loud_mouth1Learning out loud – what does that mean to you? I was surprised a number of people hadn’t heard the term, which is actually a metaphor of sorts unless audio is involved. There are many ways to do it, including creating videos on your phone for sharing on YouTube, tweeting things you learn, and curating content on Pinterest or a dedicated curation site. To me, learning out loud is more of an attitude and a process of sharing as it happens. Since we’re all constantly learning, I would almost argue it’s basically the philosophy of sharing, period.

I set out to learn out loud here through my writing. I was going to be fully open and transparent as I learned by sharing with others. But then there was that initial obstacle of actually publishing my first post. Maybe even the second. I had to get over that fear of exposing my thoughts, expressed in my writing, to scrutiny from others. What would people actually say about my stuff? What if it actually exposed some aspect of ignorance, or worse?

I remember my first post, not because it was profound or had great impact, but because it was quite the opposite. I had just attended the Training conference and, armed with a little bit of knowledge in the proper use of some key terms, I was ready to tackle that topic. I wrote it, re-wrote it, looked it over and over, thought it was moderately profound, and hit the Publish button. I even tweeted a link to it (since I’d just started on Twitter at that same conference thanks to the one and only Jane Bozarth). Done. Risk taken. And no one noticed.

publishIt’s been some sixteen months now and I have a somewhat different perspective. A few people even now read and comment on my posts. I look back at that first article and almost want to delete it, along with some of my earliest work, but I’m not doing that. It’s a part of me growing up learning out loud. That would be like burning baby pictures because I don’t look the same.

I finally see what many others had said to me over a year ago, that learning out loud using any medium isn’t for an audience’s benefit as much as it is for the person doing the sharing. I get that. Look at all the great things that happen by learning out loud:

  • Putting it in public view makes it real. I clarify my thoughts as I write and put them into some logical order that makes sense.
  • It’s a record I can look back on and see how my thinking has evolved. That’s part of learning and seeing where you’ve grown.
  • It exposes my thoughts to comments and new thoughts from others. I get new ideas and think in new directions.
  • I’m not always right.

That last point may cause some to be afraid to learn out loud – the fear of getting things wrong. But this is one amazingly great way to learn. Guy Wallace and Clark Quinn have each corrected my understanding of their work in the past, and I would have never understood their points unless I had written something down and shared it. It wasn’t embarrassing, it was good learning.

Sharing what you learn as you learn is an important part of social learning. People have argued you can read a book or watch a video and learn something, that some learning is asocial. I’ll concede only that a small fraction of learning happens that way. Sharing with others, clarifying your thinking, allowing your thoughts to be challenged, and engaging in conversation with others leads to deeper, much enhanced learning.

After all, learning is an inherently social process (Etienne Wenger).

Thanks for reading!

Megaphone image courtesy sodahead; Publish button courtesy zoho.com.


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