sociaL LeaRning

The title of this post might be a little misleading, but “snapchat made me think twice about what i was doing as a learning professional” seemed a bit long.

Not long ago, Snapchat introduced “lenses” or “filters” for their application.  For those of you who don’t know what Snapchat is, it’s an application you can download to your phone that captures images to send to friends.  Where the differentiation comes is that with Snapchat, your images are only “live” for 10 seconds and then they disappear.  Making inappropriate or more edgy messages a little less risky.  It’s essentially seen as an app that teens and young people use and probably has little uptake outside of affairs in most adult’s lives.

Except mine, of course.  As the parent of three young people and an involved aunt to teenagers, I’m on Snapchat and regularly use it.  My pictures are not especially edgy and often are funny views of the dog with some silly saying attached.  I have a friend who lives in Qatar and occasionally we send images of what our landscapes look like.  It’s all on the up and up and trust me – we’re getting to how this applies to learning.

So as I was saying, Snapchat introduced a feature called “lenses” where you can add filters to your images – turning your selfie into an old lady, a viking, a rainbow puking something or other, and other silliness.  Here’s where it gets to learning.

I received a snap from my daughter and opened it.  It was her as a raccoon, and quite amusing.  A day later I received another, where she was a bunny.  Another as a viking.  You get the idea.  While silly, it was kind of cool and my interest had been piqued.  I looked around the app and couldn’t quite figure out how to make these lenses happen.  The usual kind of background stuff existed, but this new stuff was not accessible.

So what did I do?  I googled it.

I googled “snapchat changes” and immediately got about 3000 hits, the first few talking about the new “lenses” available.  I clicked on one and scanned it, but it was a news release and largely uninteresting and didn’t tell me how to use it.  The second one I clicked on explained, in about two sentences, how one uses the new lenses feature.  I nodded, shut the link, and opened Snapchat to send a rather questionable photo of myself, as diva with cucumbers over her eyes and a turban on her head, to my daughter.  I had learned something!

Quickly, on my own, unprompted by mandate.  I remembered how to do it the next time I opened Snapchat.  I taught my husband when he said, “how do you do that??” and began to experiment within the app to see what else I’d missed.  This was self-directed learning!  It was quick and useful and there when I needed it.  If Snapchat had emailed me or messaged me in the app to tell me about updates and offered links to learn them I would have erased it without reading it.  If I had read it before being interested in it I would have forgot how to do it when I really needed it.

I want that sort of environment as learning culture.




I read this article recently on flexibility. It’s about business flexibility and the necessity for change in organizations and companies.  It has resonance for the learning community.

I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school when I suggest that the company I work for is going through some organizational changes.  Let’s face it, if it wasn’t, that’s an entirely different area to worry about.  Now, I tend to be an early adopter to most change, and face things with a pragmatism that can be downright annoying (or so I hear), but change causes anxiety even in those of us most embracing to change.

Articles like the one I link to often talk about business change – being flexible and nimble as a business.  But I find that learning teams could also use this advice – we’re often knee deep in gap analysis or a program when an organization shifts – and we quickly have to adapt to support the changes, even when we don’t have insight into the motivation or direction of the change.  Even when the change may impact our own role in the organization.

I like this article for its practicality and transferable ideas.  The three strategies presented are listen, really listen, and keep an open mind.

Listen – as learning professionals, we need to listen what the business and what the employees are saying about the change and what may be required to support it.  If we were not at the table during the change management portion of the change, this may serve as our gap analysis to what needs to be done post-change.

Really Listen – as learning professionals, we may need to ask specifically how learning can support the change.  We may need to pull out the “what’s in it for me” along with “what’s in it for the business” as we seek to partner with the business during change to ensure its success.

Open your Mind – as learning professionals, we may agree or disagree with the change, but we need to be open to what the change may bring and the role we may play in it.  This is an opportunity to be innovative and flex our creativity as we support people through the change and foster new strategy into the organization.

One of my favourite aspects of learning is the flexibility required to change priorities and meet people’s needs as they navigate their careers.


the #gLamouRousLife

You know how it is.   It’s like the first time you get a traveling-for-work job and everyone thinks it must be so glamourous, but after two or three weeks the truth seeps out:  it sucks living out of suitcases and eating out of cartons.  It’s lonely and boring and you’re often too tired to enjoy the scenery.

I’m tasked with coming up with a training schedule and proposal and I’m doing it in excel and following someone else’s proposal.  These are the unglamourous days of filling in excel cells and double checking your work and hoping against hope that you’ve scheduled the right person in the right province on the right day.  It’s necessary work for the rest of the work, but it’s not glamourous or particularly interesting work.   It’s hard to stay focused.

