Friday, 13 March 2009

Informal learning short-cut: alerts bring your interested parties closer to you


Yesterday I twittered that I was looking forward to the release of the Nokia N97. Nothing special there, but my tweet got intercepted by Nokia and within a couple of hours the twitter account of Nokia N97 (not a bot the twitter account assures me) was following me.

Than it dawned on me that I have never been writing a post on alerts. Alerts can be very helpful if you want to keep in touch with what people are saying about a certain topic.
The alerts that I use are Google alerts and Twitter alerts, aka Tweetbeep. With these two free tools I can keep track of what the web (and/or forums) is producing and what could be of interest to me.

Let’s say you are interested in self-regulated learning? Then you put in these words in Google alert (you have to open an account first) and you wait. The search bots will keep track of new content and if the proposed set of words is encountered, you are informed. So it is a time saver as well, as you do not have to surf the Net. Once you are alerted, you can look the post, comment… up that returned your words of interest and learn more about the context. You can of course also use it to keep track of what people are saying on the Web about yourself or your company.
By looking up the returned links, you might find people that are also interested in your speciality, hence opening up a door for solid content-related networking.

This has great informal learning potential, because informal learning happens when you meet interested parties. For example, if I am at a conference, I stroll around looking for people with the same interest as I have. So I open my ears and when I pick-up a word that interests me, I turn to that person or set of persons and I ask if it is okay if I engage in the ongoing conversation.