Friday, January 29, 2016

Doodling about KM Roles

Here's some doodling about KM roles inspired by a KMA-DC conversation this morning.

I currently play the role of KM specialist/facilitator of KM processes such as lessons learned and knowledge sharing workshops (within the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center).  In the Knowledge Management structure, I'm somewhere between the Chief Knowledge Officer who sets the overall strategy and knowledge management practices, and I support the project teams who actually have the knowledge that needs to be "managed."  

I am NOT a subject matter expert in anything other than KM. We only do a small subset of what KM can do/mean in an organization because that's what makes sense for the organization. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Creating Learning Materials - As Easy as Possible, But Not Easier

I have been creating a short introduction to Insight Mapping on the Skillshare platform and the creative process has been a source of numerous new insights for me. One of these insights had to do with the level of difficulty or complexity of the materials I was presenting and especially the level of complexity of what I was asking the learners to do as a project for the class.  I recognize my own tendency to make things more complicated than necessary, so I was keeping a close eye on how "brilliant" I thought my ideas were.  The more "brilliant" I think it is, the more unnecessarily complex it typically is.  At that point, I was reminded of Albert Einstein's words:
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." ~ Albert Einstein
Whether Einstein actually said that or not, I wonder if we can extend the idea to learning.  How about "everything should be made as easy to learn as possible, but not easier."  If you make it too easy, you've gone too far and not much learning is happening.  It makes sense, intuitively.  [There is also a trade-off between speed reading and comprehension... no kidding!]

A few weeks back, I enjoyed a Chief Learning Officer (CLO) webinar by Alex Khurgin, Director of Learning at Grovo, about teaching employees to learn.  Part of Khurgin's push was something I've heard over and over again about making it easy for people to learn, essentially by removing all possible barriers.  One example is that to deal with employees' shrinking attention span, we should deliver micro-learning.  While I'm all for eliminating day-long training sessions, there are limits to how much "chunking" makes sense.

Bite-size learning doesn't encourage deep thinking and the level of focused attention that is necessary to start making connections between prior knowledge and new knowledge.  We need focused attention (without distractions) to engage our whole brain, so why purposefully feed ourselves chunks that are so small, they become distractions themselves.

The answer to "I don't have time for 20 minutes of focused attention" shouldn't be, "we'll give it to  you in ten 2-minute chunks".  The answer should be, "make the time for 20 minutes of focused attention."  Connecting the dots and learning takes time. There are no shortcuts.

Dorothy Leonard also recently pointed out in the Harvard Business Review that organizations need to make learning hard, leveraging Robert Bjork's research.  One way to ensure deep learning and long-term retention of learning is to use the case method.
"A well-run case-based discussion constantly challenges students.  As they are asked to diagnose and debate solutions to a given situation, there is rarely an easy or obvious answer." ~ Dorothy Leonard in "Why Organizations Need to Make Learning Hard."
Since I was listening to all this "make-it-easy-to-learn" approach soon after being introduced to Robert Bjork's concept of "desirable difficulty," I thought it would be useful to clarify.

Here's how I mapped out my thoughts (so far):

"Make it as easy as possible, but not easier."

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Reflective Pause

I've been desperately looking in my photo archives for a photo I took years ago in Pittsburgh.  It shows the reflection of one building into the other. I may even have posted it before. I will not rest until I find it.  In the meantime, here's one picture I took this morning during a short reflective pause in the middle of my bike ride along the Mt. Vernon Trail.
Fog on the Potomac, Mt. Vernon Trail, Virginia - 1/16/2016
I must have hundreds of photos like this, photos of DC from the Mt. Vernon Trail.  I take the same path every weekend and I always see something different.  The light is always different.

I still do not understand much of anything about photography, light, color, composition and all of that but I know when I see something I like.

Update:  Found the Pittsburgh building.  All I needed to do was search my own blog. Duh! 

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Personal Learning Plan - January to March 2016 - Learning by Doing

A few days ago, I set as my primary goal for 2016 to have more mindful, meaningful conversations. Now it's time to think through exactly how I am going to operationalize that goal and integrate it into my personal learning plan (PLP), especially in light of all the other things I am planning to do.

I don't create personal learning plans on a regular basis but when I do I find the exercise quite useful as long as I keep the timeframe relatively short.  My interests will inevitably shift.  Three months is a good timeframe for me to focus on a few specific themes.  The themes for January to March 2016 will be:  Conversations, Online Learning and Teaching, and Personal Branding and Social Media Engagement.

Click on the map to enlarge and view in a new window.

Two things to note on the map: 1) The biggest effort will be put into producing my first Skillshare class, which is the best example of how I plan on learning by doing.  I'm very much in a mood to "just do it!"; 2) As is often the case, the mapping process allowed me to identify connections across all three themes, which makes this plan very coherent (at least in my own head) and ensures that no element will be isolated and ignored.

Looking up an old Personal Learning Plan from 2009, I realized how my thinking has evolved and how my mapping has evolved as well. 

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Mindful Conversations (part 2)

I don't take New Year's resolutions seriously.  I set goals for myself throughout the year at irregular intervals.  They come in cycles, and I tend to use goal setting as a way to pick myself up when I'm getting a little bored with whatever I am doing.

In most cases these goals are couched in terms of "learning".  I think that's the way I create the necessary motivation.  Nothing motivates me more than learning something new, so if my goal was to drink more water on a daily basis, I would probably end up writing up that goal as "I'm going to learn how to drink more water."

Mapping is a great way to start exploring and dissecting a goal, to make it clear, to identify specific initial steps.  Here's my initial map for the goal I set yesterday.

To keep it alive as I get engulfed in a wave of other learning opportunities (I have signed up for too many MOOCs in the next few weeks), I am integrating this goal into my Personal Learning Plan.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Mindfulness and Meaningful Conversations

This year (2016) and beyond, I resolve to pay more attention to conversations, all conversations, and to engage in more mindful conversations. Whether it is the office chatter, the table conversation with my kids, a deeper conversation with a colleague, an acquaintance or a family member, and all types of online interactions. I resolve to pay more attention so that I can learn from these conversations.