Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

Practice makes perfect!

9 October, 2008

My train ride only takes 25 mins and I don’t get a lot of other time to read, also on many days the train is so crowded I can’t manage to get my book out of my backpack. (Did you hear that Connex!?!?!?!) Why am I saying this? I’m still working my way through Groundswell, I must admit it is a great read and I’m really enjoying it.

One of their tips for building a successful blog jumped out at me this morning:

Rehearse. Write five or ten posts before allowing them to go live….If you can’t write five practice posts, you’re not ready for the big leagues.

Having set up this blog and a couple of blogs for work in the last twelve months, I couldn’t agree more. The first few weeks are always awkward, rambling and well often generally rubbish.

Get them out of the way in private! 🙂

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On blogs, comments and twittering

10 September, 2008

If you’ve looked at my sidebar in the last couple of months you may have noticed that I am ‘trying Twitter’. I’ve not posted on it yet as it has taken me a while to figure out if I like it and I think its useful. I’ve been twittering away for just over two months now and I think I’ve got it sussed.

First off I do like twitter, but I don’t love it! Here are the things I like:

Watching many conversations unfold in front of me and joining in if I have something to say.

As I have added more people to my follow list (I think I follow around 80 people at the moment), I can see the value in observing what is going on. While there is a lot of rubbish, it is easy to filter that out as I tend to skim the list, it is ever changing so anything that doesn’t capture your interest immediately is quickly gone from the page and forgotten. In watching the conversations unfold I have found a few useful links and come across a few people doing the same things as me, which has created opportunities to share and collaborate.

Keeping in touch with loose ties in my network

My follow list is made up of current work colleagues, people I have met once or twice through work, former colleagues and people I find through through blogs or twitter that I think might be interesting.

I really like that I can use it to keep up with what former colleagues, and various people I have met through work (but don’t work with) are up to, I’ve got many of them on my linked in profile, but I tend to only use that for contact details, twitter allows me to have a more active connection, which otherwise probably would not exist.

Following news

Over the last few weeks I have followed the launch of #iphone, #dnc08, #gustav and #rnc08 (for the uninitiated the # symbol denotes a tag applied to the tweet. Users include a #tag in a tweet when the tweet relates to a particular topic. These can be searched on using Twitter Search (formerly Summize), a hot one at the moment is #LHC – I’m going to be really peeved if I write this then the world gets sucked into a big black hole!) Watching each of these items unfold has been very interesting, with the iPhone it was all about where there was stock, which carriers were offering the best deals and how people were going getting it up and running. DNC and RNC resulted in a continuous flow of discussion questioning what the various candidates were saying, how the crowds were responding and in the case of RNC how the protests outside were unfolding.

Gustav was the most fascinating, I watched the search update and saw people supporting each other, providing advice, providing the latest information regarding traffic conditions, storm strength and evacuation points. A few different publications talked about twitter coming of age during the lead up to Gustav (I’m being lazy in not including a link… there are plenty out there), I could really see this. News organisations were using information coming from twitter to provide updates and in some cases were displaying #gustav tweets on screen during bulletins. It was a great example of how helpful a tool like twitter can actually be.

So where does that leave me?

As I said, I like twitter, but I am cutting back on my use. It is easy to get distracted by it, I am the type of person who needs to hit the off button to avoid distraction.

The bigger problem I have with twitter is I’ve found it has taken time away from this blog and commenting on other people’s blogs. I’d be happy with that if I felt twitter provided the same thing, but I feel like I am missing thinking through an issue in a greater depth. While twitter can allow for a conversation to unfold in real time, when using it I tend to only scratch the surface of an issue. I find blogging and commenting encourages me think through an issue in more detail than I do if chatting about it on twitter.

This is a really long post so I should stop it. The bottom line for me is, a little bit of twitter for the reasons I talked about is good and more blogging and commenting is required!

Is that a tumbleweed?

25 July, 2008

Yep things have been very quiet here at the tram in the last couple of weeks, work has been crazy, I’ve had some sort of virus and I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to write a post for our corporate blog.

The good news is Karyn Romeis has got my blogging brain going again with her post on the “Well, they just must” approach to implementing learning tools. Like everyone else in the learning world I have seen this many times before. The bit that got me thinking was that the moral to Karyn’s story equally applies to social media initiatives, the ‘must do’ approach for internal blogging was suggested by Tim Leberecht and advocated by Mary Abraham a few weeks ago. Initially I supported the idea and promoted it within our team. I reckon there is a lot of value in encouraging your team to put an hour a week aside to blog about their successes, challenges and random issues from the week.

My colleague Alex suggested to me that the value may only realised if other staff can find information they need on the blog. From one perspective I agree with him, the core idea behind Enterprise 2.0 is to help people to easily communicate and share while they work, if no one reads a post on an internal blog then neither of these objectives are being achieved. From a different perspective, if we look at it as part of a personal learning strategy I see immense value in regular reflection for an individual’s practice (that’s the whole point of this blog!).

