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I processed over 50 statements from the SSI Enables poll and am responding to those that had clear questions.

I started by responding to backchannel questions in part 1, questions on work culture and worker-learner mindset in part 2, and questions on managing workplace-based learning in part 3.

This is part 4 on AN ASSORTMENT of issues.

What is the percentage of organisation using online learning?

No one really knows. If they claim to, they are lying because not everyone makes this number transparent.

Organisations might reveal the extent of courses or materials online. For example, institutes of higher education (IHLs) might set quotas on the percentage of courses that must have online material (e.g., 25%) or be fully online (e.g., 10%). Viewed this way, 100% of IHLs have materials online.

However, this does not mean anyone is learning from them. The extent of online resources is not important; the extent of learning that translates into better practice is. Even fewer organisations, if any, have clear figures on that.

How to handle shortage of staff and yet have to coach them?

I presume this is more a statement of high turnover and the need to bring newbies up to speed.

One approach is to practice good knowledge management (KM). One established KM method is to externalise and archive the knowledge of those who are about leave or retire.

You cannot avoid coaching, but you can provide more strategic coaching if you have a KM system that allows newbies to access meaningful information and more experienced ones to make add-its and edits.

This is something I practised as head of a centre. The externalisation of knowledge into tangible information also helped us question our processes and behaviours. We asked ourselves if processes were ethical, intuitive, logical, efficient or effective.

How would organisations usually use social learning tools?

One word: Badly.

Take a look at corporations and perhaps even VWOs using “social” media tools. Some merely transmit and inform instead of actually being social and by interacting with stakeholders.

Organisations can try using social tools, but they tend to be bad with it unless they have a small and savvy team closely monitoring and skilfully managing social interaction.

Instead of just being a public relations tool, I advocate that individuals in those organisations use those tools for social learning and creating personal learning networks (PLNs) that reach far and wide.

How do we engage colleagues within and outside of organisations to embrace technology that will assist in improving productivity, making ourselves more efficient and effective at work as well as a learning platform that is mobile and customized to one’s learning needs?

First refer to my answer to the previous question. Then do not start with just thinking that it is a public relations tool.

Use social media for personalised learning first. When you see how impactful it is on a personal level, it can grow to group, organisational, and systemic levels. It starts with a personal ownership of learning, not policy-mandated one.

How do you integrate learning in school with learning at the workplace?

I would not even try.

Why? Schooling is learning just-in-case and driven by exams. Learning at work is more complex and you tend to look for information that is just-in-time. It is driven by needs that are more real and immediate.

Ask yourself how much you actually learn from school that you use at work. Also consider the results of the poll that I shared during my keynote.

We might not need a tight integration. We might need a transformation at the school end!

How do you address and consider the needs of colleagues with specific learning differences like dyslexia and ADHD for workplace learning?

I have no good answer for this, but I suggest some possibilities. They all involve keeping a close watch on assistive and enabling technologies.

Here are a few tabs I have kept for a course for allied educators I am facilitating in May:

Unless I get another request or something relevant pops into my head, this is the final part of my online followup for the wonderful people that I met at SSI Enables 2016.

I know I created some cognitive dissonance. I only hope that there was enough so that it broke down walls (unlearning) so that reconstruction (relearning) and new construction (learning) happen from this point forward.

I processed over 50 statements from the SSI Enables poll and am responding to those that had clear questions.

I started by responding to backchannel questions in part 1, and questions on work culture and worker-learner mindset in part 2.


How do you enhance Employee Motivation and provide a Conducive Learning Environment to promote Workplace Learning?

How to schedule learning for staff who work shifts in an operation that serves customers 24/7, 15h/day? Many of whom does not have access to computer at work and learning should preferably take place within working hours, i.e. not ‘eat’ into staff’s own time.

I am guessing that these questions are more about getting certified while still embedded at work instead of my topic of personalised learning.

