Tag Archives: social learning

Guided social learning

julie120Julie Adams
Academic Skills Tutor
Staffordshire University
UCISA DSDG (User Skills Group)



Learning Technologies 2015: Day 2 – Collaborative learning for the networked age

Jane Hart from the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies led the most interactive of all the sessions I attended. She began by getting us to work with our neighbours by sharing useful apps/resources from our mobile devices. We then moved on to look at QR codes – scanning some Jane provided us with, then creating our own and uploading them to a hashtag (#gslqr). Finally Jane displayed the stream of these on screen allowing us to explore some of those created. In the final exercise, Jane set up a Padlet for us to add comments to, on how we could use these tools or guided social learning in our organisations.

I have to admit to being surprised that the delegates I was sitting by were not at all familiar with QR codes, having never scanned one before let alone thought of creating one. I have used QR codes quite a lot previously, so was able to help them with this. I was also one of the few who had used Padlet before. Maybe in HE we are ahead of some organisations in using these types of tools to support learning.

I think that getting us to co-operate, share and help one another was part of the point of the exercise, rather than showing us the tools themselves, as Jane went on to talk about some of her work in helping teams develop skills and confidence in using technologies through the use of a learning guide. She outlined a project she had worked on with a team of trainers from Pfizer in India who wanted to know more about using iPads in training.

The key features that helped make this a successful social learning course were that participants were quick to comment on each other’s work, congratulated others on their achievements and helped and supported each other with problems. There was also a continuous flow of conversation.

Jane has written more about this training on her blog –  and the manager of the group, Sunder Ramachandran, has also written about his experiences.

A few relevant things to note from what Jane said:

  • An activity itself does not equal learning – we need a goal. This is an obvious point, but worth keeping in mind when introducing new technologies.
  • Sometimes there is a temptation to use tools/technology just because they ‘are there’, rather than because they are the best thing for that particular job.
  • Other success factors for social learning include respect for others’ views, the group wanting to learn and having a learning champion to help encourage and keep learners on track.

I know there have been a number of staff development courses run in HE that follow a similar theme to this, and encourage staff to learn more about social media – especially the variations on ‘23 Things’ that started in libraries but spread to other staff groups too. Although setting up such courses does take some planning and commitment, most people who participate find them beneficial. I have looked at running something along the lines of ‘23 Things’ previously, but never actually done it. This session make me seriously think of trying to get this done – maybe at a scaled-down version looking at a few key technologies and tools.

Learning Technologies 2015

The power of joined up communication

julie120Julie Adams
Academic Skills Tutor
Staffordshire University
UCISA DSDG (User Skills Group)



Learning Technologies 2015: Day 2 – collaborative learning

Euan Semple, author of ‘Organisations don’t Tweet, people do’  led an interesting conversational session, where he covered the main ideas around how he sees “social” fitting into personal and organisational communications and how engaging with Twitter and blogging helps build conversation, contacts and enhances personal development.

I’ll outline a few interesting snippets from Euan:

  • It is important to remember culture and attitude and, more important than the technology used, also a willingness to work together with others. Age is also not important.
  • A question to consider: “How does one manage to have an authentic voice in a stifling environment?”. We need to develop the skills of asking questions and offering answers in the ‘right’ tone.
  • He said that Twitter filters the incoming world for him and he found what matters to him faster than ever before. He is learning more now than he did as a kid.
  • Most external social activity done by organisations is broadcasting, not really social or having conversations.
  • Social media is about reciprocation. We can help others, but also be helped ourselves.
  • Learn to ‘filter’ things – if you add more signal than noise, you will get value back.
  • The hashtag provides a focus for us to meet up and convene around, it can be messy but it works.
  • Important features of being social are building communities, trust and networks.
  • Social media helps with collective sense-making.
  • You can write yourself into existence and increase your awareness of the world around you and get more focussed on what matters.

One useful piece of advice for ‘dinosaurs’ who don’t really want to get involved, or for those who really lack confidence, is to take small steps and there is nothing wrong with lurking and observing to start with. An easy first step is to add comments to others’ blogs if you don’t feel confident to write your own.

I really liked one comment from Euan about knowledge being power – but not in the way we would tend to think of it as keeping stuff to ourselves. His interpretation is that giving information (knowledge) out and helping others is what makes you more powerful. I think this is important to remember when we are trying to build our personal digital profiles.

Further links:

Euan’s podcast series

Euan’s blog

Learning Technologies 2015