Wednesday 3 December 2008

OEB08 informal learning and social media workshop by Jay Cross and guides

Jay is a wise man using humor to spice up any workshop and at this occasion he was wearing a yellow tie and suspenders. The audience was very diverse but all with an eLearning perspective and their social media background as well.

The workshop is taken a complete day, but unfortunately I had a deadline to meet in the afternoon, so what follows is only on the first part of the day (before lunch). Jay Cross had asked me to be one of the 'guides' during the workshop. A guide is someone who is into informal learning and/or using social media and willing to share information on it. I am always willing to share, so I rushed to the occasion! Thanks for asking Jay!

Where can you find all of what Jay Cross is talking about:
internet time page;
Jay Cross homepage;

Interesting links:
The cluetrain manifesto: for handling intellectual property in the open internet age.
Web2.0 framework by Ross Dawson;
as a conference format;
as an example of an unconference.

fish bowl format in conferences
idea: for people to be able to have a conversation in a little group but which is aired to the complete group (concentric circles for interaction).
sometimes it works, other times it falls flat. It is important to have a common purpose and to have a format that supports that, otherwise participants might not be that pleased with the issues that will be raised.

Jay mentions he is a bit dubious towards books: a publisher takes a year before publishing it. A book freezes the content for always. The author does not need to get into conversation with the readers. So how do we go about in opening books and make them updateable? He tries it:
Un-book from Jay Cross: Learnscaping

The workshop flow:
We started to know each other (= the participants) by introducing the person on each of our right, building some connections in our heads. And after the intro the workshop was a mix of informal information giving by 'guides' and more didactical as well as informal parts given by Jay.

My two cents that I shared during the workshop:
  • kids learn naturally and by doing.... there is no framework, no structure, they just do it: Web2.0 allows this kind of learning. It enables you to explore the knowledge that is out there and to connect with people with similar or related interests.
  • Informal learning allows you to connect with people you might otherwise not know off, or in different fields, but by connecting you can see other ways of working to come to the same results and maybe ... these new ways are more (cost)-effective.
  • Informal learning is about making choices: you know which knowledge you need, you select, you connect and you put it out there the way you want it for other people to find.
  • Informal learning is about forgetting pride: you will never know it all, so be humble and open for learning each day. Titles no longer matter, it is what you effectively know and exchange and collaborate on (what you are really doing) that matters.
  • Informal learning makes you critical: you just do not swallow everything that is send to you, you choose, decipher and take what you need because it seems a better fit.
  • Social media allows you to let go of rules and explore new possibilities.
  • Social media is global, it is everywhere, also in low resource areas: they are using it: mobile journalism, farmers learn through blogging, the whole world is exchanging and discussing knowledge.
  • Social media is personal: you make it to fit your interests, yet building on all of our knowledge and insights.

What I jotted down in the course of the workshop:
The world is in an economical crisis, but this is happening at any major cultural/socio-economic shift the industrial age is ending, the knowledge age is here. Informal learning is all about knowledge.

How people learn:
  • natural learning
  • spontaneous
  • informal
  • unbounded
  • adaptive
  • fun
  • self-service
what is natural learning?
You learn from mistakes (because it is discussed, because you get a first hand experience of what works and what is not = practical experience),
conversation results in learning (because it is all about communication, argumenting why yes or why not, critical thinking...)
collaboration is learning (one person never again will know it all, not even the largest chunk of anything, the world is a rhizome = everyone is connected and the connections are not always visible).

informal learning is typically
  • no curriculum;
  • no constraint time frame;
  • push (formal which pushes the content to you) versus pull (informal and what you need you can and do find - or build);
  • openness and curiosity.

the world is changing at warp speed
some management and supervision have not taken account these changes: firewall restrictions, company rules... But as we look at new learners (not necessarily young but the learner explorers) we find that control is out of date. So it is time to give workers trust and giving them credit for their own way of knowledge gathering.
Discussing on ROI are no longer completely valid as it comes to the growing amount of intangibles that companies have, because ROI focuses on tangibles only. In the business world virtuality is a fact, intangibles are a fact, think of google and its assets.

But social media is about sharing, and openness sometimes gives a strange feeling
openness is a starting point, semantic web which tells you all about private things, but who do you want to give access to what of your private life).
Openness is a starting off point, but which will demand more access rules.
So how can we share things? And to what extend are we willing to change? And to what extend does management allow us to change?

One of the reasons for not opening up is because you want to keep out the people that want to burn the house down. This is something we want to get pinned down.

Questions that were raised (will go into these in later blogposts):
  • how do you measure informal learning outcomes?
  • how do we cope with intellectual property in an open access environment?
  • how do you convince people of using new technologies within an institute or company?

A slideshow on the future of books:
The unbook
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: books book)


  1. Great contribution. I want to read it more in detail. I haven't seen you yesterday when our groups merged.