Saturday, November 29, 2008

More angles on learning and collaboration

This week I presented at Comview, the annual conference of the VCTA, (business and commerce education). They wanted to hear about real life examples about what we (i.e. CPA Australia) were doing with blogs, wikis, online learning, etc with our members.

Each time I present I learn something about my audience. Interesting, yet unsurprising stats with this one. In a room of about 65 accounting teachers, I had a handful who’d blogged, a few who had used social media / web 2.0 tools in their classrooms, one who’d gone to Second Life and about a third of the room on Facebook.

Nearly all hands went up when I asked if their students or children were on Facebook.

I learned too that there is a growing movement among teachers (including accounting teachers) to use social media / Web 2.0 in the classroom. Comview had a number of sessions dedicated to engaging students using Web 2.0 tools. Questions and conversations during my session also showed this growing interest.

Those 'early adopters' recognise that their students live on this type of communication, and there are teachers who are 'evangelists' about using it to engage their students in the learning. To me, this shows a great opportunity for teachers and their students to engage and create an immersive and 2-way learning situation…and make it really fun.

Not necessarily age-related, there seems to be a 'technology adoption generation gap' where some teachers feel too time-poor to use these type of tools with their students - even though the benefit leads to students' greater attention. (this issue of course is not isolated to teachers only)

The whole online collaboration movement using social media, networks and Web 2.0 is fast evolving in the workplace, and more and more I see clear patterns in how it’s being used (or not used, or trying to be used), over and above pure social interaction.

I hear this a lot when discussing using social media in the enterprise for ‘real work’…. “But when will I find the time”, and “Where do you find the time for all of this”. We're in the midst of how to 'prove' the business value.

I think the key that we will find soon enough is – “What does this replace – where is it better, how does it help me to do my job more effectively?” and by doing this – save time, more engagement, better results.

After all, what did we do before the web? Before email? Before mobile phones? Before personal computers? Before answering machines? Before the telephone?

Things do find a balance, and I think we’re in the real midst of change with all of these virtual communication, connection and collaboration tools.