So, for one reason or another (snow days and sick children) I have been confined to the house for a large number of days lately. I took this opportunity to immerse myself in some personal learning by reading, listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos – for far more hours per day than I normally would.
As a learning professional, I am only too aware of the shift change in what is required in terms of learning new skills in this digital era. The half-life of a learned skill is estimated at 5 years, meaning what you learnt 10 years ago is now obsolete and that half of what you learned 5 years ago is irrelevant, so we will all need to continually update and get better at learning new things.
Also, The Transformation Curve, the 2018 research report into the shifting role of Learning & Development, describes the need for a ‘modern, self-directed learner who is purposeful, curious, confident, social, connected and adaptable and able to take ownership of their learning and development.’
Which leads me to my quest – how does one successfully track and manage one’s personal learning? We have much more information all around us now, navigating it, optimizing it, and selecting what we want to refer back to is a skill in itself. I have given much thought lately to how am I going to remember/find/capture what I have learnt/read/understood to save me time, next time, so I don’t have to search for the item again.
My personal learning methods to date include:
This for me is a way of reflecting, summarizing and communicating/sharing. Mark Gibson captured it best when he said: ‘Blogs are learning collectives. A good blog is a medium for learning and creates a space for a collective to emerge where personal experience can be shared and individuals learn and everyone in the collective benefits’. Which is my sentiment exactly.
I have been doing this a lot lately – this works well where there is complexity and/or interrelationships that can’t be captured on a list. (Tony Buzan’s book ‘Use Your Head’ can get you started) and I find a good Mind-map is a great talking point to structure a discussion.
My challenge is capturing all the other things (mostly links) to content that interests me but I’m not quite ready to do anything with straight away. Dropping them all into a list on my i-phone or into a word doc means I probably won’t find them again when I’m looking. The most success I’ve had (and which I’m about to return to) is using One Note for capturing personal learning, so if anyone is doing this and has any clever tips do let me know!
Whilst in my enforced retreat I came across some great new tools for learning which I thought I would share:
Collaborative learning with Slack
If you haven’t yet come across Slack, it’s a great app for tracking conversations amongst a team or any group of people that can be connected by a #. I spotted a L&D Professionals group that are hosting ‘slack chats’ weekly and joined in on one. It’s a really useful way of having a fairly low-key online chat around a theme, you can join in as much or as little as you want, and the advantage of these web-based solutions is you can have people joining in from all over the world. The conversation I joined in on had a published author sharing his articles and research, which I most certainly wouldn’t have come across otherwise. The beauty of the slack chat is it remains stored under that workspace name, and you can revisit the conversation thread anytime.
Yammer virtual course
I also signed up to a Yammer virtual course – again partly out of interest to see what was done and how. This one runs over several weeks, so the learners don’t have to be online at the same time but can contribute to the discussion as and when. The one I’ve signed up to is Supporting Learning from Modern Work and is provided by Jane Hart of Modern Workplace Learning. Of course, virtual classrooms have been around for a while, and there are lots of specialist providers – I just didn’t know yammer could be used in this way. I’ll let you know how I get on!
For the L&D professional this is an amazing resource. Subscription based for general content, the fabulous Globalfilter provides a curated set of useful content for learning professionals, narrowed down to your areas of interest by the AI chatbot, Magpie. The breadth of learning content across a range of channels that I was able to access in a few minutes made this an interesting find and one to which I will be returning.
I’ll be revisiting the theme of personal learning again, and sharing more tools I have come across, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear what your tips are, in particular in answering any of these questions:
How do you make time for your personal learning?
How do you track and record your learning?
How do you test things out/reflect/bounce off others?