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

Backchannel: A Digital Conversation

While researching different blogs, I was looking for something different to discuss, perhaps a concept with which I was unfamiliar.  Enter backchannel.  A backchannel is a digital conversation that occurs concurrently with some sort of live event, like a conference, a lecture, or some type of instructor-led training.  People participating in a backchannel do so on a mobile device with Twitter or some other social media site as a platform.

In his book, The Backchannel, presentation guru and author Cliff Atkinson explores how audiences are using Twitter and social media to transform live presentations.  The audience no longer sits quietly taking notes; instead they are commenting, fact-checking, searching online resources, and engaging with each other in ways that were not possible before mobile devices and social media.

In education, a backchannel provides shy or quiet kids a way to ask questions without having to speak in front of the class.  I wish there were backchannel conversations when I was in middle or high school, as I was quite shy and almost always had a question that I was afraid to ask for fear I would look dumb.  Backchanneling would certainly have given me the chance to “speak up” without speaking at all.  Although Twitter can work well for back channeling to a wide audience on the open internet, closed tools such as Back Channel Chat or TodaysMeet are geared toward the classroom, where the teacher can control the content.


In her blog, Edutopia, Instructor and Communication Coordinator at EdTechTeacher, Beth Holland describes how the backchannel can give “every student a voice in the mobile blended class room”.

How do you think the formal classroom can benefit from using backchannels to engage students?

Diana Good