, for your entertainment, the list below contains the top 10 searched blogs topics and trending news, culture, etc. Now we are getting somewhere! “Hottest Topics: Trending news, culture and entertainment for the Seattle area.”  These are the topics and familiar names I am use to bombarding my daily “news” feeds recently.   But wait…news? blogs?

Are blogs replacing news media have traditional news media adapted to the social media trends?

In a study by Marcus Messner and Bruce Garrison, “Study Shows Some Blogs Affect Traditional News Media Agendas, ” it summarizes that traditional media has used blogs to editorialize some of their articles to support their claims.

This study, which explored the source interaction between elite traditional news media and political filter blogs, found traditional news media frequently cite blogs in their coverage, but the source attribution to the blogs is often vague.

Hmmm… we continue to learn about the great resource and growing trend of blogs in the classroom, we can use this information to help engage our learners in conversation and learning; however, we must not forget that blogs are not credible resources for research in academia. 

Top 10 Searched Blog Topics

  1. Fashion
  2.  Relationships
  3. Finance
  4. Q&A Blogs
  5. Buy & Sell
  6. Social Media
  7. Technology
  8. Blogging Tips

“Hottest Topics: Trending news, culture and entertainment for the Seattle area.”

1. Why Caitlyn Jenner didn’t spell her name with a ‘K’

2. Woman goes blind from cat-scratch disease

3. Hooters waitress donates kidney to customer

4. Ben & Jerry’s unveils climate change awareness ice cream at Tesla

Click the link for the entire list…

Food For Thought

S. Musgrove

Updated Feat-cheers – Microsoft Windows 10- How Microsoft used Social Media

We have lived in a wonderful time… A time where our best friend, the Internet, came to existence with a meme and an innuendo followed by kittens and our sleep schedules!  Continue reading Updated Feat-cheers – Microsoft Windows 10- How Microsoft used Social Media

10 Social Media Tools for Learning

’10 Social Media Tools for Learning’ is an article featured on Connie Malamed’s e-Learning Coach blog site. In this post, she details a variety of social media platforms that she has found to be particularly useful in her experience in the field of instructional technology. These descriptions include the name of the social media, their uses, links to their website’s, link’s to instructional tutorials on how to use them, etc.

The social media tools that made Connie Malamed’s Top 10 List:

  1. Audacity
  2. Edublogs Campus
  3. Elgg
  4. GoToMeeting/ GoToWebinar
  5. Google Collaboration Tools
  6. MindMeister
  7. TalkShoe
  8. VoiceThread
  9. Wikispaces
  10. Yammer

I would also include Diigo, a social media site for what is called “social bookmarking,” to Connie’s list. According to Wikipedia, social bookmarking is, “a centralized online service which enables users to add, annotate, edit, and share bookmarks of web documents.” Diigo is fun and unique in that it offers highlight and sticky note features to help users emphasize and organize content, which can then be shared publicly or within a specified group.

Continue reading 10 Social Media Tools for Learning

The Inclusion of Social Media to Enhance the Learning Experience

In ‘Social Media and Learning: Interview with Jane Hart,jane_hart an article posted on the e-Learning Coach’s blog site by columnist Connie Malamed, Jane explains how and why the implementation of social and collaborative learning components enhance educational experiences in the workplace. She also discusses specific social media forms that have been useful in the field of e-learning, and the potential difficulties that might occur in their adoption. The interviewee has always been a fan of technology-based learning forms, and so online learning, particularly the inclusion of social media into the classroom, is something she views as essentially “just another step along the path.”

I particularly liked Jane’s breakdown of the two forms of online learning: social and self-paced. What separates social learning from self-paced learning is the students’ abilities to discuss and share information amongst each other, as well as with their instructors, in the former and not the latter. Humans are social beings, and so Jane believes that social learning presents an instructional strategy that is more natural to our sensibilities than other, more traditional approaches.