To come back to the point, you have to ask, is an individual going to gain the value from a reflective experience if they feel they are being forced to do it? This is where we come back to Karyn’s story, if we force adoption of a learning tool the learning experience will be tainted and the maximum value is unlikely to be obtained. More advisable, yet more difficult is – you guessed it – articulate the value to be obtained from the experience and make time available to the team to take up the opportunity.

I’d like an SUV

11 June, 2008

I’ve been loving the blog lately! Well I always love the blog, I guess the difference is I have been thinking about why I am loving the blog. I’m beginning to understand how many different ways a blog can be used. It is such an incredibly flexible application, as such I have decided to call it the SUV of web applications! It can go almost anywhere, it has room for the dog and the snowboards and it doesn’t feel like a truck!

I thought I would jot down a few of the potential ‘uses’ for a blog.

Personal Learning

This is my favourite use, personal learning is what this blog is all about! I’ve really enjoyed being able to sit down on the tram and flesh out an idea I have been struggling with during the day. On many occasions the arguments I have put forward on blog posts have been referenced during the day in a range of different ‘real’ work situations.

Collaborative Learning

A recent post about Second Life really stirred up some discussion. I had a lot of different people providing their two cents, through this I was pointed to some interesting reading and was really challenged to think through my initial argument. As a personal learning tool it is fantastic, but to go a step further and have other people challenge those thoughts was very powerful.

Marketing

To a certain extent there is a degree of personal branding going on here. I’ve got no plans to seek alternate employment, I really like my job (the bold is for the benefit of my boss :-)). However in the future, a collection of my thoughts such as this my prove to be useful (or otherwise!) when I do decide to find another opportunity. I also see a range of product marketing uses out there, ranging from communicating product examples to discussing challenges and providing updates.

Customer feedback

I believe providing customers with an opportunity to provide open and honest feedback about your products provides you with a wonderful chance to provide outstanding service and demonstrate to a broad audience that you provide outstanding service. Back your business, your product and your ability to respond to problems and invite feedback!

That’s the first four I can come up with, I reckon there are hundreds of other out there. I’d be keen to hear what anyone else can think of!

A man of 1000 voices

22 May, 2008

I’ve felt a lot like a man of 1000 voices since deciding to give blogging a go in November last year. I’ve been through many different phases from trying to produce journal style articles on abstract L&D topics, to short, sharp link to posts. It wasn’t until about a month ago that I felt like I had really ‘found my voice’.

One of the projects I’ve been working on recently has been to launch a blog. The goal is to provide an information resource to our customers and hopefully start some discussion. We engaged a subject matter expert to write the content and pulled together a plan detailing the topics we wanted to cover in our first few weeks, nothing concrete but a guide to help us avoid writer’s block!

Over the last couple weeks I have been finding myself going through the whole voice finding process again. I have not been writing the content but I have been reviewing it. The author already has his own voice; he is a fairly accomplished academic and writes thoughtful articulate posts. My challenge is to do with the blog voice, is an academic voice going to engage a corporate audience? Will they embrace an argument developed over 1500 words or do they (as I do when reading a blog) want to get to the heart of the issue in the first line, then read the discussion if they choose? Finally, what will keep them coming back?

The biggest challenge of the lot has been to work out my feedback. My instant reaction is to put my voice over the top, but who am I to enforce my voice over that of a recognized expert. And who says people want to read my voice? I like to think that I’m at least little engaging but I’m not quite full enough of myself to expect that I work for everyone!! In the end I went down the collaborative path and chatted to colleagues (old school around the water cooler), we talked through the objectives of the blog (engage and inform) and the audience (corporate finance types) and still don’t have a definitive answer.

I guess that’s because there isn’t one, a voice is always going to evolve and change, we’ll find people respond to some posts and we’ll find that they don’t respond to others, the trick for us is to keep our eyes open and listen to the people who speak to us. Getting caught up in our own idea of what is right and wrong is a sure fire way to end up with an empty blog!!

An ‘ah ha’ moment

2 May, 2008

I’ve discovered something fantastic in the last couple days, this whole Web2.0, collaborative community thing actually works!

Ok now I sure you’re thinking ‘of course it works, you have been blogging about it for months now,’ so let me explain.

During the week I wrote about a few ideas I that had about growing a social network. As I mentioned at the time the idea for that post came from a discussion that had began to develop on Tony Karrer’s blog.

I had added another couple of comments to the discussion in the the day or so after after my post, there had been a few different perspectives on conference social networks and a some do’s and don’ts thrown around, I was really enjoying myself.

My ah ha moment came yesterday morning when i found that overnight (my time) three other people had weighed in on the debate, presenting a different take on the issue again. This has been a fantastic experience for me as it has taken the concepts of online community and collaboration out of the abstract realms of potential and into reality for me.

Typically, I have been a blog lurker. I read lots of people’s blogs but rarely comment. This experience has clearly demonstrated the benefits of jumping on and saying something, it may create opportunities you never knew existed.

