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Communities Genius

I am now a member of quite a few communities on Facebook and on LinkedIn and have had an opportunity to study communities closely as well. What I have always found mind-boggling is the kind of natural sub-communities that tend to emerge within each community. It is like a mish mash of a number of people who tend to have similar interests.

I believe that a path-breaker in online forums / communities would be if we could allow ‘natural’ communities to emerge. This can only happen when adequate data is captured or deducted from the profile, comments and usage patterns of people. Let me explain this a bit.

e.g. when I join, say Facebook, I am profiled in a certain manner based on the information which is captured about me. I might be given a choice of the kind of communities I would like to belong to – would it comprise of men and women or women only, for instance or, say, would I want to explore communities globally or only in on and so forth. Based on that, I am recommended a set of communities that I could consider belonging to – I am even able to see the profile of people who are a part of a community before I decide to join it. Maybe I prefer engaging with a certain kind of people or maybe I am happy to engage with a diverse audience. It is almost like a Genius for communities. By being plugged in to the communities which are relevant to me, I ensure I avoid spam and am not inundated with zillions of messages and updates.

Also, what would be super is for some sort of an automatically generated scorecard which gives me a sense of which communities I seem to be most active on and which communities I seem to be passive in – which gives me an opportunity to reassess the kind of communities I would like to belong to by perhaps making some changes in my phase of life. If I want to start cycling, I am recommended a different community as against if I want to know more about parenting.

It is possible there is something like this already existing somewhere or under development – if any of you are aware of such a thing, please do share. I would love to know more about it!

Happy learning!


Super Coordinators!

We are all moving towards fast content curation, shorter nuggets for delivery, more web-based sessions so why should we leave out training coordination?

First of all, the role of training coordinators in the traditional sense, will perhaps stay as it has been. That too, has evolved over time to more hands on knowledge and management of the LMS rather than email based coordination.

In addition, with time, coordinators are being asked to be more tech savvy than ever. Set up a webex, or a session on Adobe Connect or coordinate a webcast with a TelePresence thrown in, record the session, manage the technical issues (really..? is that a coordinator’s job..?), moderate the online chat (is the facilitator not supposed to do that..?)..these some very obvious expectations though with valid questions that coordinators might ask today.

Enter – super coordinators of today! Well versant with the technology that drives the virtual sessions, able to stand in for the facilitators as they arrive and keep the audience engaged  by pointing out of someone had a question on chat and that remains unanswered. What’s more, even be ready with some useful did bits related to the topic to keep the audience temporarily focused on the topic while the facilitator resolves his / her technical issues or share some relevant audience related statistics with the facilitator while the audience resolves technical issues at their end.

Super coordination, this is, all right! The key implication really being that the skills and competencies expected of coordinators need to change accordingly. If you are a training coordinator or work with some, what are your observations about their current competencies and what is expected of them?

Fast content!

This is the speed age..of course it is! Everything is available on our fingertips. Google it and you’ll know what it is. Search for Apps on the iPad and you will get it. Download audios on your mobile phone and you can listen to it. If there are people out there who are still following the traditional Instructional Design methods to ‘create content’, do share this with them. The only thing that perhaps needs to be done in today’s age is ‘content curation’. Pull together content from various sources to put something together which is ready to be tested. In this fast paced world, if we take months to create a module, people are likely to run out of patience and needs are likely to get re-prioritized.

It is hence, better to put together something fast, of relevance, co-created with end users if not SMEs and just roll with it! This does not, of course mean that content creators don’t have a future. In fact, they have a very bright one. What is even more interesting, is that many more people, who have research skills, are well networked into their professional community, can connect with a bunch of experts from around the globe and get some quick opinions and have the ability to translate a need into a set of understandable content chunks, not necessarily slides, are emerging as the new breed of ‘content curators’. Instructional Design skills are certainly as important today as they were yesterday. However, without exposure to the latest in the world of learning and without accepting content curation as a key part of Instructional Design, we are headed back into the past.

Time to take the learning spaceship!


The 3-minute world

Elliott Masie, my favorite learning person, had been talking about learning via videos, indicating that all learning, will soon happen in 3 minute nuggets. I so agree with him! It is literally like that, isn’t it. You have a ton of things to work on, there are emails, some alerts, some text messages, some phone calls, some chores to be done and so many other zillion things which just consume your time. While the boundaries between seeking information and learning are blurring (at least non-skill related), knowledge management and learning systems are morphing into each other.

We are living in an age of instant gratification – we want to know what we want to know – now and if I happen to have 5 minutes while I am waiting for a cab, well, that is when I want to learn whatever is most relevant to my immediate context.

If everything I need to know is on the cloud, in varied sized chunks, I can choose what size of learning chunks I need to access and access it when I am able to.

I am able to ask a question to the people who are tagged as experts in my network, able to write a microblog, able to read something which is there on my read list (hopefully someone tagged it such that it landed in my reading list) and many other things. What I cannot, however, manage to do in this time, is for instance, gain leadership skills. For that, might I argue, there are multiple such nuggets that are part of a larger design along with some traditional forms of learning.

We are living in a world which is soon moving to 3-minute nuggets of learning. Are you ready for it?



How to get paid for maintaining social groups

While I have been a part of many online groups and tried to set up a few myself, my biggest revelation for me has come from a group in which I find see people posing problems all the time. A group which starts up by connecting a few people who have a common purpose or need (something which is very close to their hearts) usually grows in numbers by word of mouth.

It holds this unsaid promise of being able to solve the problems of people. People would come to the group to get their problems solved. It is, hence, important, for group curators to recognise the people who are the group knowledge hubs and to hook them on somehow. Sometimes, knowledge hubs don’t need incentives. They just like to share knowledge, solve problems and hence would be there if they can. It is important to identify the types of problems people join groups for and to pay the knowledge hubs a small fee for continuing to solve problems and the group will work. Everyone else can join for a small monthly fee.

Monthly fees can vary based on the reason why people join the group. People who want to advertise their business, run surveys, etc. can be charged differently. People who want to be knowledge providers can choose to commit a certain time / number of posts and be paid accordingly. The role of group moderators, hence becomes critical. They need to watch the people, against their said roles, promote or demote them depending on the level of activity demonstrated unless some automation can help keep a track of this.

In an organizational context, fees can be translated into credit points which employees can somehow earn. The key is, if I have to join a group, I need to pay for it, using my credits. If  I want to earn from a group, I need to contribute to it and somehow, at the end of each contribution, someone has to validate that my contribution counted.

Hail groups!