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Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Making a Case for Face-to-Face Classroom Training

September 11, 2013 Leave a comment

As a technologist, I believe it is vital to continue to develop my skills and competencies through formal and on-the-job experiences.  As a technology manager, I strive to cultivate an atmosphere where my team recognizes the value of developing their skills and expertise.  As a leader within a technology trade association, I’ve heard various perspectives identifying that opportunities to network with peers and acquiring professional certifications are strong motivators for association participation.

However in recent years, I’ve found it difficult to find appropriate classroom training programs catered to technology professionals.  In the last six months, almost half my staff have encountered a situation where an off-site technology class has been canceled because not enough people signed up for the course.  More recently, I purchases a new network access control system that included a training component.  To my surprise the training was only available online.

I maybe showing my age, but I have a certain bias toward structured, off-site, classroom training.  In my opinion, these types of situations offer tremendous value for technologist.  I will concede only a small portion of the value emanates from the trainer leading the course.  The majority of the value comes from the other attendees who are participating in the course.  Listening to the stories of others, who often have a different experience with a vast array of products and technologies, makes up for any lost time or workload disruption.  In my limited experience with online training setups, this interaction with other classmates Is a deterrent.  Wikis, knowledge bases, Google searches, and YouTube videos have the potential to pass on technical information, but fail to capture the perspectives and experiences of a classroom full of technologists whose experiences, observations, and  opinions typically differ considerably from my own.

So where does a technologist find this melting pot of valuable knowledge in a market that is moving away from my preferred method of knowledge transfer?  Even if I can find classroom style training options, more often than not, they fail to sell sufficient seats to justify the expense of hosting a course.  Is this an opportunity for trade associations to revise their stance on vendor agnostic requirements, and begin pursing the finite training allowance with manufacture and product specific courses which incorporate some level of certification or professional development credit?  Or should technologists resign themselves to the realization that with newer delivery methods,  they will have to find another source to listen to the war stories from colleagues?

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Universities know BYOD

September 8, 2013 Leave a comment

In July 2013, Acronis released the results of a study which highlighted that 60% of companies “had no personal device policy in place” and 80% of organizations “haven’t educated employees on BYOD privacy risks”.  BYOD or Bring Your Own Device, is a phenomenon, where employees want to use their own personal devices (such as smartphones, tablets, or laptops) for business purposes and to access business data resources.

Later this month, I have the opportunity to speak to attendees of the IT Roadmap Conference & Expo when it makes a stop in Dallas/Fort Worth.  I will be speaking on the topic of Mobility & BYOD, and as I told the folks who were vetting me for this speaking engagement, BYOD is old hat for higher education IT departments.  I made this statement, because universities have been dealing with students bring their own devices to campus , since universities began providing network connectivity in residence halls.  In a August 2013, CITE World (Consumerizaiton of IT in the Enteprise) article titled “Want BYOD advice? Talk to a university IT department,” my position was affirmed by Mike Corn, chief privacy and security officer at the University of Illinois (UI) at Urbana-Champaign.

However, Mr Corn concedes that higher education institutions and corporations aren’t necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison.  While I’ll agree that universities don’t have the same regulatory requirements as some corporations, I believe we all are wrestling with ways to intentionally leverage personal owned mobile computing devices for business purposes.  For universities, the business purpose is educating students, and many institutions struggle to understand how mobile devices can be used in meaningful ways to enhance the academic success of their students.  In my opinion, BYOD isn’t about the devices accessing networks.  The center of the conversation is about business processes and how these devices can be intentionally engaged to enable business professionals or students to be effective and productive.  This concern is an apples-to-apples comparison, and many universities have made significant strides to engage personally owned devices into teaching and learning.  For this reason, I am a believer that higher education has some expertise related to the BYOD strategies.

Online Presence Strategies … Listening

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

In a previous post, I started a conversation about the importance of having an Online Social Presence by exploring the dimension of visibility.  To continue this theme, I wanted to take some time to consider another prerequisite of an Online Social Presence before you start engaging or conversing.  That prerequisite is listening.