To quickly recap, a personalised learning network (PLN) is based on just-in-time, informal, interstitial, and immediately meaningful forms of learning. This sort of learning happens continuously and is not bound by time or space. A worker learns because s/he wants to and the impact is almost immediate because learning is applied quickly at work.

A PLN might be useful in the workplace-based pursuit of a certificate or it might not.

There could be a few scenarios for workplace-based learning depending on contexts.

One is to set aside dedicated time and physical space for individual or group learning. This could take the form of a time of day or week, and a comfortable room with Internet-connected devices. All these are built on a policy of do-not-disturb-while-learning and are prioritised as much as mentoring, coaching, apprenticeship, or internship.

Another is remote-based work. The remote location could be the worker’s home or other sites. In social work, the latter might be vital since service workers might visit homes, work sites, and other locations. As they do this, they might collect data and document their experiences. These could be part of an iterative problem-seeking and problem-solving process. A skilful and informed leader could build these into the certification of the worker because evidence by, say, an e-portfolio is more important than decontextualised grades.

A third possibility is a hybrid of the two main methods above.

Learning as a group through social media means having different ideas and views posted at random times. These can be difficult to track, know the current main ideas / issues being discussed, and how to contribute effectively in the discussion and learning, etc.

It works need a moderator or administrator to have an overview to see what bring populated by the group members.

Can we do this without one?

How to create that mental picture so that members can see and get a graphic overview rather than having to read all comments, views etc.

You can try to distill wisdoms or create a clearinghouse system. Such systems could risk focusing mainly on what a leader or manager views as important. This does not guarantee that the worker-learner will connect with the ideas as intended.

A centralised approach might be important on occasion, but I do not recommend it as the be-all and end-all. Top-down messaging can come across as propaganda and is easy to ignore.

If your goal is to promote individual and personal learning, I recommend a rise above strategy or the monitoring methods I mentioned during my keynote. I will not repeat the latter here.

A rise above strategy is to model and teach a metacognitive method of reflective and summary learning. Questions that could guide thinking include (but are not limited to)

  • What did I just find out?
  • Why was this information important to me?
  • How might it help my organisation?
  • How do I share what I know?

To bring this line of questioning back to PLNs, I illustrate how powerful serendipitous learning can be.

In my initial draft of my answer to the last question, I seemed to dismiss a moderator’s role. That was not my intention. I simply think it not wise because this is a lot of work. It could employed if one or a few individuals are highly motivated enough to sustain it over the long haul.

While writing, I read a tweet by @tucksoon who is in my PLN.

He was referring to Twitter’s algorithmic and automatic curation of critical tweets. The more you follow the right sorts of people, the more relevant information you are likely to receive, even in summarised or bite-sized form.

In this case, the moderator is one or more algorithms tell you what the most important tweets are or let you know what you should not miss.

My point is this: If you are going to embrace a social media-enabled PLN, do what it affords instead of only relying on what you know or are comfortable with. In the case of content moderation, the old way is human intensive while the new is automatic and increasingly intelligent.

I processed over 50 statements from the SSI Enables poll and am responding to those that had clear questions. I will do this in more parts and by themes.

The first chunk is CULTURE and MINDSETS.

How does an organisation institutionalise e-learning as part of workplace learning?

One honest answer is brute force. Make it policy. We are compliant and obedient workers who value our jobs above all else, right?

Other than instituting e-learning, communicate clearly and strategically to get buy-in. Also get champions to take ownership of this form of learning and be your mouthpieces. You cannot do the selling as well as a convert can.

How to strike a good balance between the time required for learning and managing of work?

Dr Gog Soon Joo had an excellent reply to this: By not seeing a distinction or division between work and learning.

If there is a problem that needs solving at work, you seek solutions and need to learn. You start with work and continue with learning.

Alternatively, you might attend a course or conference which sheds light on an previously unseen issue. You then work to solve it.

How much time for workplace learning?

There is no magic number. As much or as little as possible, whichever is more meaningful and effective.

