Those of us working in the field of Learning and Development continually look for ways to create meaningful experiences that our customers/employees/co-workers can learn from. It’s often useful to look at how we learn ourselves. Do we learn well from sitting in a classroom or do we normally learn through some other means?

This past week provided some great example for me. I learned three very useful new things, and I learned them each in different ways

Serendipitous discovery

GoogleStuffI was drafting a blog post for the 3 May #chat2lrn Twitter chat and wanted to transfer it from one computer to another. The easiest path was to email the file to my Gmail account. When I opened the email, I had the option to view the file, so I did. Then I noticed the “Add to Drive” button and decided to give it a shot. Once saved, I discovered I could convert and edit the document in Google Docs with one mouse click (“Edit online”), and then share the document with others. I set sharing to “Anyone with the link” and sent the link to other members of the #chat2lrn crew. Minutes later, anonymous viewers appeared in the Google Docs window. Shortly thereafter, emails began arriving with comments. As I was making adjustments to the document online,  more emails arrived from people commenting back and forth how cool it was to see the document changing in real time. Within an hour, the post was completed – I never even downloaded it, which was my original intent.

Social learning

The next day, I was working on a framework I could use with my workplace colleagues to extend their engagement with employees who attend face-to-face classes. I started by creating two diagrams using PowerPoint, then decided to share the concept with my personal learning network of peers around the world. I knew the power of sharing on Google, so I uploaded the file to Google Drive. I edited the document using Drive and, after initial surprise how well the PowerPoint was converted, enabled sharing and posted the link in our close-knit community. A few online members asked me to invite them directly via Gmail, which I did. The next thing I knew, we were chatting through instant messaging as well as asynchronously through comments (which are really threaded discussions). Both features are attached to individual shared documents in Drive, and the three of us involved had learned about them together, sharing our discoveries as we made them and exploring them for ourselves.

A Challenge to learn

Later that evening, I engaged in the Twitter chat #lrnchat on the topic of, “Using Video for Learning.” Shortly before the third question was posed, JD Dillon posted the following Tweet:


Vine_apps_logoI’d never heard of Vine, but I figured it would be fun to take up JD’s challenge. Moments later I learned (from Google search) that Vine is an app and network from Twitter that, “lets you capture and share short looping videos.” While I caught they have a 6-second limit, I didn’t read all that carefully because I was in a hurry. I immediately picked my subject and recorded a 6-second video with my iPhone, transferred it to my Mac desktop, and tried in vain to post it to Twitter (as I would post a photo to Twitpic). Failing, I returned to Google search and this time found the Vine website, whose home page is just a logo and a button to download the app from Apple’s App Store. That was quickly installed on my phone and, a couple presses of my finger and some dialogue (that I could improve on) later, I’d finished my first Vine video and posted it to Twitter with the #lrnchat hashtag. Awareness to application in under fifteen minutes, all in response to a challenge.


How we learn

The descriptions above represent three learning moments in two days. Two happened at home and one at work. All were social and informal. Like the vast majority of our learning, each of these moments happened naturally in response to a need, a want, or just happened. We should take time to reflect more often on our own learning moments, think about what motivated us, and find ways to apply our own lessons to benefit others. Most importantly, we should apply more of what we already know about how we learn.

Thanks for reading!


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