Much has been written about the Art of Listening.  Most of it deals with developing skills to be active listeners and to be present while listening.  Gail Brenner, Ph.D. posted a blog entry on dumblittleman.com, sites research on how our brain has the capacity to hear 275 more words per minute than the average person can speak.  Contrast this with an article Dr. Steven Berglas wrote for Forbes Magazine which states that, “Scores of studies have demonstrated that people accurately comprehend or internalize a dismal 25%-50% of what they hear.”  So why is it that while our brains can process more words per minute than what can be spoken, we only comprehend a quarter to half of what we hear?  One explanation offered by Michael P. Nichols, Ph.D, who authored the book The Lost Art of Listening, is that “Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Jeremiah Owyang, with Web Strategy, helps to link the art of listening and our online social presence with his statement, “Any savvy party goer knows to listen before jumping into a conversation at a cocktail party.”  Conforming to this analogy, each of us are the savvy party goer and social media is the cocktail party.  Before we dissect the how, I thought it would be appropriate to include some comments Swami Chinmayananda expressed in his article entitled, “The Art of Listening.” Swami Chinmayananda states, “Very often we are led to believe that speaking represents action and power, while listening connotes weakness and apathy…Listening is the channel most often used for “learning.” It is a vital communication function; it improves our ability of understanding, self-awareness and self-application.”

As Swami Chinmayananda points out, the goal of our listening should be learning.  As we evaluate our online presence, listening provides  context and enables us to learn about what is being said, who is saying it, and hopefully why they are saying it.  Before we start talking, we need to see where our opinions, thoughts, and insights fit into the conversation.  Below are some tools to help facilitate the listening process.

1. search.twitter.com This is one of the tools that Gary Varnerchuk, author of Crush It!, often references when he passionately urges corporations, individuals, and brands to “pay attention to what people are saying.”  With the search function on twitter, you have access to the collective thought of 175 million registered twitter users and can comb the 95 million tweets issued each day.  In addition to key word searches, you can also leverage hashtags that give you deeper insights into not just randon post, but also the stream of posts and the actual conversations that center around these hashtags.

2.  Follow someone. This could be a colleague, fellow business professional, or someone you ran across via your twitter search.  By “following” them, you can get real-time access to their tweets.  After you follow someone, you can pay attention to how they leverage the social landscape.  Taking notes on how often they tweet, who they interact with, and the subject matter of their tweets help to set your own expectation and sense of how to use the medium.

3.  Read Blogs.  While tweets give you short spinets of information, blogs provide a platform for thoughts to be developed in much more detail.  The question is how do you find blogs.  There are search engines for blogs such as Google and Technorati that help facilitate this process.  You can also search for key words and people via a traditional Google search and this can provide leads to blog posts.  My own experience is that in a relatively short period, you will soon find more blogs to read.  Once you found a blog follow the blog.  This can be facilitated through tools such as subscribing to blogs, using applications like bloglines, and RSS feeds.  These tools help to alert you of new posts so that you aren’t constantly checking back in for updates.

4.  Join a Group LinkedIn is a great example how groups can be used to get the pulse of what is happening.  LinkedIn has groups that center around locations, industries, interests, associatins, even your alma mater. Most of these groups host some form of a discussion forum which lends to more conversations that be listened to.

Charlene Li, in her book Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, differentiates how people and businesses should engage people based on their activities.  Specifically she challenges the assumption that everyone online should be engaged in the same manner.  Ms Li, labels or classifies those online into five categories, watchers, sharers, commenters, producers, and curators.  The base level of folks are watchers, or what I’ve heard refered to as “lurkers”.  According to Ms Li’s research, watchers constitute the vast majority of those online (over 78%).

Before we start jumping into conversations, we should be “watchers” or “lurkers”.  This gives us an understanding of the etiquette and context necessary to effectively engage in conversations online.   The challenge is to listen and understand or learn.  By doing so, it will make the move into conversations and sharing much easier.