Elliott Masie’s Learning 2012 – Opening Night

I am one of the masses

I am one of the masses

These few days I (and 1600 others) will be attending Elliott Masie’s Learning 2012. I will be hosting a session with Marcel de Leeuwe and will be blogging about what I see.

The opening evening started with Lisa Nicole Wilkerson singing Defying Gravity, one of the themes of the conference.

Masie then made a comparison between how we watch television nowadays (everything on-demand and personalized) and how we do learning today (not quite there yet). So one of the themes is personalized learning. Another challenge that he sees is what he calls the Learning Mix: mixing live events with on-demand events. One more theme is Learning Together (he doesn’t like the term “Social Learning”). In this domain Masie touched my heart by talking about SharePoint “as a technology without a methodology”. A final theme will be Learning Everywhere.

The first keynote speaker was Richard Culatta. I first met him at this conference in 2008 when he was still at the CIA and presenting in the “trenches” of the conference. His career has progressed and he was now on the main stage. A lot of the conversation was quite obvious (at least for me), but I liked the short discussion about how learners will necessarily become designers. Richard also made a plea for there to be more “edupreneurs” and has started a MOOC, Ed Startup 101, to help this process. I’d be curious to hear his thoughts about the debatable role of VC capital in the educational world (see here and here).

Elizabeth Bryant from Southwest Airlines came to pick up a “Spotlight” award. Elizabeth talked about the learning centralization journey at Southwest.

Masie has started a program titled 30 under Thirty. All 32 of them (don’t ask) came on stage and talked a little bit about what drives them. They will be doing “reverse mentoring” at the event. Interesting concept!

Jenny Zhu of ChinesePod fame came to talk about the Masie Asia Project. This seems to be Masie’s attempt at getting a foothold in the fast-growing learning market in the East. I like Zhu’s post on 10 Chinese words that don’t have an English equivalent.

Lisa Pedrogo from CNN got a Masie award a few years back for her work with video in the learning space. Elliott shot a little video of her. He apparently did not get the memo about how to shoot video with a phone (from here, with a thank you to Marcel de Leeuwe for sharing it with me):

How to shoot video with your phone

How to shoot video with your phone

Lisa discussed how we shouldn’t make video more difficult than it really is. You shouldn’t be scared of using it and you should just have fun.

The final speaker of the night was Rahul Varma, the Chief Learning Officer of Accenture. It is interesting to see that Accenture has chosen somebody based in the East to head up learning for them. This probably has to do with the fact that the country with the most of their employees is India. He also talked about what he termed the talent challenge: how the rate of talent development will not keep pace with the growth of the emerging markets.

Finally, one interesting element of the conference is the Real-Time track comprising 15% of the scheduled content at the conference. This is explicit time and space for people to organize their own events. I will try to visit at least one of these events to see if and how they are working.

What’s Twitter Good For? The Twitter Book

The Twitter Book

The Twitter Book

I just finished reading Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein‘s excellent The Twitter Book. My copy is now completely dog-eared, prompting me to follow up on many Twitter related services I didn’t yet know about.

The introduction is great. It answers the question that I get asked often and that I sometimes struggle to answer: What’s Twitter good for? O’Reilly and Milstein give the following five persuasive reasons:

  • Ambient intimacy. When a lot of my colleagues at Stoas Learning (when I was still there) started using Twitter it immediately led to a different relationship between many of us. Without investing much, you keep in touch with what people are doing in their professional and private lives.
  • Sharing news and commentary. If I was a different person it would be perfectly easy to keep up with what are the most important developments in the learning technology solely through other people’s Twitter updates.
  • Breaking news and shared experiences. Twitter seems to have taken the role that CNN had during the first Gulf war: the place with the most recent news updates. There are many examples of this. The Iranian non-election being the most recent one. It is also a great way to communicate in realtime with people you don’t know sharing the same experience as you. My most recent experience of this was the UK Moodlemoot.
  • Mind reading. Using Twitter’s search engine you can instantly get a feel for how (a group of) people are thinking about a certain issue or company. What makes it different from anything else is the fact that it is in realtime.
  • Business conversations. More and more companies are realising they can get real value from using Twitter properly. It facilitates a two way conversation that simply wasn’t possible before. My one critique of this book for example has already been acknowledged by one of its authors.

If, after this, you are still a Twitter nay-sayer, I would suggest you take a look at this Tony Stubblebine post, where he explains that one of the things that he has learnt from Twitter is to assume that a social networking service has value as soon as people are really using it.

My favourite quote in the book is about communities and value:

Funnily enough, the more value you create for the community, the more value it will create for you.

By the way, I am still waiting for a working federated microblogging solution that is less dependent on the whims of a single company!