If you take into account my answer to the previous question, then it is even harder (and perhaps illogical) to put a number of it.

How to change mindset of staff especially with old staff in a paradigm shift?
How to instil motivation to staff whose not willing to embrace new technologies?
What can be done to motivate non tech savvy colleagues to be willing to learn online?
How to motivate my team to start using social media as a learning tool?
How to embrace technology to make learning more impactful and effective?

I lump these questions because I have a single response to all of them. Make it meaningful to the learner.

Leverage on ownership of the tool. If they are already using a form of technology socially or for entertainment, how might that be used for learning?

Leverage on ownership of the task. If there is something that they need or want to do that is not quite relevant to work but important personally, help them do it. Do they need to connect with grandkids overseas? Do they need to access photos shared online? Do they have a health issue that requires wearable technology and apps?

How to attract interest and sustain it during the duration of learning?

You might be thinking of training. If you are learning, you are already interested and self-sustaining. This is why I suggested all of us unlearn “training”. Training is done to us and for us. This leads to an unhealthy dependency and is impersonal.

More Q and A tomorrow and the day after.

In the first part of my followup of my keynote on Friday, I process SSI Enables 2016 by the numbers and respond to backchannel questions.

1 by Moe_, on Flickr
1” (CC BY 2.0) by  Moe_ 

I was told that there were about 120 in-house participants and about 40 from external agencies. As I use the URL shortener, I was able to keep track of access hits to my resources. For example, as of Friday night:

  • My Google Slides were accessed 149 times
  • The quiz on PLNs was visited 155 times
  • The backchannel was loaded 251 times

As TodaysMeet (TM) backchannel spaces expire, I have archived the entire backchannel in a PDF. Here are Qs (in bold) from the backchannel and my As (in italics).

T2 I hope to be shakened, but not stirred…
10:31am, Fri, Apr 15, 2016 by Albert

@albert: I hope that you were shaken to the core & stirred into action. 🙂

how do u make sure everyone is aligned in the things that they learn?
11:10am, Fri, Apr 15, 2016 by Nix

@Nix: Alignment may not be the right measure if meaningful individualisation is.

Personal Learning is great…unfortunately it is difficult to ‘certify’ it especially when you change career. How do you prove learning?
11:11am, Fri, Apr 15, 2016 by Leonard

@Leonard: Consider this – being certified does not guarantee learning either. What’s more important? Paper evidence or actionable proof?

Others weighed in* on this even before I did.

Good point noted: certification vs personal learning. Both equally important😊
11:47am, Fri, Apr 15, 2016 by Karen

certification is definitely a form of learning- but a formal learning. We are talking here about informal and interactive learning.
11:50am, Fri, Apr 15, 2016 by Yet

This sector is big on professionalism and accredition. How this form of learning enhance the accredition and professionalism?
11:16am, Fri, Apr 15, 2016 by Yet

@Yet: PLNs might follow up from certification (cont’d learning). Professionalism is taking ownership of problem-seeking & solving, learning.

what platform would you recommend to start pln? Facebook? slideshare?
11:21am, Fri, Apr 15, 2016 by Gloria

@Gloria: Any social media platform that allows easy dialogue & one you are already on, e.g., Facebook, Twitter.

understood what a PLN is – very keen to start one; what would be good platforms to start one from your experience?
11:22am, Fri, Apr 15, 2016 by Saras

@Saras: See my reply to Gloria. Start with what you already know & can have conversations on.

How do you verify the reliability of online sources of info?
11:22am, Fri, Apr 15, 2016 by SF

@SF The same way we verify anything not online, e.g., critical thought, comparative practice, etc.

Should we assume that everybody wants to learn even though the demands and workload of the staff tend to be overwhelming already?
11:22am, Fri, Apr 15, 2016 by XJ

@XJ: I answered during ‘live’ segment. Another answer – don’t separate work from learning.

