Tag Archives: organisations

One way to grow a networked teacher, is to grow a networked learner #pln

In my new role as Lecturer in Blended Learning, a part of my role is staff development. Staff development has always been a part of my roles, both in how do you do staff development in a networked world?

It was one of the big questions at the national AITD conference on training and development where I was invited to be a keynote. Much of the discussion in the keynotes and sessions where how traditional trainers/developers could adapt their traditional approaches capitalise on working and training in a networked world and in networked organisations.

Some issues overheard:

  • Traditional training is unpopular. Staff don’t want to give up time/other activities.
  • Traditional training lacks the ability to customize, not personal, not just-in-time
  • Not every trainer is an expert in every aspect of the company’s operations
  • How do you measure networked staff development?
  • How do you measure your contribution to organisation, if you can’t tick off training sessions, coaching interventions, resources created…
  • Senior management need convincing on the power of networked organisations
  • There will never be enough IT trainers to help everyone

And even though I wouldn’t call most higher education institutions networked organisations just yet, there are nascent networks inside them. These will become more important as the impact of the networked, information abundant world on this sector grows (as it has with the music, publishing and newspaper industries). Networked organisations are more flexible and adaptable. And so we as academic developers can look through the lense of the T&D professionals and see that we struggle with the same issues.

A networked professional has a Personal Learning Network

I’ve long thought that it is impossible to truly assess the potential of networked technologies for learning, when you only learn about them in a 2 hour workshop.

I’ve done many a Twitter, LMS (Moodle, Blackboard, etc), Facebook workshop and the traction is… Continue reading

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Are you the education technology curator for your organisation? #curation

@hansdezwart and @catspyjamasnzIn 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’.
The Conversation Prism - 1900px

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. Continue reading

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Social media use in a crisis – #eqnz – findable, usable & shareable

The New Zealand twitterverse is still abuzz, as people share information about the 2010 Canterbury Earthquake and its consequences.  Now, 3 days in, these tweets are increasingly about services being restored, relief offers and businesses and organisations exchanging information & aid.

Here I want to make a special mention of the University of Canterbury which has set up a special Twitter account for news about its recovery.

Also interesting to watch organisations like ASB Bank & the NZ Red Cross supporting each other through Twitter.


Most people and official news outlets are now using the hashtag #eqnz, thus consolidating the information flow. As of this afternoon it had been used 18199 times on Tuesday at 6.30pm (updated Tue 07-09-2010).

I’ve been following the use of social media in this event and reported a little about two of the hashtags that were in use in an earlier post. I’ve been RTing useful tweets with the now prevailing #eqnz tag so they get a better spread.

In this process I’ve also received a few nasty tweets and comments about what some are calling “the hashtag war”. One person commenting:

“I don’t want to extend the #eqnz vs #christchurchquake war. I think it is the most stupid bit of fussing when the world is literally falling down around us.”

When the world is falling down around you, you need a few things: water, food, shelter and…information

If you are not a regular social media user, you may well agree. However, when the world is falling down around you, you need a few things: water, food, shelter and…information.  In the early hours, many grabbed their mobile phones (closer to their beds than the battery-powered radios in their survival kits) and went to Twitter, because Twitter is all about sharing information. But to do this effectively, the information must be A. findable, B. usable and C. shareable.

A. Findable

The information that you broadcast through Twitter is publicly available on your Twitter profile page (here’s mine). However very few people will go and visit this page. Instead they will access their own home page, which displays a steady stream of the latest tweets of all the people that they are ‘following’. This stream is updated almost-live, every minute or so.

Twitter search being updated - #eqnz

So now you find yourself in a major event, and you want your information to be findable beyond the 143 odd people that follow you.  You also want to find information from other sources than just the 156 odd people that you follow. Saturday morning at 4.35 they may not have been awake yet. Well, this is where Twitter search but more importantly, hashtags come in. By using a common hashtag (a keyword preceded by the hash symbol) and then doing a search for that hashtag, Twitter users can have a shared conversation beyond the boundaries of their usual Twitter network.

In the case of an event like this, it is impossible to  have a pre-agreed hashtag as people do for eg conferences (see ULearn10 in Christchurch this week). So instead you monitor the wider Twitter stream for a while, doing several searches, until you find common hashtags. In the initial stages you may use 2 or more hashtags, but once a dominant hashtag emerges, it is essential that you use this. If you are the provider of crucial information, eg NZ Civil Defence or a news channel, using the common hashtag is how your tweets will be findable.

B. Usable

The information you broadcast, your tweets, must be usable.  The 140 character limit of a tweet is its strength but also its weakness. For your tweet to be usable in a crisis, it must be immediately informative in those few characters. If you want to share more, then link to a place where the rest of the information can be found. Links can become quite long (not desirable in a tweet) so you use a ‘url shortener‘ to make them an acceptable length (abt 20 characters). Most Twitter applications will do this automatically. If you do make use of links, then also make sure your tweet is an accurate description of what people will find when they click on that link. In a crisis, you don’t want to be wasting anyone’s time.

Informative #eqnz tweet by @siobhanbulfin:

Example of a usable #eqnz tweet

One of the less usable tweets coming from the NZ Civil Defence Twitter account:

A typical #eqnz tweet by NZ Civil Defence
C. Shareable

In the case of a major event the information needs to flow, it needs to spread. So you design your tweets to be easily shared. How do you do this?

  • Don’t take up too much space with Twitter functionality such as your username. Of course during the event it’s too late to change your name, but if you are about to open a twitter account then consider this: @minedunz would have been 5 characters shorter than @mineducationnz.
  • Use the shorter hashtag. Of course you will be driven by the prevailing hashtag, but if you get in early, then encourage the use of the shorter option.
  • Use short sentences. It helps to write in the active voice, leaving out definite articles (such as ‘the’) and prefaces eg ‘Cracks in windows.’ rather than ‘There are cracks appearing in the windows”.
  • Aim to make your tweet a re-tweetable length when the hashtag is included. The formula for this is: 140 characters – your twittername characters – 4. How does that work? Well 140 characters is standard length for a tweet, but when it’s retweeted, it will include the following: RT @twittername. So that would be 14 characters. However you may want to make it shorter yet to give retweeters some room to add their comments. Often done by adding eg “<- important!” or “<- wow!”. 100 characters is probably a very good length for a tweet in a crisis event to keep it shareable.

So that’s what we can keep in mind for the next earthquake or volcanic eruption, whichever comes first here in New Zealand: we should try to keep our information on Twitter findable, usable & shareable.

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