I have read other people say things like that but I am only just starting to truly understand what they mean when they say “the best way to understand is to do it”.

I’ve always looked at blogging as a reflective learning experience but it can be much more.

Someone said something!

21 April, 2008

A quick follow up to last week’s post “But no one said anything.” Michelle Martin from the Bamboo Project directed me to “Making a  Case for Social Media Marketing.”

I really liked this segment from the end, it sums up what I was trying to say on Friday.

“Printing 1000 leaflets doesn’t mean 1000 leaflets get read,” consultant Tim Davies points out, and a leaflet can’t report back to you. With the help of basic site analytics and a comments section, a blog post can.

And a blog post might only be reporting 150 readers, and 2 comments. But then, did two people write in to respond to the leaflet?”

Blogging is a lot of effort

1 April, 2008

I’ve been in my new role for about three weeks now. Prior to commencing, I thought I would have an almost inexhaustible flow of material to be blogged. As it turns out I moved from a relatively mundane, not overly challenging role to a creative and dynamic role that leaves me with heaps think about but no brain power left at the end of the day to write a readable post. (for example, I currently have 3 half written blog posts saved on my phone.)

I have spent the last three weeks meeting with stakeholders from all over the business discussing corporate uses for everything including blogs, wikis, social networking and social bookmarking, just to name the first few that spring to mind. It really has given me heaps to blog about but I have not managed to get it out!

This raises some points to consider if you’re looking at using blogging in a corporate or learning context.

  • Quality posts take effort
  • If you or your learners can’t put in the effort expect the experiment to fail.

Question 1 – Web2.0 Tools

29 February, 2008

 The Yarra River from SouthBank

Question 1: What tools are available to facilitate social learning in a professional membership environment, and how can they add value?

I’ll start to answer this question by providing a list of tools I’m going to evaluate. I have used quite a few, others, (like twitter) I’m not even sure what they are.

Here is my list and some thoughts on each item:

1. Facebook
I have talked a bit about our team’s experiments with Facebook, in this post it will be time to review what the rest of the world thinks about using Facebook as a learning / knowledge management tool. I’ll also have a look at how else (and perhaps if) we and other teams out there could use it.

2. LinkedIn
If I am going to look at Facebook, I should probably look in to the ‘professional’ network too. I’m not sure what I’ll find though.

3. Blogs
I think almost everyone thinks you can use blogging effectively in an organisation. I want to look a little closer at the practicalities and politics of blogging.

4. Wikis
I love the idea of wikis and I’m pretty sure in not to long we’re going to have one and I think I’ll be setting it up. I really want to get a better idea of what is possible beyond Wikipedia style applications.

5. Twitter
I don’t know what this is. I do know that it has been described as the hot app from 2007 and it is quite likely that someone at work will hear the buzz, get all excited about it and ask me to do something with it. I’d better work out what it is.

6. Second life
I’m a bit of a skeptic on second life. Last year I heard a lot of the buzz and wanted to find out what it was all about. I signed up, logged in and couldn’t really work out much more than that. Since then I have had it in the for ‘enthusiasts’ only category. I know the cheese wants us to look into it, so this post will be my first step towards becoming convinced of it’s value.

7. Anything else I have seen but ignored or have not come across.
It’s more than likely that I’ll find other tools or platforms while doing my reading for the above. If I find something of interest I’ll post about it.

Time to get reading on Facebook!

Blogging 4 Learning attempt 2

28 February, 2008
Eureka Tower - SouthBank - Melbourne VicTis time to kick off again. This time I have decided this time to set myself a series of questions I might need to answer in my new job. I’ll try to answer them using as many of the Blogging4Learning styles as I can.

On to the questions!

1. What tools are available to facilitate social learning in a professional membership environment, and how can they add value?

I imagine I’ll answer this through a series of discussion and review posts. It’ll be good to look at how each of the common Web2.0 tools can be used as learning or knowledge sharing tools and more specifically how they could work in a membership environment.

2. How can social learning change, enhance or even revolutionise professional development?

I have some ideas about this one but I think it will be nice to investigate what everyone else thinks and put together a well thought out argument.

3. What role does instructional design play in social learning?

This one follows on from this month’s Learning Circuits big question. I’m not really sure that I got to the social learning side of the question in my answer, I’d like to look into it a little more.

4. What are the barriers to social learning adoption and implementation and how can they be
overcome?

This is the sixty four thousand dollar question! Not sure there will be any definitive answers but it’ll be interesting to look in to.

5. What will professional development look like in five years?

I’ll wrap up the month with my thoughts on where all this is going.

Now I’m off to work out which tools to include in Question 1’s response.

BTW – If you’re wondering what’s with the building picture in the middle of the screen. It’s a picture I took while going for a walk at lunch time. I figured while working with the theme of ‘From the tram’ I’d include tom some images of Melbourne for those that don’t know what it looks like. It is a brilliant city!

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