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I Tweet to learn

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The journey of discovery into social media I am finding quite seductive – and I can only assume it is the learning! I have observed that there is an inbuilt “reward system” when I start something new. There is much frustration – but the “buzz” I get when I master something is always worth it. Moving through the early learning phases can be incredibly frustrating – the feeling of awkwardness – the sense of incompetence – the need to do things multiple times – making mistakes – even the sense of embarrassment (humiliation) at not doing it well is a “turnoff” – but nothing beats the sense of achievement when I get it right – no matter how small.
Thirty five years ago I had the very great privilege of spending 5 days with Malcolm Knowles –who wrote one of the very first books on how adults learn – The Adult Learner – a Neglected Species. He told many stories. One story was about some research they were doing on how adults learn – remember this was probably in the 1950’s or 1960’s. A key question asked in the survey of adults was – what did you learn in the last 12 months?
The response was astounding. Most adults surveyed said they learnt nothing! It was a devastating result! So as good researchers do – they questioned the result – they went back and did further research! Over a period of time it became clear they had asked the wrong question!!
What they needed to ask was? –

What new projects have you undertaken in the last 12 months?

They had uncovered an assumption that learning was restricted to attending “class” – albeit back then school or college for many. There was little association with learning in a “lived experience.” Or dare I say from life!!

Some months or years later they redid the survey asking about new projects undertaken – and surprise – they uncovered a whole range of data about how adults learn. As it turned out adults learn at their own pace in a “self directed” process based on an understanding of their own needs. And many engaged in new projects as a way of doing it! Not really a surprise but at the time it illuminated the thinking.

It makes you wonder doesn’t it?

More recently when I received my TED news letter – I noticed a talk given about A SCHOOL IN THE CLOUD and took the time to watch it – and was blown away. Effectively it was saying that children learn in the same way – certainly with respect to technology!

This ten-minute video simply demonstrates how children in India who lacked opportunity have the capacity to learn in spite of their environment. What they needed was an opportunity along with encouragement and recognition, It is very powerful and just maybe our thinking about a whole range of educational and work issues is undergoing a profound shift as we speak.

Certainly my learning journey over the years has been punctuated by “new projects” and specific learning events – most of them chosen by me – to address issues I have had at the time. It is interesting to reflect on the major “learning moments” in my life – and there have been many – and discover the pattern.

This recent journey into social media is both fun and rewarding. While I am not yet masterful – I discovered this in a tweet this week written by Bill Fischer –Selfish Tweeting – it was actually retweeted by Estelle Mayer @competia.

It said a number of things that made a lot of sense to me!!

“The five main learning’s I have from Twitter are:

  1. Twitter is more about learning than about sending…. Listening-in on interesting conversations is absolutely fine, and you may never have to send a single tweet to profit from it!
  2. This is about links not lunches – I’m not a social tweeter. Don’t tell me who you had lunch with, or are spending the day with. Tell me what you learned!
  3.  Twitter is not about wasting time, but using it more effectively – understanding your learning sources and behavior and then being disciplined about how you actually go about learning.
  4. Twitter offers you the opportunity to hang out in new conversational neighborhoods in the hunt for good ideas. Remember smart variance: meet different people and share ideas around topics of common interest could give you an edge in your professional life.

As a result, for me, it’s quite clear: —-“Ask not for whom I tweet. I tweet for me!”

Enjoy the learning!

Ben Kehoe

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