On #edtech, #training, #inspiration and why #Articulate is family

On #edtech, #training, #inspiration and why #Articulate is family

Not so long ago I visited a Sculpture Park close to home to check out an exhibition by a bloke called David Nash. His thing is working with wood and I personally found some super cool stuff there. And I mean super! Apart from the art he’s been creating all his life, one of the highlights for me was a video on his techniques and thought processes. Tom often mentions in his Rapid E-learning Blog how he de-constructs e-learning resources that he sees for the intellectual challenge of trying to do them differently. I’ve been bitten by the bug, too, Tom. Cheers! 🙂

Looking at a David Nash sculpture

Looking at a David Nash sculpture (de-construction and reconstruction of Brancusi's Endless Column?)

There is one thing that Nash said in an interview that almost made me drive back to my uni that instant and round up all the teaching staff who are still bringing up silly reasons for not enhancing their teaching with technology: Nash has always had a vision of what he would like to achieve, but at the beginning he had to run a small operation because he didn’t know how to do bigger things. However, he never stopped looking and as soon as he could use new technology, he did and he created the impressive, but literally HUGE pieces of work he’s famous for now. And he’s not the only superstar that couldn’t realise his full potential until the right technology came about. So my rash self thought: what a brilliant example! What’s happening with some of my colleagues? Can’t they see what they’re missing out on by dismissing technology in their teaching and even in their research? Have they completely lost their vision? What’s wrong?

However, I didn’t drive off but rather finished the tour and sat down to have a chat and a think, too (you can’t knock reflection, that’s for sure – that’s why I haven’t forgotten all this one month after the 2-hour event). That’s when other ideas started to creep in and (I hope) I started to get a clearer picture. Together with that, a plan (although I dread sharing it after watching Derek Sivers’ talk on TED: now my plan will never happen 😉 )

  1. I’ve been reading Jay Cross’ book on Informal Learning and have been won over by the clear arguments (as well as practical examples and tips) in favour of enhancing (I don’t dare say ‘substituting’ yet) formal training offered in my institution with informal opportunities for staff to have a chat, meet someone and learn something new – come to think about it, that was the recipe for the European Articulate conferences so far and they were brilliant. And because we don’t have the funky headquarters that Google have, I think the staff cafeteria and games room will have to be where it will all be at (unless anyone has a more effective idea). PechaKucha for everyone! Pretty difficult in reaching 9,000+ staff, but it will be a start and I do have a few other cards up my sleeve – the main one being a network of super cool colleagues.
  2. I also feel for my academic colleagues because they have to be top-notch researchers, inspiring teachers and amazing instructional designers at the same time. The economy crashed, faculties had to cut costs and the first to go seem to have been the instructional designers (not that there were too many anyway…) Has this happened to anyone else? I suspect so… in any case, I am going to start making a bigger fuss about this and thanks to friends from other institutions I have met at the previous Articulate conferences I’ve organised, I will also have hard evidence proving you need instructional designers to create effective and engaging e-learning courses (so far I have only come across anecdotal evidence supporting this commonsensical view, but if you know of other studies out there I would surely appreciate a few links).
  3. I really like my uni and the people I meet everyday, but I don’t get the feeling that everyone’s heart is into what they are doing. Some people feel alone, confused and unsupported and while there may be other factors which it isn’t my place to address, at least I could become more active in connecting people (I’ll be a mini-Nokia, I guess ;)) I’ve already had a shot and it’s been brill! Lucky me that I actually work in a team where people are really passionate about these very same things, so fingers crossed this will go well :).
  4. Tom wrote a brilliant post a while back about 5 Ways Web 2.0 can make you a better e-learning designer His advice is so true about any field and could speed up and enhance research so much more. Looking around, I can’t believe some of my colleagues are missing out in their own areas on what I have with the Articulate crowd in my own interest area (by the way, thanks a lot, everyone – you’re constantly inspiring, kind and funky). If I may have one last axe to grind, competitiveness and secrecy really bug me: the example of how the H5N1 was approached by a global scientific community presented in the brilliant The Wisdom of Crowds is so telling it almost breaks your heart regarding how much humanity is missing out on by having pockets of clever people who are in constant fierce competition … to make others rich. Madness!