Tag Archives: Online learning

Action Learning in the Age of Corona

learning

learningOne of the many things I’m grateful for in the wake of the Corona virus are my multiple and varied networks. On the personal end of things, I’m reconnecting with friends and relatives from all over the globe and from different phases of my life. That’s fun and enormously comforting.

On the professional end of things, I’m discovering that at a moment when it’s vital to be flexible and agile in how we approach our work, my network is furnishing me with new opportunities for growth.

I was reminded of this the other day when a call went out at one of the consultancies where I work. Overnight, this company – which specializes in leadership development – was transitioning its content from face-to-face workshops to webinars. The CEO suggested that the 50 or so affiliated consultants sort ourselves into small “action learning groups” of four to six people to help navigate this shift into the Wild West of online delivery.

I’m new to action learning, which has been described as a process of “insightful questioning and reflective listening.” It’s essentially a group coaching methodology that brings together small groups of people from different areas of an organization to solve real issues in real time.The idea is to use group dialogue to disrupt the status quo and generate innovate solutions.

My group defined its problem as “Sharing our collective insights from the field to learn about super powers of adaptability in shifting offline to online learning in tough times.” Our Slack channel is #superpowers. (P.S. Love!) Because all six of us have very different backgrounds – ranging from journalism and academia to executive coaching and learning and leadership – we all bring different perspectives to this joint endeavour.

The first week, one member of our group gave a short presentation on how to engage audiences with online learning tools. I already knew how to use polls, chats and break-out rooms to facilitate participation using Zoom. But in conversation with my Action Learning group, I was delighted to discover that document sharing, What’sApp and live video recordings could also be utilised to stimulate learning.

The following week, we talked about the advantages of running webinars through other platforms like Google Hangouts and Prezi. We also talked about how to flip the classroom, the potential advantages of shorter “bursts” of instruction and how to fold one-to-one tutorials in alongside webinars to personalize the learning experience. Next week, I’ll facilitate a discussion around “voice,” and how to become a thought leader using social media.

I’ve written before about why it’s important to have a group of people who can offer advice as you move through your career, rather than relying on one, sole mentor. This diversity enables you to draw on a range of viewpoints – and skill sets – that complement your own. I’ve also championed lifelong learning as a way to cultivate curiosity as we age.

What’s wonderful about this new group I’ve joined is that I feel like I’m doing both things. I’ve got some new guests at my metaphorical “dinner table” who are helping me to develop professionally. And during a period in my life when I’m mostly  stuck indoors, it’s great to stay fresh and learn new skills.

What are you doing during this difficult time to accelerate your learning curve?

Image: Questions fear learning book by Mohammed Hassan via Pixabay

 

Tips For Adulthood: Five (Surprising) Tasks Computers Do

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

It’s no secret that computers have changed our lives completely.

In the personal realm, we are more connected than ever before. We are sharing more ideas, “chatting” more with friends, and performing our lives out loud via constant status updates,  even if,  (paradoxically), we are also lonelier than ever.

In the professional realm, computers have also upended our lives. It’s no surprise, perhaps, that with the advent of technological change, certain once-vibrant professions – like copy boy and lamplighter – would be rendered obsolete.

But increasingly, we are delegating tasks to computers that even now, seem like they couldn’t possibly be automated.

Here are five surprising roles computers now play in our lives:

1. Teacher. Of all the new computerized trends, this one is probably the least surprising. The rise in Online learning has been well documented. In the year 2000, roughly 45,000 K-12 students in the United States  took an Online course. In 2010, roughly 4 million did. A lot of this is due to the skyrocketing success of the Online tutoring service, Khan Academy, which is now being incorporated into classroom learning. But the Online teaching revolution has hit the University level as well. Virginia Tech has recently launched something called the Math Emporium. This is a huge classroom, located in a shopping mall, in which hundreds of students take computerized college math courses at one time, with roving teaching assistants there to answer questions. The jury is still out on how much real, live classroom instruction still matters, but early results at the Math Emporium suggest that students are both learning more and paying less.

2. Babysitter/Parent. Again, no big surprise here, given how many of  us – even those with qualms about video games – have succumbed to their inevitability – even desirability- especially when caught in a long and tedious layover at an airport between flights. But the numbers are staggering. A Nielsen survey released a couple of months ago, titled “American Families See Tablets as Playmate, Teacher and Babysitter,” found that in households that contained both children and tablet computers, seven out of ten kids under the age of 12 used the tablet — a 9 percent increase compared with just three months earlier. As Huffington Post blogger Lisa Belkin points out, a computer or laptop or tablet has “simultaneously become our children’s source of communication, procrastination, education and entertainment.” And in performing these multiple roles, these gadgets have supplanted much of the work we used to pay babysitters to do…or did as parents.

3. Lawyers. Another area where computers are increasingly doing some of the heavy lifting is the law. The latest trend here is something called e-discovery, software that can both furnish and analyze documents relevant to a law suit and deduce patterns of behavior. If this sounds a bit 1984-ish to you, it is. It’s also putting scores of lawyers out of work. Thank goodness computers still can’t replace trial lawyers (though I bet John Edwards wishes they could.)

4. Writers. A former colleague sent me a fascinating – and chilling – article in The Atlantic about Narrative Science, a Chicago-based startup that has developed an innovative computer platform that writes reported articles in a human-like tone. While their early work focused on stories with lots of data and repetitive story lines – e.g. finance, sports – the company is increasingly focusing on applying the program’s underlying model: i.e., analyzing  facts to generate an over-arching narrative – to all sorts of topics. Fortunately, the company still employs real-life writers alongside their coders but one must wonder:  for how long?

5. Drivers. Ok, so here’s the creepiest trend of all in labor outsourcing: drivers. Yup, you heard that correctly. Apparently, Google engineers are quite close to perfecting the driverless vehicle. At a recent conference in Detroit, a spokesperson from Google said that, with further improvements, software and sensors could drive cars more safely than a human driver. Already, cars using this technology have traveled more than 200,000 miles without interference from a driver. And other major automakers and suppliers are pursuing some form of autonomous vehicle technology. Wowza.

How about you? What roles do you see computers taking on that you never thought possible?

 

Image: Although you’re far by Aphrodite via Flickr under a Creative Commons license