What is learners are not very self-directed, will it be ok to guide/point them in the right directions?
11:24am, Fri, Apr 15, 2016 by Sherc

@Sherc: Definitely. But don’t hand-hold so much that they become dependent on structure. Don’t let a scaffold become a crutch.

how do we build a culture of self directed learning when we are brought up in an education system of structured learning.
11:26am, Fri, Apr 15, 2016 by Jen

@Jen: By 1st realising that curricular system is inadequate, JIC & slow. There is much joy in SDL! 🙂

how to get staff who are not tech savvy to embrace the advance innovative culture of technology and want to learn during interstitial
11:27am, Fri, Apr 15, 2016 by KF

@KF: By starting with personal & meaningful use. Example – If person is a grandparent, how to connect with grandchild overseas?

How do you shift mindsets of your leaders on learning?
11:30am, Fri, Apr 15, 2016 by Ravin

@Ravin: By getting them to attend events like SSI Enables. By having honest conversations. By showing hard data.

Some observations:

  1. The number of questions in the backchannel was not unusual for the number of participants.
  2. The more dominant pattern of responses was typical: I asked or tasked, participants responded.
  3. There were very few conversational exchanges (see asterisked* Q and A above).

An indicator of change is how comfortable participants are in using backchannels and initiating conversations on their own. This would reveal a mindset shaped by conversations similar to those on hashtagged edu-Twitter chats. Then I might conclude that more people were on their PLN journeys.

I felt privileged to play active roles in SSI Enables 2016, an event held yesterday that was organised under the umbrella of the National Council of Social Services, Singapore.

Delivering my keynote at SSI Enables 2016.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Chan.

I was the keynote speaker on social media-enabled PLNs and a panel member on how to move a system forward.

I do not think I have ever walked away from a keynote and thought to myself that the session was perfect. I invariably look critically at my performance and wish I had used a better turn of phrase or had done something else.

However, I walked off the stage feeling very satisfied yesterday.

The audience gamingly got involved in the pre-keynote activities of taking part in a poll and completing a word cloud in AnswerGarden. During the keynote, the backchannel often scrolled faster than I could read.

During the panel session, the organisers took my advice to use a free tool, Dotstorming, to raise questions that could be voted up. The audience took to it like fish to water.

During the panel session, at lunch, and during my interaction with various people, I received reinforcement, validation, and positive comments. For example, I kept getting feedback from different people that they had never before experienced learning of that kind and quality. That was high praise indeed.

Social service meets social media-based learning

But all that time I thought I was just saying the ordinary:

  • The timeless competencies are learning, unlearning, and relearning.
  • All three are enabled by social media — particularly Twitter — in personal learning networks (PLNs).

This was a reminder that:

  • An old message can be a new one to someone else.
  • Keynotes can be interactive and involved if you design for learning, not for speaking.
  • Panel sessions can be less like a fishbowl and focused more on answering participants’ questions.

I still have some unfinished work even though the face-to-face component is over. While I have processed the questions in the backchannel, I have yet to analyse and answer the 50 or so questions that were raised in the poll. I will do this while I am away at a conference next week.

Social service meets social media-based learning

I am putting the finishing touches on the keynote that I deliver this week.

To create an interactive seminar — I am told it is called a masterclass — I have asked participants to complete an online poll (Google Form), install a QR code reader on their phones, suggest ideas in an AnswerGarden, and watch a YouTube video. They need to do this before we meet.

During the keynote, I will get the audience to participate in a TodaysMeet backchannel, another AnswerGarden, and a Padlet exit ticket Google Form quiz. They have the option of getting to these resources and my Google Slides via their QR code readers. I will also share some data from the poll and AnswerGarden to help them visualise their learning.

In terms of content, I aim to help participants uncover just two things: 1) three core 21st century competencies (unlearning, relearning, and learning), and 2) using social media to create personal learning networks (PLNs).

I believe that the core focus and PLNs will help the social service sector overcome problems like a lack of resources (by using what they already have) and addressing a diversity of learning needs (by connecting with communities).

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