Sir Ken Robinson

@SirKenRobinson with @CreativelyTrain at #ASTD2013

Throughout the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) International Conference, I noted several themes, one of which was the modern challenge of making sense of the massive amount of information on the Internet accessible at our fingertips.

During Monday’s keynote address, Sir Ken Robinson said,

“Today you can search 100 billion pages of the Internet in seconds.”

He added that with the fast pace of today’s connected workforce, the impatient phrase might as well be,

“Hurry up, I haven’t got all minute!”

During his Tuesday keynote, John Seely Brown had this to say on the topic of massive amounts of information available to us today:

“I know to read 100 books. I don’t know how to read 100,000 books.”

Today we’re faced with information overload, from sources available to us of our own pulling and from sources pushed onto us by others. We need to more and more quickly make sense of what we encounter, digest it, filter it, decide if it’s valuable to us, and either store it away for later or discard it as rubbish. On one hand, this is an issue of personal knowledge management, specifically the tenets of seek-sense-share as espoused by Harold Jarche, Jane Hart, and others. These principles aren’t new to me, but David Kelly (@LnDDave) in “Curation: Beyond the Buzzword” and Dan Steer (@dan_steer) in “Practical Use of Social Media in Formal Learning” each provoked new thoughts.

CurationDavid Kelly talked about how we are all curators at some point. I remember his tween from many months ago, “We’re all curators when we hit the share button.” But Dave also tweeted just before his session:

“Filtering is a skill for all employees, but curation has purpose and strategy. L&D needs to develop these skills.”

Curated content is indeed one way individuals can make sense of massive quantities of information. Dave points out that good curation provides focus, leverages content, and adds value. Dave went on to describe five basic types of curation: aggregation (the foundation), filtering (subset of content), elevation (based on pulse of community, needs of org), mash-ups (bridging two pieces of seemingly unrelated information), and timeline (telling a story). He also talked about three components to digital curation: user ratings, analytics, and a curator. At the moment, the curator is the human component required to make decisions, see patterns, recognize parallels, and make intelligent selections for the collection.

@trishuhl @dan_steer @JD_Dillon and @tomspiglanin at #ASTD2013

Dan Steer talked most enthusiastically about using social media in formal learning applications, which has been my focus in the organization where I work. While this also fits into my second theme of enhancing training delivery, I want to include it here because Dan offered a number of specific tools and resources neatly organized into four distinct categories of how they can be used (hence the tie here): finding and using content, creating and sharing content, joining and building networks and communities, and improving productivity. These tools help us at least begin to help us make sense of the exponentially increasing amount of information available at our fingertips. Dan also described three specific moments to use social learning in formal learning: before, during, and after. Yes, training is a process, not an event. Hopefully extending formal activities beyond “event-thinking” and into “process thinking” will help foster critical thinking and develop employees who are increasingly able to make sense of all that digital content.

Dan also offered one of my favorite quotes of the conference on the subject of why it’s important to engage in social media:

“There are 7 billion people on Earth. Maybe someone has a better idea.”

Dan offered this link to resources supporting his session and also has an open group on LinkedIn to continue the conversation.

Thanks for reading!


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