But I found this article to help me stay focused.  This is one of those breaks from the short bursts.  Not all instructional design and learning tasks can be as interesting and glamourous as the other 95%


foLLowing one’s own advice

Last week, I had the absolute privilege of delivering an introduction to instructional design workshop. It was a workshop I created, designed from a need to take SME-based trainers to adult-learning-advocates.  Essentially, changing our conversations to be the strong voice for adult learning, its principles, and how to give people the right information at the right time in the right way.

I started the process the way you probably imagine I might.  Sifting through the blogs, my own books and knowledge, and other courses I’ve taken to create an outline that provides information while “in housing” it to suit our needs.  This took me on a bit of a deviation, becoming far too interested in process and steps than the actual conversation.  I was a bit lost in the weeds due to my own subject matter expertise, bias, and personal interest.

And then I re-read Cathy Moore’s post on action mapping and thought I should probably include it.  It’s a great tool and I’ve used it before, and I started playing with it on the paper beside my computer meant for doodling.  What was the intent, the business goal, the strategic purpose of the course, I asked myself?   And once I jotted some ideas down, and what behaviours would one exhibit if they were to do that?  More ideas on the page.  Why aren’t they doing that already?  More ideas.  More thoughts.  More directions.  What kind of practical things might we do in a workshop to get them there?  Ideas, thoughts, activities scribbled in corners.  So.. what bare minimum information would they need to do these activities?  Thoughts, scribbling, crossing out of former ideas.

And then I read *my* old post about using a matrix and thought I’d measure my thoughts on that, as well.  I listed out a bunch of tasks I think IDs do, and then charted them on the easy/difficult and often/seldom matrix and asked myself if what I was covering and providing was appropriate, based on my own advice.

And voila – what I came up with was a workshop based on practical examples and practice in four main areas:  asking questions, proposing solutions, creating and implementing, and evaluating success.  The four behaviours that indicate someone has moved from SME based trainer to Learning Specialist, with appropriate practical application and activities.

Funny how creating a workshop on ID/Learning Specialist behaviours had me re-assessing my own behaviour.

the push and puLL of LeaRning design

I was speaking to someone yesterday about our five year ambitions, prompted after seeing a women-in-leadership panel discussion.  Those of you who know me know that I’m not particularly ambitious as far as climbing the corporate ladder goes, but that I’m quite ambitious as far as learning goes.  In articulating my five year ambitions, I found that my goals revolve around some simple ideology:

  • I want to see an organization move from having a learning team to being a learning organization.
  • I want to see learning move from pushed down to pulled in.

My studies in workplace learning have prompted this desire, but so has my research into intrinsic motivation and learning preference.  I think that learning has a huge role to play in culture and change, and should be considering operation in the organizational effectiveness space.

My current ambition, though, is to understand how bite-sized learning, micro-learning, and social learning feed into the intrinsic motivation of learners. I feel like understanding the art and science behind these concepts will open up some ideas around how to move learning from push to pull and how to eventually move organizations from “having learning teams” to “being” a learning team.

The Recipe for Successful Makerspace Design

A well thought out piece 🙂

Designer Librarian

I keep running into articles about makerspaces and maker programs that are written in a way that makes me wonder why so many people assume that by virtue of “making,” transformative learning is automatically taking place. While I’m all for the informal learning opportunities that makerspaces offer, and I do believe they have the potential to support learning, I also know that several key ingredients are necessary to give maker activities even a remote shot at actually transforming learning.

Ingredient #1: Makerspaces must be designed as constructivist learning environments (CLEs).

To discuss the details of designing CLEs is way beyond the brevity of this post. However, I can say that one particularly promising approach is the use of activity theory as a framework for structuring a CLE that brings the individuals, the tools, and the objectives together to foster a community of practice. The graphic below illustrates the concept of activity theory, where the…

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how developers are ruining learning by omitting design #imho

This article made me angry.

I saw it on twitter and knew I’d be angry but still clicked on it.  Here’s a brief synopsis of why I am angry:

  1. This article makes the “client” and the “process” the focus of creating learning, instead of the learner and the content.
  2. The article claims that ADDIE is linear, inflexible, takes too long, and is set on assumptions.   I cringe, because an assessment of ADDIE – an instructional design process – should have been done by someone who understands it.
  3. The proposed process entirely misses the design phase.  It launches directly to development from a “series of telephone calls”.

Here’s my thoughts:

This article should be called “How developers are ruining learning by omitting design”:

  • If all you want is flashy bells and whistles and no substance – hire a developer and use the agile method to make your customer happy.
  • If you want someone to actually learn your content and know how to apply it on the job and to maybe change the behaviour of your learners and help support a performance culture – hire an instructional designer that can do the job.