So we shot and we shared. At Learning Technologies 2011, we ran an experiment in social learning by inviting people to be filmed answering one of six questions about our industry, such as how were they using social media in learning and what did they think was the best use of mobile technology. We shared these short videos by uploading them, after some simple editing, to our YouTube channel.
The lure was the promise of a Flip Minio camera, the type we used in shooting, and the prize will go to the most valued contribution. So please visit our channel and pass on the links of your favourite videos to colleagues and friends. Vote with your mouse! I’ll wait here until you get back.
What was the outcome of our experiment? We were delighted to upload a valuable collection of ideas and suggestions that forms a resource for everyone. What we wanted to show was that producing such a resource can be achieved at very low cost. And from that point of view, this experiment was an unqualified success.
This in part gives us an answer to the question: how do we get started with social learning? Our answer: just get started! The technology we used is cheap to acquire and easy to use. As with the knowledge management projects of the past, we aspire to capture the know-how of individuals and teams that would not otherwise be shared throughout the organisation. We argue that there is a sense in which everyone is an expert in something useful: even a new starter has experience of the recruitment and on-boarding process and can share that information with others.
Unlike those old knowledge management projects, you’re not looking to fill shelves of ring binders before you can release something useful to your colleagues. It’s easy to start off with a small collection and let it grow over time. One caveat: be sure to make it searchable (or findable, as we like to say) and plan and implement your tagging carefully.
Video also interests us at Saffron because you can go a long way if you don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by questions of production values. How far can you take this? If you’re a fan of TED, you may have seen Salman Khan talking about the video library he created to educate his younger cousins that has grown into the Khan Academy, whose resources are now being used by schools in California. One teacher has remarked that they now set the video ‘lectures’ as homework and work through the exercises (which they used to set as homework) in class, turning the experience of education upside down.
For all that Khan’s presentation gets a ringing endorsement from Bill Gates at the end, I don’t want to get carried away by this. As another teacher has remarked, they never ‘lectured’ in the classroom to a passive audience, anyway, but instead conducted a conversational session with their students. But there’s surely a point to be made in Khan’s favour about the power of technology (and cheap and easy video technology in particular) to transform the way we think about and practise learning.
So, let me encourage you to shoot and share for yourselves. If you’re looking to get started with social learning, here’s how: aim to grow a library of videos of your colleagues, sharing know-how with their peers.
PS If you’re not a follower of TED, I’d really recommend checking it out: a steady and varied stream of interesting and entertaining presentations and performances, from Naomi Klein talking about our society’s addiction to risk to Jake Shimabukuro playing Bohemian Rhapsody on a Hawaiian ukulele.