Moreover, I appreciate the interviewee’s candor on the difficulties of incorporating social media forms into the learning experience. She notes managerial concerns regarding the potential for embarrassment by employees, since many social media postings are visible to the public. She also highlights the tendency of employers to trivialize the importance of social networking, and recommends a certain vocabulary be used when talking about the inclusion of social media in workplace learning (viz. “social and collaborative platforms, social learning environments or networks or communities”). Continue reading The Inclusion of Social Media to Enhance the Learning Experience

Better Student Blogging

blogI shared some of my initial difficulties with getting middle schoolers to blog in authentic, meaningful ways, not just to complete the required 2 posts and 2 comments, which was typically the way of my assignments, but to get them to think deeply about what they were reading and to give their peers constructive responses.

I believe that there’s value and learning in blogging that doesn’t happen as readily or immediately with other kinds of writing.  I really liked Kevin’s post about “Social Constructionist” nature of blogs.  In it, he writes, “blogging allows students to construct various social “artifacts” (textual, pictorial, video, etc.) that help them learn and influence culture, both in- and outside of the classroom.  In addition, the social nature of blogging is constructivist in approach, meaning that, as students interact, they are influenced by their interactions, with and without the teacher.” I agree, but I wasn’t convinced that I was setting up my blogs in the best way to help students construct thought through their reading and writing of blog posts.

I then came across this blog post by Mark Sample from The Humanities and Technology Camp, which bills itself as a non-conference (open-source, but in the real world!). In it, he shares what he’s had students do with blogs, methods that he’s tired of but that sound pretty interesting to me, where he varies the structure, roles and/or rhythms of his class blogs.  His goal, one that resonates with me, is to “have students blog and make it worth their while and ours too.”

He then opens up the discussion to others and includes the collaborative notes.  All very helpful.  I’m saving Sample’s post for my next classroom blog.

Marissa Dietrich

Image by Kristina B, CC License

Replace The Training Manual

While searching for social learning related articles I came across this blog titled “Replace The Training Manual:10 Ways to Improve The Experience With Social Learning”. I feel many employees do not read their training manuals upon being hired because they are overwhelmed with the amount of information being given to them at one time.  The article mentions one company has saved $75,000 by replacing their traditional training manual with a social learning approach. Below are 10 reasons to replace training manuals with social learning tools. How do you feel about replacing training manuals with a social learning solution?

Here are 10 reasons to replace your training manuals and tools with a social learning solution:

Update materials in real time. How frustrating is it that training materials are out-of-date almost as soon as they are in your employees’ hands? With an online social learning solution – materials and answers can be updated in real-time. This means that employees will always find the most current and accurate information.

Make information easier to find. By making your training materials available in an online social learning tool instead of a document, employees can easily search for the documents and answers they are looking for.

Allow employees to ask questions. By moving the training process online and making it social, employees can ask questions and the experts within your company can reply. The advantage here is that not only does the original employee who asked the question benefit, so does the rest of your organization.

Share stories. One of the strongest advantages of using a social learning tool to train employees is that training comes to life with shared stories and experiences. People can comment, interact, and connect through the tool in ways that a standalone document simply doesn’t allow.

Ongoing connections. Instead of just filing away a training manual on a bookshelf or a file folder, putting all of this information online means that it is an ongoing resource for employees. And because the information is constantly updated, questions are asked and answered, and stories are shared, there is an incentive for the employee to check back and see what is new.

Interaction with everyday experts. Social learning solutions give new and existing employees the ability to connect with experts throughout your organization – even beyond the initial training period. This is even more important if your experts are spread across multiple geographies.

Different file types all in one place. People learn in different ways. Some like to read text descriptions, others like a diagram or video. With a social learning tool, you can share videos, PowerPoint decks, images, posts, and more to engage your visitors.

Smaller, digestible pieces of information. Rather than an overwhelming document, social learning tools feed information to employees in bite-sized chunks that they can easily consume. You can even take these smaller pieces of information and create a series for people to work their way through.

Single point of data. A big challenge at most companies is knowing where to go for critical information. Knowledge sits spread across the company’s various laptops and servers. An online training hub becomes THE place where employees know they can find the most accurate, up-to-date information.

Access content anytime/anywhere from any device. A social learning solution puts training information in the hands of employees when they need it most. Knowledge becomes accessible 24 hours a day from any device.