In December I had the pleasure of visiting the The Hague headquarters of Shell, courtesy of @hansdezwart, their Innovation Manager for Global Learning Technologies. After a long Twitter “courtship”, we finally met IRL at Online Educa in Berlin (#oeb11) and found we indeed had lots of shared interests. One of the things I wanted to know more about was his use of Yammer to improve team connections and collaborations. I was lucky enough to have a personal demonstration and discussion, but you can read all about his Narrating Your Work project on Hans’ blog.
As we were talking, we hit upon an activity we both do, that is not strictly part of our job but seems to have evolved naturally. We both work in roles that connect us to many different colleagues, within our teams, across our organisation, and in similar positions in other organisations. We also both have a widespread personal learning network (PLN), that is, we are connected to many education technology experts and information sources, outside our organisation through various social media tools. The Conversation Prism diagram below created by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas demonstrates how some of those social media tools are used to ‘listen and share’.
In our discussion, Hans described how he used to send people links he had found through his PLN via email. He had now started sharing those links via Yammer, tagging all of them with a #share tag. And that triggered something for me. I’d been doing the same at EIT in my 5 years there as e-learning advisor. Monitoring my Personal Learning Network which has a heavy education technology focus, and then sharing useful, pertinent and timely resources I found through various channels. Many, many an email to a teacher was sent at 11.30pm as I hit upon a gem shared through Twitter by a colleague from Europe who was just getting to the office, along the lines of “Hey so-and-so, I think this link on yadayada might be of interest to you as we work on your blahblah course”.
All sorts of ed tech info
And it didn’t just stop with course specific information. I’d also share links on pedagogical strategies with teachers and on how higher education organisations use social media with our Marketing department. If I found an edtech link on higher management decision making for education technology, I would send it to one of our deans, or our Director of Academic & Student Services. If I found a resource on iPads in the library, I’d send it to our inestimable library manager, Diane Friis. And so on. The sharing I was doing was topic specific (education technology) but not limited to my role, or level in the organisation.
Other sharing channels
In some cases, larger projects, I was working on I would try other sharing channels and also getting the other project team members (teachers, administrative support and their managers) to contribute. For example, I’d create a Delicious tag and /or a workspace for all of us to use and share resources in. Typically this workspace would be a Moodle course for all teachers collaborating on the programme design, including a forum for sharing, or with ability for every one to add links to the course page. I wish I could say that these other sharing channels had been tremendously successful, but they weren’t. I can hypothesise several reasons:
- these Moodle workspaces and Delicious tags just aren’t part of most teachers and academic managers’ work/life streams, and that is because
- ‘Surfing the web’ for resources, tips and ideas is still seen as time wasting rather than time saving in most educational organisations.
- As a consequence, most teachers and academic managers don’t have many or substantial incoming information streams, so they just don’t find that many treasures to share in turn. As a result traffic in a Moodle forum/workspace is low and so it becomes an easy stream or avenue to forget.
So I continued being a lone sharer and sharing in the stream most people do check: their email.
This is digital curation
The activity I’ve just described, that Hans and I were engaged in for our organisations, is digital curation. Us education technologists have probably been acting as digital curators for our organisations around the e-learning and education technology topics for longer than we realise. If you’re an edtech who recognises this, I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts.
- What tools have you used?
- How long have you been doing this? How long have you consciously been doing this?
- What processes have you used?
- How efficient would you say this was?
- Are your digital curation activities and results warmly received or less appreciated?
- And should this curation activity be seen as part of our role? And of other roles in the organisation?
- What would happen to your organisation if that was the case?