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Further Thoughts on the Challenge of Connectivism in the Workforce Learning Process #CCK11

Commentary by brainysmurf (BrainySmurf) on , Mar 18, 2011.

Thanks, Skip, this is so relevant to my own aha moments this week. First, I have access to WebEx and SharePoint and use both daily for "business learning". They are two of the best tools I've ever had access to in my workplace and have fundamentally changed how I work (for the better).

Many of my WebEx sessions (comparable to Elluminate) start out spontaneous and unscripted, but allow me to add the visual component to working with a colleague at a distance on some document or presentation. I can take detailed notes live, I can draw and edit on the page, and we can come away from the session with something concrete to do next. Most of that work then lives and continues to grow on my SharePoint site collection, which is open to all employees.

So I was facilitating the inaugural WebEx meeting of a group of adult learners this week who would be participating in a pilot exchange program through which a group from one business area would visit another group in-person, learn some stuff, talk about it, exchange ideas on SharePoint, etc. I'm excited about the support I can give to these folks on the collaborative technology side of things and be able to show them what WebEx and SharePoint can do for their (net)work before, during and after the in-person visit.

The project lead I'll call Jim is at the far end of "improvisational" whereas I can be flexible and improvisational but tend to lean towards scripts, especially for the benefit of learners who like details, logistics, etc. And that's where we ran into a roadblock. One learner I'll call Cindy was craving more details so that she could make her travel plans. Jim didn't know the dates yet. Jim didn't know when the next WebEx would be. Jim had some broad strokes in mind for the next phases of this project but nothing concrete. He was winging it and it was obvious. Some folks can run with that uncertainty but others are paralysed by it.

Cindy sounded really disconnected and unsure of what to expect next. Jim dismissed Cindy's requests for clarification and waved them off as if they didn't matter (though notably Cindy continued to feel stressed and called me privately later in the week to try to land on more details that I didn't have to give to her).

As I prompted Jim for more details, another project lead tried to remind me that this whole pilot was about "informal" learning but I don't think informal has to be synonymous with chaotic and disorganized. I also don't think leaders should dismiss others' need for details just because they themselves prefer to be spontaneous.

So here's the challenge I see for improv and scripted plays in the workplace: does it have to be a pendulum swing from one extreme to another? Or is it a spectrum in which we can find our own balance? Can we adapt our preferences for improv or scripts to the preferences of others? How can we make the improv more comfortable for all and negotiate the degree of 'scriptedness' that might be needed at certain points? (Hits Today: 1688 Total: 1688)

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